Gigabyte Aero 15 (2018) review
There's new Gigabyte Aero 15 models with 20 series Nvidia GPUs available today, but the Aero 15 2018 remains accessible for anyone not convinced by the advantages of RTX graphics.
Gigabyte's Aero range has ever tried to deliver premium gaming components to the Ultrabook type variable, and also this 2018 Aero 15 is not any different. Bringing together a 15.6-inch Pantone colour accredited screen, full-sized keyboard with number pad, committed Nvidia GPU plus a generous 94Wh Li-Ion battery and squeezing it into a small 14 x 9.8 x 0.7-inch (35.6 x 25 x 1.9 cm) form variable is an impressive feat of technology. Combine this with one of Intel's new high-end 8th-generation mobile CPUs, 16GB o f DDR4 RAM plus a 512GB SSD and you've got a cutting edge gaming PC that slyly takes the form of a professional Ultrabook -- also if it comes to performance, this system is a lot more than just hot Aero.
Pushing the envelope this way has always cause some design options that are going to be divisive -- such as dropping the web camera into the base of the screen, and providing the keyboard a fractionally off-center and bloated texture. On the whole however, these compromises seem to have been carefully considered and ultimately wind up as slight grievances rather than major caveats.
Price and Availability
Even though it may look like a lightweight Ultrabook that's meant for lighter workloads, the Aero 15 really packs lots of powerful components to its little chassis that imply it could handle more than 14-inchers. Squeezing these expensive components into such a small form factor adds added spatial and thermal technology costs to an already pricey spec sheet.
Although this mix can often result in some lofty price point at retail stores, fortunately the Aero handles to maintain it is price fair, together with options starting at $1,999 (£1,999, AU$2,899). That cost will probably get you the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU configuration, but you can optionally measure up into a significantly more efficient GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU to get just a couple of hundred bucks additional at $2,299 (£2,199, AU$3299). Then, you have also got the option to provide the screen a 4K facelift and reinstate the NVMe SSD for a total of $2,399 (£2,199 AU$3699).
These brand new 8th-gen devices will be available from stores and online retailers around the 16th of April. Some retailers may reportedly be offering pre-orders before then.
The design aesthetic of the Aero 15 is mainly governed by the simple fact that its 15.6-inch screen was packaged into a 14-inch laptop body. While that'll make it appealing to anybody for a small and portable laptop, it will create some challenges that you are going to need to be inclined to overlook. Just take the display for example: on the 1 hand, it is amazing that you may have a screen virtually without boundaries, but these 5mm bezels induce the remainder of the computer to get relatively sharper and more squarer corners compared to the more friendlier, rounder corners that are typically in vogue these days.
The reduced bezel size also means there's no room for the webcam near the top of the screen, forcing it to fall to underside close to the the hinge, something that is not perfect in terms of function (we will talk about this more later), but also creates the bottom bezel bulkier than it arguably requires to be, and throws off the equilibrium of the screen design all around. It is good to see a gaming laptop scope experimentation with screen layout and there will be lots willing to forfeit an unused webcam to get thinner bezels along with a smaller overall footprint, but it is a component that will turn some users off too.
While we are happy that the Aero 15's keyboard comprises a number pad -- it is a feature that's essential for particular professionals -- it will suffer from a number of the identical distance constraints since the screen, together with the keys filling the framework and sitting a hairline away in the body border. Obviously, with that restricted distance there's no difference between the keyboard proper and also the number pad and the two are melded together in a manner that abbreviates the right Shift key, and provides you room for error about the Backspace and Enter keys. It is not a large enough grievance for a deal breaker, you are going to adapt to the altered layout soon enough, but is is something that'll likely irk initially.
It is well worth looking at the Aero 15 design from a wider perspective, however, since there aren't some other laptop sellers that'll provide you a gaming-grade machine using a 15-inch screen plus a full amount pad at a 0.7 inch (1.8cm) thick chassis -- a thing that enables it to fit to several 13-inch laptop backpacks or shoulder bags.
