Gigabyte Aorus X5 v7 Assessment

Gigabyte's avid player brand, Aorus, has never saved on hardware for their top-notch laptops. The brand new Aorus X5 v7 is no exception: it brings an overclockable Intel Kaby Lake CPU, powerful GeForce GTX 1070 graphics and even a high-resolution display in a slim and compact case. Though not qualified as an Nvidia Max-Q laptop, the additional size it brings just above the Max-Q specification has ensured an uncompromising gaming experience.

The hardware is a quad-core processor Intel Core i7-7820HK. and yes, this is a K suffix indicating that the CPU can be overclocked. GTX 1070 graphics with 8 GB GDDR5 are combined with a high-resolution G-Sync display: either 2880 x 1620 or 4K resolution in our test device. 16 GB RAM is standard, but here too Aorus did everything it could to reach 32 GB with its test device. The memory consists of an M.2 SSD and a hard disk.

The Aorus X5 v7 isn't a Max-Q laptop, but that doesn't mean it's incredibly large. As for GTX 1070 laptops, this machine, with a thickness of 22.9 mm and a weight of 2.5 kg, is rather small. It is also a 15.6-inch device, so the overall space requirement is not very large and can be easily carried around. However, keep in mind that if you want to take full advantage of the animal hardware inside, you'll also need to carry the 600-gram power brick.

While some aspects of the X5 chassis have changed in this iteration, the basic design is largely identical. The lid and the keyboard bezel, which are important areas of the construction, are made of matt magnesium. The material feels solid and looks pretty good, although the construction is far from seamless: the edges and some parts of the display assembly appear to be plastic, and many areas are created by joining several different parts together. You won't get the same premium unibody design as a laptop like the Razer Blade, though the Aorus X5 still looks pretty good.

The visual design is a mix of player elements like aggressive vents and strange angles, as well as more reserved sections. The lid, for example, looks fantastic with its subtly decorated tip and the striking illuminated Aorus logo. I'm not too fond of the vents above the keyboard, which look a bit messy. And the enormous shiny Aorus logo on the trackpad? I would prefer if it wasn't there.

The X5's cooling solution consists of many vents to provide the i7-7820HK and GTX 1070 with sufficient airflow, but may not be as many as may appear at first glance. Fans in the upper left and right corners draw air through the vents on the top and bottom of the laptop, which are exhausted through the back and sides. The ventilation opening that surrounds the illuminated power switch with the Aorus logo and the side ventilation openings on the front of the laptop are used for multi-speaker setup.

The speakers used in the laptop are nothing surprising. They have an acceptable volume, but lack depth and bass, making them unsuitable for music playback. They can be used to watch YouTube videos. For games, however, I recommend a headset or external speakers.

The X5 v7 is equipped with a fantastic selection of connections. The left side has an HDMI 2.0 port, two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader. On the right are a Mini DisplayPort 1.3 connector, two 3.5 mm audio jacks, a Thunderbolt 3 connector and a USB 3.1 Type-C connector. The power connector, Ethernet and two additional USB 3.0 ports are on the back.

I only have two minor complaints here. It's hard to tell the difference between the Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 Type-C ports without paying attention to the tiny logos next to them. The placement of the HDMI port is also a bit strange, since connecting an HDMI cable affects the mouse room. It would be better to have the display outputs on the back.

The keyboard used on the X5 v7 is the new laptop design from Gigabyte that I saw for the first time on the Aero 15. The range is good for a gaming laptop, with a nice clicking response to the rubber dome keycaps. The power required to activate each key makes it a great option for both typing and playing. The layout is good, especially the size of the left modifier buttons. The number pad is a welcome shot, though it's a bit near the main keyboard.

Aorus has RGB backlighting with the ability to customize the color of each button. With the Gigabyte Fusion utility, you can achieve fantastic effects and create profiles for each game that only illuminate the buttons required for the game. The utility and customizability aren't as good as Razer's competing offerings, although it's nice to see another laptop with full RGB keyboard lighting.

The trackpad is a garbage ELAN unit. I'm not going to spend much time doing this because tracking performance is poor, especially at high resolutions. You need a mouse for this laptop.

The display is one of the best aspects of the Aorus X5 v7. Most gaming laptops use boring 1080p displays where the hardware they contain is often underutilized. The X5 v7 has two display options and no 1080p. You can get a 2880 x 1620 WQHD + display or a 3840 x 2160 UHD display, both G-Sync and IPS. My test device was the UHD model, so it was no surprise that it only had a maximum refresh rate of 60 Hz, but G-Sync is hugely important here for a smooth gaming experience.

Like the Gigabyte Aero 15, the Aorus X5 v7 display is X-Rite Pantone certified. This means that this laptop has an sRGB-accurate display profile that can be switched in the Command & Control utility. Most gaming laptops are poor in display accuracy, but thanks to the X-Rite Pantone profile, the X5 v7 is actually pretty decent in this regard. Not as good as the Aero 15, but below a dE2000 value of 2.0 in our color tests and with an average color temperature that is almost accurate.

The calibration is at the expense of brightness: The X5 v7 can only generate 265 nits of brightness, and the contrast ratio of the IPS panel of 1041: 1 is just fine. For those who need a fully calibrated display, I was able to achieve fantastic results with SpectraCAL CALMAN 5 and a dE2000 average of less than 0.7 across the board. That is absolutely true for me.

System speed

The Aorus X5 x7 contains slightly different hardware than what we normally see in gaming laptops. Most slot machines opt for the Intel Core i7-7700HQ, a locked quad-core processor with eight threads, a base clock of 2.8 GHz and a maximum boost clock of 3.8 GHz. The X5 v7 uses a high-end quad core from Kaby Lake: the Core i7-7820HK, which is clocked at 2.9 GHz and boosted at 3.9 GHz.

Typically, increasing the clock speed by 100 MHz is not a cause for excitement, but the i7-7820HK is a K-series processor, so it can be overclocked. The Aorus X5 v7 uses this function immediately and increases the clock speed for single-core workloads to 4.2 GHz and for all-core workloads to around 3.8 GHz. Sometimes I've seen the all-core clock speeds drop to 3.6 GHz with extended use, but that's still overclocking from 100 to 300 MHz, which isn't a reason to sneeze with a laptop form factor.

The GPU is a GTX 1070 with 8 GB GDDR5. As always, the laptop GTX 1070 differs slightly from the desktop part with more CUDA cores (2048 compared to 1920) with a lower peak clock rate (1645 MHz compared to 1683 MHz). The performance of both chips is very similar.

My test device was equipped with 32 GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR4-2400, although I think 16 GB is the norm for this laptop. There are two M.2 slots inside the laptop, although only one is occupied, in this case with a Toshiba THNSN5256GPU7 SSD, which is a 256 GB NVMe PCIe unit. To enable you to install more than 3 games, the X5 v7 also includes a 1 TB HGST 7200RPM hard drive.

As expected, system performance is slightly higher than in the past for gaming laptops with the i7-7700HQ. Clock speed differences of up to 400 MHz lead to better performance in some situations, especially when rendering workloads such as Cinebench and the x264 benchmark. Here, the CPU can be up to 20 percent faster, which is a decent margin that helps with games.

The storage performance is decent, although not exceptional, since most gaming systems today contain fast M.2 drives with a sequential performance of over 1 GB / s. A larger drive would be nice, although, as already mentioned, there is a free M.2 slot for upgradeability.

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