Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 RTX 2070 Max-Q Laptop Review – New Feature AI

The Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 RTX 2070 Max-Q Laptop Review. The Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 is a thin laptop which is a great option for both gaming and content creation, so let’s find out what’s on offer, how well it performs and if it’s a laptop you should consider buying. These are the specs we’re dealing with, a 6 core Intel i7-8750H CPU, 16GB of memory running in single channel, Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics, a 15.6” 1080p 144Hz IPS screen, and 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD.

Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 RTX Laptop Review
Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 RTX Laptop Review

The Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 Network

For network connectivity we’ve got killer gigabit ethernet as well as WiFi version 5 with Bluetooth 5 support. It’s also available with the overclockable i9-8950HK or dual channel memory, while the Y9 model has RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics.

The chassis is basically the same as the older v8 model, but I’ll be comparing both in a future video, so get subscribed for that. The lid and interior are a matte black aluminium with plastic trim, and overall it felt well built.

The dimensions of the Aero 15 X9

The dimensions of the Aero 15 are 35.6cm in width, 25cm in depth, and just under 1.9cm in height, so on the smaller side for a 15 inch machine. The weight is listed at around 2kg on the Gigabyte website, and I found mine to weigh 2.1KG, or just over 2.9KG with the 230 watt power brick and cables included.

The dimensions of the Aero 15 X9
The dimensions of the Aero 15 X9

It’s got an LG 15.6” 1080p 144Hz IPS panel, no G-Sync here, although you’ve also got the option of a 4K 60Hz panel with higher colour gamut. No issues at all for me with viewing angles due to the IPS panel, and the top and side bezels are just 5mm thin.

The Screen of the Aero 15 X9

I’ve measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 97% of sRGB, 66% of NTSC and 72% of AdobeRGB, so fairly good results for a gaming laptop, and it comes colour calibrated from the factory. At 100% brightness I measured the panel at 336 nits in the center, and with a 670:1 contrast ratio, so decent brightness although contrast is a bit lower than I’d like, but again expect better results with the 4K panel.

The display of the Aero 15 X9
The display of the Aero 15 X9

I’ve taken a long exposure photo in a dark room as a worst case backlight bleed test, and there was a little picked up by the camera. To my own eyes this wasn’t viewable, but this will vary between laptops and panels.

Screen flex was about average while intentionally moving it, but as the screen hinge is basically most of the width of the body it was fairly stable. It can easily be opened up with one finger, demonstrating a fairly even weight distribution, it sat on my lap fine. The 720p nose cam is found down the bottom in the center.

The camera and Keyboard of the Aero 15 X9

The camera quality looks alright aside from the up the nose look and you can see your fingers while typing, otherwise the microphone sounds pretty bad. The keyboard has individual RGB backlighting and can be controlled through Gigabyte’s Fusion software, although the AI features will also control it, for instance if you open a particular game it will highlight keys used in the game.

Keyboard of the Aero 15 X9
Keyboard of the Aero 15 X9

The lights may look flickery on camera, that’s just due to the shutter speed of my camera, in person they look solid. Gigabyte told me that the keyboard is the same one used in the previous v8 Aero laptops, however I haven’t had any issues with this one so far, no problems with typing and here’s how it sounds to give you an idea of what to expect.

There was a bit of keyboard flex while pushing down fairly hard, but this wasn’t an issue at all while typing normally, overall it felt fairly sturdy. The touch pad felt extremely smooth to the touch and worked well.

Drivers and Ports of the Aero 15 X9

The new Aero 15 laptops use precision drivers rather than ELAN like the older model which is great, no need to manually update. Fingerprints show up on the matte finish, but as it’s smooth they’re easy to wipe off. On the left there’s the ethernet port, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port, HDMI 2.0 port, USB 3.1 Type-C port with DisplayPort 1.4 support, and 3.5mm audio combo jack.

Ports of the Aero 15 X9
Ports of the Aero 15 X9

On the right there’s an SD card reader, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port with thunderbolt 3 support, two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, power input, and kensington lock. There’s nothing on the back, as air is exhausted below the screen, so you probably won’t want to close it while docked for best cooling.

There’s nothing on the front, just smooth plastic with a groove for getting your finger in to open the lid. On the lid there’s the Gigabyte logo in the center which lights up white, and a carbon fiber texture towards the bottom. Underneath are some air intake vents towards the back and the speakers towards the front left and right corners.

