Reseller & Product Review: HIDEvolution & the Aorus X5 V7

Discussion in 'Gigabyte and Aorus' started by Gumwars, Dec 30, 2017.

  1. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Guru

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    Reseller Review in Progress

    This is going to be a rather lengthy post so if you are the TL;DR sort, skip to the end and look for my summary and conclusion.

    To start, I am a technical professional in the railroad industry. I am also a union steward and have witnessed a shift in my electronic needs over the past few years. In 2012 I purchased an ASUS G75VX from Xotic PC, with a smattering of customizations, as I was in need of a DTR type laptop. I was doing quality control for an industrial software installation and the power of the then mainstream Ivy Bridge processor was more than sufficient for what I was doing. Additionally, the GTX 670MX was solid for middle-of-the-road gaming, which I enjoy in my off time.

    Fast forward nearly six years and the G75 is more than long in the tooth. I've upgraded it about as far as I'm able or willing to. To say that it's reached the end of its life cycle would be an understatement. I've been watching the market for a while and trying to pick a good time to jump in.

    Technology is a funny thing, especially computer electronics; the longer you wait, the better it usually is for the consumer. Newer tech drives prices down and innovation usually offers more bang for the buck. However, the consumer could get stuck in a cycle of waiting for the next big thing forever, which is more than a bit paradoxical. Right now, Max Q seems to be that "thing".

    Laptops can easily be compared to cars, not so much the brands but the types. You have disposable laptops, high-performance beasts, utility machines, mil-spec, and now even hybrids. What everyone is waiting for is something that compares to the RIMAC; ridiculous performance with fantastic range. Gigabyte seems to be one of the only manufacturers looking for a spot in that market. The Aero 15X looks to be that unicorn - a machine that compromises very little by way of performance or efficiency. The problem is that Gigabyte has undervalued their own market worth and failed to meet market demand for their product lines. I'll explain this in greater detail in a minute.

    My point in all of this is that right now some manufacturers are finally leveraging the cutting edge of mobile technology in a way that will define the trend as time goes on. It is my personal belief that the Aero 15X represents what the future of laptops will be; light, powerful, and efficient. When I set out to find a new laptop to replace my heavy, ancient brick of a computer these were the qualities I was looking for.

    So, why didn't I get an Aero 15X?

    Well, my first hurdle was trying to figure out who I wanted to buy from. Xotic provided an excellent experience and a tax-free purchase (I don't live in Nebraska). I explored making the deal through them but ran into some small technical issues with liquid metal paste that didn't sit well with me; for those wondering, after looking at Excalibur and HID, I noted that some resellers offer a mixed LM/CPU-Non LM/GPU solution. I asked if they would do it if I paid for it and was told they did not recommend LM on laptops, period. I pointed out they offered it as a customization on their website, which was at odds with what I was being told. They reiterated their position and I decided to shop elsewhere. It is worth pointing out that Xotic has since removed LM as a thermal paste solution from their customization options.

    I then looked locally at both Genetech and HID. Now, I am only going off of the reviews I've read but HID seemed to be the stronger of the two. In October I contacted HID and placed an order for the Aero 15X. In late October I was told that the unit was on backorder and to expect my order to be fulfilled in mid-November. In mid-November, I was backordered again with mid-December being my new fulfillment point. Guess what happened in December? Backordered again with January being the new target.

    Now, I don't blame HID for these issues. Gigabyte is completely to blame for this problem as they've struck gold with this product and didn't arrange their component supplies accordingly with the chip vendors, namely Nvidia. HID was simply the messenger during these transactions and I don't hold them accountable for supply-side problems. The sales rep (Ted) I've been working with has been reasonably communicative during this whole process, especially given that this is the holiday season. When informed that the Aero 15X was unavailable, again, I opted for the higher performance relative of the 15X, the Aorus X5 V7.

    From a consumer perspective, my experience with HID has been a mixed bag. There are many things they did right and nearly an equal number they could do better. Here's my perspective:

    The Good
    • HID offers a wide range of customizations that rival and surpass their competitors
    • For California residents, they provide an Oregon dispatch service
    • The sales team is usually easy to reach if you have questions or problems
    • You can get products that aren't listed on their webpage, all you need to do is ask
    The Meh
    • Rush service is not an option that is clearly defined on their webpage
    • Purchasing a laptop and having the production process interrupted due to other inventory problems can be frustrating
    • Schedule and timeline for a laptop in the HID production pipeline is vague
    The Bad

    Only one truly problematic issue arose during this whole affair (other than the Aero 15X not being available); I was told one thing about the X5's availability that turned out to not be the case. When I switched gears from the 15X to the X5, I asked if there would be any issues and if all that I was requested was in stock. I was told that everything was readily available and that they could start immediately. This change took place last Thursday (12/21) and the wheels started turning on 12/22. Imagine my surprise when on 12/27 I discover that the laptop itself is not available and needed to be ordered. Understanding that a rush build creates a 5 business day constraint on production, this would push the ship date into next year and given the utter headache I've already experienced with the 15X, this had proven to be more than my patience could bear. I contacted HID and asked about the discrepancy between what I was told and what had actually happened. The response was marginally acceptable; the unit would be in on the 28th and they could possibly ship on the 29th. Disappointingly, I was informed today that due to the delay in receiving the laptop and some small problems surrounding the OS installation, production would not be complete until January 2nd.

