As I was listening to two friends debate recently about Android and Apple smartphones, I heard one defend his iPhone by calling it the smartphone he doesn’t have to think about. In a technology-filled world, even those of us who like to tinker and build sometimes prefer devices that don’t require a lot of setup and customization. The “it just works” convenience factor can be a very important selling point, if not the most important one.
For those looking to dive into PC gaming, the convenience factor of gaming notebooks is hard to ignore. A gaming notebook can be a tempting purchase, considering that users can buy one device, install some games, and start playing without doing anything much more difficult than finding the power button. It doesn’t hurt that one can toss that computing power in a bag for gaming on the go.
One such notebook is the Aorus X5 v7. Within a portable and attractive package, Gigabyte has provided just about everything that users need to dive into high-resolution triple-A gaming. Even users who don’t need their systems to travel all that often might be tempted by a notebook like this, because it simplifies a lot about setting up a gaming rig. It arrived at my front door one day, I downloaded a few games on Steam, and I was off and gaming.
A powerhouse duo under the Aorus X5’s hood supplies its gaming chops. The notebook ships with Intel’s Core i7-7820HK inside, a four-core, eight-thread beast with a base frequency of 2.9 GHz and a max turbo frequency of 3.9 GHz. Did I mention that it’s overclockable, too? The notebook’s pixel-pushing power is provided by Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 1070, a graphics card that needs no introduction in these parts. This graphics card made its debut in mobile devices last August, and it’s been a favorite on the market ever since.
Gigabyte outfits the Aorus X5 with a 15.6″ IPS display. Purchasers can pick between a 4K panel and one with a max resolution of 2880×1620. The unit we tested had the lesser resolution, which was fine by us. As capable as a GTX 1070 is, we typically recommend a GTX 1080 Ti to gamers looking for quality 4K gaming experiences in contemporary triple-A games. We’re also pleased that Gigabyte ships the Aorus X5 with G-Sync, as it’s hard to ignore how well Nvidia’s variable-refresh-rate technology smooths out gaming experiences. To ensure that the display provides accurate and vivid colors, Gigabyte had the display certified by X-Rite and has a color profile pre-installed on the machine. More on this later.
The rest of the Aorus X5’s spec sheet is quite respectable. It has 16GB of 2400 MT/s RAM on two DIMMs. The device ships with two storage drives, one a 256GB PCIe M.2 drive and the other a 7200 RPM spinner with 1TB of storage space available. Users looking to connect the Aorus X5 to an external display will find HDMI, mini DisplayPort, and Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C) connectors. A Killer NIC handles networking duties, and a 94.24Wh Li-polymer battery keeps the lights on when the unit isn’t plugged in.
A few aesthetic touches make it clear that the Aorus X5 is a gaming laptop, but overall its design is practically sedate compared to some of the “gamer” products on the market. The chassis is constructed of aluminum, and it has a glossy black finish. An Aorus logo constructed of glass is embedded on the back of the display panel, and it glows with a soft white light when the notebook is in use. The logo appears again on the notebook’s power button and on its clickpad.
The notebook’s main attention-grabber is the RGB-LED-backlit keyboard. With Gigabyte’s RGB Fusion software, users can pick among a variety of color profiles, or set up per-key lighting as they prefer. My children (four and five years old, respectively) were so obsessed with the “wave” preset that moves a rainbow across the keyboard that I basically wasn’t allowed to change the lighting settings until after they went to bed.
Gaming notebooks also tend to stand out due to the design of of their cooling solutions. The Aorus X5 is made to move a lot more air than, say, Microsoft’s Surface Laptop. The display hinge is recessed about an inch back from the end of the notebook, giving Gigabyte some room for substantial venting. The company added additional vents along the sides of the notebook, as well. None of this venting detracts from the laptop’s appearance, though. It’s one of the key places where the form of the laptop follows its function, rather than the other way around.
Here’s a full chart of laptop’s specifications:
|Aorus X5 v7|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-7820HK|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with 8GB GDDR5 RAM|
|Display||15.6″ IPS panel with 2880×1620 max resolution and G-Sync|
|Storage||Toshiba XG3 M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, 256GB*
HGST Travelstar 7K1000, 1TB*
Expansion options: A second M.2 2280 slot
*May differ depending on region
|Audio||2 1.5W speakers
2 2W woofers
ESS Sabre Hi-Fi Audio DAC
|Expansion and display outputs||1 USB 3.1 Type-C
1 USB 3.1 Type-C (Thunderbolt 3)
4 USB 3.0
|Card reader||1 SD card reader|
Killer Wireless-AC 1535 (802.11ac)
|Input Devices||RGB LED backlit keyboard
|Dimensions||15.4″ x 10.7″ x 0.9″ (390 x 272 x 22.9 mm)|
|Weight||5.5 lbs (2.5 kg)|
For an Aorus X5 v7 configured like the one in our test labs, Gigabyte sets the MSRP at $2,399. Let’s see if it lives up to its potential.