The speakers of the Aero 15 X9

The speakers sounded pretty good for a laptop, fairly clear even at higher volumes though a noticeable lack of bass. Opening the laptop is fairly straightforward, you just need a TR6 screwdriver. With the metal panel removed, from left to right we’ve got easy access to the WiFi card, battery, two memory slots, and two M.2 slots. I’ve got a whole video dedicated to upgrading the Aero 15x, which should apply here too, check the card in the top right corner for more information.

The battery of the Aero 15 X9

Powering the laptop is a large 94 watt hour battery. With a full charge and just watching YouTube videos with the screen on half brightness, keyboard lighting off and background apps disabled, I was able to use it for 6 hours and 15 minutes.

The Intel graphics were in use thanks to Nvidia Optimus, giving a very nice result for this test from a laptop with this hardware. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and the frame rate capped to 30 FPS with Nvidia’s battery boost it lasted for 1 hour and 35 minutes, however the frame rate did drop to unplayable levels 55 minutes into the test with 37 battery remaining, but it went back to 30 FPS after a bit, but then was back to unplayable levels at 20% remaining until zero.

I’ll also note that I never saw the battery drain while plugged into power with the 230 watt brick, it seems to be adequate for the specs in my unit.

The Temperature of the Aero 15 X9

The Temperature of the Aero 15 X9
The Temperature of the Aero 15 X9

Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 24 degrees Celsius, so expect different temperatures in different environments. Also keep in mind there are heatpipes shared between processor and graphics, so a change in one component may affect the other.

The AI feature of the Aero 15 X9

I’ll also briefly talk about Gigabyte’s new AI feature that comes with the v9 Aero laptops, so the new ones with RTX graphics. There are two modes, AI Edge and AI Cloud. AI Edge processes the data locally to make the best decisions in terms of what to change like fan speeds and power limits, while the AI Cloud setting will send data to Microsoft and get the best settings for the workload based on other user submitted data, so I’m expecting it to perform better.

Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 RTX 2070 Max-Q Laptop Review
Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 RTX 2070 Max-Q Laptop Review

Otherwise all other tests had the AI disabled unless stated otherwise. Starting down the bottom of the graph at idle, the temperatures were on the warmer side as the fans were basically silent. The gaming results were tested playing Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination of both processor and graphics. The stress tests were done by running the Heaven benchmark and the Aida64 stress test at the same time as a worst case scenario.

The CPU of the Aero 15 X9

The CPU was undervolted by -0.12v as denoted by UV on the graph, and the graphics overclock was with a 90MHz boost to the GPU core. I’ll also note that out of the box, the X9 was overvolted by 0.01v. In every single other test, the CPU was thermal throttling at 90 degrees Celsius, as shown by the blue bars, while the 2070 Max-Q graphics was thermal throttling in most tests, any time the green bar was at 86 degrees Celsius.

The graphics only stopped thermal throttling when the fan speed was manually maxed out, and at the top with the Thermaltake Massive 20 cooling pad in use I got the best results. These are the average clock speeds for the same tests just shown.

Some tests with the Aero 15 X9

Let’s start towards the bottom with the gaming tests. Despite thermal throttling taking place for each of these tests, there are clock speed differences from the different settings. Both of the AI settings were giving better performance compared to just running the laptop at stock, however from what I could tell the AI Cloud setting ran with a higher fan speed, which reduced thermal throttling, which is why I think it was ahead of the AI Edge results.

Either way, with my manual -0.12v undervolt to the CPU, +90MHz overclock to the graphics and with the fans manually set to maximum I’m getting a big improvement over both stock and the AI settings. At the top of the graph with our best case result using the cooling pad the 8750H was 500MHz from being able to reach the full 3.9GHz turbo boost speed due to thermal throttling.

These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load, and we’re seeing higher clockspeeds now as there’s less heat in the system without the graphics contributing. At stock I was hitting power limit throttling for the first time rather than thermal throttling.

By boosting the power limit with Intel XTU the clock speed was improved, however this now resulted in thermal throttling, which is why the undervolt at the top of the graph allows us to hit the full 3.9GHz turbo boost speed of the 8750H. These are the temperatures for the same tests just shown, and we can see that with the power limit boosted the 90 degrees Celsius throttling was reached, while the undervolt improved temperatures by 7 degrees Celsius while also boosting clock speed.

While it was possible to boost the power limit of the CPU, this was not attempted in the gaming and stress tests shown previously, there’s no point as thermal throttling was taking place without it, we only need to look at boosting the power limit if we’re hitting power limit throttling but that wasn’t the case there.