    Summary & Conclusion

    As it stands, when someone buys a $300 laptop, there is no expectation beyond that it functions as advertised. At that price point, it's performance is secondary to what a consumer wants to pay. It's that reason why you don't see bottom barrel laptops being offered on reseller websites. We seek out businesses like HID and Xotic because we are looking for a very niche electronic device and we expect a corresponding consumer experience. When someone buys a $2500 laptop, there is an expectation that what they've spent will translate into a smooth purchasing experience, especially when a portion of those funds are specifically allocated to that function. In general, HID delivers on that experience. Ted and his team have, for the most part, been communicative through this process even if it was to deliver bad news. My key criticisms center around the vagueness of the rush build schedule and specifically to the mishandled flub regarding unit inventory. Look, I'm not unreasonable; I know product inventory gets screwed up. You think you've got more of something because someone didn't update things when they should have. This is what audits are for. I don't know HID's audit schedule, or if they even do (or have a need to do) inventory audits. All I know is that I was told one thing, which wasn't correct, and resulted in this whole thing stretching out a bit longer.

    If I could offer a recommendation, it would be for HID to improve their inventory management process. Twice during my individual experience, the build process was stopped due to other components not being available. I think by either offering this information up front or giving an ETA to when those parts will be available would shrink the cloud of uncertainty surrounding the purchasing experience. I've seen other reviews for HID hit on the same chord; once the money changes hands, things get silent which is never a reassuring response.

    Would I buy from HID again? Right now I don't know. I'm still waiting for my laptop, which will be a big part of the overall experience. I bought a total of three laptops for this Christmas and the first two were handled with zero complaints. They arrived when Ted told me to expect them and in a very timely manner. However, I'm having problems shaking off how the Aorus was handled.

    UPDATE 1: I received notification today that the laptop has shipped from HID. I'm going with Oregon dispatch which has the unit making a loop back to my house.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
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  2. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Guru

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    Update 2: Just received notification that the Oregon Dispatch shipping method adds about 6 business days to the shipping time - effectively making this a horrible option if you have less than a month's lead time.

    So, I reserved this spot initially for the review of the unit; I'm going to push that back to the next one and add my final thoughts on the purchasing end of HIDEvolution. In a nutshell, I won't be buying from them in the future. It has been a chain of broken promises, half-truths, and best-case-scenarios turned worst-case-scenarios at nearly every turn. Admittedly, I can't pin 100% of this blame on them; Gigabyte is also to blame. However, when sales says something is in stock, and it turns out that it isn't which in turn pushes timelines back by nearly two weeks, there is an issue.

    Point in fact, I needed this laptop for a business meeting on January 8th. I won't get it until the 9th. I never looked at making it clear that I needed it before the 8th because I ordered the unit on the 21st of last month, with a rush build and figured that date was so far out it wasn't a factor. Turns out when you don't have the laptop in stock and tell the client you do, it can cause chaos with your schedule; the cascading delay is what pushed delivery back this far. Also, telling your clients that Oregon Dispatch takes 4-5 business days is a best-case scenario and is not indicative of average shipping times. This process can easily take up to 8 business days if the stars don't align.

    The bottom line is this, we aren't made of glass; giving your customers all the data is better than sugar coating reality and ending in disappointment. I would have stuck with HID had Ted and his team told me the reality of what was going on and fully explained my options along the way. I would have purchased an expedited shipping method had I known the delivery was going to fall back this far. Was I asked? No. Was I informed? Again, no.

    In closing, I do not recommend purchasing through HIDEvolution and I will very likely not consider them in the future unless their sales department makes significant changes to how inventory is reported to their customers, shipping times and options explained, and above all else, honesty at all times during the purchasing process.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
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  3. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Guru

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    The X5 V7 by Aorus
    Prepared by HID Evolution

    Shipping
    The laptop was triple boxed. The primary shipping box was damaged on two corners; this was likely due to FedEx. The two interior boxes were undamaged. Overall, the shipping solution was sufficient and no obvious damage was visible on the final container or laptop. (10/10)

    Included Goodies
    Aorus includes a small pamphlet, risers for the laptop that are secured with adhesive tape, a recovery USB drive, and the power adapter. There is a very nice keyboard cloth to keep the oil from your fingers from transferring to the screen, if being a clean freak is your thing.

