SUPER SLIM SLI
When you think gaming notebook, you’d probably associate it with desktop-class graphics, processing performance, and display sizes. You’d probably end up with something astronomical like the Dell Alienware 18 just for bragging rights. For the record, that’s 57mm thick and 5.6kg heavy.
Recently, a newer breed of slim gaming machines has surfaced, such as the 17.3-inch Razer Blade Pro and the MSI GS70 Stealth, that tries to retain raw performance without the bulk. Gigabyte, through their Aorus sub-brand is the latest player to join this niche and is already presenting some serious competition.
The new Aorus X7 notebook features an SLI pairing of NVIDIA GTX 765M graphics chips in an incredibly slender 22.9mm chassis that’s only slightly thicker than most Ultrabooks out there. It’s not the first to implement SLI graphics – Aftershock’s Titan and Dell’s Alienware 18 have done so, but they both piled on substantial weight because of the integration. The X7 is relatively featherweight at 2.9kg. Maintaining its superslim profile is achieved with some clever engineering— Aorus calls it Thermal+ Technology—which includes four side and rear vents, five thermal pipes and two fans.
Equipped with an anti-glare full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) display, the X7 offers a pretty decent viewing experience. It’s bright enough to use under most environments, good black reproduction and has a quick response of 8ms. However, do note that it uses a TN panel instead of IPS, so colors and viewing angle may suffer.
The X7 comes furnished with Aorus Acoustic+ technology: four speakers, including two enhanced bass units, in an attempt to increase bass fidelity. While loud enough for movies, you’ll still really want a pair of headphones for gaming.
Its keyboard was too shallow for our liking however, and felt the keys could do with a bit more elevation. The surface of the glass-like trackpad also caused some friction; it wasn’t as responsive as we hoped it to be, deviating uncontrollably at times, but again, we’ll more than likely be using a proper mouse for gaming, so we’ll let this slide.
Like most gaming-oriented notebooks, the X7 features a Killer LAN chip, which is designed to help improve network latency
CONCLUSION For a first stab at a gaming notebook, the Aorus X7 surpassed our expectations with great aesthetics and performance.
and optimized for gaming. It also features the newer 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, so wireless gaming is not much of a concern with this notebook. It features 2 mSATA SSDs configured for RAID 0 (2x 128GB/256GB), plus a third mechanical HDD (up to 1TB) for all your storage needs.
Performance-wise, we compared the X7 to the Razer Blade Pro and MSI GS70 Stealth. All three are configured with Intel Haswell i7 processors and NVIDIA Geforce GTX 765M graphics. The X7 however, is the only one with an SLI configuration. Impressively, even with SLI disabled, the X7 scored better in 3DMark’s Cloud Gate and Fire Strike benchmarks. With SLI enabled, the X7 was able to run nearly double the frame rates of its competition; a healthy 60fps for Crysis 2 (Very High settings) and 85fps in Tomb Raider (High settings). The SLI integration of the X7 actually proves its claims of being equal to a GTX 780M.
So far, the Aorus X7 seems like an amazing machine. It’s slim and extremely powerful, but if you’re thinking there’s bound to be a trade off, you’re right. The X7 comes with a 73WHr battery, equal to the Blade Pro’s 74WHr battery. However, actual battery life was far from similar. The X7 lasted just 132 minutes on Powermark simulating regular use. The Blade Pro clocked in at 163 minutes. Even with SLI disabled, the X7 was only able to extend another miserable nine more minutes.
Overall, the $3,599 price tag of the Aorus X7 is much higher than the similarly configured MSI GS70 Stealth ($2,699 with 256GB SSD/750GB HDD), but you get that incredible SLI boost. You may want to note that both MSI and Razer have announced newer versions of the Razer Blade Pro and GS70 Stealth (called GS70 Stealth Pro) with GeForce GTX 860M and GTX 870M graphics respectively.
There were some hiccups, chiefly being its lackluster battery life. However, these flaws— which may be considered major if you’re looking to buy a productivity notebook—can be overlooked in a gaming machine, which is expected to be always plugged in for maximum performance when gaming. Portability comes from the fact that you can conveniently travel with it. The Aorus X7 has that covered and still churn out the frame rates and smooth gameplay, and that’s what counts.
There’s an absurd amount of things going on in the X7, and we’re impressed with how its cooling system and numerous vents are able to handle all that heat.
Anti-ghosting functionality is great for games that require multiple keystrokes and combos, but, the physical keys themselves are a little too shallow.