Gi­ga­byte Aero 15 Chill­blast Apollo 15.6in GTX

A light­weight 15.6in lap­top that packs one heck of a punch, the Aero is ideal for gamers on the move

PC Pro - - News - NATHAN SPENDELOW

SCORE ✪✪✪✪✪ PRICE £1,583 (£1,900 inc VAT) from scan.co.uk

High-per­for­mance gam­ing lap­tops are get­ting smaller. Skin­nier and more pow­er­ef­fi­cient chips are the cat­a­lyst, and Gi­ga­byte’s Aero 15 lap­top is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of the new breed.

A 2.8GHz Core i7-7700HQ pro­ces­sor runs the show, backed by 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD. Nat­u­rally, there’s a 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graph­ics card buried within. This meant the Aero 15 topped the charts across al­most all our tests, beat­ing the lat­est Razer Blade by a sin­gle point in our bench­marks (un­sur­pris­ing, as they have all but iden­ti­cal specs).

Gam­ing per­for­mance proved sim­i­larly stel­lar. Metro: Last Light –a no­to­ri­ously de­mand­ing game – ran at a silky smooth 86fps on the Ul­tra pre­set at Full HD res­o­lu­tion with SSAO turned off. That’s a shade faster than the Razer Blade once more.

What’s most amaz­ing, though, is how Gi­ga­byte crams ev­ery­thing into this slen­der 19.9mm-thick chassis. For in­stance, it takes a leaf out of Dell’s XPS book by slim­ming the bezels around the edge of the dis­play to a mere 5mm. Es­sen­tially, it crams a 15.6in screen into a chassis the size of a typ­i­cal 14in lap­top.

In­trigu­ingly, the Aero 15’s Full HD dis­play is X-Rite Pan­tone-cer­ti­fied, which means you should get ac­cu­rate colours with­out cal­i­bra­tion. I found colours lacked vi­brancy com­pared to glossier ri­vals, but this is a su­perb matte dis­play that pro­duces de­tail­rich images. While its 85.4% cov­er­age of the sRGB pal­ette is good rather than great, an av­er­age Delta E of 2.18 is a stel­lar score for a lap­top screen. That, and a con­trast ra­tio of 1,248:1, makes for a dis­play that’s easy on the eyes.

The Aero 15 lasted an ex­cel­lent 7hrs 17mins in our video-run­down tests. With con­ser­va­tive use, you should eke out a full work­day from the Aero and, to­gether with its low weight and com­pact di­men­sions, that means you could use it as your ev­ery­day lap­top.

More se­ri­ous types will want to choose the ver­sion of the Aero with a black lid, but both the green and or­ange al­ter­na­tives still com­ple­ment the oth­er­wise black chassis well. Which­ever you choose, you should be happy with the Aero from a de­sign point of view.

De­spite its slen­der frame, there’s a fine se­lec­tion of ports. A full-size Eth­er­net port, USB 3 port, miniDis­playPort and HDMI 2 video out­put sit on the left edge, while the right edge houses two more USB 3 ports, one USB-C/Thun­der­bolt 3 and a full-size SD card slot. The­o­ret­i­cally, you could con­nect four mon­i­tors: two 4K via the HDMI 2 and mini-Dis­playPort ports, and two 5K dis­plays via the Thun­der­bolt 3 port.

The key­board is just what you want when you’re straf­ing left and right in your shoot­ers: won­der­fully tac­tile, with plenty of sat­is­fy­ing feed­back. I also wish more lap­tops had its abil­ity to cy­cle through dif­fer­ent fan speeds by sim­ply press­ing Fn + Esc. Plus its RGB back­light­ing is fully cus­tomis­able, so ev­ery key can have its own colour.

“Gi­ga­byte takes a leaf out of Dell’s XPS 13 book by slim­ming the bezels around the edge of the dis­play to a mere 5mm”

The touch­pad isn’t quite so note­wor­thy. Its matte black sur­face may feel nice on the fin­ger, but it isn’t Mi­crosoft-cer­ti­fied and can’t be used for multi-touch ges­tures.

The only po­ten­tial stick­ing point is the price. The Aero 15’s big­gest com­pe­ti­tion comes from the Razer Blade, and its en­try-level Kaby Lake model comes with a GTX 1060 and is al­most £100 cheaper. Still, you’ll most likely want the 512GB ver­sion, which costs £1,999. While Razer is a more fash­ion­able name, Gi­ga­byte’s lat­est of­fer­ing is a se­ri­ous ri­val. Not only does it of­fer first-class per­for­mance and a su­perb dis­play, that com­pact, light­weight chassis means it can dou­ble as your day-to-day lap­top as well as your gam­ing ma­chine. With a long bat­tery life, it’s also more prac­ti­cal than the Razer Blade. That’s why it takes over as our top gam­ing lap­top choice. SPEC­I­FI­CA­TIONS Quad-core 2.8GHz In­tel Core i7-7700HQ pro­ces­sor 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graph­ics 16GB RAM 15.6in IPS dis­play, 1,920 x 1,280 res­o­lu­tion 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD 720p we­b­cam 802.11ac Wi-Fi Blue­tooth 4.2 USB-C/ Thun­der­bolt 3 3 x USB 3 HDMI 2 mini-Dis­playPort Gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net SD card slot Win­dows 10 Home 94Wh bat­tery 333 x 249 x 19.9mm (WDH) 2.1kg 1yr RTB war­ranty

ABOVE Gi­ga­byte squeezes a huge num­ber of ports into the Aero’s 19.9mmthick chassis

ABOVE The Aero is packed with the lat­est com­po­nents, but still has great bat­tery life

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