A look inside
We'll start the tour of the Aorus X5 with a peek underneath its chassis. Opening up the notebook is a breeze, provided that you own a set of star-bit screwdrivers and are careful to keep track of what screws go where, as Gigabyte uses screws of a couple different lengths to secure the panel.
Users who'd like the option to upgrade down the road will appreciate that Gigabyte made two DIMM slots and the two M.2 slots readily accessible, so users can pretty quickly slot in some more RAM or another SSD. Folks will have to dig farther into the laptop than I did to access the other two memory slots, though. For most users, a memory upgrade won't involve replacing the original memory, but adding in two more matching DIMMs.
Here's a closer look at the M.2 SSD that shipped with the review unit. Some Google-Fu with the product number reveals it to be part of Toshiba's XG3 line. For all intents and purposes, this line of SSDs is the OEM version of Toshiba's OCZ RD400. We found that drive to be quite competitive with Samsung's 950 Pro and SM951. In practice, I found the Toshiba drive in the Aorus X5 provided snappy performance and quick loading times in games, though I did hit the limits of its 256GB capacity pretty quickly.
Popping the notebook open puts the Aorus X5's cooling solution on full display. Long heatpipes connect the hot hardware to four fin stacks in the back corners of the laptop. From there, fans pull air from underneath the laptop and expel it through the vents on the back and side panels.
Bulk storage duties in the Aorus X5 are handled by an HGST Travelstar 7K1000. We've seen this drive in more than a few Gigabyte notebooks. It offers a terabyte of storage, spins at 7200 RPM, and is otherwise unremarkable. Unless you're really a fan of cloud storage, though, it's hard to ignore the value of drives like this one for large Steam libraries and other storage-intensive tasks.
The Aorus X5 sports a full-size keyboard with macro keys and a numpad. The keys travel a short distance when pressed and offer little tactile feedback. The typing experience is adequate, but I prefer keys that are a bit more lively and responsive. The keyboard is well-suited for high-actions-per-minute gaming, though, as it allows users to very quickly press a key repeatedly. The keys are also very quiet, which is generally ideal when traveling or out in public. My family's learned to put up with the clicking and clacking of the mechanical keyboard connected to my desktop computer, but I wouldn't expect the same of strangers sitting next to me on an airplane.
The keyboard is certainly up for typing duties when called upon, though. A few runs through the basic tests and the scientific test available at typingtest.com show that I type a little more slowly and have a few more errors on the laptop keyboard than I do on my usual Rosewill RK-9000v2, but the differences aren't all that extreme. On my usual board, I average around 100-110 WPM, but on the Aorus X5 I typed an average of 96.5 WPM.
The clickpad is functional and precise, if a little quirky. There's nothing tactile on the surface of the clickpad to distinguish the bottom region that registers left and right clicks from the rest of the surface. I could live with that omission, but the clickpad also doesn't register movements that begin in that bottom region until the user's finger moves up into the main area of the pad. The clickpad is otherwise responsive, registering movement all the way into the upper corners of the input area.
One of main features that Gigabyte highlights in its marketing of the Aorus X5 is the display. Gigabyte claims that Aorus X5 displays are calibrated and certified by through a program by X-Rite Pantone. This appears to users as an option in the laptop's Command & Control software. Users can toggle the provided color profile on or off. There are other display options, such as adjusting the screen's whitepoint and reducing the screen's blue light, but enabling those options turns off the X-Rite Pantone color profile.
Even with the certification, users shouldn't expect perfection. Gigabyte's own tests indicate that the display covers 72% of the NTSC color space, which roughly translates to 100% sRGB. For our own display testing, we used an X-Rite i1 Display 2 colorimeter and the free-and-open source DisplayCal.
DisplayCal reports that the display covers 90.2% of the sRGB gamut, a bit short of the company's claim. Our test shows significant error in the green, yellow, and orange regions of the triangle. While this is a fine result, it falls short of professional perfection.
A quick look at the calibration curve makes it clear that the panel deviates from sRGB in its production of greens. Overall, though, the scren's average delta-E is just 0.09, which is quite good. Also, the whitepoint is very close to our preferred 6500K, which is another positive result.
Testing the display's peak brightness and luminance uniformity also yields good results. Peak brightness at center is 315 cd/m², which is plenty bright for a laptop screen. The display's luminance is also very uniform. Brightness along on the edges of the screen deviated from center by 3.25% at the most, and on average by 1.23%.