TECHNOLOGY

Gigabyte Aero 15 Review: A Productivity Beast

It’s a triumph of substance over style

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BY Rahil Bhagat - 15 Sep 2017

Gigabyte Aero 15 Review

In a Nutshell

A triumph of substance over style, the Gigabyte Aero 15 is a solid, well priced machine with plenty of grunt that should appeal to anyone looking for a portable powerhouse that can crush most daily tasks.

 

Gigabyte isn’t the first name you would think of when it comes to laptops. The Taiwanese company is better known for making the components that other system builders put into their machines. Gigabyte’s Aorus line of hardware in particular is very well regarded by the performance PC market.

Like its Taiwanese rivals, ASUS and MSI, however, Gigabyte is making a strong play for the laptop market, offering a small range of well-designed, value-for-money laptops that appeal to people looking for substance over style.

Case in point is the Aero 15, Gigabyte’s answer to a portable powerhouse market.

Has the Aero 15 helped Gigabyte make a dent in this lucrative market? Read on to find out.

The Good

In many ways, the Gigabyte Aero 15 is the Nissan GTR of the laptop world, lacking the style and flair of its rivals in exchange for raw horsepower.

The Intel Kaby Lake i7 7700 processor when combined with an Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics solution, 16 GB of RAM and a 512gb SSD lets the Aero 15 smash through even the most demanding tasks.

Be it playing uber demanding games like Mass Effect Andromeda on high or crunching 4K video, the Aero 15 didn’t skip a beat, delivering great performance time after time. The SSD in our review unit was also the super fast NvME kind so that helped immensely.

It helps that the screen on this baby is quite something.

Taking a cue from Dell’s excellent XPS series, the Full HD X-Rite calibrated display on the Aero 15 is bezel-less, letting Gigabyte stuff a 15.6 inch screen into a chassis meant for a smaller screen.

The matte display is great and while a 4k option for video work would be nice, the Full HD 1080p panel works a treat for everyday usage.

Another huge plus for the Aero 15 is the battery.

With a laptop of this size, rocking the sorts of hardware that it has, it is nothing short of amazing that Gigabyte was able to stuff a massive 94.2 Wh battery under the hood.

This equates to about 6 hours of normal productivity usage and an hour and a half of gaming. In my case though, I managed to squeeze 8 hours out of the device by running the Aero 15 with a custom power saving profile and turning off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc.

A big issue with powerful laptops like this is fan noise and thermal performance. After all, putting a powerful Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GTX 1060 in a machine just 20mm thick is a recipe for loud fans and a hot chassis.

The good news here is that the Aero 15 performs better than many rivals with similar specs. Fans run loud but not loud enough to became a major distraction and even though the vents run hot, the keyboard area stays cool.

Special note too should given for the amazing selection of ports on the device, including a Thunderbolt 3 port for an external graphics card amplifier.

 

The Meh

The Audio on the Aero 15 is the textbook definition of meh. It's not particularly loud, the bass is basically non-existent and at anything past 80 percent volume, the sound starts to get distorted.

With smaller laptops like Razer’s Blade and even Apple’s Macbook able to pump out great sound in this day and age, it is disappointing that on a multimedia focused device like the Aero 15, the speakers are so basic.

The Aero 15’s keyboard is an average typing experience with the keys a bit skinnier than I would like. Key travel is not great either. The laptop does get a few points back for an excellent RGB colour system with individually backlit keys.

The trackpad is another area where I would have loved to see the Aero 15 excel, instead, what we get is another average PC trackpad. Let’s just say that you should consider carrying a spare mouse with this laptop.

 

The Bad

The Aero 15 is not what you would call an attractive looking machine. Instead of the sleek machined metal unibody designs that you get on laptops like the Razer Blade or Dell XPS, Gigabyte has chosen to go for a more conventional aluminium chassis. This results in a less than premium feel for a premium priced device with screen flex, rough edges and a general lack of “coolness.”

It doesn’t feel cheaper per say but after using one of Razer or Apple’s devices, the difference is quite apparent.

It doesn't help that the three available colors, bright green, neon orange or a more understated black seem at odds with the laptop’s desire to be a serious portable powerhouse for the discerning power user.  

All this leads to is a device that doesn't score too highly on the “how cool will this look in a coffee shop” scale

Conclusion

At SG$2899, the Gigabyte Aero 15 is not what you would call cheap, it’s just 300 bucks cheaper than a Razer Blade and around the same price as its rivals from Asus and MSI. However, there is probably no laptop out there in this category that packs so much into one package, from top of the line hardware to a gorgeous screen and a massive battery.

If you are willing to forego the sort of super premium build quality from an Apple Macbook or a Dell XPS and you have the money, there’s probably very few all rounders out there that can hold a candle to the Gigabyte Aero 15.

 

Device specs:

CPU: Intel Core i7

Ram: 16 GB

GPU: Nvidia GeForce 1060

Screen: 15.6 inch 1080p Full HD

Storage: 512 GB NvME SSD

Weight: 2.1 KG

Battery Life: 6-8 Hours

Price: SG$2899