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Aorus 15 X9 Review

Aorus 15 X9 Review

Aorus 15 X9 03The Aorus 15 X9 is the latest laptop to emerge from Gigabyte’s boutique gaming brand. This range of machines has been known for outlandish design and huge performance in the past – so can this new notebook live up to that reputation and justify its US and UK prices of $1,999 and £2,199? Let’s find out in our full, in-depth Aorus 15 X9 review.

Design

The Aorus 15 X9 doesn’t look as outrageous as previous Aorus machines – and that’s no bad thing.

The lid has metallic slashes and an illuminated logo, but there are no RGB LEDs here. The air vents around the rear and sides are eye-catching but small and subdued. The power button is small, smart and sits in the middle of an understated speaker grille. The only RGB LEDs on the laptop are small and installed in the front of the subtle base.

The Aorus 15 X9 is still, clearly, a gaming laptop, even if it doesn’t look as outrageous as past models. It’s also still more eye-catching than its biggest rival – the Razer Blade 15. That machine is smarter and sleeker, and looks more like a MacBook than a gaming laptop.

Aorus 15 X9 07The Aorus 15 X9 doesn’t just look more gregarious than the Razer – it’s bigger too. The Aorus weighs 2.4kg and is 24mm thick. The Razer Blade is a 2.1kg machine that’s only 18mm in size.

The dimensions aren’t an issue if you’re going to leave the laptop at home. However, it could be a problem if you want a machine for frequent travel or LAN events.

Disappointingly, the Aorus’ extra size and weight don’t translate to flawless build quality. There’s a little too much movement in the area around the keyboard and in the panel on the underside of the machine. And, because the screen uses a single central hinge, the sides are too flimsy.

You get three full-size USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, and a single Type-C connection that supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 and DisplayPort. Elsewhere, the Aorus has an HDMI 2.0 output, a mini DisplayPort connector and a microSD card slot.

Razer’s machine has similar connectivity. However, that machine does offer more USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports if you pick one of the models with a new Intel 9th Gen processor.

Aorus 15 X9 Review – Components

The Aorus 15 X9 uses the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070. It’s the full-fat mobile version rather than the Max-Q model included in the Razer and in many other laptops.

Aorus 15 X9 13The proper mobile RTX 2070 has base and boost clock speeds of 1,215MHz and 1,440MHz alongside the usual 8GB of GDDR6 memory clocked to 14,000MHz. The chip still has its usual 2,304 stream processors, dedicated Tensor Cores and Turing architecture.

Razer’s machine uses the beefier of the two RTX 2070 Max-Q cores. But, even then, it can’t compete with the proper mobile GPU. The Razer’s core runs at 1,080MHz with a boost peak of 1,305MHz, and its 8GB of memory is clocked to 12,000MHz.

The GPU is paired with the familiar Core i7-8750H. It’s an eight-generation Coffee Lake chip that we’ve seen in numerous gaming laptops – including in most versions of the Razer Blade 15. The CPU has six Hyper-Threaded cores, a 2.2GHz base clock speed, and a Turbo boost level of 4.1GHz. It’s easily enough pace and multi-threaded ability to avoid games bottlenecks. It’ll also handle plenty of work tasks, including photo and video editing and tough Office tools.

Most versions of the Blade also include this chip, but a few brand-new models can be configured with the Core i7-9750H. This new chip uses the same architecture as the i7-8750H, but it runs at 2.6GHz with a Turbo peak of 4.5GHz. You’ll get a modest performance boost from those tweaked clock speeds, but the experience won’t be transformed.

The Aorus 15 X9 has conventional components elsewhere. You get 16GB of DDR4 memory at a reasonable 2,666MHz. Windows 10 Home sits on a 512GB Intel 760p SSD, and this model has a 2TB hard disk.

The memory could be a little quicker and Samsung’s SSDs are faster than that Intel drive, but none of these components are slow. They’re on-par with what Razer includes in the Blade 15, too.

Aorus 15 X9 12Connectivity is impressive. You get Killer-branded, dual-band 802.11ac wireless and Killer Gigabit Ethernet, so network traffic will be optimised for games no matter how you connect.

The Aorus 15 X9 we’ve reviewed costs £2,199 in the UK and $2,199 in the US, and is the priciest version of the Aorus 15 X9 currently available. It also compares well to equivalent specifications of the Razer Blade: if you want to match the Aorus’ components in the Razer, it’ll cost you £2,359 in the UK and $2,399 in the US.

There is a cheaper model of the Aorus available. It costs £1,999 in the UK and a similar amount in the US. It has the exact same specification as the model reviewed here – but it loses the 2TB hard disk. If you don’t need that extra space for loads of games, then it’s a sensible way to save some money.

There’s also a machine available called the Aorus 15 W9. On the outside it’s the same as the X9, which means you get the same design and screen. On the inside, you get the same processor, memory and storage options, including both the SSD and hard disk. The big change comes in graphics: the Aorus 15 W9 has the RTX 2060, rather than the RTX 2070.

