Gigabyte Aero 15 Review
- Slim and light
- GeForce 1070 graphics
- Silent and effective fans
- No garish design features
- Ropey touchpad
- Awkward webcam
- Occasional stammer
- Review Price: £1999
- Intel Core i7-8750H
- 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU
- 16GB DDR4 memory
- Up to 512GB PCI-E SSD
- Weight: 2.1kg
- 15.6-inch Full HD / 4K display
- Thunderbolt 3 included
What is the Gigabyte Aero 15?
If you have a squint at our comprehensive round-up of the best gaming laptops at the time of publishing, the very first entry is the Gigabyte Aero 14. You might not see it there much longer, however. This seriously slim and light powerhouse has just been updated in the form of the Gigabyte Aero 15, which packs even greater performance in a similarly slender chassis.
Sporting one of the latest Intel Coffee Lake processors and Nvidia’s mighty GeForce GTX 1070 GPU, the Aero 15 is built to handle the latest and most demanding games. All of that, while keeping a wonderfully trim figure.
Gigabyte Aero 15 – Design and Build
For a gaming machine, the Aero 15 is expertly crafted. It’s slim at roughly 19mm and also surprisingly light at 2.1kg. Considering the smarts stuffed inside, that’s some nifty work.
Gigabyte really hasn’t wasted an inch of space here. The Aero 15’s display stretches to the very top and side edges, so you don’t get any unnecessary bulk. One side-effect of this is that the webcam now sits in the hinge area beneath the screen. This means any Skype pals will be treated to a charming view of your nostrils and/or double chin.
Everything feels solidly constructed, from the just-stiff-enough hinge to the suitably sturdy chassis. If you want a machine to regularly shove in a backpack without any stress, this’ll definitely work. That said, I did notice some light scratches appear on the lid after just a day or so of use. Considering I didn’t exactly punish the machine, that was unexpected. And it may be a very minor quibble, but the Aero also had the annoying habit of hibernating when the lid was only partially closed.
If you’re a fan of vibrant in-your-face colours, then great news. As well as this standard black model, you can also nab the Aero 15 in bright orange or green hues. That’ll get you noticed on the daily commute for sure. Still, as far as gaming laptops go, this is a subtle beast. No massive motifs of dragons battling alien spaceships or anything like that. Besides the hologram-style pattern on the base of the lid, there’s little ‘funky’ styling to be seen.
Lining the edges you’ll find a typically strong selection of ports. Three USB 3.0 ports are joined by a single Type-C connection, for super fast data transfer. You also get plenty of choice for external displays, with both HDMI 2.0 and mini DisplayPort on offer. There’s also Ethernet for getting wired up for those multiplayer sessions.
Gigabyte Aero 15 – Keyboard and touchpad
Like that display, the Aero 15’s spacious keyboard also stretches to the far edges, making the most of the available space.
There’s not a hint of flex in the chiclet-style board, while the well-spaced keys offer a deep travel. The end result is a comfortable typing experience, even when you’re smashing out quite lengthy essays (this review included). Nothing feels squashed, even though there’s a full numeric pad housed over on the right edge. My only grumble is that the main board, arrow keys and number pad are all sat side-by-side, with no spacing to separate them.
Your best bet is to load up the Gigabyte Fusion app and use it to change the backlighting. Here you can set a specific colour to each individual key, which certainly looks funky when you’re gaming in the dark. You can also use these custom colours to divide up each section of the board, although you’ll still occasionally need to tear your eyes from the display to check which button you’re about to mash.
Unfortunately the Aero 15’s touchpad is rather dire. It’s not very responsive, especially for quite delicate actions. You’ll want to hook up a mouse as soon as you boot up the laptop, for sure.
Gigabyte Aero 15 – Screen
The quality of the visuals is one of the most important factors when considering a gaming laptop, to make the most of that dedicated GPU. Gigabyte hasn’t disappointed, thanks to that crisp, colourful and simply beautiful 15.6-inch IPS panel.
For a start, you’ll have no visibility issues wherever you decide to get gaming. On maximum brightness, the Aero 15 is positively retina searing. Factor in the anti-glare display coating and you won’t be bested by that pesky sunshine.
Colour reproduction is also accurate enough to appease professional photographers and videographers. While the 97% sRGB coverage isn’t quite as near-perfect as the LG gram and a couple of other laptops we recently reviewed, it’s a solid effort which matches other gamers like the Asus ROG GX501G. You also get 74% coverage of the AdobeRGB range.
