Gigabyte Aero 15 Review

Discussion in 'Gigabyte and Aorus' started by scrod, Jun 13, 2017.

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  1. scrod

    scrod Notebook Consultant

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    Short Gigabyte Aero 15 Review - Purchased Retail by Author

    I ordered the USA spec Aero 15 from GentechPC.com as a graduation gift for college. Their service was no less than exceptional every step of the way, from answering all my numerous questions, to throwing in some freebies to getting it here by the desired date. I highly recommend Ken @GenTechPC. My son has had it over a week now and is impressed enough that he will be keeping it, as the return period is almost over. The main upgrades are an extra 16GB memory and a Samsung 960 EVO 500GB primary SSD.

    Configuration:
    • GIGABYTE Aero 15W-BK4 nVidia GTX 1060, 7th Gen Intel Core i7
    • [Free Gaming Bundle:For Honor or Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands]
    • [Free Gaming Bundle 2:Free Roket League Game Code (Request by email)]
    • [Spring Sale 1:Free Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra on CPU/GPU ($50 value, this promotion overrides standard options) +$.01]
    • [Spring Sale 2:Free 30 Day No Dead Pixel Warranty ($35 value, this promotion overrides standard options) +$.01]
    • [Spring Sale 4:Free GenTech PC Gaming T-Shirt - Medium +$.01]
    • [Screen:15.6" 1920x1080 LG IPS LED Matte-Type @60Hz (Anti-Glare)]
    • [Graphics Controller:nVidia GeForce Pascal GTX1060 6GB GDDR5 DX12]
    • [CPU Kaby Lake:7th Gen Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7700HQ, 2.8~3.8GHz, 14nm, 6MB 45W]
    • [RAM:32GB DDR4 2400MHz/PC4 19200 Dual-Channel (16G X 2) +$85]
    • [PCIe SSD Slot 1:500 Samsung 960 EVO PCIe NVMe SSD 3,200MB/s + $245]
    • [PCIe SSD Slot 2:512GB M.2 SSD SATA III 6Gb/s]
    • [OS Drive Installation Option:OS Installation on M.2 SSD slot 1]
    • [Ethernet Controller:Gigabit Ethernet Controller RJ45]
    • [WiFi / Bluetooth:Intel Wireless-AC 8260 802.11 2.4Ghz/5.0Ghz Dual-Band 300/867 Mbps + Bluetooth 4.1 / WiDi]
    • [USB Ports:3 USB 3.0 Ports + 1 USB 3.1 Type-C Thunderbolt 3 enabled]
    • [AC Adapter:Add One Spare 150W AC Adapter +$75]
    • [Windows Recovery USB:Help me created an factory system restore bootable USB flash drive +$15]
    • [Warranty:GIGABYTE 2 Year Limited Warranty]
    Comments:

    It's better in basically every way than his 3-year old Gigabyte P35WV2 notebook. In particular, it’s more portable in terms of size, weight and thickness to throw into a backpack on a daily basis and has a decent Chi Mei 15.6" WVA display. I found only one partially dead (no green) pixel in the bottom left, and a little "flashlight" bleed from the backlight along the bottom edge and at the top right corner. Otherwise, uniformity and color appeared to be pretty good. It runs cooler and quieter than the larger P35, impressive given the much better gaming power.

    I'm not a benchmarker, but I did check some temps and the speed of the 960 EVO NVME drive and the OEM Transcend MTS800 SATA3 SSD that shipped with it. At idle watching a Youtube video, CPU temp was around 40C. I also checked framerates in Overwatch, where it consistently runs at 65-70+ FPS on Ultra settings. CPU temp was around 70C while GPU temp was 80C after 30 mins of playing. This is with all Smart Updates applied and stock Nvidia driver. No other tweaks, other than Gentech’s CLU paste. Mine arrived with 2x16GB Kingston DDR2400 CL17 RAM sticks operating in dual-channel mode, but these may have been supplied by GentechPC.

    Aero15EVO960.png Aero15MTS800.png Aero15Gaming.png Aero15Idle.png

    He has played various other games with no issues, including Witcher 3, For Honor and a variety of Steam titles. He says pretty much everything he plays is very smooth with no throttling at ultra settings, even after a few hours of playing. It does get very warm and the fans do get loud when gaming.

