Aorus X5S v5 review

One wicked 4K gaming laptop, so long an outlet is nearby

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Our Verdict

This high-roller mobile gaming PC sports a gorgeous 4K screen and churns through tasks, but don't try using it without an outlet nearby.

For

  • Gamer-specific features
  • Gorgeous screen
  • Tons of storage

Against

  • Decreased, but still noticeable fan noise
  • Lackluster speakers
  • Battery life

The Aorus X5S v5 should have no business being this powerful while being so light and thin. At just 22.9mm, or under an inch thick, the updated notebook has an Nvidia GTX 980M graphics card hiding within its aluminum chassis, along with a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD) and a 1TB hard disk drive (HDD).

There's no question it's a hardcore gaming machine, either. The Aorus X5S v5 has a ton of gaming-specific features beyond its powerful graphics capabilities and 15.6-inch 4K screen. On the far right of the full-sized keyboard are five programmable macro keys. There's even the option to add a dedicated hardware encoder, which relieves the strain of live streaming and recording gameplay from the CPU.

As far as its contemporaries, the Aorus X5S v5 is on par with the Gigabyte P35X regarding the total package. For the most part, the P35X is evenly matched. In fact, they're almost identical, with the big exception being battery life. The 15-inch Aorus falls short of the monster that is the Acer Predator 15 in terms of pure performance, but has a 4K-resolution screen where the latter tops out at 1080p.

Aorus X5S v5 review

Unmistakably a gamer's laptop

High-performance laptops seem to be following the design examples set forth by high-performance automobiles, and the X5S v5 is no exception. Its smooth lines give way to sharp points and angular vents that would look like right at home on a Lamborghini.

The black aluminum body is interrupted by several exhaust ports, which helps facilitate the necessary heavy cooling. The side vents also continue the super-car feel, and the vents in the rear leave no question that there's a lot going on under the hood.

The lid comes to a slight point at its peak, with a small raised line running about an eighth of the way down. The Aorus logo, a hawkish sigil that would be right at home on war machines in a futuristic anime, lights up when the laptop is on and pluses when charging. When not powered up, however, the laptop logo is just as visible, thanks to being silver and a polished finish that reflects light like a mirror.

Aorus X5S v5 review

The full-size keyboard has low, high and off backlighting settings. Programmable macro keys run in a vertical line to the left of the keyboard, with the top key highlighted in one of five colors, depending on which of the three sets of macros are in use.

The keys themselves have a scissor-type mechanism with a nanometer-too-little travel to feel tactile/clicky. They're also pretty close together, to save space for the extra row of macro keys. Between the lack of satisfying travel and the tightness of the keys, I find my fingers tripping up more than usual when typing.

Around the matte-finish screen is a substantial bezel. The sides and bottom of the screen are half an inch or so from the edge of the lid, while the lip up on top is a bit smaller.

Aorus X5S v5 review

Just above the keyboard's number pad is the Aorus logo, which also acts as a light up power button. The touch pad also has a version of the Eagle insignia in low-contrast grey against the rest of the laptop's black aluminum.

The black interior is fairly smudge resistant, but keep a microfiber cloth on hand to keep your laptop free from finger- and hand-prints. The review version I tested came with a microfiber cloth included, which is a welcome touch.

Overall, this notebook looks 100% the part of a performance gaming laptop, and Aorus wants you to let everyone around you know it. There is no mistaking this laptop for a business class or casual machine – only gamers need apply.

One of these things is not like the other

One jarring experience with the Aorus X5S v5 is using its proprietary software. The macros, performance gauges and command and control software all have a common theme that looks absolutely out of place among the smooth, clean lines of Windows 10.

Instead of trying to match the overall feel of the OS, Aorus' software tries to match itself to the design of the laptop itself. The result is an unattractive user interface (UI) that sticks out and ends up looking cheap despite its usefulness.