My five-year-old son has an aggravating way of responding to decisions. If I present him with two options, he will invariably try to get both. If I try to offer him spaghetti or pizza for dinner, for example, he'll say "spaghetti and pizza!" He's either a horribly indecisive child or a budding logical prodigy, but I'm not sure which.
To be fair to him, though, many of us dislike making choices, especially when we have the nagging feeling that we're being presented with a false dilemma. When purchasing laptops, consumers are often asked to choose between devices that can play games capably and devices that are truly portable. But why? With all of the recent emphasis on power efficiency from Intel and Nvidia, why can't we have laptops that are both powerful and portable?
With the Aero 15 gaming notebook, Gigabyte appears to be letting gamers have their cake and eat it, too. Within a slim and light package, the Aero 15 packs some serious gaming hardware. Add to that the promise of all-day battery life, and Gigabyte's latest notebook starts to look like a "best of both worlds" device that's equally effective as a portable productivity machine and a plugged-in gaming rig.
The Aero 15's spec sheet starts with a familiar processor in the gaming notebook market: Intel's Core i7-7700HQ. This 45W chip isn't quite at the top of Intel's mobile lineup, but it's darn close. With four cores, eight threads, and a max turbo frequency of 3.8 GHz, it's plenty capable for most users, and a proven gaming workhorse. Gigabyte pairs up the Core i7-7700HQ with 8 GB or 16 GB of DDR4 RAM running at 2400 MT/s. The testing model that Gigabyte sent to our laboratory was filled up with 32 GB of RAM, though.
Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 6GB provides the graphics horsepower in the Aero 15. It occupies the upper-mid-range of Nvidia's mobile graphics card lineup, falling behind the beefy GTX 1080 and 1070 but offering twice the CUDA cores of the GTX 1050. With 1280 stream processors, 80 texturing units, 48 ROPs, and a 192-bit path to GDDR5 memory running at 8 GT/s, this GPU is a lot like the desktop GTX 1060. The only major difference between the mobile GP106 chip and its desktop counterpart is the 80W thermal spec of the laptop chip, down from 120W on the desktop. Our previous experience with the mobile GTX 1060 indicates that it's a good fit with 1920x1080 displays, so we're not surprised that the Aero 15 base model is equipped with a 15.6" screen with that resolution.
There's a lot to like about the exterior of the Aero 15. Incredibly, the aluminum chassis is just 0.78" thick (19.9 mm), and the notebook weighs in at 4.62 lbs (2.1 kg), making it an easy travel companion. The display is nicely highlighted by slim 5-mm bezels, and is supported by a sturdy hinge. As is usually the case from Gigabyte, the Aero 15's styling isn't overdone. Gigabyte's name appears on the back of the display panel in glassy, mirror-finish letters that glow softly when the laptop's powered up, and there's an accent near the display hinge in the company's trademark orange color. Otherwise, the the notebook has a subdued, reserved appearance. Folks who fancy a bit of color can grab green or orange versions of the Aero 15 instead. The keyboard's per-key RGB LED backlighting gives owners a fun tool for customizing the notebook's appearance, as well.
Check out the rest of the Aero 15's specs below. Notice the generous selection of ports, including Thunderbolt 3.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-7700HQ|
|Memory||8 GB or 16 GB DDR4-2400|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6 GB GDDR5 RAM|
|Display||15.6" IPS panel with 1920x1080 / 3840x2160 max resolution|
|Storage||Samsung SM951 M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD, 256 GB or 512 GB
1x open M.2 2280 slot
|Audio||2x 1.5W speakers|
|Expansion and display outputs||1 USB 3.1 Type-C (Thunderbolt 3)
3 USB 3.0
|Card reader||1 SD card reader|
|Communications||Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 (802.11ac)
|Input Devices||RGB LED backlit keyboard
|Dimensions||14.0" x 9.8" x 0.78" (356.4 x 250.0 x 19.9 mm)|
|Weight||4.62 lbs (2.1 kg)|
6.6" x 2.4" x 0.81" (167.6 x 61.0 x 20.6 mm)
Gigabyte offers the Aero 15 in a couple of different configs through Newegg. The closest variant to the version we tested goes for $1899 in black, green, or orange. For the price, buyers get a 512 GB SSD and 16GB of memory. A Newegg-exclusive upgraded version comes only in black, and it offers a 1 TB SSD and Windows 10 Pro for $2299. Those prices put the Aero 15 in the upper echelon of similarly-equipped gaming notebooks, so we expect great things from it. Let's dive in.