Gigabyte are a venerable PC component manufacturer. The Taiwan-based company have been making quality components for years and I can personally attest to the durability of their hardware, having used a homebuilt Gigabyte-based machine for close on eight years before replacing it in 2010 with another one. That machine ran until very recently and survived, I kid you not, two lightning strikes that destroyed other electronics.
Gigabyte have, until recently, built laptops primarily for the corporate market. Robust machines meant to survive the rigors of travel, but not meant to be tested to the limit by games, or anything more taxing than having a few Excel spreadsheets open. That’s changed in the last year with the release of the P-series of laptops that Andrew has reviewed previously. They are also aiming for the premium market with the creation of their Aorus brand; a beautifully designed and ultra-high specification line aimed at the enthusiast market.
The latest from the labs in Taiwan is the Aorus X7 V7. If you are a high-end gamer with a suitably high-end budget, this may just be the laptop for you.
Designed to Attract Attention
The very first thing that struck me when I removed the laptop from its box is the Aorus Logo, an eagle head, on the lid. It’s a striking mirror finish on a matte black lid. Overall, the design is attractive yet functional, the logo the only thing that makes it stand out of a crowd. I like it as it is subtle, not so blatant or in your face as a Macbook or other flashy “gaming” laptops.
The Aorus logo design is carried onto the interior of the laptop. The power button is a lovely large shield-style button with the logo glowing an icy white when powered up. The touch pad has a burnt orange, metallic eagle head emblazoned across it some personality.
USB access is convenient and plentiful with four USB 3.0 ports on the left and one at the back. For a high-end machine, the lack of a USB Type-C port is curious, but not a major deal breaker. The ethernet port is next to the left USB ports and on the right side is the full HDMI port, an SD card reader, a USB3.1 port, two Thunderbolt ports, and a mini display port. Basically, this laptop has you covered no matter the accessory or external display.
The laptop does not have a removable optical drive nor an expansion bay for one. While increasingly irrelevant in the age of cloud storage, it is something people may look for to increase productivity or allow for simple backups. An expansion bay is useful, as it was on the P57 that Andrew reviewed, if you wish to add an additional hard drive or SSD. While I can see the logic in dropping the bay from a dimensions and weight point of view, the extra slot would be welcome as programs, games and media become more and more space hungry.
From a sound perspective, the laptop has a sub-woofer at the bottom, but with a grill around the power button for the bass to exit up the top. There are two speakers on the side near the front of the unit.
The keyboard boasts a full keyboard and number pad, a handy feature for productivity but one that increases the over length of the laptop. I for one do not mind that as I’d rather have the additional keys than have to carry around a USB-powered keypad. The keyboard is a “chiclet” style keyboard, common to most laptops. I personally do not like these keys as I find them too shallow and at times slightly unresponsive. I also find that I tend to accidentally tap adjacent keys, increasing typing time due to corrections, and while gaming, hitting the wrong key can be detrimental to your virtual health.
That, however, is not the keyboard’s main party trick. As with most modern systems, the Aorus X7 V7 has an RGB-backlit keyboard. On first boot, the keyboard practically shimmers as colours cascade from left to right. While I am not a big fan of RGB lighting, the keyboard does look very, very attractive and the option to customize your keyboard with lights is tempting. For instance, you could create a profile where just the keys used in-game are lit up for easy reference, or maybe just have WASD lit. The possibilities are endless. The included Aorus Fusion software makes creating profiles simple and, if you are too lazy to create your own, there are thirteen profiles ready for your use.
The Fusion software also enables you to program the gaming keys located on the left side of the board along with any other key. I would recommend caution when reprogramming the QWERTY keys as you could easily change the function without realizing, affecting everyday use. If you do want to change the function of the spacebar for instance, I suggest that it be a macro consisting of two keys, such as Shift+Spacebar, just to make sure.
Fusion Keyboard software is easy to get to grips with to launch apps[/size]
You have the option of setting the keys to launch a specified program, or you can record a macro for in-game actions (also useful for video/photo editing and even just Excel). While setup is simple, this can be a very powerful tool as I have discovered over the years with other peripherals. While the software does not seem as powerful as, say the Razer Synapse software when it comes to reprogramming keys, I am sure that this will change with future updates.
Macros take some getting use to, but are as easy as Razer's Synapse
The Gaming Keys on the left are also able to hold five different functions per key for a total of twenty-five. This is done via the Gaming key at the top that cycles through five profiles, each handily denoted by a different colour. Thus, you could store shortcuts and macros for Excel in the first profile, for Photoshop in the second, and for three games in profiles 3 to 5. All in all, the Fusion software is a competent piece of software that can only get better.
Or you can be lazy and assign a key to a pre-populated list[/size]
Performance – Exceptional Gaming on the Go
While the form factor and the keyboard are all important to the overall experience, they would mean nothing if the nuts and bolts were not performing as expected. The system is ridiculously specced, with a Kaby Lake i7-7820HK 2.9GHz CPU (3.9GHz boost), 16 GB of RAM and the ridiculously powerful GeForce GTX 1080 with 8GB of VRAM. Couple that with a 250GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive and you have a very, very powerful laptop. On paper, this laptop should be a gaming beast.
The X7 is packed full of the latest hardware, you are not going to need to upgrade in a hurry
The first test I ran was the TimeSpy benchmark in 3DMark Advanced. The laptop ran smoothly, I noticed no hiccups, crashes nor any other issues and the score bears that out. Scoring 6 428 on the 3D Mark scales puts it in the top 30% of systems benchmarked, and not that far off from the average score of a 4K system. Given that this machine runs a GTX 1080, I am certain that with some tweaking of the system settings that score can be bettered.
For a laptop, this is one helluva impressive score
The benchmark though is just a guide, something fancy to show off to friends and strangers alike. The rubber hits the road when you actually use the machine for its intended purpose, gaming. I ran the same section of Doom on maxed-out Ultra settings, both while the laptop was running off mains and battery. Simply put, we’ve all had that occasion when we are early for a meeting or working from a coffee shop and need ten minutes of killing virtual demons to break the monotony of slaying work demons.
The first video shows that without tweaking battery settings, something most of us won’t know to do, the laptop struggles to maintain a decent framerate. Averaging around 28FPS Ultra setting will not give you a satisfying or consistent experience and one that is sorely needed in a twitch shooter. However, there will not be many occasions where any user of this laptop will be playing games without the mains power. If you are going to game off the battery you are going to have to either tweak the battery settings and lose some time or drop the settings to ensure a stable frame rate.
Grumpy Old Man who still collects toys (THEY. ARE. NOT. DOLLS), PC Gamer lured to the Dark Side of console gaming, comic book reader and fan of all things pop culture.
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27 September 2017
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