Hands on: Gigabyte Aero 14 review

The perfect gaming Ultrabook we've always wanted

What is a hands on review?
TODO alt text

Our Early Verdict

The Gigabyte Aero 14 looks to finally be the gaming Ultrabook we deserve with competent specs and amazing battery life.

For

  • Thin, stylish chassis
  • Massive battery
  • Fully loaded specs

Against

  • Slight screen glare

Gigabyte is no stranger to thin gaming laptops, but the Taiwan-based electronics firm has outdone itself with the ultra slim Aero 14. Measuring in at only 0.78-inches (19.9mm) thick, this 14-inch gaming laptop is as thin as an Ultrabook.

Although it's thin, the Aero 14 also has all the accoutrements of a typical gaming laptop including a 3K screen, discrete graphics, DDR4 memory, fast SSD storage and even up to 10 hours of battery life.

Gigabyte Aero 14 review

Design

Gigabyte laptops have always looked somewhere between drab and minimalistic, the Aero 14 on the other hand is just straight up stylish. The 14-inch gaming laptop comes in three different colorful options including lime green, orange and black, plus there's tasteful triangle with a crosshatched pattern to make things a little more interesting.

The interior of the notebook is also quite a departure for Gigabyte as the keyboard features a new and larger island style. It's a change I like as the keys are noticeably bigger and there's a larger amount of spacing between each. As you can see with the give macro keys included on the left-hand side, the keyboard quite literally stretches from one end of the machine to the other.

Gigabyte Aero 14 review

Just below that you'll find a generously sized trackpad that feels as smooth and responsive as Gigabyte's previous machine such as the P35X v5.

Gigabyte went with an all metal shell for the Aero 14, a move up from plastic chassis on Gigabyte's previous 14-inch offering, the P34W v2. It's a move I appreciate for both the premium feel of the machine as well as how it will help to passively cool the machine while on load.

Gigabyte Aero 14 review

Specs

Though the Aero 14 is incredibly thin, don't think Gigabyte has scrapped any hardware – save for the optical drive – to achieve this feat.

The 14-inch machine comes stock with a quad-core Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor and either a Nvidia GTX 970M or GTX 965 for graphics. There's also room for two M.2 PCI-e SSDs and the system can be loaded with up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM.

Gigabyte Aero 14 review

Interestingly a 3K screen is also included and it's a huge step up for most 14-inch – and even 15-inch – laptops. The QHD 2,560 x 1,440 resolution made Dark Souls III looked stunning and I can't wait to give this machine real go with Overwatch.

That said, with a window open to the Taiwanese metropolis behind us we noticed the display was picking up some noticeable glare.

Gigabyte Aero 14 review

Of course the craziest thing on the Aero 14's spec sheet is the massive 94.24-Whr battery Gigabyte managed to stuff inside. It's far larger than the usual 52- to 56-Whr batteries we're used to seeing inside most laptops and the company claims users should get a max of 10 hours of usage too.

Despite all the hardware inside, the Aero 14 is actually pretty light, weighing only 4.16 pounds (1.89kg) and that's actually less than the 4.4 pound Dell XPS 15 or 4.2 pound Razer Blade.

The Aero 14 will ship to the US in mid-June 2016, and will range in price between $1,499 (about £1,040, AU$2,068) to $1,699 (about £1,179, AU$2,344).

Gigabyte Aero 14 review

Early verdict

We've been fed the line of gaming Ultrabook when Razer introduced the Blade Stealth, which delivered on thinness but with only a Core i7 processor on board, it required an external graphics card enclosure. The Aero 14, however, looks to deliver on all fronts including performance and battery life. It has me giddy to give it the full review treatment soon.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.