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Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR Review

The Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR boasts a brand-new Intel 10th-Gen CPU alongside RTX 2070 Super graphics and a stunning 4K HDR screen.

Verdict

The Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR is packed with incredible power and has a superb screen – and none of its issues are too serious. It doesn't quite sate every scenario – and it's hardly cheap. Nevertheless, the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR is an ideal laptop for work tasks and a decent alternative to the Razer Blade Studio Edition and MacBook Pro.

Pros

  • Incredible CPU power
  • Very fast graphics core
  • Accurate, vibrant 4K screen
  • Good ergonomics and connectivity

Cons

  • Not the most stylish laptop
  • Middling battery life
  • Very expensive
  • Screen is not the best option for gaming

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £2,700
  • 17.3in 4K 60Hz IPS screen
  • Intel Core i7-10875H CPU
  • Nvidia RTX 2070 Super
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • 512GB SSD
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • 2yr RTB warranty

The Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR tries to be all things to all people. It promises the CPU power to sate content creators alongside the graphical grunt to slice through the latest games.

On paper, it certainly has the ability: this is the first laptop I’ve seen to combine an Intel 10th-Gen CPU with an RTX 2070 Super graphics core.

Elsewhere, this machine has a 4K HDR display – and a huge price. If you’re in the UK this machine costs £2700, and in the US it’s arrived at $2899.

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR – Looks smart, but build quality isn’t perfect

The Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR is made from a dark, matte aluminium, with a smart triangle-patterned grille above the keyboard and neat air vents around most of its sides. It’s subdued and professional; it’s only on the keyboard that you’ll find any RGB LEDs.

No matter how smart it looks, however, issues remain. Build quality, for one: there’s too much movement in the wrist-rest, and there’s a little desktop distortion when the rear of the screen is pressed. The Aero isn’t weak, but a protective sleeve would be a wise investment.

In addition, the machine’s edges are a little sharp, and the visible seams around the body are unattractive.

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XB 09

However, the Aero’s 2.5kg weight and 21.4mm thickness are impressive for a 17.3in machine. Connectivity is decent too: the machine comes with three USB 3.2 ports, a Thunderbolt/USB Type-C connection and both HDMI and mini-DisplayPort alongside audio jacks and a card reader.

The laptop has a webcam, although I’m disappointed that the camera has been positioned below the screen – it’s only good for seeing up people’s noses.

On the inside,  the Aero has dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and Gigabit Ethernet, both provided by gaming brand Killer.

An IR-capable webcam and 2.5Gbps Ethernet would have been welcome, alongside more than one Thunderbolt port.

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XB 04

Despite this, the Aero is still better than rivals: the Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition offers similar external connectivity but no Wi-Fi 6; the MacBook Pro 16 features Thunderbolt ports but not much else.

Those rivals systems are better in other areas, though: both are more compact, slimmer, lighter and better looking.

Related: Best phone 2020

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR keyboard – Comfortable to type on

The Aero’s keyboard benefits from a good layout: it has large keys, a full-sized numberpad and numerous function row options.

It offers decent quality levels too. The keys are quiet, consistent and comfortable, presenting reasonable travel; a soft, fast typing action makes it easy to type for hours.

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XB 05

The only slight keyboard issue is subjective: many people will prefer crisper, more tactile keys.

The trackpad is good, with a smooth, accurate surface with a built-in fingerprint reader. The buttons are decent: crisp, and easily good enough for fast-paced work.

Related: Best password manager 2020

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR screen – Colour reproduction is excellent

The 17.3-inch panel provides a generous space for working, whether you’re wanting to see crisp detail, watch 4K media or use several tools simultaneously. The screen is calibrated and certified by X-Rite Pantone.

The Gigabyte’s average Delta E of 1.47 is stunning. The panel handled 99% of the sRGB gamut with 152% volume, 99% of the Adobe RGB gamut at 105%, and 86% of the DCI-P3 space at 108%.

Those figures mean that the Aero is capable of producing accurate colours in the sRGB and Adobe RGB gamuts. As such, you can work confidently in either space. That DCI-P3 figure is good enough for HDR work too.

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XB 07

The Aero’s colour temperature of 6117K is slightly wayward, but this isn’t a significant concern.

The brightness level of 541 nits is considerable, and the black measurement of 0.39 nits is decent. The resulting contrast ratio of 1387:1 is superb – it creates huge vibrancy and bold colours. It’s just a shame the black level isn’t better; it would have meant more depth.

Uniformity across the panel is excellent: the brightness only deviated by a maximum of 7%, which is twice as good as most laptops.

For work this screen is exceptional, but it’s only mediocre in other scenarios. The panel adheres to DisplayHDR 400 and it’s bright enough, but the black level and contrast ratio aren’t good enough to deliver more than a minor boost to HDR content. However, this is true of all HDR-capable laptops right now, and the Aero is better than most.

