At the Computex 2016 Gigabyte showed a very compact gaming laptop Aero 14 , which was pleased with the high level of performance and a capacious battery at 94 Wh that provides a long battery life. At first the laptop was equipped with a Maxwell video card, but in December a version with a more powerful GeForce GTX 1060 Pascal generation came on the market. And just before the release of Aero 14, we were able to test the laptop. Today, our review is devoted to a larger model Gigabyte Aero 15 from a Taiwanese manufacturer. It will be interesting to assess its capabilities in practice.
Gigabyte Aero 14 was not the only interesting notebook at last year’s Computex exhibition in Taipei, but it proved itself well in our tests due to its compact size, powerful hardware and long battery life. Note also the bright cute design. All this allowed the laptop to get the “Excellent Iron” award, although the laptop entered the European market later than the planned date due to the transition from the Maxwell video card to Pascal, a few weeks later a version appeared on Intel Kaby Lake. With Gigabyte Aero 15 laptop, Gigabyte tried to fix the roughness of the first model, but at the same time we got a larger diagonal and some improvements in the details.
As you might guess from the name, Gigabyte Aero 15 is equipped with a 15.6-inch display. However, the resolution is limited to the same Full-HD as the original 14-inch version. However, for a gaming laptop this step is quite logical, the detailing is sacrificed for performance. Gigabyte still used the IPS panel with a matte surface, but G-Sync will have to be abandoned. The display is calibrated and certified by X-rite Pantone, which is sure to please those gamers who plan to work on a laptop with photos. The display, by the way, is an important advantage of Gigabyte Aero 15. Because of the narrow frame of only 5 mm, Gigabyte was able to install a 15.6-inch display in a compact package that can be attributed to the 14-inch class. Gigabyte Aero 15 has dimensions of only 356 x 250 mm, the thickness is 19 mm. In comparison with the younger 14 “model, the case became somewhat wider, but thinner by almost a millimeter.
Inside the laptop is a modern “hardware”. Gigabyte Aero 15 works with a powerful Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor on the Kaby Lake architecture, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card with 6 GB of video memory is responsible for the graphics. Because of the limited space inside, only M.2 SSD is installed, there is no space for an additional hard disk. SSD can be selected with a capacity of 256 or 512 GB, depending on the configuration, it can be connected via NVMe / PCI Express or SATA. We note 16 GB of DDR4 memory at 2.400 MHz, a keyboard with RGB-backlight and a decent battery capacity of 94 Wh, which is enough to power a 15-inch laptop all day.
Notebook Gigabyte Aero 15 is equipped with a powerful video card, but it is not only aimed at gamers. If you need a powerful computer for work in a train, plane or just in a cafe, then Gigabyte is good. Especially the manufacturer chose a very simple design, giving up bright colors. Like the “younger” 14-inch laptop, the Gigabyte Aero 15 can be brought in three colors: orange, green and matte black. However, for the selected color only the display cover is painted, the rest of the case is black. On the cover there is a highlighted Gigabyte logo and an insert under the carbon.
But everything has its price. Gigabyte for configuration with 512 GB SSD with SATA interface requires 2.099 euros. For the flagship model with SSD connection via PCI Express, you will have to pay 50 euros more. Models with a smaller SSD are slightly cheaper. There are no options to choose another processor or video card, the same is true for the display resolution.
The case of Gigabyte Aero 15 does not differ from the 14-inch model. For our tests, Gigabyte provided an orange version. But only the cover is painted, you can also buy a laptop with a green or black cover. Colors can not be called bright, but the surface is slightly glossy. Unlike Gigabyte Aero 14, the manufacturer’s logo on the lid is now highlighted during operation, depending on the brightness of the display – like Apple did with older models of the MacBook. Some variation in the design is made by the carbon triangle at the back edge of the lid. The rest of the case is completely black in all three color options. The plastic is quite strong, it does not crack and does not bend under pressure. However, dirt and fingerprints are clearly visible on the surface.
Complaints on the quality of production we have not arisen. All gaps are uniform, we did not find any sharp edges or other defects. Unless the display hinge could be more rigid. Compared to the 14-inch model, the Gigabyte Aero 15 is slightly wider, with dimensions of 356 x 250 x 19.9 mm, but it is slightly thinner. On the other hand, the weight did not change – the same 2.1 kg. Gigabyte was able to pack a 15.6-inch screen into a compact 14-inch package.