And though the device is on the hefty side in a bit over 4.4 lbs (2kg), for something with this much power and battery life, it is really exceptionally lightweight. It does not skimp on materials either, reintroducing the carbon fiber envelope-shaped embellishment to the top of the Aero 15's superior metallic shell. That appeal flows to the slick smooth trackpad that's one of the very responsive we have examined in recent memory. Moreover, even though the keyboard is a bit constrained on the right hand side, it's otherwise comprised of agreeable feeling keys using powdery matte keycaps and profound travel distances to get a painless typing experience.
Turning into the internal design, the Aero 15 uses an integrated double fan cooling system using two heating pipes thermally servicing both the CPU and GPU to disperse heat efficiently if one is hotter than the other. The coil fan grills are placed on the undercarriage, permitting the unit to store valuable advantage space for further ports. The output vents have been hidden beneath the hinge and toss heat up on and behind the screen of the device, which seems to maintain the bottom cool enough to use in your lap in the event that you wanted to -- something that's sometimes not the case from gaming-capable laptops. This thermal design is good at keeping both the CPU and GPU beneath 91ºC and 83ºC (196ºF and 182ºF) respectively, when pushed hard in gaming and CPU heavy benchmarks.
Display, screen and ports
Taking prime place near the top of the Aero 15, the screen looks good in it is close to bezel-less frame. While the entry configuration we examined for this particular review was an IPS LCD in 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution, it is upped the refresh rate from 60Hz to 144Hz plus it still has that special Pantone colour calibration. That 144Hz refresh speed means that this is a super fast screen that'll appeal to anybody playing first person shooters (especially online) and delivers smooth movement and greater responsiveness, and also for the more professional-minded the colour calibration means it will work nicely as a design instrument.
You can argue that a 4K screen will be more useful to the latter group compared to with the faster refresh rate, however you can update this screen to 4K in case you are ready to spend a little extra and if you are both interested in gaming, 1080p is a good middle-ground option. In other words, 4K seems like a sensible optional additional. From a gamer's standpoint, the only other thing you are actually missing on both the FHD along with the 4K displays is G-Sync compatibility. Gigabyte told me that's a conscious design choice in favour of greater battery life -- the Aero's capacity to completely switch off the Nvidia GPU if its not in use means that the latter's video signal always has to be passed via the integrated Intel HD 620 GPU and that, regrettably, means no G-Sync capacities. That can be just as much a laptop for designers as gamers though, so that's a trade-off we believe is well worth the price -- particularly once you see how good that this person's real-world battery life really is.
Adding to that the lengthy list of advantages is one of the most extensive collections of input and output ports we have seen within an ultraportable at quite a while, which means that you can basically knock 50 - $150 off the cost for the dongle or dock at this point you must build many Ultrabooks. Not only can you get full-sized HDMI 2.0, two Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1, a Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 2, Ethernet and 3.5 millimeter Audio Combo connection, but you also get a high speed UHS-II 500MB/s SD Card slot (good for moving or working on 4K video), a Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C port and an extra mini-DisplayPort 1.4.
Read more: Intel Core i7-9700K
Packing the first six-core mobile CPU from Intel -- just one of the company's new high-end 8th-gen Core I processors -- the Gigabyte Aero 15 cut a swathe through our CPU-intensive benchmarks. Just take the raw CPU scores from Cinebench's R15 benchmark and you're going to see that, on single-core evaluations, this laptop's new Core i7-8750H CPU scores just a bit better compared to its i7-7700HQ predecessor about the ASUS ROG Zephyrus, together with Gigabyte getting 156 into the ASUS's score of 149. This 5% per-core increase translates to some 17.4% total increase in multi-threaded CPU benchmarks when using Windows''Balanced' ability mode.