You get less graphical power with this version of the machine, of course, but the price drops to £1,899 in the UK and $1,649 in the US. If you don’t need top-tier power – if you player older games or esports titles, for instance – this could be the machine to buy.

The RTX 2060 versions of the Razer is also priced at £1,899 in the UK, but in the US you’ll have to shell out $1,999.

Click here for all of our in-depth graphics card reviews – including the RTX 2080 Ti, RTX 2080, RTX 2070 and RTX 2060!

Aorus 15 X9 Review – Ergonomics

Aorus 15 X9 09The Aorus 15 X9 has a conventional chiclet keyboard. It’s got per-key RGB LED backlighting that can be easily changed in software.

The keys themselves are pretty good – and certainly better than the Razer’s hardware. The Aorus’ buttons have a surprising amount of travel, and their action is consistent. They snap down quickly, and the keys feel solid and reliable.

Razer’s keys had a lot less travel than the Aorus’ buttons, which made gaming on the Razer feel weak and indistinct.

The Aorus’ buttons are far better than those on the Razer, and they’re easily good enough for mainstream games and for esports titles. However, serious gamers and those who play competitively will still prefer the deeper travel, heavier feel and increased speed of a mechanical unit.

The keyboard does also have a couple of layout quirks that keen gamers need to bear in mind. The numberpad buttons are narrower than the rest of the keys, and the cursor buttons are tiny.

It’s a similar story with the trackpad. It’s very wide, and the surface is smooth and accurate. The built-in buttons are reasonably fast, but they push down a little too far. Anyone who wants to properly game on this machine would be better off with a USB mouse.

Aorus 15 X9 Review – Gaming Performance

1080p Gaming BenchmarksThe full-fat RTX 2070 provides a solid boost over the RTX 2070 Max-Q that’s included in the Razer and in many other gaming notebooks.

It delivered 100fps minimums or better in Battlefield 1 and Witcher 3, and ran at 84fps or better in our other standard test games. Its averages got beyond 100fps in all five of our standard games.

There’s a clear gulf between the full-power RTX 2070 and the Razer’s Max-Q chip. In Battlefield 1, for instance, the Aorus machine returned an average of 131fps – while the Razer only managed 109fps. The Aorus’ score of 114fps in Witcher was far beyond the 87fps scored by the Razer machine.

Those scores mean that the Aorus will play most of today’s top games at triple-figure framerates, which means you’ve got enough performance to fully exploit the 144Hz screen. There’s easily enough power here for any esports title, too, and to output to VR headsets.

The Aorus also has the grunt to handle tougher games. It played Deus Ex: Mankind Divided with a 1080p average of 75fps, and Ghost Recon: Wildlands at 57fps. They’re good, playable scores, but you won’t get to 100fps and beyond in these games unless you reduce graphical quality a little.

The Aorus played Metro: Exodus at 57fps, too, and that scored dropped to 48fps when we activated Nvidia ray-tracing. The Aorus handled ray-tracing in Battlefield V, too: it played the game at 113fps without ray-tracing and DLSS and at 79fps with the new technology.

The gulf between the RTX 2070 and the Max-Q version is demonstrated by theoretical tests. In the 3D Mark Fire Strike Extreme test the Aorus scored 9,076 points. The Razer scored 7,979.

Need more news on the latest kit? Click here to check out the latest headlines.

Aorus 15 X9 Review – Application and Thermal Performance

Application BenchmarksThe Aorus shares the same CPU as the Razer, but the Aorus didn’t demonstrate any of the throttling issues that plagued the slimmer Razer – so the Aorus opened a decent lead in most of our CPU tests.

In the Cinebench test the Aorus scored 954cb – 130cb more than the Razer. The Aorus’ Geekbench multi-core result of 19,446 was almost 3,000 points ahead of the Razer, and the Aorus laptop was significantly quicker in PC Mark 8 too.

Both laptops returned similar scores in the single-core Geekbench test. That’s because it’s an easier benchmark where the Razer isn’t affected by throttling issues.

It’s good pace from the Aorus, and more consistent than the Razer. It means you won’t have any issues with games bottlenecks. It also means that the Aorus has enough power to handle photo and video editing, content creation and streaming. It’s only going to struggle with applications designed for proper workstation hardware.

The SSD isn’t bad, either. Its read and write speeds of 3,085MB/s and 1,027MB/s aren’t quite as good as top-tier Samsung drives. However, the speeds are easily good enough to keep the laptop snappy and boot times fast no matter what you’re doing.

The Aorus sounds good so far, but thermal performance was inconsistent and a little disappointing.

When it’s running less-intensive tasks, the Aorus uses its Normal fan mode. With this activated, the volume level was about on par with most other gaming laptops. However, the pitch of the noise was irritating – it’s higher and whinier than most rival machines.

Aorus 15 X9 09With this Normal fan mode deployed and with games running, the CPU and GPU hit peak temperatures of 81°C and 85°C. They’re both fine. However, with a full-system stress-test activated the CPU hit a toasty 96°C. It’s rare for all of the components to be stressed in this way, but it’s worth remembering this if you do want to run the CPU and GPU at full pelt for prolonged periods. Happily, the exterior never became warm.