To demonstrate how this translates into performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks. While it was possible to get full CPU performance in Aida64 with the undervolt only, in Cinebench I still had power limit throttling at the default 52 watt TDP, so I had to boost it a bit to almost hit 1200, just a little under what I’d normally expect from an unconstrained 8750H.

Here are the GPU only clock speeds while under a graphical only stress test at stock and with a 90MHz overclock applied, and we’ll see how this affects game performance later. These are the temperatures from the same tests, no change with or without the overclock, and not reaching thermal throttling at 86 degrees Celsius as we saw in the combined CPU and GPU loads earlier.

As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle it was in the low to mid 30s, warmer up the back and cooler over the WASD keys. While gaming the palmrest and touchpad were still fairly cool, the middle of the keyboard was fairly warm though, getting to 50 degrees, the WASD keys are still sitting at around 30 though.

Similar deal with the stress test running. The back gets to the high 50s as hot air is exhausted below the screen, but I don’t think it’s an issue as you don’t rest your hands there. The bottom also gets quite hot under heavy load, something I personally had issues with while exporting CES videos in an airport with my 15X on my legs.

As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle it was almost silent, and then while gaming and under stress test with the fans at default it was actually very quiet, much quieter than most other similarly specced laptops I’ve tested.

With the fans maxed out it was quite a bit louder, now about the same as many other laptops I’ve tested, and as we saw earlier the fan boost improves CPU and GPU clock speeds by a fair bit. Overall my Aero 15 X9 is a hot machine, although at stock the fans aren’t actually that loud, and as we’ve seen performance is negatively affected as a result, and this is with the i7-8750H and 2070 Max-Q, the Y9 is available with i9-8950HK and 2080 Max-Q, so I’d be interested in seeing how that goes in the same body.

Some Gaming benchmarks with the Aero 15 X9

Finally let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks, all games were run at 1080p with the latest Windows updates and these Nvidia drivers, the latest Gigabyte provided at the time of testing. As the Aero 15 x9 is available in either single or dual channel memory configurations, I’ve tested both so you can see the difference.

The Aero 15 X9 with Fortnite

Fortnite was tested with the replay feature. The graphs can be a little confusing when there’s so much data, so I’ll spend some extra time covering this one. Basically I’ve got the setting levels used along the side, so low, medium, high and epic settings.

The Aero 15 X9 with Fortnite
The Aero 15 X9 with Fortnite

 

The blue bars represent dual channel memory, while the purple bars show single channel memory. While this game was easily playable at all settings with single channel memory, dual channel was giving a 23% improvement to average FPS at epic settings.

The Aero 15 X9 with Overwatch

Overwatch was tested playing in the practice range, and in terms of average FPS at epic settings there was only a 7% improvement, however this was much larger at lower settings. For example with low settings dual channel was averaging 37% higher average frame rates, but again the game was easily playable at max settings with either configuration.

The Aero 15 X9 with Battlefield 5

Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode and not in multiplayer mode, as it’s easier to consistently reproduce the test run. I apologize for the rainbow colours, but there’s not much you can do when trying to display so much information.

In this case the purple and green bars were tested with RTX on, and it wasn’t really playable at ultra or high settings, with averages in the mid 30 FPS, medium and low were ok though, both averaging above 60 FPS. In my personal opinion ultra settings with RTX off both looks better than lower settings with RTX on and performs better too.

The Aero 15 X9 with Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built in benchmark, and this test was able to average above 60 FPS even with the highest settings in single channel, but going to dual channel did improve average frame rate by 22%, with up to a 43% improvement seen with the lowest settings.

The Aero 15 X9 with CS:GO

CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical benchmark, and this test saw a huge difference between single and dual channel memory. With all settings maxed out there was a 42% improvement to average FPS with dual channel, shown by the blue bar right at the top of the graph.

The Aero 15 X9 with Rainbow Six Siege

Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and again there was a fair improvement with dual channel memory here, though realistically very high frame rates from the X9 in either case. At ultra settings there was a 35% improvement to average FPS with a dual channel memory configuration, and interestingly the 1% low with dual channel was around the average FPS from single channel.

The Aero 15 X9 with Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 was also tested with the built in benchmark, and the results were quite decent for this game, once again with a fair improvement from the dual channel configuration shown by the blue bars. At ultra settings there was a 16% improvement to average FPS with dual channel memory.

The Aero 15 X9 with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was another that was tested with the built in benchmark, and although I don’t think this game typically needs a high frame rate to play, at ultra high settings dual channel was improving average performance by 32%, with a smaller 15% improvement to 1% low.

