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Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED review

The original designer's laptop gets an OLED upgrade

Aero 15 OLED playing Guardians of the Galaxy
Aero 15 OLED playing Disney's Guardians of the Galaxy
(Image: © Future, (Disney - Guardians of the Galaxy)G)

Performance

TEST RESULTS

Here is how the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED 2019 fared in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark Sky Diver: 28,598; Fire Strike: 13,962; Time Spy: 5,885
Geekbench 4: 5,264 (single-core); 22,574 (multi-core) Cinebench CPU: 973 points; Graphics: 111 fps
PCMark 8 Home: 3,484
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours and 20 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 4 hours and 42 minutes
Total War: Warhammer II (1080p, Ultra): 66 fps; (1080p, Low): 138 fps
Middle Earth: Shadow of War (1080p, Ultra): 78 fps; (1080p, Low): 112 fps

The performance of the Aero 15 OLED XA model that we tested was (as expected) outstanding, with the updated 9th generation Intel Core i CPU offering a minor improvement across on general working tasks against its predecessor. 

Those last Aero 15 units we tested had some thermal issues on the highest specced models, which meant there wasn’t much of a performance bump between the Core i7 and Core i9 CPUs. We didn’t get a chance to test the 9th generation Core i9 model this time around, but Gigabyte has said that the cooling system has been re-engineered with new fans, heat pipes and vents that combine for 30% better cooling. If the thermal management really is that much better, there should be a decent bump in the Core i9 CPU performance. 

The Aero 15 OLED XA includes with an RTX 2070 GPU, and in games managed averages of 66fps in Total War: Warhammer 2 and 78fps in Middle Earth: Shadow of War, respectively, using 1080p at ultra quality settings. If you increase the resolution to 4K, you'll see these frame rates drop to a "just playable" 23fps and 33fps respectively, so while gaming at the screen's native resolution on new titles isn't out of the question, you will need to dial down the quality.

Fortunately, that OLED display still looks excellent at 1080p resolution, so Aero 15 OLED models with the GTX 1660Ti will still benefits from the panel's great colors – however if you're aiming for 4K gaming, you'll definitely want to opt for an RTX 2070 or RTX 2080 configuration.   

Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED

(Image credit: Future)

Battery life

Battery life was impressive for a high-performance laptop, managing 4 hours and 20 minutes in the demanding PCMark 8 battery benchmark. This should translate to up to 5-6 hours if used in a balanced or power saving mode for light work tasks – a little shy of a full working day.

For our movie-playback battery benchmark, it's important to note that while the movie we use is 1080p, the screen continues to run at its native (and more power hungry) 4K resolution, so this fact doesn't affect the power draw from the display much. However, the OLED panel also uses less power when displaying dark scenes compared to standard LCD/LED screens, since it can fully turn off pixels. This resulted in a 4 hour and 42 minute playback lifespan using a balanced power mode. You can push this out by a further hour or so by using a dedicated power saving mode, but considering the laptop has a large 94Wh capacity, we were hoping for a little more than this. Still, it’s not bad for a device that's this powerful with a 4K screen.

(Image credit: Future)

Features and verdict

 

The Aero 15 OLED has extensive connectivity options, including full-sized HDMI 2.0, three USB 3.1 Type-As, Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C), DisplayPort 1.4 (Type-C), Ethernet, UHS-II SD Card reader and a 3.5mm audio jack. In other words, there's enough here that you can moving between workstations and connect to external displays, peripherals and wired internet without needing a separate dock. 

The Aero series is just 0.79in (2cm) thick and weighs just 4.4lbs (2kg), so it fits neatly within the ultra-portable creative workstation or gaming laptop category. There aren't really any dedicated "design" laptops that are comparable to the Aero 15 OLED (although that's soon to change, thanks to new product lines like Acer's ConceptD), however you can get gaming laptops with similar specs for up to $400 (£400, AU$700) less – you’ll have to sacrifice a little on portability and battery life, or settle for an 8th generation CPU in the process, though. 

If you need a laptop that can accurately represent colors and detailed images – and for gaming, you care more about visual vibrancy than high refresh-rates – then the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED is a powerful and portable designer's tool that comes at a fair price.