    First Impressions - Build Quality
    The laptop is a tank for a 15-inch form factor. The body is primarily constructed with magnesium; the keyboard deck, bottom clamshell, screen back, and screen bezel all are made with this material. The only component that does not seem to be metal is a part of the hinge assembly in between the GPU/CPU exhaust vents. I could not find any fit/finish defects such as gaps, uneven fitment, or unfinished machining. (10/10)

    I/O
    It goes without saying that the X5 has a wide assortment of useful I/O placed in locations that are beneficial to the user. The power inlet and two USB-A 3.0 ports along with the ethernet are located on the back of the laptop, which is great for keeping the desk uncluttered. My only recommendation to Aorus on this front is I would have liked to see a DP 1.3 or HDMI port located here as well. (9/10)

    Screen
    The display on this laptop is fantastic. I don’t have a Spyder or other means of providing an in-depth assessment of the screen but the 3K option is truly a sweet spot for this unit. The GTX 1070 has enough juice to drive current AAA titles at native resolution without issue. I’ve tried out Rise of the Tomb Raider, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and Doom 2016 at ultra or equivalent settings and had no problems. (10/10)

    Performance
    HID Evolution or Aorus shipped the unit with the CPU overclock maxed out. I’m not sure if that was by design or an oversight on either party’s part. Either way, I noticed the CPU getting quite toasty (90C+) when I was running through a few games (no throttling) and then dialed it back. The CPU package, with a -.115mv undervolt runs most titles at around 59 to 61C all day long. I’ve undervolted the GPU as well, which at .875mv holds around 71C for all titles I’ve messed with. It appears the thermal tweaks (Fujipoly thermal pads, liquid metal on the CPU, Gelid on the GPU) have more than adequately addressed the heat issues many have pointed out exist with this laptop.

    In order to get ahead of the Meltdown/Specter nonsense, I opted for a primary SSD in raid 0 configuration. HID set up a pair of 500 GB HGST M.2 NVMe SSDs in this array and coupled with the 7820HK processor, this is a very fast laptop. I’m noticing the unit boots to the logon prompt in less than 10 seconds with the desktop ready to use almost instantly after I enter my credentials. Applications installed to the primary drive open in less than 5 seconds and apps installed to the standard platter drive are around 10 to 15 depending on the size of the program.

    The GPU is no slouch and since the performance envelope of the GTX 1070 is already well established, I won’t go into granular detail here. I can say that coming from a GTX 670MX the difference in capability is staggering. I didn’t know games had come this far folks.

    Battery Life
    Well, I suppose the fanfare had to stop somewhere. This thing is a monster from a performance perspective so it needed to have some sort of weakness. I’ve done some messing around with the battery profiles in limiting CPU power when off the mains. By dropping the CPU draw to 65% and turning off turbo boost, I’m seeing average battery runtimes of just over 4 hours. This is while on WiFi and working in productivity type applications. Current voltage in this configuration is right around 15.6 V.

    First Impressions – Conclusion
    I’m immensely satisfied with this laptop. It has incredible power, great build quality, and solid components. I’ve only had a couple of problems with it so far, which I don’t know who to point a finger at; multiple Aorus applications were missing or did not have start menu entries. Some Aorus applications don’t work at all (I’m looking at you Aorus Equalizer) while others don’t appear to be optimized for the 3K display.

    After actually having this unit in hand and experiencing what HID did, I am back on the fence regarding using them as a reseller. Yes, the wait was painful and the inventory problems I’ve mentioned are still a nagging issue. However, this is quality work done on a really unique piece of equipment. Time will tell as far as longevity is concerned but as it stands right now, this is a very nice piece of kit. I’ve read multiple horror stories about Gigabyte/Aorus products but I do also know that those are going to be the loudest in the crowd. Hell, I’d be all over Newegg, Amazon, and here if they sold me a lemon.

    As it stands, I can and do recommend HID Evolution as reseller, especially if you get additional work done. That way the laptop gets powered on and worked before you get it; if it has issues, they may catch it before you do. Additionally, I very much recommend this laptop. The Aorus X5 V7 is a fantastic laptop that provides an obscene amount of power in a super compact form factor.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
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  4. bauhaus

    bauhaus Notebook Guru

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    I have not been active in these forums for awhile. Recently, I went back to buying a Windows laptop from a 2014 Macbook Pro machine. This Macbook has an aging Nvidia Gforce GT 750m, which worked well way back in 2014. Now, Macbooks are even more overpriced than before and the video cards are just not worth the hefty price tag they are asking.

