Gaming notebooks are in an awkward position at the moment thanks to the performance, form factor and technology ceilings we have reached.
Going smaller means losing space for that all-important airflow. Going larger means notebooks become more clunky which is contrary to what manufacturers and well, what we want in gaming notebooks.
The solution to this is to carefully monitor your temperatures and tweak performance as you are able to but that sounds like work and the last thing we want to be doing while gaming, is work. Trust us, we do this for reviews and it isn’t always the most ideal way to enjoy a game.
Aorus seemingly has a solution though which uses artificial intelligence. Don’t get too excited though as it’s a rather basic but still interesting implementation of the tech.
What the AI does is monitor the temperature of components along with the application you are running. Depending on the activity the fan speed will adjust and wattage to components will be increased or decreased. The question we have to answer is whether it works and how well does it work?
Intel (and Nvidia) inside
Inside our Aorus 15 review unit is an Intel Core i7-9780 as well as an Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti 6GB GPU.
While the base frequency of the CPU sits at a decent 2.6GHz, when it’s boosted we noted a frequency of 4GHz, which while impressive comes with a massive caveat.
With fan speed set to “Normal” the temperature of the CPU hits 99 degrees celsius while the GPU sits at 79 degree celsius. Ramping the fans up to “Maximum” drops those temperatures but not by much.
At max speed temperature the CPU drops to 95 degrees celsius while the GPU is a marginally cooler 71 degrees.
So it follows that if you leave the fans on maximum speed things will be great, right? Unfortunately the fans in the Aorus 15 are unbearably loud. Using the Taotronics SoundSurge 46 noise cancelling headphones (review coming soon) I can still hear the drone of the fans, worse still you can feel the heat radiating from the keyboard and the vibrations of the fans as you use the Aorus 15.
You’re also not getting the full 144Hz experience in games unless you lower the quality of the graphics.
At very high/ultra settings you can expect frame rates of between 60 and 70fps depending on the title. We tested Destiny 2, Ghost Recon Breakpoint and Civilization VI and all titles performed well.
Getting 144Hz required we drop graphics settings to medium in all titles but the experience is so buttery smooth so you’ll need to make a choice as to which sort of visuals you prefer.
Honestly the display is the best part of this notebook but the high thermal temperatures seriously are a let down from both a performance and usability standpoint.
Do games run well? Absolutely, but the heat we feel is not only uncomfortable, it forces the fans to become unbearably loud the moment any sort of load is being pushed through.
About that AI
So how well does the Microsoft Azure AI work?
To speak openly, we aren’t too sure.
During our time with the Aorus 15 we haven’t noted a drastic increase in performance and while benchmarking the notebook daily over two weeks, we have noted a total score increase in 3D Mark FireStrike of 400 points. To our mind this number is far too low to be of major significance and with graphics drivers and updates also being delivered in that time, it’s even harder to pin the tail on the donkey.
The AI is able to adjust the wattage of the CPU and GPU for optimal performance but with the margins in this notebook being so close to the thermal roof, we honestly aren’t seeing much of an improvement.
Of course this could change over time as the notebook is used more often but in two weeks we haven’t found the AI to be a stand-out feature.
Build and battery
The Aorus 15 is incredibly thin and measures in at just under 2.5cm which is thin but we believe is also a large part of the cooling issues the notebook has.
In terms of lighting there is per-zone RGB lighting which can be customised with software.
The keyboard itself is fine but the heat kicked out by the components make it unbearable to use.
Speakers are good but the droning of the fans makes them a bit pointless except when watching movies or videos. For that purpose the speakers are fine but still hampered by the form factor of the notebook and sound tinny and lack the oomph we’d like.
As far as battery operation goes things are very low-key.
Fan speed is limited to the normal setting and gaming performance sits at an average of 24fps with temperatures climbing to the 99 degrees celsius we saw in normal fan operation.
In normal operation we noted an average battery life of eight hours, while gaming that dipped to three hours with performance seriously hampered without wall power.
At R37 500, the Aorus 15 is not all that great. Sure it’s thin but the noise it kicks out when gaming – which is the reason you’d be using this notebook – is a massive let down.
While the performance is good, taking advantage of the 144Hz display means needing to drop graphics settings and increase the fan speed. That doesn’t improve temperatures much as the performance is still being pushed to hit that 144Hz mark.
The AI feature is a nice touch as well but unfortunately we didn’t note much of an improvement in our time with the notebook.
Overall the Aorus 15 is decidedly average and combined with the noise of the fans, the marks against it are simply too high for us to recommend the notebook.
It sure is thin and light but when it comes to gaming, what’s really needed is performance and a high enough roof for that take advantage of that performance.