Gigabyte Aero 15 corporate gaming laptop review
Gigabyte's all-rounder has much to like
- Plays games
- Looks good
- Long battery for work
- Keyboard is wonky
Gigabyte has generally succeeded in making a gaming laptop that can be used day-to-day by executives. But the well-off centre keyboard makes it uncomfortable to type on for long periods.
It's a worthy realisiation that 'grown-ups' play games and an even more worthy one that executive types do too. The Aero 15 has been designed for professionals who are gamers and in many ways it succeeds.
15.6-inch, matte, 1920 x 1080, non-touchscreen LCD; 2.8-3.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU; 16GB RAM; Samsung EVO 512GB M.2 NvME SSD, Nvidia 1060 GPU, 94Wh battery, 356x250x20mm, 2.15KG. Full specs here.
Design and general use
The Aero 15 certainly looks smart. Some nice detailing on the lid adds a classy design element which sits just on the right sides of boring and flamboyant for casual and corporate settings. If it's too dull for you to stomach, Gigabyte also makes a bright orange variant. It takes quite the executive chutzpah to pull that off in a board meeting, though.
Our main issue with the styling is the Gigabyte logo. While this carries considerable cachet on home turf like Taiwan, in the Western world it's like bragging to the universe that you drive a Toyota. We understand that all Gigabyte laptops will fold into Gigabyte's gaming brand, Aorus by the end of the year. We think this is probably a good idea.
Much is made of the screen which is Full HD (a 4K variant will be an option in Q3 this year). It's certainly bright and crisp and has viewing angles that strike the right balance between viewing off-centre and letting people next to you seeing everything on your screen. More importantly (for some), it's Pantone certified meaning that designers will be able to use it knowing that what they see is (more likely to reflect) what they get.
The bezel has been kept very thin – just 5mm – in order to make the 15.6-inch screen fit onto the traditional-size body of a 14-inch notebook. To some degree this is a success as it's only slightly wider than a 14-inch Venom Blackbook Zero 14 laptop. However. The thin bezel means that the webcam is placed below the screen. If you're making frequent video calls, this means that you'll be stuck with unflattering views of your jowls while looking above (rather than at) the person you're talking to. To be frank, there's so much dead space beneath the screen, that an easy fix would have been to simply lower it a smidge. As such we're inclined to assume that either everybody at Gigabyte is beautiful from below or that they've sacrificed form over function.
It's also worth noting that the lid can wobble a bit if knocked. It's fine on a desk but if you're on a moving train or wobbly bar table (or such like) it won't stay still. It's not a deal breaker, but it's an issue.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard takes a little getting used to. While we could get lost in the programmable macros and tailor-able RGB backlighting, the main issue is that the primary keys are all pushed to the left of the screen. In fact, only the 0, L and P keys completely lie to the right of the centre-mounted power button. This meant that we were constantly positioned at an angle to the screen and for long typing jobs this hurt our backs. The payoff here is that there's a full size number pad and gamers, using a mouse, are in a good position to game. But for those doing plenty of typing, things will likely get unnecessarily achy. It's not a great use of space, either; there are two sets of full-sized arrow keys for some reason. With all the available space on the base of the laptop, we feel things could have been laid out much more ergonomically and comfortably. Which is a shame as this is a core requirement of a laptop.
The trackpad is generously large and very smooth, sensitive and comfortable to use. The buttons have also just the right level of click depth/pressure/noise. A key-combo will turn it off when not needed. We approve.
The insides of the Aero 15 are impressive. There's Intel's top, 7th generation mobile i7 processor plus Samsung's impressive NvME EVO M.2 hard drive (and it's a decent 512GB in size). These, along with 16GB RAM, conspired to score 3,403 in our PC Mark test. That's puts it at the bottom of the 2D performance heap of gaming laptops but many of those are overclocked.
We do suspect that performance gets ramped down when this laptop gets warm, though – especially when on battery power (more on that below) – and this may explain it. It's still an impressive score for any computer though and there are few 2D tasks it won't fly through.
It perked up during the 3D Mark test. The on-board fans ramped up here to audible levels but they'll only be intrusive in very quiet, shared environments. It scored 3,540 in our DirectX 12 3D Mark Time Spy test. That reflects an average of just over 20fps which isn't enough to play the latest games smoothly without dropping detail settings... but at least they should be playable. In the lesser, DirectX 11 (last gen) games test, Firestrike, it scored 9,519 which reflects an average framerate of 45-50fps. So this will certainly play games, just not at their very best quality – especially if you plump for the 4K version.
One thing to note is that this laptop runs hot. The fans may be quiet most of the time (you can force them on to varying degrees with keyboard shortcuts) but it won't be comfortable on your lap. Also beware that the underside consists largely of venting grilles. If you cover these up, whether by having it on your lap or on a duvet/blanket etc, it's likely to overheat quickly.
Next: Battery Life, Ports and Conclusion
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