Gigabyte Aero 15-X9 Smart Laptop Review
Gigabyte signs an excellent portable gamer with this Gigabyte Aero 15-X9 Smart Laptop, as good for 3D gaming as for resource-hungry applications. The machine also seduces us with its well-calibrated screen and connectivity to the taste of the day.
Gigabyte is best known in France for its motherboards and 3D cards. But the Taiwanese manufacturer also signs very effective laptops like the Gigabyte Aero 15-X9 Smart Laptop. This is a 15.6-inch model designed for gamers but that can also interest graphic designers and other digital creators.
Available for a few weeks, the 2019 version of the Gigabyte Aero 15-X9 Smart Laptop incorporates an Nvidia 3D chip of the latest generation, the RTX 2070 Max-Q, which is both powerful and relatively energy-efficient, allowing it to be integrated into laptops very powerful, but quite thin and “light” around 2 kilos.
With it’s Aero 15, Gigabyte does not try to break the prices of gaming notebooks. For the choice of components, beyond the 3D chip Nvidia, the firm assumes, and even claims, it’s choice of high-end components. It even proudly announces partnerships with Samsung (for RAM), Intel (for the processor and the SSD module) and LG-Philips (for the LCD). As a result, its machines are even more expensive – at comparable equipment level – than those of Asus or MSI, the enemy brothers of Taiwan: from 2700 to 5000 euros, depending on the version!
The Gigabyte Aero 15-X9 Smart Laptop model that we are testing here, the most “affordable” of those proposed in France, embeds a core i7 6-core, 16 GB of RAM and a chip GeForce RTX 2070. This engine is in principle strong enough for rotate all current games – and upcoming – with a high level of detail in Full HD or 4K. It is also very suitable for power-hungry multimedia applications, such as video editing, 3D image creation or sharp photo work.
What is really worth this expensive Gigabyte Aero 15-X9 Smart Laptop, for the game and for the rest? Here’s what we thought after testing it.
A sleek and sleek case, very successful
Elegant, solid and very fine for a gaming machine, the case of Gigabyte is a great success. All in anodized aluminum, it comes back without forcing in a bag or a small backpack thanks to its reasonable dimensions for 15 inches: 35.5 cm long, 25 cm deep and 2 cm thick. While traveling, it is still almost three kilos that add to the luggage: 2.12 kg for the machine itself and 860 grams for the charger.
A complete and powerful connectivity
The Aero 15-X9 is particularly rich in plugs, with no less than 3 USB 3.1 type-A, a USB-C connector and a ThunderBolt 3 for external storage media and screens of the latest generation. Also on the left side of the case is an HDMI (2.0) jack for connecting a TV or monitor, as well as a jack-style audio output. For photographers, Gigabyte adds, on the right side, a UHS-II compatible SD card reader (up to 300 MB / s).
The network equipment also proves to be complete and of excellent quality. For the wired Ethernet connection, Gigabyte retains a Killer E2500 controller with a maximum throughput of 2.5 Gbps. And for wireless communications, the manufacturer adds WiFi ac modules to 1.73 Gbps (Killer 1550) and Bluetooth 5.0.
Screen: very faithful colors, a weak luminosity
On the Gigabyte, the display is entrusted to a high-end IPS panel manufactured by LG, with a native resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. We had a lot of trouble, writing, to judge this screen fairly, both great on some points … but quite disappointing on others.
Let’s start with the good news. The active matrix reveals outstanding color accuracy for a laptop screen. According to our X-Rite probe, the rendering is very close to perfection, with a delta E of only 0.96 for the sRGB color space. Recall that the delta E represents the difference between the ideal shade and that which is actually displayed by the screen. The smaller the gap, the better the screen. On a laptop, a delta-E of 1 (or less) is considered very good, it is bad beyond 5.
A precision that makes the Aero 15-X9 a tool of choice for sharp photo editing or 3D imaging. Gigabyte proudly announces that its slab has been certified by X-Rite Pantone, the American color calibration specialist.
The players, they will especially appreciate the refresh rate of the slab, which climbs up to 144 hertz (but without compatibility G-Sync). Good point finally for the matte finish of the slab, which limits the parasitic reflections.
Alas, the screen also presents a rather annoying defect. It has a really weak brightness of 228 cd / m², and also a fairly shabby contrast ratio of 781: 1, against 1500: 1 for some laptops competition. Specifically, the Aero 15-X9 is fully exploitable indoors, but sometimes it is difficult to read the screen in bright light or near a sunny window. In the play, but also during the reading of a film, the lack of brightness and contrast turns out to be penalized in the dark scenes. Rather frustrating for a laptop so expensive!
Around the screen, the border is very discreet, with 5 millimeters thick. But suddenly, I can not accommodate the webcam above the LCD panel. Gigabyte is forced to deport his camera under the screen, near the hinge with the case. It thus films against the surface … and particularly emphasizes the neck or the nose, more than the face of the subject.
Another disappointment is that the camera is not compatible with Microsoft’s Windows Hello biometric identification system. As the machine is also a private fingerprint reader, you must always enter his password to unlock his Windows session.
