Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.
The X3's internal components are every bit as impressive as the exterior. Aorus has gone all-out to create the ultimate performance notebook, with a fourth-gen Intel Core i7-4710HQ CPU running at 2.5-3.5GHz, Mobile Intel HM87 Express Chipset and 16GB of ultra-fast DDR3L-1600 RAM providing the central foundation.
Storage is handled by a pair of 256GB mSATA SSD drives in RAID 0 configuration for ultra-fast data handling at up to 1500 MB/s. Of course for a gaming machine graphics are all-important, and the X3 features the very best – an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M with 6GB of GDDR5, capable of handling even the latest games at full bore.
If you want to stay alive in a multiplayer game you'll want superfast LAN and Wi-Fi network communications, and the X3 Plus delivers with 802.11ac wireless (70% faster than 802.11n) and a network-optimised LAN system controlled through the built-in Killer LAN chip and interface app, ensuring the fastest possible connection with the claim of zero packet loss.
A small notebook screen isn't ideal for gaming, but if you're considering the Aorus X3 then presumably you're not too worried about that. Despite its small size the 14-inch screen (incorrectly listed as 13.9-inch on the Aorus website) is extremely sharp, having a native resolution of 3200 x 1800 with a very wide 170-degree viewing angle.
This extremely high resolution on a small screen does mean that for everyday tasks such as using Windows menus or reading your email, anyone with middle-aged eyesight is going to need to squint a lot to view the tiny but very sharp text.
One standout feature of the Aorus X3 Plus is its unique Macro Hub. This is the row of additional keys mentioned earlier, and it controls a clever interface app that allows the user to set up as many as 25 macro functions and one-key shortcuts.
The 'G' key in the top left corner has a coloured backlight that changes each time you tap it, cycling through five colours. Each colour represents a bank of five macros, which can then be activated by tapping one of the numbered macro keys that lie in a row below it. There are a number of pre-baked macros already installed, and the interface app makes it easy to set up your own to automate frequently-used tasks and quickly launch favourite apps and games.
Another handy feature is the Command & Control interface. This is really just a set of shortcuts to control panel functions, but it provides quick access to things like keyboard backlighting, mouse speed, fan control and sound options. It also looks very cool, which is always a bonus.
The only feature that draws any criticism is the trackpad. It has a smooth and glossy surface which looks very striking in contrast with the matt black casing – or at least it does when it's clean – but after prolonged use it does feel quite unpleasant and sticky to the touch, and the lack of a border between the pad and the buttons is also less than ideal.
- 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 17,832; Sky Diver: 15,874; Fire Strike: 6,172
- Cinebench CPU: 638 points; Graphics: 93.2 fps
- PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,517 points
- PCMark 8 Battery Life: 2 hours and 24 minutes
- Middle Earth: SoM (1080p, Ultra): 104.1 fps; (1080p, Low): 111.4 fps
- Metro: Last Light (1080p, Ultra): 92.9 fps; (1080p, Low): 167.9 fps
It almost goes without saying that the Aorus X3 Plus v3 absolutely flies. Even with all the extra software that it boots with, startup time is less than 20 seconds. Apps and games load almost instantly thanks to the RAID SSDs, and with the graphical power of the GeForce 970 GPU it handles the latest graphics-heavy games with ease.
Elite Frontier on the high graphics setting runs at a healthy 60 fps even in the most frantic combat, and this machine is capable of three-figure frame rates with some of the latest first-person shooters.
The X3 is powered by a decent 73.3Wh li-polymer battery, which is good for around three hours of use when doing undemanding tasks like web browsing. Of course demanding games will eat into your power reserves, and playing on battery power will drain it in about an hour.
Heat control is very good despite the small size of the case, and while the underside does get quite warm after a while it's not unusually hot. The air intakes are on the underside of the case though, so you might want to check them for dust regularly.