Monday, 06 April 2020 23:41

Review - GIGABYTE AERO 15 OLED performance laptop for gamers and creatives alike

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Taiwanese-based GIGABYTE Technology has long been well-known for its motherboards and video cards. The AERO 15 OLED is among its brand new laptops for 2020 and gamers, creative professionals and software developers would do well to give it a good look.

GIGABYTE's expertise in key components has also positioned GIGABYTE to manufacture its own high quality, yet reasonably priced, laptops. It’s been doing this for some years and the new AERO 15 OLED continues to demonstrate GIGABYTE’s engineering excellence exuding performance from every socket with alacrity.

GIGABYTE is targeting the unit to gamers and creative professionals, with an impressive set of specifications, listed below. Gamers will immediately appreciate the DDR4 RAM, Nvidia 2000-series GPU and SSD, but there’s a serious side to the AERO 15 too.

In fact, GIGABYTE says the AERO series is the world’s first PC laptop designed specifically with creative professionals in mind. To this end, GIGABYTE says the AERO features unparalleled colour accuracy, stunning OLED displays, and a fully calibrated, high-powered digital creation experience designed specifically in mind. That’s the core raison d’être of the series, and the AERO 15 lives up to its promise with a brilliantly crisp 4K screen, Nvidia’s stunning real-time ray-tracing capable video card, a bevy of sockets and more.

The term creative professionals typically brings to mind artistic work, whether photography, illustration, video, audio or other. I genuinely believe another audience is the software developer running Visual Studio, SQL Server, emulators, virtual machines and more as they cut their code.

10 years ago I owned a gaming laptop myself; it was a powerful 17" monster. I developed applications, ran networks and oh, even managed a bit of gaming. Yet, it weighed over 4kg and only ran for one hour on battery. Thankfully, technology has improved. The AERO 15 outpaces my old laptop in every way, at a far more comfortable 2kg and over four times the battery capability.

The full set of specifications are:

  • 15.6" Thin Bezel Samsung 4K UHD 3840x2160 AMOLED display
  • Intel Core i9 8-core CPU
  • Samsung DDR4 2666MHz DRAM, up to 64GB, starting at 8GB
  • Mobile Intel HM370 Express Chipset
  • Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 or 2080 GPU with GDDR6 8GB
  • 2x 2W speaker
  • Nahmic 3 3D audio
  • Customisable per-key RGB keyboard lighting
  • 3x USB 3.1
  • USB-C
  • HDMI 2.0
  • DP 1.4 and USB-C
  • Ethernet socket and Killer Ethernet E2600
  • Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650
  • Bluetooth v5.0 + LE
  • Headphone/microphone combo jack
  • UHS-II SD card reader
  • 2x M.2 SSD type 2280 slots
  • HD front-facing camera with privacy slider
  • Li Polymer 94.24Wh battery
  • Firmware-based TPM supporting Intel Trust Technology
  • 356mm wide x 250mm deep x 20mm high
  • 2kg weight

Reading the specs you know this is a laptop of power that wants to be utilised for good. When using it, you also know it wants you to feel good doing it. You won’t mistake the AERO for an ultrabook, its weight and fans reminding you, but you will truly love the tremendous screen, and you can’t help but enjoy the RGB keyboard.

Individual keys can be programmed to be their own colour or groups of keys, and they can be animated, and different keyboard configurations can be triggered when you launch or switch to, specific applications.

For example, selecting your favourite action game might illuminate the WASD movement keys one colour, and various other keys different colours, to help you find them swiftly in the heat of action.

AERO 15 VA IF010

Or, perhaps you might elect to highlight the important keys for the Adobe Creative Suite or your favourite IDE because, to emphasise again, this is a serious workhorse and not a gamers-only device. It’s been certified as an RTX Studio Laptop by Nvidia for its support for 8K video, real-time ray-tracing, AI-assistance and other features creative minds can use to unlock possibility.

Alternatively, you can program the keys to one of many presets that see colours gently fade in and out as the laptop ‘breathes’, or that mimic a wave coming past or many more. Or, you might set the keys to a single, solid colour and leave it at that.

As with most things in life you must make trade-offs between raw performance and fan noise and battery life. The AERO 15 OLED provides the usual power plan tools, but intriguingly, it also comes with a pre-loaded GIGABYTE app leveraging Microsoft Azure AI to optimise performance. This tool adjusts CPU, fans and other items dynamically based on the application or workload in use. It relies on Microsoft’s servers to collect and analyse telemetry information from computers all around the world.

Obviously, this application transmits anonymous telemetry data about your computer usage. If this is a concern to you, you can simply disable or uninstall the app. However, GIGABYTE’s testing states the AI provided performance improvements in productivity applications like Adobe Premier as well as games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Microsoft says the Azure AI will improve over time as it collects more and more data and feeds it into its machine learning algorithms.

Could the laptop be better? Sure, the power cable inserts into the left-hand side so this isn't always ideal depending on where you sit in relation to a power point. The fan noise can be noticeable when they start working hard. Also, there are two RAM slots only so if you want to keep your upgrade options open be sure to get the largest RAM chip you can afford to begin with. However, these are not onerous grievances, and nor are they unique by any means. Ultimately, for me, the GIGABYTE AERO 15 is surely the most impressive laptop release for 2020 to date and a definite contender for any purpose you have in mind.

More information is at GIGABYTE's website and pricing begins at $2399 online.

AERO 15 OLED 05

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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