Get your earplugs ready.
I t’s possible to pick up a decent gaming laptop for around two grand these days, so when we saw this new 17 incher from Aorus cost twice that, we knew it was going to be packed to the gills with high-powered goodness. Closer examination revealed that this is indeed a gaming thoroughbred, but once again we see Aorus hitting the limitations of mobile computing – there’s only so much hardware you can pack into a base that is a centimetre or two deep before heat becomes a real issue.
Despite the large screen size, Gigabyte has stuck with a relatively low-res 1920 x 1080 IPS display. Thankfully pixel structure isn’t too noticeable though, and it’s a beauty when it comes to colour and contrast performance. It’s also got a rather large ace up its sleeve in the form of full G-Sync compatibility, which is a killer feature in performance-limited laptops. Not that this machine is lacking in the grunt department…
Powering the display is not one, but two Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M GPUs. Each of these are roughly equivalent to a desktop GTX 960, so have ample power to drive the 1080p display when run in SLI mode. Even the most demanding games should run at around 40 frames per second, which is very playable when G-Sync is engaged. There’s one major issue with these GPUs though, and it’s their temperature. This laptop is incredibly shallow considering it’s packing twin GPUs, with a height of just 22mm. This means the fans within have to work overtime to keep the 970M processors nice and cool, which results in simply atrocious fan noise. The fans can be set to one of three modes – silent delivers a whisper quiet machine, but performance is halved. Normal and Gaming mode seem to be functionally identical, with a fan noise of a whopping 57dB, and almost inseparable benchmark results. That’s about the same as a noisy dishwasher, or three people having a conversation, and will prove to be hugely annoying unless noise-cancelling headphones are employed. We’re all for Aorus shoving potent hardware into their laptops, but the noise issue is getting out of hand. We’d much rather a laptop that was an extra centimetre deep, but didn’t sound like Bronwyn Bishop’s helo taking off for a power lunch with pals.
As expected, the rest of the hardware within this laptop is top-notch. Intel’s 5th Gen. Intel Core i7-5850HQ is built using a 14nm process, but any power savings this brings to the table will likely be swallowed whole by the power demands of the graphics subsystem. 16GB of DDR3 1866MHz memory is plenty, while twin 256GB SSDs in RAID 0 mode is a little small for our liking – Aorus usually backs this combo up with a 1TB HDD, which is strangely absent this time around. Killer’s budget LAN solution is included, and given PCTA’s recent experience with this chipset on the desktop, we kind of wish it hadn’t been. Intel’s NIC solution might cost a little more, but it just works.
We fired up our usual suite of benchmarks, and also threw in Metro Last Light just to punish the system a little more. These are the same tests we recently ran on MSI’s massive GT80 Titan SLI behemoth, which packs twin 980M GPUs. To our surprised, the Aorus managed to take the lead in all of our benchmarks. This could be a result of newer drivers, or a more aggressive cooling solution that lets the 970M GPUs really stretch their legs, as the GT80 wasn’t quite as rowdy.
There’s no denying Aorus’ latest gaming laptop is fast, but the fan noise really is a major issue. We can’t imagine gaming with such loud fans, hour after hour, is going to be a whole lot of fun, though a pair of active noise-cancelling headphones would go a long way to solving his issue. Perhaps Aorus should consider including a set in the box…