The Aero 15 X9 with Watch Dogs 2

Watch Dogs 2 is a demanding game, but even with single channel at ultra settings I found it playable, however we can significantly improve the average frame rate with dual channel. At ultra settings there was a 38% improvement to average FPS, and a much larger 54% improvement to 1% low.

The Aero 15 X9 with The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3 was tested with Nvidia hairworks disabled, and it played fine on the X9 with either single or dual channel memory, even with ultra settings, although it was possible to improve average frame rate by 22% with dual channel.

The Aero 15 X9 with The Witcher 3
The Aero 15 X9 with The Witcher 3

I’ve got more games covered in the dedicated gaming benchmark video if you’re interested, just check the card in the top right corner. The i7-8750H and 2070 Max-Q graphics are giving us pretty good results in these games despite the thermal performance, they’re all easily playable with good settings no problem.

The X9 version of the Aero 15 is also available with an i9 CPU, so expect different results there. As we have seen there is a fair difference between single channel and dual channel memory, you can buy the Aero 15 x9 with either single or dual channel configurations, so I’d suggest dual channel based on these results if you plan on playing games.

The benchmarking tools

Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, and VRMark from 3DMark. As we saw earlier we’ve got the option of overclocking the graphics, undervolting the CPU and maxing out the fans to boost performance, so let’s see how this actually helps in gaming.

Far Cry 5 was retested using the built in benchmark at 1080p with ultra settings. Down the bottom I’ve got the results purely from running the laptop at stock. Just above this is with the fan set to full speed, which gives us the second best performance.

Far Cry 5 was retested using the built in benchmark at 1080p with ultra settings
Far Cry 5 was retested using the built in benchmark at 1080p with ultra settings

The AI Edge and AI Cloud settings are giving better performance compared to stock with the default fan, but simply setting the fan to full speed was enough to provide better performance as it helps reduce the thermal throttling.

Finally at the top once the CPU is undervolted by -0.12v and the graphics overclocked by 90MHz on the core and 400MHz on the memory with the fans at full we’re getting the best performance, not surprising, I think manually tuned settings will always win. I didn’t personally see much improvement with the AI feature, as we saw before I was able to get better results with my own simple tweaks, though of course most people probably won’t be doing that.

Compared to running at stock with AI disabled I was seeing some improvements with the AI, but better results were had by simply maxing out the fan which is something anyone can easily do. I think in future as different workloads are learned it may improve over time, it could just be that the AI isn’t currently optimized to best handle the workloads that I was testing, especially the AI Edge setting, as I presume that learns from my behaviour and I’ve only had the laptop for a couple of weeks, whereas AI Cloud has more data to work with from people around the world.

The storage  of the Aero 15 X9

For storage I’ve got a 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD installed, and this was providing very nice read and write speeds, but there’s also a second M.2 slot which supports both NVMe and SATA drives for upgrades. The UHS-II SD card slot was getting good results with my V90 card, the Aero has one of the best SD readers out of all laptops I’ve covered.

The storage of the Aero 15 X9
The storage of the Aero 15 X9

Price of the Aero 15 X9

For updated pricing check the links in the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording, in the US with these same specs it’s going for around $2400 USD, not too much more than the 15x. Here in Australia though, there’s a larger difference, with the new X9 with these specs going for $3700 AUD.

So what do you guys think about the Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 laptop? Overall, like the last generation I think it’s a nice machine, but it does get hot under heavy load, the webcam is still in a bad spot, and you’re paying more for RTX graphics which still don’t have many available games.

I personally use an Aero 15X, and I think it’s the best laptop available for me in terms of both gaming and content creation, the X9 is essentially the same, just a bit more powerful and overall more polished. For instance it’s got precision drivers out of the box now, updated control center software, and I’m interested to see how the AI feature goes in the future, however as we saw it doesn’t help too much yet.

Read more>>> Should you buy Gigabyte Aero 15x or MSI GS65?

The Aero 15 X9 has got nice build quality, it’s fairly thin, the battery is one of the best available in a laptop with these specs, but unless you really want RTX and that extra GPU power, or higher power from the optional i9 CPU, which given the thermal throttling will likely only see improvements in less core heavy workloads, it may make more sense to go for the cheaper 15X model.

I’ll have a comparison between the two soon, so get subscribed for that one. Let me know what you guys thought about the Gigabyte Aero 15 X9 laptop down in the comments, and leave a share to let me know if you found the review useful.

Jarrod Farncomb

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