A comfortable and customizable keyboard
Very well thought out, the keyboard “chicklet” exploits the whole width of the case (35 cm), which makes it possible to integrate very large keys and a complete numerical keypad. The striking is pleasant, accurate and quiet. We also like the very good glide and responsiveness of the touch zone, whose right and left click buttons are however a little stiff.
Lovers of RGB light games will be thrilled with Gigabyte, whose keychain can be customized with a multitude of colorful effects. The backlight can be fixed or animated, of fixed or variable intensity and can affect the whole set of keys or only some commands. Of course, the loupiotes can also be extinct. All of these settings and many more are done through the very good Gigabyte Control Center utility.
Performance at the top … with two RAM memory sticks
As we said earlier, Gigabyte does not disguise the quality of Aero 15-X9 components. We only find the best hardware currently available under the hood, starting with the Intel Core i7-8750H, a 6-core model that carbides from 2.2 to 4.1 GHz depending on the workload. Also signed Intel, the 1TB SSD module (760p, M.2 format) ensures a quick start of the laptop and pleasant responsiveness on Windows, for apps in general and games in particular. The Aero 15 X9 can accommodate a second SSD M.2 module thanks to a free slot on the motherboard.
The video clip is obviously signed Nvidia, a GeForce RTX 2070 bardée 8 GB of video memory. Gigabyte has chosen the “Max-Q” version of the Nvidia circuit, slightly less energy-consuming – but also a bit less powerful – than the “normal” RTX 2070. However, it provides a perfectly smooth display of all recent games in Full HD and supports the real-time ray tracing of Nvidia, operated by games like Battlefield V or Metro Exodus.
All right, all that … to close detail. Gigabyte integrates only one module of RAM into its machine, with a capacity of 16 GB. However, the GeForce RTX 2070 only gives its full measure with two memory modules, operated in “dual channel” (dual-channel, in English-speaking jargon). This design error was also made by other manufacturers, such as Asus for his laptop Rog Strix Hero II, we introduced you there is little. In practice, the difference in performance is not negligible: according to the apps and games, it varies, according to our tests, from 6 to 33% when going from a single bar of 16 GB to two modules of 8 Go.
Aware of the problem, Gigabyte offers a very interesting solution but limited in time. Until May 31, 2019, the firm offers a 16 GB module for the purchase of the notebook tested here, equipped with a single 16 GB DDR4 module (Aero 15-X9 – 7FR0310P).
The Gigabyte Aero 15-X9 Smart Laptop against the competition
If the Gigabyte can not compete with the monstrous Dell Alienware Area 51m, the most powerful “transportable” in April 2019, it still ranks among the best mobile machines for current resource-hungry applications, such as mounting video, image editing or 3D imaging. With an overall score of 5619 points on the PCMark 10 Multimedia Test, it is virtually matched with the HP Omen 15 and significantly outperforms the recent Asus ROG Strix Hero II.
For the 3D game, Gigabyte’s notebook is still dropped by Dell’s Area 51M, untouchable thanks to its 8-core Core i9 processor and Nvidia RTX 2080 3D chip. With its GeForce RTX 2070 “Max-Q”, the ‘Aero 15-X9 actually displays performance very close to the previous generation of high-end gamers, equipped with GeForce GTX 1070 or GTX 1070 Max-Q chips. We were hoping a little better!
Let’s remember, however, that games that really exploit the full potential of next-generation GTXs, such as real-time ray tracing, are still quite rare. Buying a GeForce RTX-based gamer is a good investment … for future games.
With all current titles, the Gigabyte is still full view in Full HD, with the highest level of detail. We recorded close to 62 frames per second (IPS), in “Ultra” quality under The Division, 78 fps under Rising of the Tomb Raider … and 178 fps with the “old” but still pleasant Dirt 3, still in Full- HD. The Gigabyte can also work in higher definitions, at least up to Quad HD (2560 x 1440 pixels). But to play in 4K (3840 x 2160) on a big TV, it may be necessary to reduce a little the level of details.
Temperature and noise: levels too high
Like all gaming computers, the Aero 15-X9 engulfs a lot of energy at full speed. From 32 watts at rest, under Windows, consumption jumps to 178 watts when a big 3D game is launched. Not surprisingly, the battery life is not long. Do not expect more than 3 hours and 30 minutes for basic office and multimedia use (surfing the Internet, messaging, reading videos …). In-game, the battery is empty in less than 2 hours.
More boring, the machine is rather noisy as soon as it is asked a little, with a big app or a 3D game. The fans emit a rather high-pitched noise which evolves in rapid steps up to 41 decibels, a level pretty horrifying for the ears. This noise may not disturb the player himself, if he uses a headset, but may very quickly annoy the neighbors!
And despite this noisy ventilation, the machine heats a lot at full speed. In our tests, the temperature of our test model climbed 58 degrees below the housing, near the hot air vents. At the palm rest, the warm-up is luckily more reasonable, with “only” 39 degrees maximum. We still hope that the noise and warm-up of the Aero 15-X9 can be limited by an update of the drivers or Bios of the machine.
- The excellent level of performance
- The wealth of connectivity
- The delicacy of the case
- The elitist rate
- The sound of ventilation at full speed