Although the screen tops out at Full HD resolution, this proved perfectly fine for enjoying the latest games with crisp graphics and a swift 144Hz refresh rate. And if you want to bump up to 4K gaming (which the Aero 15 is perfectly capable of), you can always connect an external Ultra HD display. In fact, up to three external displays are supported by the Aero 15 at once.
Gigabyte Aero 15 – Audio
Stereo speakers are unfortunately housed beneath the Aero’s chassis, so any sound is instantly muffled by your desk, lap or whatever the laptop’s sat on. All the same, sound quality is actually pretty decent despite this positioning. The output is powerful enough to produce decent clarity and volume when watching a show in a noisy environment. Music sounds fine too, although it’s not quite a replacement for a dedicated speaker.
Gigabyte Aero 15 – Performance
Gigabyte can’t be accused of skimping when it comes to the Aero 15’s innards. Packed into that skinny chassis is Intel’s new hexa-core Core i7-8750H Coffee Lake processor, clocked at 2.2GHz. In our review model this was backed by 16GB of RAM. Note that you can also pick up the laptop in a number of different SKUs from the likes of Amazon.
Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070 card is also stuffed inside of the Aero 15, to keep you gaming for some time to come.
When I first started testing the Aero 15, I found that the laptop froze up every few seconds inexplicably. At first I was baffled; surely this wasn’t a problem with performance, given the crazy specs? A bit of digging showed that it was actually a display issue. Specifically, the laptop was constantly swapping between the integrated and dedicated graphics, causing the screen to ‘freeze’. It’s a problem which affects a lot of laptops rocking a 1050/1060/1070 GPU and thankfully some fiddling about and updating the drivers eventually sorted it out.
That said, I still did notice the occasional little stammer here and there, often when loading an app. That’s something I really didn’t expect from such a powerful machine.
These little stutters aside, the Aero 15 delivered hard when it comes to performance. The latest games, hardcore media editors and every other app I tested ran without a struggle. And in our benchmarking tests, the laptop also scored high. These results are a clear step up from last year’s Aero 14, although Asus’ uber-powerful ROG G703 is still the champion by a wide margin.
GeekBench single core – 4876
GeekBench multi-core – 17416
PCMark – 3533
As expected, that Nvidia card puts in some solid graft too. Demanding games such as Rise of the Tomb Raider ran with a perfectly smooth frame rate on high detail levels, although we did see the occasional stammer and some choppy gameplay on the very top settings. Rise of the Tomb Raider spat out a consistent average benchmarking score of just a shade under 30FPS.
Our 3DMark benchmarking tests threw out the following scores:
Fire Strike 1.1 – 12894
Sky Diver 1.0 – 31365
Cloud Gate 1.1 – 32715
Ice Storm 1.2 – 153696
A dual fan system complete with heat pipes helps to boot out any hot air and keep the Aero 15 operating smoothly, even under duress. I was seriously impressed by how quiet the fans remained, even after quite a lengthy gaming session.
As for the 512GB SSD, this too performed admirably. Read speeds of just over 1.5GB/s and write speeds of 1.2GB/s help to keep loading times to a minimum, while also enabling quick data transfer.
Gigabyte Aero 15 – Battery life
When it comes to gaming laptops, you can be fairly confident that battery life is going to take a hit. Sure enough, those juice-guzzling components stuffed inside the Aero 15 mean you won’t be straying too far from the nearest plug point.
A mere hour of gaming drains over half of your battery power, although less intensive use does give you a little longer before the laptop dies. Simply working in a web browser while streaming music gives you around five hours of operation per charge. Gigabyte’s gaming machine also lasted 4.5 hours overall in the standard Trusted Reviews battery test. This involves a non-stop loop of video playback and web play.
Should I buy the Gigabyte Aero 15?
While the Aero 15 isn’t one of the most powerful gaming machines you can buy right now, it’s certainly one of the most portable. I’m definitely impressed at the compact, ‘lightweight’ nature of this beast given the powerful specs. Even better, it doesn’t look like a gaming laptop, so you don’t have to feel like a plank pulling it out in public.
That said, there are a few little niggles here and there that keep me from fully recommending it. While the keyboard is durable and comfortable to type on, it’s not perfectly laid out for touch gaming. The touchpad is dire, occasional stutters ruin the otherwise fluid experience and the awkward webcam positioning makes Skype calls comical.
For a supremely powerful and surprisingly portable gaming experience, you might wish to consider the Asus ROG GX501G instead.
If you’re a gamer who places portability over the very best possible performance, the Aero 15 is well worth pondering over.
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Unlike other sites, we test every laptop we review thoroughly over an extended period of time. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever, accept money to review a product.