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Gigabyte Aero 15X Review

Gigabyte Aero 15X Review

Gigabyte Aero 15XThe Gigabyte Aero 15X is a laptop that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Gigabyte is selling this system as a classy portable for mobile professionals, but it’s got the slim design that wouldn’t seem out of place on the best consumer machines.

Meanwhile, on the inside, there’s a Core i7 processor and GTX 1070 graphics. That’s the kind of hardware we’d expect in a gaming notebook.

What’s certain, though, is that this is a high-end, luxurious bit of kit – and that you’ll have to fork out either $2,199 or £1,999 if you’d like to get your hands on it.

Gigabyte Aero 15X Review – Design

Gigabyte’s latest laptop is made from dark, machined aluminium, with subtle logos and a strip of carbon-fibre detailing near the hinge. There are RGB LEDs in the keyboard, but that’s it – there’s no extra ornamentation.

That’s in stark contrast to the Aero’s biggest rival – another machine from Gigabyte. The P56XT is a 15.6in laptop with the same core specification as this machine, and a lower price of £1,844. That machine has orange accents, chunkier air vents and a full 15.6in frame, so it’s more imposing.

Gigabyte Aero 15XThe Aero’s understated design shifts focus to the screen. Gigabyte has used a 15.6in panel in this machine, but the Aero’s exterior is built for 14in panels. That means the Gigabyte’s bezel is just 5mm thick – which means the top half of this machine really is almost all monitor.

Gigabyte Aero 15XThat’s great for work and play, and it’s not the only bit of hardware that’s squeezed in. The keyboard extents right to the edges, which means it’s a full-size unit with a numberpad despite the Aero’s smaller physical design.

The Gigabyte Aero 15X lives up to its name with a 20mm body that weighs 2.1kg. That’s tiny enough to ensure that this machine won’t weigh you down, and it’s more manageable than its rival. The Gigabyte P56XT was a full 11mm thicker and half a kilo heavier.

The newer Gigabyte has plenty of ports: three USB 3 connectors, a USB 3.1 jack, a card reader and Thunderbolt all feature. There’s a Gigabit Ethernet port, too, which is often omitted on slimmer laptops, and that is paired with 802.11ac wireless.

There’s not much to dislike about the Aero’s exterior. The 14in frame is used to full effect with its 15.6in screen and full-size keyboard, build quality is good, and the design is smart and subtle – so it’ll appeal to professionals and gamers who want something that looks a little more discreet.

Gigabyte Aero 15X Review – Ergonomics

The Gigabyte Aero 15X has the usual Scrabble-tile keyboard, although we’re pleased that the Aero’s 14in frame uses all of its width to include a full-size unit – it means there’s room for a numberpad.

Gigabyte Aero 15XThe keyboard has full RGB LED lighting, which is a technology borrowed from Gigabyte’s gaming laptops, and the layout is fine – the single-height Return key is our only minor issue.

Quality levels are high. The keys are full-size, flat and comfortable, and they press down with impressive speed and a consistent action. The reliable keys hammer into an extremely solid base – no surprise with the Gigabyte’s aluminium construction.

All of that means this laptop is excellent for typing. We were quickly up to speed, and the high-quality action meant we produced long documents without fingertip fatigue. It’s quiet, too.

That’s great for productivity, but the scrabble-tile unit is less impressive for gaming – just like every rival, the relatively shallow travel distance and quiet, light action is far removed from the firmer and deeper designs that are found on the best gaming products. In this department, it’s just average.

The trackpad is excellent, no matter the task. Its clicking action is fast and shallow, and the pad itself is accurate.

Gigabyte Aero 15X Review – Components

This machine has a GTX 1070 on the inside – but not the same chip that we’ve seen in numerous other notebooks.

Instead, Gigabyte has deployed the GTX 1070’s Max-Q variant. This tweaked chip retains the 2,048 stream processors and 8GB of memory, but reduces the core clock to 1,215MHz – down from the chip’s original pace of 1,442MHz.

Gigabyte Aero 15XThe change reduces the GTX 1070’s TDP from 120W to a peak of 90W. That change allows the GTX 1070 to be used inside slimmer laptops – just like the Gigabyte – without causing thermal issues.

The rival Gigabyte P56XT, meanwhile, deployed the full-fat GTX 1070, so its Pascal stream processors and 8GB of memory are paired with a core that can reach a GPU Boost peak of 1,645MHz. That should give the P56XT an advantage, at least in pure speed.

The cut-back graphics core is paired with a conventional high-end specification. The Gigabyte Aero 15X has the quad-core i7-7700HQ processor, which runs at 2.8GHz with a boost peak of 3.8GHz, and 16GB of dual-channel memory. There’s a 512GB Samsung SSD, but no hard disk – an omission that may be problematic for gamers.

The system is managed by Gigabyte’s usual range of software. The SmartManager app serves up quick links to Windows settings alongside system management tools and a couple of screen and fan tweaking modules, and the Gigabyte Fusion app is used to record macros and tweak the keyboard lighting.

Those apps are borrowed directly from Gigabyte’s gaming laptops, though – there’s nothing extra here for serious professionals.

Gigabyte Aero 15XGigabyte Aero 15X Review – Full Specification

CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ
Memory: 16GB 2,400MHz DDR4
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 8GB Max-Q
Sound: On-board
Screen size: 15.6in 1,920 x 1,080 Full HD
Hard disk: 512GB Samsung SM961 SSD
Weight: 2.1kg
Ports: 3 x USB 3, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x Thunderbolt, 1 x audio, 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x SDXC
Dimensions: (W x D x H): 356 x 250 x 20mm
Extras: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi
Warranty: 2yr RTB

Gigabyte Aero 15X Review – Performance

The Max-Q GTX 1070 might be running at a reduced speed, but it’s hardly slow.