The Aorus also has a Maximum fan mode, and this option is the machine’s biggest headache. While it did reduce that peak CPU temperature to a reasonable 87°C, it’s tremendously loud – certainly louder than almost anything else on the market, and loud enough to drown out the laptop speakers and to bleed through a headset.

Annoyingly, this loud Maximum mode is activated dynamically during many gaming scenarios, and sometimes during less demanding applications and moments. The Maximum mode can be switched back to Normal using a dedicated keyboard button, which is good – but it’s still an irritation.

The Razer didn’t have a clean bill of health during thermal tests, either. We’ve already noted that its CPU throttled, and its metal exterior became hot. Razer’s machine was never as loud as the Aorus, but it did also produce fan noise.

And then, finally, there’s battery life. The Aorus lasted for just over 90 minutes in the PC Mark 8 test, and around an hour during games. The Razer lasted for 90 minutes in a gaming test. If you want to play games on the Aorus, don’t leave the socket.

Check out our guide to the best laptop for all situations!

Screen and Sound

The Aorus has a 15.6in IPS panel with a 1080p resolution and a 144Hz refresh rate. That’s good, but it doesn’t have G-Sync – so games will be smooth on this panel, but screens with Nvidia’s technology will be a little bit better.

The Razer Blade 15 is also available with a 144Hz Full HD screen without G-Sync. This is one area where Razer offers more versatility. It can also be purchased with a 4K touchscreen or with a Full HD screen with a vast 240Hz refresh rate.

Aorus 15 X9 02Nevertheless, the Aorus 15 X9’s screen specification is great for gaming, especially because refresh rates offer diminishing returns as they get higher. The Aorus offers reasonable quality levels, too, although it’s not without its problems.

The colours are the high point. The temperature of 6,539K is superb, and the average Delta E of 1.72 is just as good. It means that colours are rendered extremely accurately, which helps makes games look their best. The panel renders 89.3% of the sRGB gamut – which could be better. However, that’s still fine for gaming.

The Aorus’ peak brightness level of 269cd/m2 is middling, and the black point of 0.3cd/m2 is also a little average. The former figure is good enough to cope with gaming under bright lights, but the latter figure means that dark areas won’t look as deep and absorbing as they do on other machines.

Those results combine for a contrast ratio of 897:1. That’s a mediocre result, too. It means that colours don’t have as much vibrancy and punch as they do on other screens, and that the panel doesn’t display the variety of shades that can be seen on machines with better contrast.

It’s not a ruinous problem, but it does mean that the Aorus’ accurate colours don’t get the depth and vitality they deserve.

The screen is still easily good enough for gaming, and it’s not going to be problematic in day-to-day use. However, if you do want a screen with more punch and higher contrast, the Razer is better.

The speakers have decent high-end noise and even manage to find a little bit of bass, but they do have a weak mid-range. If you’re at all serious about gaming, then you’d be better with a headset.

Conclusion

Aorus 15 X9 02Our Aorus 15 X9 review demonstrates just how good the full-power, mobile RTX 2070 is – especially when compared to the Max-Q version used in the Razer and in numerous other machines. The RTX 2070 inside the Aorus is significantly quicker than the Razer’s GPU in all gaming benchmarks, which means it’s got enough power to today’s top-tier games – alongside ample grunt for high refresh-rate gaming and ray-tracing.

Elsewhere, the Aorus has a decent CPU, plenty of memory and storage, and better keyboard and trackpad quality than the Razer.

The Aorus is far from perfect, though. The screen contrast should be better. Build quality is middling even though this machine is thicker and heavier than its rival. The Aorus is sometimes extremely loud, too.

The Aorus 15 X9 delivers more gaming power than the Razer, and often for less cash – so it’s worth considering if one of those Max-Q GPUs just doesn’t offer enough grunt. However, be aware of the Aorus 15 X9’s noise and build quality issues before deciding to open your wallet.

The machine in our Aorus 15 X9 review costs £2,199 in the UK and $1,999 in the US. Discuss our Aorus 15 X9 review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading our Aorus 15 X9 review, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!

The Good

  • RTX 2070 is impressively fast
  • Decent components elsewhere
  • Screen has good colour quality
  • Keyboard and trackpad are decent

The Bad

  • Too much noise in certain situations
  • Build quality could be better
  • Screen needs more contrast

The Specs

CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H
Memory: 16GB 2,666MHz DDR4
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 8GB
Screen: 15.6in 1,920 x 1,080 IPS 144Hz
Dimensions: 361 x 246 x 24mm (WxDxH)
Weight: 2.4kg
Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1
Ports 1 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x audio jack, 1 x microSD card reader, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Mini-DisplayPort, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
Hard disk: 512GB Intel 760p M.2 SSD, 2TB Seagate Barracuda hard disk
Warranty: 1yr RTB

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Aorus 15 X9

About Author

Darren Roberts

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