Gigabyte Aero 15 laptop
£1,471 | $1,899 www.gigabyte.com Is this laptop all play and no work?
Laptop on the inside, envelope on the outside, the Gigabyte wants to mail the Aero 15 into gamer caves and boardrooms alike. With its programmable keyboard, Kaby Lake Core i7, Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU, and an enduring battery, the Aero 15 is the next do-it-all device.
The Aero 15 may be ready for anything, but so are its competitors, the Razer Blade and Origin EVO15-S. All offer comparable hardware at similar prices. But it’s the little things that put a device over the top, and the Aero 15 has plenty.
It doesn’t have everything, though. Uncomfortable inputs make it more gamer than worker. Nonetheless, the Aero 15 is greater than the sum of its parts. Better yet, the sum of its parts isn’t going to put much of a dent in your wallet.
Price and availability
Gigabyte currently only offers one version of the Aero 15, a Full HD-capable unit priced at $1,899 (around £1,471). That’s pretty good considering the hardware you’re getting and it’s the most affordable of the bunch. The Razer Blade and Origin EVO 15-S, specced to meet the Aero 15’s configuration, cost $2,099 (around £1,999) and $2,317 (around £1,907) respectively.
If you stripped the panelling off the Aero 15, Razer Blade, and Origin EVO15-S, and just compared their hardware, you’d have a hard time telling them apart. However, one anomaly of the Aero 15 is it’s SATA storage. The Aero 15 prioritises size (and cost) over speed, whereas the Razer Blade includes faster PCIe storage even in its base model.
With its 512GB PCIe SSD, the Origin EVO15-S combines the best of both worlds, although it costs $500 (£412) more than its rivals.
The Aero 15’s Thunderbolt 3 is welcome, especially as 4K video editing becomes a thing. It certainly makes Gigabyte’s laptop a better competitor with the MacBook Pro.
The Aero 15 comes in three Halloween-inspired colours: orange, green, and black. Couple this with the Aero 15’s flat-rateshipping-envelope panelling and you have a device whose design is more ‘kid-tested/mother-approved’ than Gigabyte’s suggested ‘For Work/For Game.’ We just can’t see this laptop showing up under the arm of a sales rep during a client meeting – at least not in its more lurid colours. Gigabyte is trying to appeal to professionals, and the Aero 15’s look works against that.
Not all is lost though! Flip open the Aero 15 and you’ll find a welldesigned interior. It’s matte black only in here, which gives the screen and base a gravitas that is missing from the back panel (the downside being that it’s easily smudged).
In here, the screen is clearly the centrepiece. On paper it’s 15.6 inches, but thanks to a miniscule bezel it seems bigger. Gigabyte’s
also moved the Aero 15’s webcam, light sensor and mic to the hinge, keeping the bezel free of clutter.
The Aero 15’s 2.09kg is evenly spread, giving the laptop a dense, but not heavy feel. The Origin EVO15-S and Razer Blade weigh 1.81kg and 1.88kg, respectively.
When it comes to the Aero 15’s inputs, there’s a lot to love, and to hate. The glass touchpad is big and supports Windows 10 gestures, but its tracking is imprecise. So is its left click/right click detection, making it unfriendly for gamers and pros.
“Its programmable keyboard may be the Aero 15’s best feature, but its display is a close second”
The Aero 15’s keyboard also suffers from feedback issues. In its case, there’s too much: the action of the keys is too stiff for long-term use. Plus, stiff keys make for loud typing. While these two things might appeal to gamers, they’re annoyances in the office.
The keyboard – feedback and noise aside – is pretty nifty. Gone are the ‘G’ macro keys of the Aero 14. They’ve been moved out to make room for a full number pad. Macro functionality still exists, and in fact, it’s expanded: every key on the board is now mappable. It’s one of the Aero 15’s best features.
A desktop app – called Gigabyte Fusion – allows users to program the Aero 15’s keyboard and full RGB backlight. Click on a key in the utility, and assign a macro, shortcut or app to it. Not too hard at all.
The backlight can be modified just as extensively with seven colours, plus five customisable and 13 pre-set lighting effects. Each user can save their settings to their own unique profile too.
The display on our review Aero 15 test unit may only be 1080p, but that’s plenty at this screen size and is no less impressive for that.
The Aero 15 comes with the blessing of the pope of colour, X-Rite Pantone, and that’s nothing to shake a censer at. It’s definitely worthy of its blessing: the Aero 15’s colours are dessert rich. You can also use this as a media workhorse knowing the colours on the screen have been industry certified.
Although the display isn’t touch-capable, its wide viewing angles, glare-killing matte finish, and sharp colours are the syrup, whip cream, and cherry on top. Its programmable keyboard may be the Aero 15’s best feature, but its display is a close second.
Performance and features
Similar hardware is going to yield similar results and the Aero 15 performs as well as its competitors.
Ultra settings are a bit of reach for portable devices, unless the game is a few years old, and the Aero 15 is no different. Nonetheless, it handles high settings without dropping into slideshow territory.
Performance drops considerably on battery, but again, that’s par for the course. The fans are also loud – loud enough that the average quality of the speakers is irrelevant. Headphones are a necessity.
The Aero 15’s third best feature? Its battery. It lasted five hours and four minutes on the PCMark 8 Battery Test. Good for a gaming laptop. Enterprise users take note as the Aero 15 wasn’t done there: it eked out an extra hour and 35 minutes above its PCMark 8 time on our battery test, in which the laptop plays a movie on continuous loop at 50% volume and brightness. These numbers put the EVO15-S (PCMark 8: 2 hours, 52 minutes) to shame. Only the Razer Blade gets close to the Aero 15’s PCMark 8 time. It accomplished four hours and eight minutes of wireless work.
The Gigabyte Aero 15 is a definite recommend, but for who? Gamers for sure, it has everything that they want. But it’s harder to recommend to enterprise users. Even if those folks look past its arcade-inspired panelling, the uncomfortable inputs of the 15 will inevitably have them reaching for a MacBook Pro or Lenovo ThinkPad instead. It’s the best gaming laptop of 2017 so far, but the Aero 15 falls short as a workhorse.