    Like:
    • Smaller footprint and reasonably thin for a 15.6" gaming laptop
    • Fully programmable RGB lighted keyboard with numpad
    • Lots of ports including ethernet, Thunderbolt 3 & SD card reader
    • 7700HQ + GTX1060 plenty of power, usually 60+ FPS on ultra
    • Expandable with extra m.2 SSD bay and a second memory slot
    • Display is fairly bright with decent viewing angles & small bezels
    • Compact power supply with extra USB charging port
    • Quiet and cool at idle or when surfing, Office, etc.
    • Reported battery life 6-7 hours, but I haven't tested this
    • Black version is understated compared to some gaming laptops
    • Design has minimal keyboard/chassis flex and build quality is more solid than other gaming notebooks this size like the MSI GS63VR, but not as nice as Razer Blade or Macbook Pro.
    Tolerable:
    • OEM SSD is SATA3 in USA, even though NVME is supported
    • Touchpad nothing special, but he uses a mouse anyway
    • Keyboard feel is OK, but cramped. Large keys a little loud, odd font
    • Some report keyboard doesn't register certain left-shift 3-key combos
    • Mediocre speakers are about what you'd expect at this size
    • No touchscreen or 4K yet, but 1080p ideal for gaming w/1060 GPU
    • Lid a bit flimsy when shut or nearly shut; a little wobble when open
    • Edge grooves and awkward hinge design. A seamless, flat edge when closed would look and feel much better.
    • Still very warm and pretty loud when gaming, but likely no worse than any other gaming notebook similar in size and weight. Honestly, it's better than I expected. Using headset while gaming makes this and the mediocre speakers a non-issue.
    • X-rite pantone certification only really useful for professionals, as it is a software calibration that doesn't seem to apply when gaming
    Dislike:
    • Webcam is a chin cam, like the Dell XPS 15
    • Noticeably heavier than the GS63VR and Blade 14. I measure 4.8 lbs. with 2nd SSD and DDR stick. Still lighter than other 15.6" similarly powered gaming rigs that weigh around 5.5 lbs. or more like his Gigabyte P35, MSI GT62VR, Asus Strix GL502VM or Acer V15 Nitro.
    Accessories:

    Fits almost perfectly into a Tomtoc 360 Sleeve (for 15" Macbook Pro Retina 2012-2015). Great protection including corner guards in a fairly low profile plain color zipper sleeve.

    Aero15Sleeve.jpg

    Works very well on a Bosvision folding X-Stand (at 4.5 leg adjustment setting), free airflow and no obstruction of vents. Very light and portable and no mesh or frame to keep air from getting into the fans.

    Also considered:
    1. MSI GS63VR: Thinner and lighter, but a larger footprint with wide bezels and a dimmer display. Mediocre battery life. Didn't have the quality look or feel of others in this class. A little less expensive.
    2. Razer Blade 14: Thinner, smaller and lighter, but some NBR experts say it runs hotter and louder than others. Smaller 14" display with wide bezels. More expensive and only 1-year warranty. Green logo backlight that can't be disabled on 2017 version, otherwise sharp look and feel.
    3. Dell XPS 15: About the same size and weight and probably the closest competitor. Gives you a 4K touchscreen option but only GTX1050 graphics. Gimped Thunderbolt 3 port. Seems a bit thicker on a desktop than the specs would suggest.
    4. HP Spectre 360 13 or Dell XPS 13 9365 2-in-1 or Razer Blade Stealth, plus eGPU and 1060/1070 desktop graphics. More portability, but gaming limited to desktop. No ultrabooks have a quad-core i7 CPU. Combined price is more expensive.
    Did not consider any options that lacked Thunderbolt 3 (like Aero 14, Aorus x3 v6, HP Omen 15t) or were significantly larger or heavier (like Aorus x5, MSI GT62VR, Asus GL502VM, Acer V15 Nitro, Alienware 13, Dell Inspiron 15 7000, Lenovo Legion Y520, etc)

    Conclusion:

    A very nice jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none multimedia/gaming notebook. Plenty of power with a quad-core Intel i7 Kaby Lake CPU, Nvidia GTX1060 GPU plus expandable memory and SSD slots. Relatively small for a 15.6" gaming notebook, but definitely not an ultrabook by any definition. A full array of ports, decent display, good battery size and customizable keyboard are nice bonuses. Whether it's worth the money over other options really depends on whether any of its drawbacks will affect your enjoyment. I think it has the right mix of size and features for many students and professionals who want something just light enough to lug in a backpack, but handles games and scientific/business applications as well.

    Full reviews with benchmarks:

    A big THANK YOU to all those at NotebookReview who have contributed to the various threads on the Aero 15!
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
  2. scrod

    scrod Notebook Consultant

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    You can see the FPS, GPU temp, video RAM usage and ping in small print in the top left corner. This is after about 30 minutes of playing Overwatch at 1080p Ultra.

