Gigabyte Aero 15X Laptop Review
Gigabyte Aero 15X Laptop Review and Benchmarks. The Gigabyte Aero 15x is a seriously impressive laptop, featuring a 6 core CPU, 1070 Max-Q graphics, 144Hz screen and large 94 watt hour battery packed into such a small space. Let’s find out what the laptop has to offer as well as how well it performs through various benchmarks to help you decide if it’s worth buying. Let’s start by checking out the specs of the hardware.
This is the first laptop I’ve tested with Intel’s new 8th generation Coffee Lake mobile chips, and we’ve got an i7 8750H CPU here which has a base clock speed of 2.2GHz but can turbo all the way up to 4.1GHz in single core workloads. There’s 16GB of DDR4 memory running at 2,666MHz in single channel, however the two slots can support up to 32GB. For storage there’s a 512GB M.2 NVME SSD installed, but there’s also a second M.2 NVME slot so you can upgrade the storage further. For the graphics there’s an Nvidia 1070 Max-Q, and this one has a 15.6 inch 1080p 144Hz IPS panel, however it’s also available in 4K, and we’ll see how this performs soon in the benchmarks. For the network connectivity there’s a gigabit ethernet port, support for 802.11ac WiFi, as well as Bluetooth 4.2.
The lid and interior are a matte black aluminium, and overall the body of the laptop felt nice and solid, the build quality seems quite good and I didn’t notice any overly sharp edges, which are plastic. The physical dimensions of the laptop are 35.6cm in width, 25cm in depth, and 1.89cm in height, so it’s fairly small for a 15 inch laptop due to the thin screen and small bezels. The total weight of the laptop is listed at around 2.0kg with the battery, and mine weighed close to this. With the 180w power brick and cable for charging, the total weight increases to 2.7kg, so overall it’s quite light and portable. As mentioned the screen here is a 15.6 inch 144Hz 1080p IPS matte panel, no G-Sync available here, although I don’t personally miss it on high refresh rate displays anyway, it’s more beneficial at around the 60Hz range.
The viewing angles are excellent, the colours are still clear even on sharp angles. As you’ve probably noticed it’s also got very thin bezels on the sides and at the top, they’re just 5mm thin. You can attach up to 3 external displays too, using the 40gbps thunderbolt 3, mini displayport, or hdmi ports. I’ve also measured the colours produced by the 1080p screen using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 93% of sRGB, 64% of NTSC and 69% of AdobeRGB, so nothing incredible but not too bad, I’d happily use it for content creation.
The panel in the 4K model is listed as 100% sRGB, so you’ve got that option if you want a more accurate panel. I’ve performed my usual backlight bleed test on the display, which involves having the laptop show a black screen in a dark room to help emphasize any bleeding. I then take a long exposure photo to display any bleed, so this is a worst case scenario test. As you can see there does appear to be a little bleed here, but it’s very minor and I could only just make it out with my own eyes, but this will of course vary between laptops. While moving the display there was only a little bit of flex, it was fairly solid as the hinge mechanism runs along most of the base of the laptop. It can also be opened easily with one finger, demonstrating a fairly even weight distribution. As the bezels around the display are so thin, the only spot for the 720p camera is underneath the display.
The camera doesn’t look too good even with decent lighting, still quite grainy, and as it’s placed low you get the classic up the nose view. The microphone isn’t that great either, but you’ll be able to judge both for yourself. Next to the camera there’s a light sensor, and the software will automatically adjust the screen brightness appropriately based on the room lighting, personally I found this a little annoying and disabled it, but it’s an option.
The keyboard was really nice to type with, I found the keys slightly clicky to press, here’s how they sound just to give you an idea. It’s an RGB keyboard with individual key backlighting, so you can apply a lot of different effects through the Gigabyte Fusion software. Throughout the video the key lighting may look like it’s flickering, that’s just to do with the shutter speed of my camera not matching the lights, in person the lighting is completely solid and does not flicker at all. 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 touchpad uses ELAN drivers and was extremely smooth to the touch, it felt great. It presses down anywhere to click, but you have to press in the bottom right corner to right click. I got used to this in the end, but in general wasn’t a fan, as I personally prefer the two finger press anywhere right click system. Moving onto the I/O on the left there’s the ethernet port, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port, HDMI 2.0 port, mini DisplayPort 1.4 output, and 3.5mm audio combo jack. On the right there’s an SD card reader, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port with thunderbolt support, two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, power input, and kensington lock. There’s nothing on the front other than some status LEDs towards the right, and nothing at all on the back. Up on the lid there’s the Gigabyte logo which lights up white while the laptop is powered on, and down the bottom there’s this carbon fiber looking texture. Fingerprints do show up, but they’re fairly easy to wipe away. Underneath there’s some air intakes towards the back to keep everything cool, as well as some rubber feet which do a good job at stopping the laptop from easily moving around.
