Gigabyte Aero 15-XA review: Full, Australian review
This is not a gaming laptop.
The Gigabyte Aero 15 might look like a gaming laptop. It might share many of the same specs as a gaming laptop. And when it comes to the components inside and the thermal management tech involved, there's not a huge amount of differences you can use to separate something like this and something like the Auros 15.
Still, despite these similarities, the Aero 15 is not a gaming laptop. It’s being pitched as a content creation machine akin to the Studio laptops Nvidia unveiled at this year’s Computex and while, yes, it is very good for gaming, Gigabyte insist the new Aero 15 isn’t primarily designed for it.
Gigabyte are looking to ride the burgeoning wave behind the next generation of content creators. That might sound crazy but it’s not all that unique of a pitch. These days, they’re far from the only OEM trying to do so.
Everyone is trying to cash in on the craze and Gigabyte’s attempt is interested in doing more than just looking better.
The specs for our Gigabyte Aero 15 review sample were as follows:
Processor: Intel 9th Gen Core i7-9750H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070
RAM: 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 2666MHz
Storage: 2x M.2 PCLe NVMe SSD + 1x 2.5 HDD.SSD slot
Display: 15.6-inch FHD IGZO LCD, 240Hz, thin bezels
Ports: DJ-45, Mini DP, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.1 Type A (3x), USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 2, Micro SD card slot, audio combo jack, power jack
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5, Killer Wireless AC 1550
Keyboard: Island style RGB Fusion keyboard
Dimensions: 361 mm x 246 mm x 24.4 mm
Battery: Li Polymer 62Wh
Audio: 2-watt speaker (x2), Nahimic 3
Webcam: HD camera
What Did We Like About The Gigabyte Aero 15?
Of course, before getting to the main event, it’s worth touching on everything the Aero 15 offers outside of its crisp and colorful display.
Under the hood, the new Gigabyte Aero 15 runs on Intel’s 9th-Gen H-series chipset (either i7 or i9, depending on the model), Nvidia’s GeForce RTX (or GTX, if you prefer) graphics. Buyers also nab themselves Nahimic 3D audio system, a Killer Wi-Fi 6 modem, up to 64GB of Samsung-made DDR4 RAM and a pair of M.2 SSD slots to do with what they will.
As far as these sorts of laptops go, the new Aero 15 is literally the whole package. It’s cutting edge tech across the board and while the case for why you might need ALL of this is going to vary based on the user, there are no real omissions here worth nothing. Aside from the lack of a proper SD card slot, that is. Though small, this omission does feel like a drawback for the specific content creator audience that Gigabyte are trying to court with the Aero 15.
Still, it feels like Gigabyte have left no stone unturned and nothing to chance - and that was something I really dug about the Aero 15. It’s powerful enough that I could throw pretty much anything at it with the assumption that it’d almost certainly be able to hold its own. Not only that - but it’d be able to look really good.
Moving our focus to the aforementioned main event - the 240Hz FHD IGZO LCD display - touts UHD resolutions, thin bezels and an X-Rite Pantone Certification. Photos and video content look great on this thing. As did games like Avalanche’s Rage 2, especially since the version of the Aero 15 we tested was able to output at a super-high refresh rate of 240Hz.
Whether all of the above is enough to justify the high price of admission or balance out the cons of using this Gigabyte Aero 15 is going to depend on what you want to use it for. In some situations, it might be overkill. In most of them, it’s going to look good.
The design here isn’t all that different from the earlier Aero 15. It’s black and grey with a silver lining. A little bit of color wouldn't hurt but if you're looking for a laptop that's at home in an office as it is on your home desk, this one will fill the part. It’s not quite slim but it does feel fairly compact to fold up and carry with you - though the power-brick does hurt the Aero 15 in this regard.
How did the Gigabyte Aero 15 Perform in Benchmarks?
When it came to benchmarks, it just didn't make sense to compare the new Aero 15 to anything but other gaming laptops. Even if Gigabyte insist this machine isn't intended for gamers - it only makes sense to show off where it sits in terms of performance to other gaming laptops, since those often double up as content creation laptops due to their high-end specs.
And when it came to 3DMark, the Aero 15 led the pack across both TimeSpy, FireStrike and FireStrike Ultra. Even if most of the laptops it went up against in the chart below are a bit cheaper than it, Gigabyte’s IGZO-laced offering was a strong showcase for the improvements that Intel’s 9th Gen Core chipset offers over its immediate predecessor.
It’s much the same story for VR Mark, where the Aero 15 edged out most of gaming-focused competition.
What’s more, if you’re planning on using the Aero 15 for ray-tracing, you’ll be delighted to know it’s a noticeable step up from the previous Aorus 15. Unfortunately, it’s still a fair way off where desktop-grade fare like the MSI Trident X sit.
Given that it is being positioned as more than just a gaming laptop, a check-in with PC Mark’s Work benchmark was a necessary stop on our journey to evaluating the Aero 15. Here, it arrived in second place to the earlier Aorus 15 - which is far from a terrible result.
Last but not least: battery life. When subjected to our usual Battery Eater testing tool, which gauges the minimum battery life of a given notebook PC, the Gigabyte Aero 15 took 1 hours and 11 minutes to run down from one-hundred to zero. This is fairly typical for gaming laptops of the kind that this one is. I can’t say I’m disappointed but I can’t say I was all that surprised either.
What Didn’t We Like About The Gigabyte Aero 15?
Of course, beyond the briskly-drained battery life, there are other drawbacks to be considered.
For as many of the Aorus 15’s strengths that the Aero 15 has inherited, it’s also inherited a few of the weaknesses. The wider Windows Precision touchpad and fully-feature Per-Key RGB keyboard remain highlights. The obnoxiously loud fans and iffy Azure A.I integration remain drawbacks.
As with other recent Gigabyte laptops, the new Aero 15 features toggleable “A.I. modes” that enhance everyday performance. There are two options on offer: AI Edge and AI Cloud.
When enabled, these modes enhance everyday performance by processing usage data through Microsoft's Azure A.I. According to them, these modes allow the machine to learn and adapt to your unique user preferences and deliver better performance as a result.
How does that work? Every 10 seconds or so, the Aero 15 will take an anonymous snapshot of your system. It’ll compare that data against a database of applications and pre-tuned settings. It’ll then make adjustments based upon those settings. Gigabyte cite things like keyboard preferences, fan modes or CPU and GPU wattage control as things that the Aero 15 is able to optimize in accordance with user behavior.
The above remains a feature that only Gigabyte seem to be offering in the laptop space but it’s still unclear exactly how much of a difference it makes. There are shades of what ASUS is promising with Project Precog - the futuristic laptop they showed off at last year's Computex - and some of what Huawei are already doing with their Kirin 900 series smartphone CPUs. However, from the outset, everything about this feature a little vague and I’m reticent to give it the benefit of the doubt.
In the grand scheme of things, you’re almost definitely paying extra here for something that might not even be making that much of a difference to your everyday experience.
The Bottom Line
And that’s kind of the heart of it.
The display on the new Aero 15 isn’t just gorgeous. In many ways, it’s kinda the only thing really worth talking about. Even by the standards of laptop refreshes, this is a pretty minor revision.
There are plenty of other content creation laptops out there that run the same 9th-Gen Intel Core processors or Nvidia RTX graphics. There aren’t that many out there with IGZO screens.
If having that fancy screen actually matters to you, you’ll probably want to put some serious consideration into whether it’s worth paying the premium. What you’re getting here is good but, at the same time, most of the differences and evolution that the new Aero 15 offers are only skin deep.
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