Should you buy Gigabyte Aero 15x or MSI GS65?

Should you buy Gigabyte Aero 15x or MSI GS65?. The Gigabyte Aero 15x and MSI GS65 are quite similar in many aspects, both are thin and powerful gaming laptops, but which should you buy? This comparison will show you the differences between them and help you decide which one is right for you.

First let’s check out the differences in specs. Both laptops have the same Intel i7-8750H 6 core CPU, and well that’s about it in terms of similarities. My Aero 15x came with 1 16GB stick of DDR4 memory at 2,666MHz while my GS65 came with 2 8GB sticks of DDR4 memory at 2,400MHz, so although there will be some performance differences due to this, both laptops are available in a number of memory configurations and both can take up to 32GB at 2,666MHz, this is just what I had in my review units.

Aero 15X Performance Improvement

Aero 15x vs MSI GS65
Aero 15x vs MSI GS65

As I’ve got the 8RE version of the GS65 here it means that it’s got Nvidia 1060 graphics, while the Aero 15x has 1070 Max-Q graphics, so another important difference that will affect performance, however the 8RF version of the GS65 is also available with 1070 Max-Q graphics, so assuming you’re looking at that model in theory the performance differences shouldn’t be that drastic between the two.

As both units have different graphics though it does mean I can’t really fairly compare gaming benchmarks, so we’ll primarily be looking at everything else here. My Aero 15x has a 512gb NVMe M.2 SSD while the GS65 has a 512gb SATA SSD, however both laptops have two M.2 slots that support PCIe NVMe storage and are available with different options while buying.

It’s also worth noting that inside the GS65 the motherboard is basically upside down, so if you do want to perform any memory or disk upgrades you’ll need to first unplug everything and fully remove the motherboard to do this, which is not the case with the Aero 15x, making the Aero better for upgradeability. Both laptops also have 15.6 inch 1080p 144Hz panels, more on that later though.

Aero 15x vs MSI GS65
Aero 15x vs MSI GS65

For network connectivity both also have gigabit ethernet ports, support for 802.11ac WiFi, and Bluetooth version 4.2 in the Aero and version 5.0 in the GS65.

Both laptops have brushed matte black metal lids and interiors, I think they both look quite nice and unobtrusive, although the MSI one has gold trimming around various parts like the hinge and touchpad while the Aero was all plain. As for size differences they’re very close together, although the GS65 is just ever so slightly thinner, in either case still quite small for 15 inch laptops due to the thin bezels.

Aero 15X
Aero 15X

As for the weight differences the GS65 was over 200 grams lighter than the Aero 15x, and closer to 300 grams when you combine the 180 watt power bricks and cables for charging. As for the IO, on the left both laptops have their gigabit ethernet port, the GS65 has two USB 3.1 Type-A ports while the Aero just has one, the Aero also has a single 3.5mm audio combo jack while the GS65 has two separate headphone and mic jacks.

Ports
Ports

The Aero also has its mini DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 outputs here, while the GS65 has its video outputs over on the right hand side which include mini DisplayPort 1.2 and an unspecified version of HDMI port. The GS65 also has one USB 3.1 Type-A port on the right side while the Aero has two, either way both have a total of 3. Both laptops also have a USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port with Thunderbolt 3 support, and the Aero also has an SD card slot which the GS65 is missing.

The GS65 also has air exhaust vents on the sides in addition to the back, while the Aero exhausts air out the back below the display. The screens are also somewhat similar, both are 15.6 inch 1080p screens. The Aero uses a LG Philips panel while the GS65 uses an AUO panel.

The Aero’s is listed as IPS, while the GS65 is listed as IPS-Level, but I think both are advanced hyper-viewing angle, or AHVA which are basically IPS in terms of quality. They’re both 144Hz and to my eye they looked pretty good. I’ve measured the current colour gamuts of both displays using the Spyder 5 pro, and the one in the GS65 scored slightly better, however to my eyes both looked great and I’d happily use either for gaming or content creation.

Viewing angles were great with both too, even on sharp angles there was no noticeable colour shift, and the display of the GS65 was able to go right back 180 degrees. Neither laptop has G-Sync available either, but with 144Hz refresh rates that’s less of an issue while gaming.

The bezels on both screens are really thin, both are around 5mm or so, however despite this the GS65 is still able to keep the camera at the top in the center, while the Aero moves it down the bottom giving you that lovely up the nose view, but in either case the quality from the camera isn’t great, but the microphone on the GS65 was noticeably better than the Aero.

There was some backlight bleed detected with both laptops, there was less with the Aero, I could only just barely notice it in a dark room while I could occasionally notice the bleed from the GS65 in a normally lit room when viewing darker content, however this will vary between laptops, this is just my experience with a small sample size of one. As for screen flex, both were pretty similar, there wasn’t a clear winner.

Keyboard flex was a bit more obvious in the GS65, but realistically this isn’t an issue unless you’re intentionally pushing down hard, no problems in either under normal use, but overall I’d say the build quality of the Aero 15x was just a little better.

