The Aorus X7 Pro is, to put it mildly, a bit of a beast. This 17.3-inch machine is from Gigabyte’s spin off brand, Aorus, which is dedicated to gaming-oriented products. We’ve previously reviewed a handful of Aorus peripherals, although this is the first laptop from the brand to come through our labs. And it’s a ripper — at least when it comes to performance — with top-level specs in almost every area. There’s a speedy quad-core Core i7-4870HQ processor (Intel’s fastest laptop chip) combined with 16GB of memory and a RAIDed SSD setup using two 256GB mSATA Liteon drives — the quickest storage array we’ve ever tested in a laptop (or desktop, for that matter) with not just fast sustained transfer speeds, but very quick random access times.
The real stand out, however, is the dual-GPU graphics inside. Nvidia’s laptop-friendly GeForce GTX 970M GPU only landed a couple of months back, but Aorus has already managed to sandwich two of them into the X7 Pro’s comparatively-thin chassis. Comparing this X7 Pro to the Venom Blackbook 15 (with a single 970M) that we tested last month does show that running two of these 970M chips in SLI doesn’t double performance. It does regularly give you an extra 50-60% boost in frame rates, however — or around what you see in desktop SLI set ups. This is a laptop that can keep many games running at above 200fps at it’s native 1080p resolution with Medium details — and often above 100fps with everything at full tilt. For gaming on the go, you’ll find nothing faster.
And while there’s no mistaking that the X7 Pro is a big laptop — the 17.3-inch screen guarantees a large footprint — it’s not a behemoth, weighing in at 3kg and, when closed, with a profile of just 23mm. That sizeable footprint does deliver some advantages too, like a near full-size keyboard with numpad (including a bank of macro keys), combined with an equally-large trackpad.
However, while it’s hard to say the X7 Pro is missing anything, there are some areas that don’t impress as much as its performance. The charger is quite large and adds another kilo to the carry weight — and if you are heading out on the road with this laptop, you’ll want to keep that charger with you, as battery life only runs to around 2 hours in ‘office task’ style usage.
The trackpad, too, can be frustrating at times. Its gloss finish means it can get a bit tacky in warmer or humid conditions — like many parts of Australia during summer.
The 1080p LCD screen is likewise good but not great. The colours are fairly rich and natural, but the viewing angles for viewing dark colours can be quite narrow, meaning playing shadowy games like Alien: Isolation requires a pitch-black room and the screen angled perfectly.
In our minds though, the biggest flaw is how noisy the cooling system is. Two GPUs and a super-fast processor understandably generate a lot of heat, and in a thin laptop like this one that means you need powerful fans to vent it. In desktop use, like web surfing or even watching movies, the X7 Pro is fairly sedate, noise wise. But throw a game on and its internal fans immediately ramp up to high speed, with a whooshing sound that was loud enough that we had to raise our voice to speak over it. And even dropping game resolutions down to 720p and details down to Medium didn’t do anything to dampen those fans’ enthusiasm — when you’re gaming, they pretty much run full tilt, all the time.
On the plus side, that cooling system does keep those GPUs reasonably comfortable — they averaged around 73ºC in our tests.
While the X7 Pro doesn’t disappoint in terms of hardware or value, those design niggles do add up — and that noise level in particular does undermine the elegance of this machine as a whole.
Verdict: It’s big, fast and surprisingly slim, but that elegance unfortunately doesn’t extend to every area.