The reason lies in the rather narrow 5-mm frame that surrounds the display of the Gigabyte laptop on three sides. From the bottom, it is somewhat wider – 3.5 cm. Web camera HD, light sensor to adjust the brightness of the display transferred from the top frame to the bottom.
Thanks to the 15.6-inch panel, Gigabyte was able to return the digital block to Gigabyte Aero 15, which would please users who frequently dialed numbers. But the keys are smaller (15 x 15 mm), they are closer to each other (3 mm).
The keys are well probed for the trigger point, the move is average, it’s nice to type. Unlike the keyboard Aero 14, here is added RGB-backlight. It can be customized through the proprietary Fuzion utility, with each key separately. You can, for example, highlight the WASD keys, important for gamers. Or any other keys, for example, to collect loot. Backlight settings can be saved to profiles and run before the game starts. There are also numerous effects, such as ripple, rainbow or wave when you press individual keys. Here Gigabyte offers numerous personalization options.
The touch pad has a size of 106 x 70 mm, it will suit both users with large hands. Touch is recognized accurately, the finger slides over the surface almost perfectly. In general, the touch pad can be attributed to the best in the market, in quality it approaches the Apple MacBook. All popular multi-touch gestures are also supported, such as finger mixing / folding, scrolling with two fingers or right-clicking with two fingers.
Despite the powerful processor Kaby Lake and, above all, the powerful Pascal graphics card, the cooling system of Gigabyte Aero 15 is very simple. There are no large air vents behind the laptop. They can be seen only from the bottom, as well as in the area between the display and the main body. The power supply of our test laptop had a power of 150 watts.
In the left panel of Gigabyte Aero 15 there is a USB 3.1 Type A port, HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort outputs, and a 3.5 mm audio jack that can work both as an input and as an output. Despite the relatively compact dimensions, the laptop even has a Gigabit Ethernet interface.
On the right panel, to protect against theft, there is a hole in the Kensington lock, a power connector is located next to it. You can see two additional USB ports and a Type C jack that supports the Thunderbolt 3 protocol, which allows data transfer at speeds up to 40 Gb / s. The younger Aero 14 did not have such support. Also Gigabyte equipped Gigabyte Aero 15 with an SD card slot.
As we already mentioned, the cooling system works very quietly, despite the powerful and hot hardware components. The processor and the video card are installed in the rear center part of the main body, heat from them is transferred to the radiators by two heat pipes, after which two radial fans blow air through the radiators and throw it through the ventilation holes between the screen and the keyboard. Cold air cooling system gets underneath the laptop. Unfortunately, there is no door for maintenance of components from below. Although it would come in handy, because in Gigabyte Aero 15 you can install two SSD M.2. But to add a second SSD or replace the memory slots, you have to shoot the entire backdrop.
The front of the main body is occupied by a battery. If most notebooks of this class of price and performance get a capacity of 65 or even 45 Wh, Gigabyte has chosen a very decent capacity of 94 Wh / h. Therefore, the laptop is able to last the whole working day, at least under the office load. For charging, use an external power pack of 2.2 cm thick, thanks to the USB connector which can simultaneously charge a smartphone or tablet.
As you can see, the quality of the Gigabyte Aero 15 case does not have to be compromised. Below we will look at the performance of a laptop.
The heart of the laptop was the Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor, which Intel introduced earlier this year, replacing the previous line of Skylake 6000. So Gigabyte from the very beginning equipped Gigabyte Aero 15 with the most advanced hardware. For laptops of the first generation, the Maxwell video card was later replaced by Pascal, and a month later the manufacturer switched to new processors. All this somewhat upset those customers who bought the laptop one of the first. The four processing cores of the Kaby Lake processor run at 2.8 GHz, thanks to Turbo Boost the frequency can increase to 3.8 GHz. Hyper-Threading or SMT support allows you to simultaneously execute up to eight threads. Compared to the Intel Core i7-6700HQ, the frequency increase is 200 or 300 MHz, but the maximum power consumption of Intel indicates the same level of 45 watts. The processor is equipped with 8 MB of L3 cache and 1 MB of second-level cache. The cache of data and instructions is 32 kByte per core.
But Gigabyte did not use a dual-channel memory connection, installing one DDR4 module in the form of a SODIMM bracket. In comparison with the dual-channel mode, you will have to sacrifice some of the performance. But, at least, the frequency of the 16-GB module is 2,400 MHz. With it, Gigabyte Aero 15 showed a throughput of just 14.66 GB / s. Other models in this class of price and performance usually give twice the higher level. But you can easily update the memory subsystem. The performance of Intel Core i7-7700HQ is at the usual level. In two Cinebench tests, we got CPU performance of 8.35 and 735 points. In the compression test 7-Zip – 20.053 MIPS.
