SU­PER SLIM SLI

Aorus X7

HWM (Singapore) - - Test - by Joy Hou

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.

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