The hot air is exhausted out the back just below the monitor, so this area heats up quite a bit as we’ll see soon. The two speakers are found underneath towards the front corners. They sound alright, not too bad, minimal bass but they stay clear even at loud volumes. Powering the laptop is a 94 Watt hour battery, and 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 laptop was using the Intel integrated graphics, thanks to Nvidia Optimus. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 1 hour and 54 minutes. This is the best battery life in a laptop I’ve seen out of all the laptops featured on the channel, and considering the fairly high end specs inside I was very impressed by the huge battery.
During normal use with an ambient room temperature of 22 degrees celsius, the CPU and GPU both idled in the mid 30s, and here are the external temperatures of the laptop where you’ll actually be putting your hands, getting to around 30 degrees in the center. I’ve tested gaming by playing PUBG at high settings with default fan speeds for half an hour and the temps for that are shown in green, a little CPU thermal throttling was observed in this test. While gaming the keyboard area got into the high 40s but the rest was surprisingly cool, the left and right sides of the keyboard actually felt cold. Full CPU and GPU load was tested with both Aida64 and the Heaven benchmark running at the same time. With the default fan profile in use I was seeing some CPU throttling, not too surprising considering there’s 6 cores maxed out, but keep in mind most real world applications won’t actually act this way, this is a stress test. Again the keyboard area is similar to before, high 40s in the center and cool sides.
The bottom of the laptop does get quite hot, so I don’t recommend using it on your lap under high levels of load. By manually maxing out the fans the temperatures hardly change and the throttling is still taking place, but the overall system volume increases quite a lot, as you’ll hear soon.
The keyboard area looks about the same, perhaps just a touch cooler now. As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to each of these tests. At idle I could only just hear the fan, while gaming it’s actually slightly quieter than many other thicker and less powerful laptops that I’ve tested, so it seems like the max-q graphics may actually be helping out there. With the fans maxed out it does get fairly loud though for little cooling improvements. I’ll also note that there was no noticeable coil whine while testing in my unit. Finally let’s take a look at some benchmarks, we’ll first cover some real world gaming benchmarks followed by tests with various benchmarking tools.
All tests were run at 1080p, and older Nvidia 388.92 drivers were in use. I’m still not 100% about this, but it seems that the Aero 15x thinks these are the newest available drivers for it, and they’re what’s available through the Gigabyte website as of a couple of weeks ago. I tried to manually install the latest from Nvidia but it failed, so this seems to be the newest available here. I’ll also quickly note that as the laptop comes with single channel memory, small improvements could be had by upgrading to dual channel in some games.
By popular demand I’ve started testing Fortnite, and with the lowest settings we’re averaging 144 FPS which fully utilizes the 144Hz display in the laptop, but I thought it felt nice and smooth even maxed out. Overwatch was fairly similar, we’re getting fairly high frame rates and at epic it ran nice and smoothly for me, as shown by the fairly high 1% low frame rates. CS:GO was averaging just under the maximum refresh rate of the display, with the 1% lows sitting around 60 FPS so again it ran quite well. PUBG was tested using the replay feature, but take the results with a grain of salt, as like Fortnite it will depend on what’s going on in the game, so the results will vary quite a lot.
While I was playing it ran pretty well, no noticeable issues. Dota 2 was tested using a fairly intensive replay, so this should be a worst case scenario, realistically you’ll probably get better results than this while playing. Battlefield 1 also ran well, and again even at max settings to me it felt nice and smooth, with 1% low frame rates just under 60 FPS. The witcher 3 doesn’t really need a high frame rate to enjoy, to me it ran well even at ultra settings despite the large drop compared to the other levels.
Rise of the tomb raider was tested with the built in benchmark, nothing in particular to call out other than it’s running pretty well. Ghost recon is a fairly resource intensive game, and was again tested with the built in benchmark. The frame rate drops down a little at ultra settings, but seems pretty good at any level below this. Watchdogs 2 is another fairly resource intensive game, but is another that I personally think doesn’t need a high frame rate to play.
The averages and 1% lows are fairly close together at the top 3 levels, so you might as well just play on ultra settings. DOOM was tested with Vulkan, and we’re able to get above 100 FPS averages at any setting level with not really too much difference between the setting levels. Shadow of war was another game tested with the built in benchmark, and we’re just able to average above 60 FPS at ultra settings.
Overall the gaming results were pretty decent, however in general the 1070 Max-Q doesn’t really seem to be powerful enough to consistently make use of the 144Hz 1080p panel in many modern games, but it depends on the game and settings in use. Some of the esports titles like csgo, overwatch and fortnite are able to reach high enough frame rates to make use of the refresh rate, but in general only at the lower setting levels, so it probably would have better been paired with a non Max-Q 1070 or above.
