Gi­ga­byte Aero 15 lap­top

£1,471 | $1,899 www.gi­ga­byte.com Is this lap­top all play and no work?

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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.

De­sign

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.

Bat­tery life

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.

Sum­mary

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.

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