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
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