Aorus X9 review

The most powerful desktop replacement

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Here’s how the Aorus X9 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Sky Diver: 33,082; Fire Strike: 18,508; Time Spy: 8,627
Cinebench CPU: 872 points; Graphics: 108 fps
GeekBench: 5,060 (single-core); 17,370 (Multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,964 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 1 hours and 8 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 1 hours and 9 minutes
Total War: Warhammer II (1080p, Ultra): 57 fps; (1080p, Low): 118 fps
Middle Earth: Shadow of War (1080p, Ultra): 76 fps; (1080p, Low): 139 fps

Thanks to copious amounts of ventilation, the Aorus X9 keeps its cool and ensures all of its components are operating at their peak performance.

Above the keyboard, there are several mesh sections and eagle-shaped ventilation on the underside to help its four fans pull cool air from both the top and bottom of the laptop. Of course, with that many fans spinning up at the same time, this system gets loud. But, it’s still not nearly to the level of other ultra-thin laptops, like the MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro.

That said, we’ll take a bit of fan noise if it means we can avoid thermal throttling, which the Aorus X9 does beautifully. The 17-inch gaming laptop’s extensive network of heat pipes and aforementioned cooling system, we didn’t see a single drop in performance no matter how far or long we pushed the system.

Usually, our gaming benchmarks will turn out lower results with each successive run, and thus why we give you an average of three tests. However, the frame rates you see above were the result we got every time without any deviation whatsoever. It’s something we’ve never seen any laptop achieve before, and it’s a testament to the Aorus X9’s thermal design.

Thanks to its dual-Nvidia GTX 1070 GPUs, the Aorus X9 is the most graphically capable gaming laptop we’ve ever tested. This 17-inch gaming laptop flies in the face of our synthetic benchmarks, with Fire Strike scores soaring 2,000 to 5,000 points above that of the Nvidia GTX 1080-powered Alienware 17 R4 and Razer Blade Pro. 

It’s no surprise that the Aorus X9 is the first gaming laptop to give us a steadily playable 4K gaming experience. We ran Shadow of War and The Evil Within 2 at Ultra HD and ultra-quality settings at an average 26 frames per seconds (fps) to 30fps, respectively. Thus far, rigs powered by a single Nvidia GTX 1080 have only been able to eke by at an average 20 to 25fps.

Although the Aorus X9 also shares the same processor as it rivals, the Alienware 17 R4 pulls ahead with slightly higher benchmark numbers. The Razer Blade Pro is the weakest in the bunch with the lowest performance numbers.

Sights and sounds

Thankfully, the Aorus X9 comes with a superb pair of speakers and a display, making gaming experiences as pleasurable to the eyes and ears as possible.

The 4K display is definitely the brighter highlight of the Aorus X9’s audio-visual package. The Pantone-certified display lives up to its classification, with perfect color tuning and excellent contrast. Likewise, the laptop’s stereo speakers offer decent sound separation and are loud enough to overcome the sound of the fans.

Battery life

At most, you should expect an hour of battery life out of the Aorus X9. As laughable as that might sound, it’s not a joke. Aorus’s flagship gaming laptop only lasted for 1 hour and 9 minutes on our video playback test, a mere minute longer than it performed on the PCMark 8 battery test.

Comparatively, the Alienware 17 R4 offers a better, but still not superb, 3 hours of battery life, and the Razer Blade Pro lasts the longest at four hours. Whether Aorus ran out of room for a larger battery or it just falters under the sheer weight of two high-end GPUs, you’ll definitely need to carry the power adapter for this 17-inch machine if you mean to take it outside.

We liked

The Aorus X9 is one of the most uncompromising and impressive ultra-thin gaming laptops on the market. It’s ability to pack in a second graphics card into a frame as thick as the Alienware 17 R4 is impressive on its own. Better yet, it puts all of that power into making it the most graphically capable gaming laptop we’ve ever tested.

We disliked

Having only a single hour of battery life disqualifies this desktop replacement from calling itself a gaming laptop. If you take it with you outside and can’t find a power outlet, you should expect to get an hour and a half of usage, and that’s if you’re strictly sticking to simple tasks, like word processing or web browsing.

We’re also not crazy about keyboard and trackpad – especially the trackpad. While the keyboard is good enough for gaming and quick strings of chat text, you’re going to want to keep a mouse connected to this laptop like it’s a part of it.

Final verdict

The Aorus X9 caters specifically to the most devout hardcore gamers who want to push all their graphical settings to the max, and this gaming laptop is beautifully engineered to do just that. SLI graphics cards in a gaming laptop is a real rarity these days, thanks to the greatly improved performance we’ve seen from Nvidia’s mobile Pascal architecture, and so this 17-incher is a unique outlier with its two GTX 1070’s. We also can’t help but be impressed by how the Aorus X9 is always ready and willing to run at max performance without fail.

If you’re looking for something more possibly portable with friendlier built-in inputs, the Alienware 17 R4 is the stronger choice here. That said, if you would rather have the most graphical power that can possibly fit into a gaming laptop, there’s nothing that can match the might of the Aorus X9.