    So, I did some homework for current slim laptops that play some games at decent frame rates. I was looking at Sager, Asus and MSI. I read so many hardware and support issues with Razer, I didn't even bother. The Dell 15" XPS can't handle Virtual, so I scratched that off my list as well.

    In doing research on youtube, I saw a comment that mention the Gigabyte Aero 15x, and I never looked back. I was almost going to give up on upgrading my Macbook, until I saw this Aero reviews and the awesome upgrade options. I had bought laptops from XOTIC PC previously, so I figured I would get the Aero from them with just the thermals reapplied with an arctic upgrade.

    What happened next upset me so much, I will never buy from XOTIC PC again. I placed the order and my CC was pending for awhile. I then checked Xo's site, and they showed that my account was under a review process they are using that uses AI to determine risk factors on the purchaser. Basically, like a credit check, but not using a FICO, more of a risk that I deemed discriminating not unlike how insurance companies that base factors on age, city, etc . It seems I was a risk and my transaction was canceled. I will never buy anything else from them again, I previously bought several laptops from them, and they lost a legit customer due to their 'dotard' security.

    Which brings me to HID Evolution. I found out about this company accidentally when a previous company was closed and they referred me to HID. I did some research and found the site to be legit, and I was told the Aero 15x was in stock, so I immediately placed an order. I communicated with a great sales rep called Donald. He took me through the process and explained much of what you have said above.

    So, I placed my order on the 15th of December '17, and my order is currently in 'parts/product on order' until stock comes in, mid January. I was told there was stock, and I did not do any upgrades, so I thought my system would be shipped out asap, since my CC was already charged. This was not the case, and I am still here waiting for their long order stage to be updated.

    I understand how you feel and Gigabyte does have some blame. I will give HID the benefit of the doubt for now since they have so many positive reviews. I was looking through these forums for feedback on HID and the Aero15x, and your posting and updates are really helpful. Please keep up the reviews and experiences with re-sellers, it's great help!

    Now I wait for my laptop status to change!
     
  5. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Guru

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    That's exactly what I got from HID as well. I would have waited until the 15X was back in stock but opted for the less efficient but higher powered X5 instead. Looking closer at my own use case, I'm not away from the mains long enough for the 9 hour run time to come into play. I hope everything works out for you with HID and from what I've seen, Donald is a terrific rep. The only piece of this puzzle left is the quality of their work with the laptop itself. If it's solid, then maybe all this frustration is worth it.

    Your point about them saying the unit was in stock only to have it fall into backorder status is exactly my point. I'm also a bit vexed about the whole Gigabyte distribution of this particular unit as well. If you're watching the Aero 15X thread, it looks like Xotic and Gentech may still have actual inventory as folks are still purchasing from them and receiving units. Granted, it could be a matter of timing giving the appearance that they do as well.

    That's disappointing hearing Xotic has gone that way with their purchasing process. With the problems I've had with HID, that would be the next shop I would look at in the future should I need an upgrade in five or six years.

    Good luck with them my friend, I hope everything goes according to plan.

    UPDATE#3 - Contacted FedEx and arranged for pick up of the laptop at their sort facility on Monday.
     
  6. CedricFP

    CedricFP Notebook Evangelist

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    Thanks for taking the time to post your experience. The more consumer reviews, the better.

    I look forward to your review of the laptop itself.
     
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  7. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Guru

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    UPDATE#4 - FedEx Home Delivery only works Tuesday thru Friday. I can see the package was sent via the BNSF railroad and is sitting in a container transfer facility about 15 minutes from my house waiting to get put on a truck for the sort facility. Looks like it won't be unloaded until later this evening for delivery tomorrow. As info, if you encounter this same situation, even with your package sitting at a sort facility, if it's tagged for home delivery FedEx won't open the container until it is within the work week for that delivery option. The frustration continues but the end is in sight.
     
  8. krabman

    krabman Notebook Evangelist

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    I once had a new car that I ordered sitting on a rail car twenty minutes from the dealer waiting to be unloaded. That went on for a couple weeks until we found out that Jeep had put them on hold while they were researching a possible manufacturing flaw. While the wait was on new cars kept stacking up and it turned out the first to be held would be the last to be cleared, mine was among that group making it another 10 days before the backlog was cleared enough to get to mine. That was after waiting 3 months for it to be built. So... could be worse. I found that heavy drinking was helpful. :)
     
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  9. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Guru

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    Alrighty, laptop is in hand and review is underway. I'm very impressed so far but haven't had the opportunity to really put it through its paces yet. I'll report back in a day or two with a comprehensive perspective.
     
  10. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Guru

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    Review posted.
     
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