Gigabyte Aero 15XOur five games benchmarks run at very high-quality levels and at 1,920 x 1,080, and the Gigabyte’s weakest minimum here was 51fps in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor – so you can be sure that any current game will run smoothly. Averages started at 69fps and hit three figures in two games.

Gigabyte Aero 15XThat’s a good bill of health, but the full-fat GTX 1070 is better. In the same tests the Gigabyte P56XT’s minimum framerates began at 55fps and its averages got beyond 100fps in four titles.

The 3D Mark test also demonstrates the performance gap between the chips. The Gigabyte’s Max-Q card scored 12,324 points in the Fire Strike test, but the P56XT was about 1,200 points quicker.

The Max-Q version of this card remains fast enough to handle any current game at 1080p at the highest quality levels. Performance won’t suffer with Max-Q, but the revised GPU won’t be as adept when outputting to VR headsets – or when playing top-tier games in a couple of years.

There are no such problems with the processor. Its Geekbench results are a little better than the P56XT’s figures, but the positions were reversed in the Cinebench tests.

The full results are in our graph, but the bottom line is simple: the Core i7 chip will handle gaming, general-purpose multi-tasking and almost all work software, with only the toughest workstation applications beyond its reach – and this laptop isn’t really designed for that kind of software anyway.

Gigabyte Aero 15XThe SSD is similarly rapid, with read and write speeds of 3,186MB/s and 1,625MB/s. Those figures are much better than the P56XT, and the impact can be felt in the Aero’s lighting load times and rapid boot speed.

The Gigabyte remained cool and quiet in most tasks, and the Aero remained relatively subdued when we stress-tested the processor and the graphics card. With those single components tested the machine progressed up through six levels of fan noise, but it was always quieter than its rival Gigabyte system.

Neither component throttled its clock speeds, which was an issue with the P56XT, and the CPU and GPU hit peak temperatures of 86°C and 77°C. Both are an improvement on the other Gigabyte machine, and the latter is far better – so the Max-Q GTX 1070 is clearly working. The exterior was cool enough during tests, too.

The Aero’s air intake is on the bottom panel, with hot air expelled through a small vent between the screen and the keyboard. Most of the time, that’s fine – but using the Gigabyte on a bed or a sofa, or any surface that’s likely to impede the air input, and you’ll hit problems.

Gigabyte Aero 15XWith the CPU and GPU stress-tested and the Aero positioned on our sofa, the CPU and GPU’s peak temperatures hit 91°C and 85°C, and the bottom of the laptop became too toasty for us to touch.

That’s an issue, but it won’t be a frequent problem – only if you stress this machine with demanding software, for extended periods of time, on surfaces that will disrupt the flow of air into the machine. In every other scenario, it’s much better.

Battery life, meanwhile, is surprisingly good. This isn’t a gaming laptop, and its 94Wh power pack is bigger than the batteries in most gaming products.

In PC Mark 8’s battery benchmark the Aero lasted for five hours and 25 minutes – more than two hours ahead of the P56XT. The larger power pack and low-power graphics core clearly have an impact.

Careful power management should see a full day of use for this machine in a working scenario, although gamers still won’t get much more than two hours from the Aero.

Gigabyte Aero 15XGigabyte Aero 15X Review – Screen and Speakers

The Gigabyte’s screen has an impressive headline feature: it’s been calibrated in partnership with Pantone. The New Jersey company is an international authority on colour accuracy, and every Aero 15X is tweaked before it leaves the factory to ensure the best colours possible.

That’s a boon for work, of course, but it’s going to improve things everywhere else – games and films will look more accurate, and even photos on Facebook will have more punch.

Predictably, the screen’s average Delta E sat at 0.5, which is a stellar result. It’s a consistent panel, with brightness uniformity levels that sit at around 9% or less, even in the corners.

The screen’s brightness level of 334cd/m2 is huge, and the black level of 0.25cd/m2 is correspondingly deep – which means rich, dark shades that really do look inky. The contrast ratio of 1,336:1 is better than most laptops, which means that the Aero will deliver more vivacity and depth than most other notebook monitors.

The Pantone calibration will help work and is a boon to every other task, and every one of this machine’s benchmark results is better than the Gigabyte P56XT. It’s a superb screen.

It’s paired with solid speakers, too. There’s no subwoofer, which means bass is a little weak, but it’s good in every other department, with the quality and clarity to make games sound better than most small laptops manage.

Gigabyte Aero 15X Review – Conclusion

Gigabyte Aero 15XThere are few areas where Gigabyte’s latest laptop doesn’t prove extremely impressive.

The Core i7 processor and SSD are both fast, and the cut-down GTX 1070 is fast enough – even if it can’t match the full-fat version of the same GPU.

The reduced GTX 1070 speeds allow the Gigabyte to deliver better thermal performance and battery life when compared to rival machines, and it’s both ergonomically sound and impressively svelte.

The screen is a stunner, too, thanks to that Pantone calibration: the colours are accurate and the contrast is top-notch.

Ignore the fact that this machine is targeted at professional users. It’s simply an excellent notebook, and it’ll suit office workers, gamers and home users. Anyone who needs a small, smart laptop with plenty of power should consider the Aero 15X.

The Gigabyte Aero 15X (15X-CF2) is available for $2,199 in the US and £1,999 in the UK. Like this laptop? Tell us your thoughts on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Gigabyte Aero 15X-CF2

About Author

Mike Jennings

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