What is more intriguing is that this could be pushed substantially further by placing the Aero 15 in to Performance mode, which compels that multi-threaded score out of 861 all the way around 1125 -- a significant increase that sets it 53.5% forward of the ASUS and fairly near desktop performance levels. Backing up this is a GeekBench multi-core score of 17,171 which places it 12.6% ahead of TechTnet's top Ultrabook, the Dell XPS 13.
Generally work and home tasks, the Aero accomplishes similarly remarkable results in getting 4460 and 5635 from the various Home (accelerated) and Work (accelerated) PCMark 8 benchmarks, so it compels through tasks much better than any preceding laptop we have tested with 16GB of RAM thus far.
Though the Aero 15 has ample GPU power to get a professional ultra-portable, the mid-level Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 model is centre of the street in regards to performance against today's gaming laptops. It will get near, or even more than 60fps, on many early-2017 games utilizing Ultra settings at 1080p resolution. There are exceptions: it succeeds to only get a mean of 35 fps on Ghost Recon Wildlands in 1080p/Ultra, for example. Turn down those graphical settings somewhat nevertheless, or play marginally older names, and you're going to be able to actually place that 144Hz screen to use, using less-demanding titles often pumping out 100-plus frames each second. The Aero's GTX 1060 more than holds its own as a real gaming GPU that'll handle anything that you throw at it, so long as you do not have to get every graphical bell and whistle turned around the max. If you are looking to truly push the gaming side of things, then updating to the GTX 1070 model is an appealing proposition. Moving up into a 4K display will demand a sacrifice in graphical settings (or lesser frame rates) if you would like to run games in the screen's native resolution. We did not get a opportunity to check the higher-end model this time around, but for a little bit of context, last year's Max-Q GTX 1070 Aero 15X failed score 33% greater compared to this GTX 1060 model on 3DMark's Firestrike Extreme benchmark. 3DMark tests do not necessarily translate perfectly to real world game fosters -- the gap can occasionally be much larger or much smaller based on the game -- but it is not a terrible sign of the overall performance increase you will get when you average them out.
Gigabyte's first Aero 15 broke lots of new ground in its pursuit of squeezing a full-featured 15-inch professional laptop to a 14-inch thin-and-light shape variable, and this season's update was able to improve on the initial design in a couple of key locations. Packing one of Intel's brand new 8th-gen high-end mobile CPUs signifies the Areo 15 can exploit significant performance boosts, which makes this a monster of a system for anybody who is encoding video, working with large images or otherwise performing intensive multimedia work. Add to this a leap out of a 60Hz screen to the faster 144Hz spec and integrating a speedier UHS-II SD Card reader -- features that will appeal to the gaming and innovative professional decks -- and you get a very-respectable yearly upgrade. However, Gigabyte has also done some work optimising the battery lifetime, enabling it to get more than 7 hours of movie playback when in Performance mode, a result that should translate to almost a full working day of overall use, even once you mix in time together with the above multimedia tasks.
Gigabyte has toned down the chassis design with this season's Areo 15 by culling the zesty orange and orange colour offerings, and while we are somewhat sorry to see those louder variations go, it is a choice that is reasonable for the professional marketplace grade. But, there's 1 omission in the brand new entry unit that is a real trade-off in the preceding models, and that's the switch from an NVMe SSD capable of rapid 3000 and 1500MB/s read/write speeds (respectively) into some SATA 3 SSD from the present model, which just gets around 500MB/s for read and writes. While this does not influence the more expensive models (which have these NVMe SSDs) and possibly is not a deal breaker onto it's own, even if you're doing especially disk-intensive actions you might wish to think about passing on the lowest priced Aero 15 model.
Up then, there's plenty to enjoy about this upgraded Gigabyte Aero 15 and for those who do not mind the odd webcam placement and square design then there's nothing that should bother you about this laptop in the long run. The six-core mobile Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM allocation and committed GeForce GTX 1060 GPU make the Aero 15 a potent professional offering in an incredibly compact bundle. With ample battery life plus a more-than-adequate capability for gaming, this is a strong laptop option for the performance focused professional, or anybody looking for a light and slender that also packs a nice punch.