The SSD has a capacity of 512 GB, it is made in a compact format M.2, but it connects only through the SATA interface. That reduces the effective reading speed to 530 MB / s. However, for daily work it is more than enough. The operating system is loaded in a matter of seconds, programs and games start almost without delay. For a surcharge, Gigabyte offers to install a faster NVMe drive with PCI Express interface. However, for reasons of limited space, an additional hard disk can not be installed in the case. But there is a slot M.2 for the second SSD. Two drives can be combined in RAID.
Despite its compact size, Gigabyte installed a decent NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card in Gigabyte Aero 15. It provides enough performance for Full-HD games, compared to the desktop version, the speed is lower by approximately 10%, due to lower clock speeds due to limitations On temperature and power consumption. Like the desktop version, the mobile video card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 also relies on the GPU GP106, which is manufactured by the 16-nm technical process FinFET at the TSMC plants and contains about 4.4 billion transistors. The chip has 1.280 stream processors, which are combined into the usual GPC clusters and streaming multiprocessors. GPU clock speeds are lower than the desktop version. NVIDIA and Gigabyte promise frequencies of 1.405 MHz (base) and 2.002 MHz (memory). Thanks to Turbo Boost technology, the chip can lift frequencies under load, a minimum of 1.671 MHz is guaranteed. Our GPU frequency in practice was much higher, it reached 1.800 MHz. But under load the frequency decreased to 1.470 MHz, the performance also decreased.
The memory subsystem is no different from the desktop version. The mobile video card GeForce GTX 1060 works with 6 GB of GDDR5 memory, which connects to 192-bit bus, the bandwidth is 192 GB / s with a clock frequency of 2.002 MHz.
We conducted tests in the Full-HD resolution with the games Grand Theft Auto 5, DiRt Rally, The Witcher 3 and Shadow of Mordor, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card coped with them without problems. In each test we got between 47.9 and 183.7 fps. As a rule, in most tests the frequency was more than 60 frames per second.
With the laptop Aero 15 Gigabyte chose a clean installation of Windows 10, abandoning the advertising applications and demos. Unless Microsoft Office 365 is preinstalled, which can be used for free for 30 days. Also installed CyberLink Power DVD, proprietary backup utility and a set of programs to facilitate administration. For example, Gigabyte Fuzion allows you to control the RGB-illumination of the keyboard. You can not only set the color of each key separately, but also the effect. In addition, you can bind macros to individual keys, which opens up infinite programming possibilities. You can save the settings to profiles so you can quickly recall them before starting the game.
Smart Manager offers a rich assortment of functions. Here you can adjust the brightness, volume level, select the power plan, adjust the fan speed. By default the laptop is configured in game mode, but with one click you can switch both radial fans to full speed, and also turn them off in silent mode, if the CPU and GPU do not heat above the threshold temperatures. As a result, the laptop will work completely silently. You can also adjust the speed of the mouse cursor and the color temperature of the display. Recall that it is calibrated at the factory and certified by X-Rite. But if you prefer warm colors, you can make the appropriate settings.
Convenient and Update Center, which allows you to centrally install driver and system updates in a few clicks. In general, Gigabyte Aero 15 offers rich configuration options. For streamers, the annual license for XSplit Gamecaster will be useful.
In the tests, we did not encounter problems with overheating of the components. The processor and graphics card did not reach the extreme temperatures, we got 89 or 74 ° C, respectively, so that Gigabyte Aero 15 will survive and hot summer days. But under the stress load, which we simulated with the simultaneous launch of Prime95 and Furmark, we got fairly high surface temperatures. Bottom of the case, in the rear part in the center the temperature rose to 53 ° C, where the processor and video card are located. On average, the temperature was almost 32 ° C from the bottom, from the top the laptop worked much cooler (27.5 ° C). Under normal office load, the case temperature is much lower. In addition, when operating on battery, the temperatures were also lower by about 7 ° C.
When Gigabyte Aero 15 worked in gaming mode (exposed through Smart Manager), the cooling system showed a noise level of up to 51.3 dB (A). It can not be called low, but for a modern gaming laptop, the more compact, the result is good. In the 2D mode, the fans worked much quieter, the noise level did not exceed 33.9 dB (A). In the Silent mode under the office load, the fans completely stopped, the Gigabyte Aero 15 laptop worked absolutely noiselessly. Excellent result!