Keyboards
Keyboards

When it comes to typing I’d rate both keyboards about the same, I had no issues typing with either, however the Aero was able to cram in a numpad which the GS65 doesn’t have. Both have individual key RGB backlighting with similar effects, the Aero appears to be flickering on camera but that’s just to do with the shutter speed of my camera, in person both look great.

Touchpads in both were excellent, both surfaces felt extremely smooth however the Aero used ELAN drivers out of the box making it suboptimal, but you can easily install precision drivers which made it perfect, while the GS65 was great out of the box and used Synaptics drivers. As for the batteries, the Aero has a larger 94 watt hour battery while the GS65’s is 82 watt hours.

While just watching YouTube videos with the keyboard lighting off and background apps disabled, the Aero lasted for around 50% longer, and both were using Intel integrated graphics during this test. While playing the Witcher 3 with Nvidia’s battery boost capping the frame rate at 30 FPS they lasted within a few minutes of each other, however after an hour the GS65 dropped the frame rate to around 10 FPS making it essentially unplayable with this game, the battery didn’t seem to be able to provide adequate power after this point to play the game well.

This would probably be less noticeable with less demanding games though, but also remember my laptops have different graphics cards, so the differences in gaming may be different if the GS65 also had 1070 Max-Q graphics, as that can use more power, although while capping the frame rates of the game I can’t see the differences being too great.

As for the temperatures I tested the Aero 15x with an ambient room temperature of 22c and the GS65 at 19c, so a little difference there as I had them at different times. Additionally, as mentioned remember my GS65 has 1060 graphics while the Aero 15x has 1070 Max-Q, so again there will be some differences due to this too, so take these results with a grain of salt.

Despite this though, the Aero seems to be a bit cooler in general. When the CPUs get to 90c they’re both thermal throttling, and this was taking place prior to undervolting. Unfortunately I didn’t do enough in depth undervolting testing on the Aero 15x to compare the two, but I was able to remove all thermal throttling on the Aero with a -0.150v undervolt while the GS65 was thermal throttling in similar tests with the same undervolt applied, but only just barely.

Aero 15X Temperatures
Aero 15X Temperatures

As for the areas where you’ll actually be putting your hands both were about the same at idle, look at the temperature readouts rather than the colours as the colours will differ. While gaming the GS65 seems to stay quite a bit cooler, and with the fans maxed out in a full CPU and GPU stress test the GS65 is again a bit cooler. As for the fan noise produced by the laptops, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests.

When it comes to overall system noise both were around the same at idle, while gaming the GS65 was just slightly quieter, and with the fans maxed out they were again very similar. Overall the MSI GS65 seems a bit better here, but again remember when I tested it the room was 3 degrees cooler so that would be some of the difference, and of course there is the difference in graphics cards which will change things, in this case at least the results are very close.

We’ll just quickly look at the hard drive speeds, this is largely irrelevant though as both laptops are available with different drive configurations and both support NVMe PCIe based storage. Something important for content creators like myself is that the Aero 15x also has an SD slot which performed fairly well, while the GS65 doesn’t have one at all. Now perhaps the most important difference, the price.

For fairness I’ll be comparing using the GS65 8RF, so the one with 1070 Max-Q, making it about the same as the Aero 15x in terms of major specs. Here in Australia they both seem to go for the same price, around $3400 AUD and these both have 512gb NVME SSDs and 16GB of single channel memory at 2,666MHz. In the US though the GS65 is about $100 cheaper, at $2200 USD compared to the Aero 15x at $2300 USD at the time of recording, this will of course change in the future so you’ll have to decide what you’re willing to pay when picking.

However with these examples from Amazon the Aero comes with a 512gb NVMe SSD while the GS65 has a 256gb NVMe SSD, and the GS65’s dual channel memory runs at 2,400MHz while the Aero 15x’s is single channel but runs at 2,666MHz, so there are some minor differences making the Aero 15x a little better there, but up to you as to whether or not that’s worth the $100 difference.

Gigabyte Aero 15X Laptop Review

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin 8RE Review and Benchmarks

Personally I’m leaning towards the Aero 15x, but I’m looking at it from a content creation perspective, and the SD slot would be great for offloading video from my camera, and overall I thought the build quality was a little nicer. As for gaming, assuming both models had the 1070 Max-Q I’d expect them to perform quite similarly, however as mentioned I was not able to test this myself as my GS65 had 1060 graphics.

Otherwise the GS65 is a little lighter, cheaper, doesn’t have an up the nose camera, while the Aero 15x has the numpad and a larger battery. In the ones I’m comparing the Aero 15x also has faster memory and larger storage. There aren’t really too many major differences, I think both are great laptops so it depends on your personal preferences. So which of these two laptops would you guys pick?

The Aero 15x or MSI GS65? Let me know what you guys thought down in the comments, and let me know what other laptops you want to see compared.

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