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Gigabyte Aorus 15 impressions: A good gaming laptop with some compromises

Gigabyte Aorus 15 impressions: A good gaming laptop with some compromises

Note: This feature was first published on 2 October 2023.

When it comes to gaming laptops, there's a certain expectation of ostentation. Think glowing RGB logos, audacious cooling grills, and a design aesthetic that screams 'look at me.' However, the Gigabyte Aorus 15 defies these cliches in a refreshing way. The moment you see its lid closed, its unassuming design could easily pass for a professional laptop – an undercover agent in the world of gaming machines, if you will.

Powering this sleeper of a machine is a 13th-Gen Intel Core i7 13700H and NVIDIA's RTX 4070 Laptop GPU. The latter is not just for playing high-definition games but also brings NVIDIA's latest DLSS 3.5 technology, to the table. Thanks to Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), this GPU can add about 20 additional frames per second to your games, as per my benchmarks. That's not just impressive; it's quite a gamer-changer for mobile gaming.

Key specifications
CPU 13th Gen Intel Core i7-13700H Processor
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4070 Laptop GPU 8GB GDDR6
Display 15.6-inch 16:9 Thin Bezel QHD 2560×1440, 165Hz, up to 100% DCI-P3, TÜV Rheinland-certified
Memory 2x DDR5 slots (DDR5-4800, Max 64 GB)
Storage 1TB (supports 2x NVMe PCIe Gen 4)
Ports 1 x USB 3.2 Gen1 (Type-A), 1 x Audio combo Jack, 2 x USB 3.2 Gen2 (Type-A), 1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 (Type-C), 1 x Thunderbolt 4 (Type-C, support Power delivery), 1 x HDMI 2.1, 1 x Mini DP 1.4, 1 x RJ45, 1 x DC in
Battery Li Polymer 99WHr
Dimensions 36.0(W) x 27.2(D) x 2.09(H) cm/ 14.2(W) x 10.7(D) x 0.82(H) inch
Weight 2.39kg

A starting price tag of $3,299 is pretty reasonable deal for a 15-inch gaming notebook with the same specs as our test unit. However, this laptop isn't without its share of compromises, particularly if you're planning on using it for more than just gaming.

Design and performance analysis

Firstly, let's talk design. While the Aorus 15 allows you to choose between different RGB lighting patterns through Gigabyte's Control Center software, the aesthetic, when dialled down, is so minimalist that it borders on uninspired. The design is angular and blocky, weighing in at 2.39kg and measuring close to 36cm wide and 2.1cm high – portable, but not exactly lightweight. Built with a metal top display and a plastic base, both of which feel rugged, the Aorus 15 seems like it can take some rough handling without much fuss.

The 15.6-inch 2560×1440 display that this laptop sports is high-quality but ironically, what Gigabyte calls a Thin Bezel design doesn't quite live up to its name, in my opinion. It has a broad chin and a top bezel that accommodates a rather underwhelming webcam. The Windows Hello-compatible camera often delivers darker images unless the lighting is perfect. Boosting the brightness doesn't help much, making the camera's performance a point of contention.

Internally, our Aorus 15 is packed with two sticks of 8GB DDR5 4800MHz memory in dual channel (for a total of 16GB), which is configurable up to 64GB, and a 1TB of NVMe storage, expandable up to 8TB. To manage the heat from these high-performance parts, the laptop features exhaust vents – most notably at the rear, adding about an inch of overhang to the chassis.

In a noticeable design shift from its predecessors, the Aorus 15 opts for port placement at the rear, including a HDMI 2.1 port, DisplayPort 1.4, Thunderbolt with power support, and DC Power. This rearrangement helps in reducing desk clutter, particularly when the laptop is plugged into multiple peripherals.

Speaking of performance, the Aorus 15 left little to be desired in gaming tests. It achieved on average between 70-80fps on Ultra settings and at 2560×1440 in our regular test games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Marvel’s Guardian of the Galaxy and Horizon Zero Dawn. These aren’t resource intensive games though, and when I tried the same settings on more recent games like Cyberpunk 2077 (with Update 2.0 installed), the Aorus 15 requires DLSS to be toggled on to make these supported games run smoothly.

As far as the display is concerned, I found the Quad HD display provide stark contrast and vibrant colours, and esports gamers will be happy to know that the gaming laptop also supports a 165Hz refresh rate.

However, all isn't rosy when it comes to the Aorus 15's acoustics. During regular use, the laptop maintains a low profile with minimal fan noise. But the moment you boot up a game, it's a cacophony. The speakers, which lack the depth and volume to drown out the fan noise, make the situation worse. While you can customise fan speeds using Gigabyte’s Control Center, there's no escaping the sound levels during intensive gaming. The good news, however, is that the aggressive cooling works exceedingly well in keeping the laptop relatively cool.

Battery life is another mixed bag. Equipped with a 99WHr battery, the laptop lasted just about four hours in our MobileMark 25 test. And if you’re thinking of taking this laptop out for some gaming sessions at your local cafe, be sure to take its power brick with it – running the laptop on battery during gaming drains it at an alarming rate, lasting just barely 50 minutes.

The input devices on the Aorus 15 don't make life any easier either. The touchpad, although large and glassy, is frustratingly inconsistent, requiring a deep press to register a click. The keyboard, too, lacks tactile feedback and feels mushy, with uneven key response across its layout.

My two cents

To sum it up, the Gigabyte Aorus 15 is an enigma. On the one hand, it is a gaming powerhouse with the Core i7 13700H and RTX 4070 Laptop GPU combination. But on the other hand, its compromised webcam, lacklustre speakers, uneven keyboard, and a finicky touchpad make it a difficult recommendation for everyday use. It performs exceedingly well in the specific realm it's designed for but stumbles when asked to be a jack-of-all-trades. So, if you're looking for a pure gaming machine, the Aorus 15 is a worthy consideration (at $3,299). But if you're seeking a versatile daily driver, you might want to keep looking.

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