According to its website, the Aorus X7 v2 is billed as the thinnest and lightest GTX SLI gaming laptop offering some of the best specs available today on any gaming notebook.
When you first hear the term ‘gaming notebook’ it sounds like a complete contradiction of terms. How can something that is powerful enough to easily run games at the highest graphics settings possibly be portable?
And yet gaming notebooks are not new, they’ve been done before by the likes of Alienware, MSI and ASUS. While they’ve always been powerful and, in the broadest sense of the word, portable, they’ve never been sexy.
Can the Aorus X7 match its contemporaries in the performance department and more importantly is it something that we would be proud to carry around with us to a mate’s house for a gaming session without fear of ridicule for bringing something hideous to the LAN?
From the first moment that the Aorus X7 arrived at the htxt.africa offices, it was clear that a lot of thought had gone into the experience of buying the notebook.
Unboxing the Aorus X7 immediately reminded us of the kind of experience that you get when you first open a new Apple product – arguably the best unboxing experience in the hardware game. Everything from the sturdy, textured box through to the small sliver of soft cloth in between the keyboard and the display made us feel like we were being invited to use something truly special.
The notebook itself is covered in a matte black plastic, which acts like a tractor beam for fingerprints and greasy smudges of all shapes and sizes. Thankfully the display lacks touch functionality which makes it less likely to suffer from the same smudge-addled fate the exterior does.
The body of the notebook is both sleek and slim, in fact it’s so skinny we had to double check the specs online to make sure that everything that was claimed to be inside of the Aorus X7 was actually somewhere in there. We concluded that some form of witchcraft and sorcery must have been used to cram everything inside the 22.9mm thick chassis.
Several ribbed grills can be found placed at each of the corners of the Aorus X7, and in the case of the four at the rear end of the notebook they are open so allow for air to circulate and cool the furnace created by the dual GPU SLI setup inside of it.
While it certainly still possesses a rather imposing footprint, as any 17 inch notebook would, we think that the Aorus X7 has done the best job yet of making a sexy looking gaming notebook.
The spec sheet of the Aorus X7 reads like a best hits album from the world’s notebook hardware manufacturers. A quad core Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor running at a calm 2.5GHz normally (and at 3.5GHz when under load is responsible for the heavy lifting) with 16GB of RAM of 1 866MHz DDR3 RAM occupying just two of the four slots allowing you to take an Aorus X7 all the way to 32GB of RAM should you choose to.
A Pair of NVIDIA GTX 860M graphics cards add up to a, frankly rather insane 8GB of total VRAM with a combination of mSATA SSDs – for which there are three slots – and a regular 2.5 inch rotational drive to make up the storage options.
The keyboard is backlit with some extra lighting around the edges of the all-important WASD keys with a smattering of programmable macro keys on the side for good measure. The trackpad is a glossy, glass masterpiece to look at, but a polarising piece of hardware in use. Some of us loved it and some of us hated it, but in the end gamers will default to an external mouse more often than not and the little rectangle will have more palm prints from resting on it than fingerprints from using it.
Port options are hardly what one would call Spartan with three USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, a mini-Display port, RJ45 Ethernet port, an SD card reader, microphone-in and headphone –out jack.
Add to that 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and a Killer K1 LAN chip to manage network traffic to optimise gaming and you get a pretty clear image of just how much has been crammed into a package that weighs in at just 3kg.
The Aorus X7 runs on Windows 8.1 Pro, which you will either love or hate but there are two very welcome additions to the software bundled with the notebook.
The first is called Command and Control and it allows you almost entirely free reign over everything that the Aorus X7 can do. From changing the backlight brightness to the fan speed and offering the ability to lock the Windows key and trackpad to prevent them unintentionally interrupting your gaming experience.
The second is ‘Drivers Update’ which, as you can probably tell from the name of the program, allows you to find, download and install the latest drivers for all of the hardware inside the Aorus X7.
Neither program is entirely necessary nor is their absence individually or even combined a deal breaker but their inclusion shows to what lengths Gigabyte has gone to make sure that owning an AorusX7 is a pleasure even in the long term.
The 17.3 inch full high definition display on the Aorus X7 offers bright, vibrant colours and excellent viewing angles whether you’re sitting directly in front of it or looking at it from an angle. It’s usefull for watching videos with other people or someone peeking in on what you’re busy playing, although we’re not fans of having someone watching us play from over the shoulder.
As we mentioned earlier the Aorus X7’s display is not a touch screen which is useful for keeping It fingerprint free but also for keeping the thickness and the already rather staggering price down.
If you’re looking for a notebook that’ll last you the entire day, whispering quietly away on your desk as it wicks away the minimal heat that it generates, then you shouldn’t be looking at the Aorus X7 in the first place.
However, if you’re alright with a notebook that can last for a few hours if you want to browse the web or watch a movie before requiring you to haul out the massive 200W power supply brick then you’re in the right place.
The Aorus X7 is not a laptop for the masses or even for the average gamer, but it never promises to be either. What it is, however, is a vastly powerful portable gaming machine that will satisfy all but the most hardened gamer’s desire for higher benchmarking scores.
If you can get past the daunting R33 000 pricetag and need something obscenely powerful to play video games on-the-go, then the Aorus X7 is the sleekest and sexiest portable gaming package available today.
Price: R33 000
Display: 17.3″ Full HD 1920×1080 LED backlight display
Memory: 2X8GB (16GB) DDR3L 1866, 4 slots (Max 32GB)
Storage: 3x128GB mSATA SSD, 1×2.5 inch 1TB
Camera: 1 megapixel video call camera
Networking: 802.11ac WiFI, Bluetooth 4.0, Killer LAN chip
Other: dual 2W speakers