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Gigabyte Aero 15 Review: A near-perfect power user’s laptop

Gigabyte’s Aero 15 is a powerhouse laptop that hits a lot of high notes. Quad-core Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU? Check. Dual M.2 SSD slots? Check. Up to 32GB of RAM? Check. Nice 15.6-inch screen? Check. Powerful Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU? Check.

It’s this last point (well, and the garish colors) that will have many calling the Aero 15 a gaming-laptop rather than what it really is: a powerful, portable laptop that can do it all, and with decent battery life to boot. Even the weight’s bearable at 4.6 pounds. We have some objections to its design, but it’s still well worth a look.

Gordon Mah Ung

The Aero 15 is green. Very green. (And orange and black, too.)

A splash of color in a brushed-metal world 

The Gigabyte Aero 15 comes in three colors: A standard low-profile black ($1,899), Hemi Orange (also $1,899), and Lime Green, which is $1,999—that’s not a typo, Lime Green is more expensive than the other two colors. Perhaps because that model most closely resembles a 1971 Dodge Challenger (see for yourself, below). I have to say, the intense hues are surprisingly refreshing amid a sea of brushed-metal and black shells.

Sicnag

Separated at birth? You be the judge.

Speaking of shells, the Aero 15’s lid and bottom panel are aluminum, as well as portions of the frame around the keyboard. We’re disappointed that the keyboard tray is plastic, but this no doubt shaved off a bit of cost. 

The 15.6-inch, 1920×1080 screen has many pluses and a few minuses. Instead of the more common IPS or TN technology it uses MVA, which has a reputation for slower response times and issues with color accuracy. We’ve seen bad examples and good examples of MVA, and the Aero 15’s is in the good pile, with wide viewing angles and factory calibration to Pantone X-rite color standards (at 100-percent brightness). Off-axis viewing is also quite good. The biggest drawback we found is the 285-nit maximum brightness, which is on the lower end of average for a laptop.

Gordon Mah Ung

Gigabyte puts the webcam down low, like Dell’s XPS 13 and XPS 15, but at least it’s in the center.

Like Dell’s XPS 15, Gigabyte’s Aero 15 employs a near bezel-less display design. This helps make the laptop fairly compact, but it also forces the built-in webcam to peer upward at you from the bottom of the screen. Gigabyte centers the camera, but expect your video-conferencing colleagues to get good look at your neck wattle.

IDG/Gordon Mah Ung

15.6-inch power: Dell’s XPS 15 on top of a Gigabyte Aero 15, an Asus ROG GX501, and an Alienware 15 R4.

Keyboard and trackpad

With the keyboard and trackpad, we have another mix of good and bad news. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: the Aero 15’s ongoing problems with extended keyboard combinations. When we first tested our Aero 15 unit, it had problems recognizing certain key combinations, such as simultaneous use of Ctrl-Shift-C. Since the Aero 15 shipped, Gigabyte has released at least three firmware updates for the keyboard. Some problems have cleared up, but users are still finding combinations that don’t work right.

Gigabyte said it is continuing to work on the problem and is encouraging frustrated users to contact its support line. Is that enough to make you comfortable buying the Aero 15? That’s something only you can answer.

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