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XB 03

This screen is only good enough for certain gaming genres: the 60Hz refresh rate and lack of syncing are fine for most situations, but fast-paced titles or eSports games require more speed.

The speakers are loud and offer reasonable clarity, but they’re tinny and lack bass. They’re serviceable, but nothing more.

Related: Best gaming laptops 2020

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR performance – Whizz through work tasks

The Intel Core i7-10875H uses the new Comet Lake architecture. This chip is a replacement for the i7-9750H, which has been at the heart of the majority of work and gaming laptops over the past year, including the Razer and MacBook.

The i7-10875H has eight cores that support 16 threads, alongside base and boost speeds of 2.3GHz and 5.1GHz. That’s mighty – the outgoing six-core i7-9750H ran at 2.6GHz and 4.5GHz.

Those specifications also compare well to the new AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS – a CPU that also has eight cores, but its clock speeds sit at 2.9GHz and 4.2GHz.

I have no complaints about the new silicon. In Geekbench 5’s single- and multi-core tests, the Aero scored 1337 and 7100 points – comfortably ahead of the 9th-Gen CPU. In PCMark 10, the Gigabyte scored 5365 points; this is slightly behind the AMD part and around 1000 points better than the outgoing Intel chip.

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition MacBook Pro 16
Geekbench 5 single-core 1337 993 1211
Geekbench multi-core 7100 4727 6631
PCMark 10 5365 4697 N/A
Cinebench R15 1676 cb 977 cb 1376 cb

The new, fast CPU is joined by a Samsung SSD capable of delivering read and write speeds of 3513MB/s and 2987MB/s – which is an exceptional pace. The specification is rounded off by a solid 16GB of memory.

This CPU will blast through any work task, from tough content creation to tricky database and CAD tasks. It’s far better than its predecessor, matches the AMD part, and will handle any app short of workstation-level software.

The RTX 2070 Super Max-Q has 2560 stream processors and 8GB of memory, so it’s very powerful. Its 3DMark: Fire Strike score of 17,643 creeps ahead of the Quadro 5000 and RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU included in both Razer Blade Pro models.

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition
3DMark: Fire Strike 17,643 14,671

Any graphical work task will be swatted aside by this GPU. When it comes to gaming, you can run any game at 1080p – even at Ultra settings, its frame rates regularly topped 100fps. This panel will run mainstream games at 4K, although you’ll have to dial back graphics settings to achieve totally smooth performance in the toughest titles.

Don’t assume this is the best GPU you can get for this money, however. For this cash, or only a little more, you can find laptops with a full-power RTX 2080 Super.

When it comes to thermal performance, the Aero is mixed. On the inside, temperatures were fine: the CPU and GPU peaked at 88ºC and 73ºC. The speeds on offer were good – even when running hard benchmarks, the CPU peaked at 4.9GHz, so it virtually matches its theoretical peak speed.

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XB 12

However, during benchmarks the area above the keyboard became very hot and the base panel, too, was toasty.

If you’re running mainstream gaming or work tasks on a laptop of this size then you’re likely sitting at a desk – so the external temperatures are unlikely to be an issue. However, they’re still worth remembering if you’re really going to push the hardware.

Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR battery life – Loses out to rivals

The Gigabyte Aero 17 noise levels are fine; they’re consistent, no worse than rivals and relatively easy to mask with a headset.

However, the Aero’s battery life is only average. With the 4K display at full brightness the laptop lasted for one minute shy of four hours in our standard test. That figure improved to just over seven hours with the display’s brightness reduced to 50% – which is still bright enough for most work purposes. If you really push the hardware then expect to lose an hour from both of those results.

Such times are awful; they’re better than any high-end gaming laptop, and good enough to handle a commute or half a day away from the mains. However, the Razer and MacBook are better.

Related: Best noise-cancelling headphones 2020

Should you buy the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR?

The new Intel 10th-Gen CPU that features in the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR is sensationally quick, delivering a solid improvement over its predecessor and AMD’s latest arrival. The GPU will handle almost anything here, and the rest of the laptop’s specification is excellent too.

The screen is fantastic for work, and elsewhere the Aero offers good ergonomics and connectivity. Its form also impresses, with a svelte build that isn’t weighty.

There are downsides, however. Battery life is fine, but bettered by rivals that are also smaller, slimmer and more stylish. The 60Hz screen isn’t great for gaming or for HDR-based work. If you want graphics power, it’s also possible to find greater GPU grunt at similar prices elsewhere.

As such, the Aero doesn’t quite sate every scenario – and it’s hardly cheap. Nevertheless, the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR offers exceptional power and design for work tasks. If you need a high-end, big-screen productivity portable then this is a fantastic option.

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