Gigabyte Aero 15 is equipped with a fairly capacious battery at 94 Wh / h. As you can see, the Taiwanese manufacturer has chosen a much higher level of capacity than most competitors, which usually install batteries at 65 or 45 Wh. As a result, we got significantly longer battery life. Under the office load, the laptop lasted 515 minutes away from the outlet, more than eight hours. But in games Gigabyte Aero 15 can only work about 170 minutes, that is, even less than three hours. Nevertheless, Kaby Lake processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card consume a lot of energy under load. However, other laptops with comparable hardware configuration usually do not stand up for an hour.
For charging, there is an external power supply for 150 W, which is very compact – the thickness is only 2.2 cm. With the additional USB port from the PSU, you can charge the same smartphone or tablet. The 94.2 Watt-hour battery in the laptop was fully charged from 1.5 to 2.0 hours. Gigabyte Aero 15 almost completely “scoops up” the power of the PSU. Under full load, the test laptop consumed more than 160 watts from the socket, in 2D mode we got a level just above 22 watts.
Display Gigabyte Aero 15 is one of the best, it can be safely attributed to the advantages of a laptop. In our tests, thanks to the IPS panel, it not only provided wide viewing angles up to 178 °, but also a high level of contrast and brightness. Chi-Mei 1.401: 1 has a contrast ratio, the maximum brightness is excellent 369 cd / m², so you can work and play with the laptop even in bright environments. In addition, the evenness of the illumination was more than 90%. Between the brightest and darkest areas, the brightness spread was only 35 cd / m².
The effects of the factory calibration are visible in color temperature. Most gaming laptops give a rather cold temperature of over 7.000 K, in the case of Gigabyte Aero 15 it was about 6.800 K. Recall that the optimal value is 6,500 K. The resolution of 1.920 x 1.080 pixels perfectly matches the performance of the video card, we get a smooth frame rate in games. Although the support for G-Sync, of course, would not hurt.
With Gigabyte Aero 15 laptop Gigabyte follows in the footsteps of the success of the “younger” 14-inch model , we also received a number of improvements. Interface USB Type C got support for Thunderbolt 3, the keyboard added support for RGB lighting, the manufacturer’s logo on the cover is also highlighted. Compared with the first 14 “generation, the notebook became a little wider, but a little thinner, the weight remained at the same level of 2.1 kg .Inside is a powerful Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 game graphics card, which is sufficient for most scenarios. Modern games Gigabyte Aero 15 copes without problems, except that the memory subsystem was distressed, since only one module is installed, but the problem can easily be solved by adding one more memory bar.
An important advantage of Gigabyte Aero 15 is the display. Because of the narrow frame of just 5 mm, the Taiwanese manufacturer managed to keep the compact dimensions of the case. The brightness and uniformity of the illumination of the IPS panel left a positive impression, as well as wide viewing angles. Contrast also pleased – 1.401: 1. Note that the display is calibrated at the factory, which is visible at the same color temperature. But you can configure it yourself, Gigabyte appends the corresponding utility. It also allows you to adjust fan speeds, select the desired power profile and make other settings. There are no complaints about the quality of the work, the keyboard and touch pad also showed themselves from the best side. Particularly pleased touch-pad, which is close to the quality of touch panels Apple.
Despite the powerful and “gluttonous” iron laptop Gigabyte Aero 15 is able to stay away from the outlet for a long time. We got battery life from three to eight hours. The reason lies in the large capacity of the built-in battery – 94 Wh / h. However, under the load, the notebook’s case noticeably warmed up, at the hottest place of the bottom panel we got 53 ° C, so you can hardly play with the laptop on your lap. At least when working on battery temperatures were lower. Gigabyte Aero 15 – not the most productive notebook, but under load the noise level exceeds 51 dB (A), which is comparable with high-end models. But under office applications, fans can be completely stopped.
It is a pity that the Gigabyte Aero 15 does not have a separate door for servicing components, which would facilitate the upgrade of the memory or the addition of a second SSD M.2. Also Gigabyte Aero 15 can not be called cheap – the price is almost 2.100 euros. But the price justifies long battery life, simple but stylish design, excellent display and compact dimensions.
Gigabyte Aero 15 is a very good all-purpose laptop, which is perfect not only for work, but also for games. Moreover, it provides a long battery life. That allows us to award him our award “Excellent Iron”!