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Sunday, 14 May 2017 14:02

Gigabyte Aero 15 – Why should gamers have all the fun? (review)

By

Gigabyte’s Aero 15 laptop has a split personality – on the one hand, it has been designed for gamers and on the other, the burnt orange cover cries “Look at me – I am different from other notebooks”.

As iTWire readers are aware, I am not a gamer so this review is purely from the commercial aspect – does it fill a need there? Absolutely, for artists, photographers, CAD and for anyone who wants to stand out with the caveat that it is not touch/pen enabled.

As a commercial machine, it has a 15.6”, 1920 x 1080 (UHD option coming) non-touch screen; 7th Generation Kaby Lake i7-7700HQ (2.8/3.8GHz) processor; 16GB DDR4-2400 RAM (maximum 32GB); NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5; and 2 x M.2 SSD slots supporting NVME PCIe X4 and SATA – it is a beautiful beast.

It is a radical departure from the hulking big mothers of gaming laptops of the past – it is svelte and at 19.9mm thick and 2.1kg not at all out of the ballpark for a 15.6” commercial laptop.

Out of the box

  • Laptop
  • Slimline G style charger 19.7V/7.7A and 5V/2.1A USB output

aero 15

The first thing you notice is that the bezels are ultra-thin – 5mm top and sides filling the “lid” almost completely. The screen is edge-lit from the bottom side and it is X-Rite Pantone Certified.

Specifications

Screen

15.6”, 1920 x 1080, Wide viewing angle, low glare (3840 x 2160 option A3, 2017)

Processor:

Intel Core i7-7700HQ, 2.8/3.8GHz

Graphics:

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060, 6GB GDDR5

Intel HD 630 shared memory

VR capable output

Memory:

2x DDR4 slots up to 32GB (DDR4-2,400MHz)

Comes with 2x8=16GB

Storage:

2x M.2 PCI Express Gen3 x4 SSD slots

Connectivity:

Wi-Fi AC 2×2 MU-MIMO dual band
Wi-Di, DLNA

Bluetooth 4.2

Sound:

2 x 2 Watt Speakers, Microphone, Dolby Digital Plus Home Theater

Webcam

HD camera and mic (no Windows Hello)

Battery/charger

94.24 watt-hour – claimed 10 hours

150W x 19.7V/7.7A

Recharge time – approx 1.5 hours

Keyboard

Backlit, 16.8 million per-key RGB colours controlled by Fusion App

Ports:

1 x USB-c (Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps and provides 5V/3A)

3 x USB-A 3.0
1 x HDMI 2.0
1
x Mini DisplayPort

1 x RJ-45 Ethernet

1 x 3.5mm audio combo

1 x SD slot

Dimensions:

356.4(W) x 250(D) x 19.9(H) mm x 2.1kg

Operating system:

Windows 10 Home (Pro is optional)

Australian website

https://www.gigabyte.com.au/Laptop/AERO-15#kf

Warranty

2 years global

Price

$2899

Keyboard

Gigibyte Aero 15 portsIt has a full-sized keyboard with a numeric keypad as well, and an oversized trackpad that will move the cursor from top right to bottom left in one swipe – great as this means you do not need a mouse. However, it is not multi-touch enabled – you can pinch or zoom as you can on some notebooks.

The key throw is not stated but judging from the good tactile feedback it is at least 1.2mm and gives good feedback. A touch typist can use this.

It also has 16.8 million colours per-key RGB backlight. Macros can be allocated to each key lighting can be controlled with the Gigabyte Fusion software. From a professional perspective, you don’t need 16.8 million individual colours but you will find a pattern that suits from a basic backlight to disco.

This was an early release unit and I did occasionally experience a lack of precise response in the trackpad – I suspect it was all the gamer “bloatware” kicking in like sign-on to Steam etc.

Battery

It has a high-performance 94Wh battery which offers up to 10 hours of work. I only had time for one video loop test (1080p x 50% brightness) and got nearly eight hours. In general office use, 10 hours should be possible. International tests got just over seven hours.

The slim adaptor is a nice change from a bulky brick and it has a USB-A 5V/2.1A output as well. Charge time from zero to 100% was a little long at 90 minutes and I suspect that it would have been closer to 60 minutes in future charges.

Screen

While not specified, I suspect it is a TN panel for gaming screen refresh but there is no reference to screen refresh rate or millisecond response time – Gigabyte may learn the hard way that gamers demand all specifications.

Gigabyte makes a big thing of the X-Rite panel certification, originally for offset and digital printing devices to accurately reproduce Pantone Colours (PMS – Pantone Matching System) but provides no details about what that certification means.

X-Rite’s website states, “Tired of losing your embedded profile or converting all images to sRGB for mobile viewing? Easily reassign correct working colour spaces, including sRGB, Adobe RGB, ProPhoto RGB, so your images are displayed as you intended.”

International tests show it at 84.2% of sRGB and a contrast ratio of 1248:1 – that is creditable for a 15.6” screen.

All I can say now is that an X-Rite Pantone Certified Display should have accurate Pantone colours. It appeared so, on a range of reference shots.

Storage

Don’t underestimate the potential speed of the 2x M.2 PCIe NVME slots. If you wanted amazing speeds you can put in a Samsung 960Pro and in theory achieve 3500/2100MB/s read/write speeds compared to the supplied SSD that gets around 550MB/s read/write.

The fact that you have two slots is a real bonus for commercial users meaning that you can put in up to 2TB per slot. Add that to the Thunderbolt 40Gbps and you have a very fast way to move data around.

Performance

In international tests, it was the top performing notebook in its class for video benchmarks and processor performance beating competition from Dell and Razer.

Pros

  • Love the burnt orange lid – makes a statement (basic black available too – green is not in Australia).
  • 2 x M.2 PCIe NVMe – amazing speed and storage potential – looks like it and the RAM could be user upgradable.
  • Seriously powerful processor.
  • Great connectivity with a huge number of ports.
  • Good battery life.
  • Good tactile keyboard.
  • Very good build quality.
  • 2-year global warranty.

Cons

  • Occasionally unresponsive trackpad and it does not support pinch/zoom multi-touch gestures.
  • Too much bloatware for a commercial user – a clean install fixes all and may have fixed trackpad issue.
  • Fan is general quite but occasionally you hear a big “whoosh”.
  • No Windows Hello.

The big selling point, however, is the laptop’s 15.6” screen built for consistent, accurate colours for photographers, designers, and graphic artists.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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