Gigabyte is a brand probably best known for the inner workings of your PC, with products such as motherboards and graphics cards being their bread and butter. The Gigabyte name is synonymous with quality products, with the company priding itself on that reputation. It is with this reputation that Gigabyte enters the gaming laptop market with the Gigabyte Aero 15, a laptop that packs a punch despite its somewhat slim physique.
Knowing the specs before opening up the box, I was surprised to see the relatively slim profile of the Aero 15, and upon picking it up, was dumbfounded at the weight of the machine. This, after all, is a gaming laptop, one that comes with a host of gaming features that one would expect from a behemoth of a laptop. At just 2.1kg it is actually one of the lightest full-feature laptops I have used. Yes, there are definitely lighter laptops, but they are generally low-spec machines.
The Aero 15 comes in three styles (although the fluoro green option is not available in Australia). There is an orange version and a black version with an orange v-stripe. The black version does have more of a professional look, whilst the orange version has more of a fun feel to it. Inside, they are all the same, though, so it is definitely a personal choice as to which you prefer. The thin 1.9cm high profile sports a stylish sharp edge (not dangerously sharp, though) and lines.
Upon opening up the laptop, the thing that stood out was the ultra thin bezel surrounding the screen. At just 5mm, it impressively uses up as much of the available real estate as possible. With such a thin bezel, the webcam has been moved to a somewhat strange position on the hinge. Although it does look strange, the viewing angle (when tested after turning on) seemed more natural than having it at the top of the screen.
Despite its slim appearance and 15.6inch display, the Aero 15 comes complete with a full sized keyboard and numpad. There is no discernible space separating the keyboard from the numpad though, which could be an issue if you often work with numbers. This can be countered somewhat by the customisable keyboard lights. The lights can be easily interchanged depending on which game (or software) you are playing. The built-in software is a breeze, allowing users to select which colours they would like to see on their keys. Each key can be customised, so if you want the WASD keys highlighted differently from the rest of the keyboard, then the software allows you to do so. And if the closeness of the numpad is an issue, then they can be highlighted separately from the rest of the keyboard. The brightness of the lights is also adjustable, so if you're playing in the dark, you can turn the lights right up.
The slim machine is also fitted with all the usual ports including an Ethernet port, SD card reader, three USB 3.0 ports and a HDMI port. A Thunderbolt 3 USB 3.1 port and a Mini Display Port are also included. Most of these, along with the AC adapter port are situated towards the rear of the sides, which is always my preference as it keeps the cables out of the way. The three USB ports could be taken up quite quickly though if you game on a separate keyboard and mouse. This would only leave one spare port for a USB flashdrive or one other device. Gigabyte have thought of this, though, and added a USB charging port to the AC Adapter, allowing users to charge their phones or tablets directly from the slim adapter pack.
This brings me to the battery and portability. I was rather impressed with the laptop's battery life when disconnected from power. I was able to surf the internet, play around with the keyboard features and watch a number of movies before the dreaded message stating that battery was critically low. I got about 5 hours before requiring a recharge, and that was mostly watching movies and surfing the net. So for a professional, that is the sort of battery life that will get you through most of the day. Of course, higher intensive activities such as gaming reduced the battery to around 3-4 hours, which is generally more than sufficient.
The Aero 15 we tested came complete with an Nvidia GeForce GTX1060 and along with the 512GB SSD, meant that gaming performance was top notch. I tested the laptop out with Dark Souls III at the highest settings without any frame rate issues. Admittedly, there isn't a huge colour palette in Dark Souls, so I also tested it out with Overwatch, a game that has an overabundance of colour (despite the game not being overly taxing on the machine). Both games ran smoothly and with no apparent framerate issues on the beautiful 4K display. The display has been certified by Pantone - the company specialising in colour charts - which suggests that the clarity in colour is superb. Indeed, I did find it vibrant, but let's face it: who can distinguish millions of colours? The Aero 15 has also been designed to be compatible with VR devices such as the Vive. Unfortunately, without that particular piece of hardware, I couldn't test out the performance in a Virtual Reality atmosphere.
Games aren't all about visuals, though, and it is often the audio that sets one game above another. And with the advent of Netflix and the like, laptops are often used as portable entertainment devices, requiring quality sound through the speakers and headphones. The Aero 15 does a great job on both counts, although, as with most laptops, I found that the audio output through the headphones was much clearer.
For its size, the performance of the Gigabyte Aero 15 is amazing. It has the sort of output you would expect from a desktop replacement laptop, one that weighs a considerable amount. It has features that gamers appreciate, such as speedy and quality performance, some nice styling and, more importantly, a host of features.
The thin profile and screen bezel, combined with the 2.1kg weight, make it ideal as a portable games machine. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that I had to send it back after I was finished testing it. But if you're in the market for a gaming laptop, then the Gigabyte Aero 15 is well worth a look.
NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1060 GDDR5 6GB Graphics
7th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-7700HQ Processor
Ultra-slim 5mm bezel
X-Rite™ Pantone® Certified Display
FHD 1920x1080 WVA High-Res Display
UHD 3840x2160 WVA High-Res Display (optional, 2017 Q3)
2x M.2 PCIe SSD / 2x DDR4 Memory
94Whr Battery with Long Battery Life
Dual 4K output with HDMI 2.0 & mini DP 1.3
Dimension: 356(W) x 250(D) x 19.9 (H) mm / 2.1kg
The Gigabyte Aero 15 retails in Australia for $2899.