Personally I see this as a great laptop for content creators, and would have liked to have seen a cheaper 1080p 60Hz option available. Now onto the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, and VRMark from 3DMark, just pause the video if you want a detailed look at the results.
The clock speeds of Max-Q graphics can vary between laptops, as the speeds depend on the particulars of the laptop. While under full load for an extended period of time at default I was averaging around 1380MHz on the core clock. There was a little headroom to perform overclocking, in MSI afterburner I increased the GPU core clock by 200Mhz and on average it was sitting at 1470MHz in games, but this would vary based on the game and length played and could boost up to 1700MHz.
I was testing with the fans maxed out and the temperatures didn’t actually change to what we were seeing without the overclock, so seems possible to get a nice little boost however I wasn’t practically seeing much difference in terms of frame rate changes, so didn’t bother retesting all the games with the overclock applied, but again this will vary between laptops. I’ve just quickly got some CPU benchmarks here, and we can see that it’s a decent step up from the 7th generation as we’ve got two extra cores with faster single threaded clock speeds, however I want to do this more justice in a dedicated future comparison video.
In this particular laptop all cores were sitting at around 3.1GHz while I was gaming for an extended period, as a result of the previously mentioned throttling. In Crystal Disk Mark the 512GB NVME M.2 SSD performed around 2500MB/s in sequential reads and 1600MB/s in sequential writes, so really quite well. At idle the NVME drive sat at around 42 degrees, and towards the end of a Crystal Disk Mark run it peaked at 55 degrees with default fans.
The UHS2 SD card reader also did alright with my UHS2 card, I’ve seen better results from other laptops but I’ve also had worse. As for the price this laptop comes in at just around $3300 AUD here in Australia, or about $2300 USD in the US, but this can differ a bit based on memory and drive options, as well as other upgrades like the 4K panel. It’s not cheap, but the laptop does have a lot of nice features and it just might be worth it. After using it I’m considering upgrading to it personally, but might hold off until I test out some more 8th gen models.
The best lightweight gaming laptop yet
NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang flaunted a Gigabyte Aero 15X at CES as to show how Max-Q tech can make laptops both light and powerful. With the updated 2018 Aero 15X, Gigabyte has shown it’s not just about the graphics. It features an all-new eighth-generation Intel 6-core CPU and with a new 144Hz display, addresses the last model’s biggest shortfall for gamers. At the same time, it retains the clever design, NVIDIA GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics and huge battery, making the Aero 15X the best lightweight gaming laptop you can buy. That said, there are a host of similar laptops coming soon, so Gigabyte might not retain its crown for long.
Gigabyte didn’t mess with the design of the original Aero 15X, other than replacing the “Gigabyte” lettering on the screen with a fancy new “Aero” logo. It also kept the brushed black aluminum chassis, port layout, weird webcam and everything else external. Since the last model had a near perfect blend of power, weight and battery life, it’s easy to understand why it stayed the course. Some may call the design bland, but I like that it has Superman-like power under a Clark Kent exterior.
At 18mm (0.7 inches) thick, it is about as thin as its key lightweight gaming laptop rivals, the MSI GS63VR 7RG Stealth Pro and ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501. It’s a bit heavier than the 4.2-pound MSI, weighing 4.5 pounds, but much lighter than the 4.9-pound ASUS. Suffice to say, it’s thin enough to put in my Peak Design shoulder bag and light enough to carry around without breaking my back.
The keyboards for speed typing, but fortunately the Aero 15X has one of the best I’ve tried, thanks to the slightly concave keys, short travel and satisfyingly solid rebound. As before, it’s backlit with Gigabyte’s Fusion tech, which lights up each key individually with up to 16 million colors — the laptop’s only bit of gaming flash.
Like on many other Windows 10 laptops, the touchpad on Gigabyte’s flagship is just okay. The level of friction is good, click pressure isn’t too heavy and tapping works well. However, it occasionally mis-detected my palm, and doesn’t support three- or four-finger Windows 10 gestures used for summoning Cortana and other functions. Gamers and serious graphics users will want a mouse, but the touchpad will at least do in a pinch.
Speaking of peripherals, the Aero 15X has a generous array of high-speed ports for power users. You get one Thunderbolt, three USB 3.1 ports, SD card slot, HDMI 2.0, mini-DP and even an RJ-45 ethernet port. You can squeeze in a generous amount of storage too, thanks to a pair of M.2 PCI-E slots.
So what did you guys think of the Aero 15x laptop from Gigabyte? Overall I was very impressed with this laptop, afterall I just said I’m considering buying one. The build quality is excellent, the thin bezel gives it an overall small footprint, it’s fairly lightweight considering the specs, the battery lasts for ages, the performance of the 6 core CPU and 1070 Max-Q graphics was great and can be improved with an external GPU enclosure thanks to the thunderbolt support and I thought the keyboard was great to use.
Learn more about the GIGABYTE Aero 15X v8-BK4K4P
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