Gigabyte Aero 15 (2017) review

All play and no work

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Here’s how the Gigabyte Aero 15 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Sky Diver: 23,956; Fire Strike: 9,508; Time Spy: 3,514
Cinebench CPU: 737 points; Graphics: 96.48 fps
GeekBench: 4,598 (single-core); 13,285 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,442 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 5 hours and 4 minutes
Battery Life (techradar movie test): 6 hours and 39 minutes
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (1080p, Ultra): 16 fps; (1080p, Low): 87 fps
GTA V (1080p, Ultra): 38 fps; (1080p, Low): 147 fps

Similar hardware is going to yield similar results: the Aero 15 performs as well as its competitors in our benchmark tests. 

Ultra settings are a bit of reach for portable devices, unless the game is a few years old, like GTA V, and the Aero 15 is no different. Nonetheless, it handles high settings without ever dropping into slideshow territory.

Just make sure to keep it plugged in. Performance drops considerably on battery, but again, that’s par for the course. And yeah, the fans are loud (also par for the course). Loud enough that the average quality of the speakers becomes irrelevant . Headphones are a necessity.

In terms of pure performance, the Aero 15 is not any beefier than its older brother the Aero 14: each performs equally well on our benchmark tests (they also both share a love of bloatware, c’est la vie). 

However, the 15’s programmable keyboard flat out smokes the 14’s, and so does it’s battery. If you absolutely cannot afford the extra $200, then the 14 is a fine take, but the 15’s Full RBG lighting and macro control alone are worth the upgrade.

Battery life

The Aero 15’s third best feature? Its battery life. No, it’s not all day, but it’s close: the Aero 15 lasted 5 hours and 4 minutes on the PCMark 8 Battery Test. Impressive for a laptop with a gaming-grade GPU. 

Enterprise users take note as the Aero 15 wasn’t done there: it eked out an extra hour and 35 minutes above its PCMark 8 time on our battery test, in which the laptop plays a movie on continuous loop at 50% volume and brightness. 

These numbers put the Aero 14 (PCMark 8: 3 hours, 38 minutes), and current rival the EVO15-S (PCMark 8: 2 hours, 52 minutes) to shame. Only the Razer Blade gets close to the Aero 15’s PCMark 8 time. It accomplished 4 hours and 8 minutes of wireless work.

We liked

At first blush, the Aero 15 might not seem like it’s offering any major upgrades over its predecessor. But then you use it. 

You see how convenient the programmable keyboard makes gaming (and work!). You'll also marvel at the clarity of its screen, and how long it lasts unplugged. There isn’t just an extra port or a few inches off the profile. These are real upgrades.

We disliked

Considering how awesome the features are on the Aero 15’s keyboard, it’s disappointing more effort wasn’t put into making it comfortable. Same for the touchpad. Moreover, the keyboard is typewriter loud. But it’s quiet as a library compared to the racket the Aero 15’s fan make after 10 minutes of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. 

And it gets hot. During “normal” use the Aero 15 is actually quite tolerable – run a game though and it turns into a diner griddle during the breakfast rush. No lap Overwatch for this ‘lap’top.

Lastly, this writer in particular thinks it looks goofy, but that goes for all gaming laptops.

Final verdict

The Aero 15 is a definite recommend, but for who? Gamers for sure, it has everything they want: souped-up hardware, ultra-clear display, and a keyboard capable of running a laser show. 

But it’s harder to recommend to Gigabyte’s other target market, enterprise users. Even if those folks look past its arcade-inspired panelling, the uncomfortable inputs of the 15 will inevitably have them reaching for a Mac or ThinkPad.

It’s a shame too, as the Aero 15’s exceptional battery life could make it a favorite of hotel-frequenting executives who want to game in bed with the same device they use for PowerPoint.

Still, the Aero 15 is impressive. And at $1,899, it’s on the “totally reasonable” side of the gamer laptop price graph. All in all, it just might be the gaming laptop to beat.