    Aero15Overwatch.jpg
     
  3. TyroG

    TyroG Notebook Geek

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    Nice review! The tomtoc sleeve looks nice did you chose the 15" or 15-15.6" ?
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2017
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  4. scrod

    scrod Notebook Consultant

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    I got the one on Amazon that says "15-15.4 Inch" for "15 Inch MacBook Pro Retina 2012-2015". The Tomtoc measurements are a bit different than the Amazon ones, but it is model A13-E01D here: https://www.tomtoc.com/products/15-inch-macbook-pro-sleeve-case-bag-cover-black-blue

    The other "15 Inch" one on Amazon is a hair smaller by specs and might also fit, but I didn't try that one since the older MacBook Pro Retina model is almost the same size as the Aero 15. The new Macbook Pro is a bit smaller I think, but perhaps the smaller case has enough stretch to fit the Aero 15 very snugly.

    It's a pretty nice sleeve. It's not ultra thin like a basic neoprene sleeve. It has decent padding top and bottom plus corner and edge padding.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2017
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  5. LiamAcer

    LiamAcer Notebook Consultant

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    Nice review mate - many thanks indeed for posting it up for others still considering this laptop.

    On the topic of the edge of the chassis right where the touchpad is, this may just be me and the way I have my laptops on my living room table - but when I briefly had my Aero 15 a few weeks ago I noticed constantly that the edge of my hand would constantly get sore & reveal a red line from where I would rest it when using the touchpad. When comparing the finish / edge of the laptop to say the Aero 14 that I've been setting up for a friend for the past couple of days - the resting feeling of the Aero 14 feels more comfortable, it just striked me that it's a shame for me that the Aero 15 for me felt uncomfortable in this regard.

    It may of just been my old Aero 15 but it could of been the case that the edge finish may of been a little too sharp hence it would reveal a mark on my hand after some use. I like to think that other Aero 15's out there are not the same.

    Liam.
     
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  6. scrod

    scrod Notebook Consultant

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    I did not use the touchpad much other than to check that it did the basics and responded well. And since it's not technically mine, I didn't have time to type on it, other than to create the first draft of this review and send a few emails. I generally keep my wrists up when typing due to an old wrist injury, so I didn't notice the edges. I can definitely see how that could affect some typers, though. I'm not sure how much my son uses the touchpad or has typed on it so far, but he hasn't mentioned it yet.
     
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  7. LiamAcer

    LiamAcer Notebook Consultant

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    Ah that is fair enough, just keep an eye out incase your son mentions anything about it :)

    On the subject about the keyboard as well - I found the overall typing experience with the Aero 15 difficult, it's a strange one as I type with a full layout keyboard everyday at work but the positioning and overall layout of the keyboard on the Aero 15 resulted me in making many typing mistakes and accidentally tapping other keys with my outer fingers.

    I pin pointed that this was also due to the fact that I felt the keys on this keyboard required more force / pressure when typing than other laptop keyboards - this was one main negative for the Aero 15 for me sadly. However on the Aero 14 that I'm setting up for a mate and while it has a near identical keyboard design (no number pad though) the keyboard feels miles better to type on, keys don't require as much pressure when typing either.

    Liam.
     
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  8. scrod

    scrod Notebook Consultant

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    I thought the keyboard was OK, nothing particularly good or bad stood out. I missed some keystrokes, as I'm used to a full size desktop mechanical cherry mx keyboard. My Lenovo 900s ultrabook has chicklets that are similarly cramped, but the Aero 15 has a better feel. I was similarly unimpressed with the Dell XPS 15 keyboard. It wasn't bad, either, but just lacked the right tactile feedback I thought might be found in a bigger notebook. Ditto with the Blade 14. My recollection is that the MSI GS63VR might have been a bit nicer, but still not great.

    I did find it helped to position myself offset to the left a little, centered on the keyboard like I do on my desktop. My instinct on the notebook is to center my hands to the edges of the laptop, which is off a little due to the numpad that isn't separated from the rest of the keys.
     
  9. scrod

    scrod Notebook Consultant

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    I wanted to add that some notebooks, like the Razer Blade and Macbook Pro, have the clamshell design that is flat on the edges to give it that nice look, especially when closed. So, the bottom edge naturally has a sharper corner to make it flush with no gaps or grooves. The Aero 15 does not have that design at all. They could have easily rounded the bottom edge below the keys a bit without detracting at all from its appearance.
     
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  10. Eason

    Eason Notebook Virtuoso

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    I agree with everything you put in your review, really. I agree that it would look better with a more normal hinge design. It reminds me of the old Toshiba laptops.
     
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