Review: Gigabyte Aero 15

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Every laptop is a study of compromise. You surrender something—sometimes many things—in favor of mobility. If you’re a gamer, those sacrifices add up quickly.

Gigabyte designed its new Aero 15 gaming laptop to limit these trade-offs. The machine combines high-end gaming framerates with good general application performance—something Gigabyte says often suffers on laptops tuned for frags.

Gigabyte Aero 15

7/10

Wired

Nifty upgrades including fully programmable keyboard and Pantone tuning. Competitively priced for an ultra-high-end configuration.

Tired

Significantly heavy. Dated charging system.

How We Rate

  • 1/10A complete failure in every way
  • 2/10Sad, really
  • 3/10Serious flaws; proceed with caution
  • 4/10Downsides outweigh upsides
  • 5/10Recommended with reservations
  • 6/10Solid with some issues
  • 7/10Very good, but not quite great
  • 8/10Excellent, with room to kvetch
  • 9/10Nearly flawless
  • 10/10Metaphysical perfection

At first glance, the Aero 15 might seem like little more than a rebranded box. But the 15.6-inch machine, crafted from machined aluminum, offers a few notable upgrades over more mainstream laptops. For starters, you can program every key on the keyboard (which, by the way, come with full color LED backlighting). The display is X-Rite Pantone certified, meaning each panel is individually tuned for accurate color reproduction before it ships. The upper lid comes in three colors—black, orange, or green—and as an accent, a portion of the lid sports a snazzy carbon fiber pattern.

Solid specs show Gigabyte actually cares about what its gear can do. The Aero 15 gives you a 2.8GHz seventh generation Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card. The screen tops out at 1920 x 1080 pixels (a 4K version is in the works), but the barely-there 5mm bezel gives it an awfully expansive appearance. It’s bright and, indeed, the colors look rich and accurate—though without some intensely scientific testing with a color calibration chart, it’s hard to see much difference between other high-end displays.

You can plug in either HDMI or mini-DisplayPort for video output, and Gigabyte provides one USB-C port, three standard USB 3.0 ports, and an SD card slot. The USB-C port is not used for charging; the laptop comes with a proprietary, old-school cylindrical power adapter instead.

The Aero 15 wasn’t the leader on any of my testing benchmarks, but it came close enough to the top on most of them, generally outclassing the Alienware 13 (which has near-identical components) on gaming and general app performance. The Aero 15 particularly excelled at higher-end graphics tests. Battery life of six hours, 15 minutes is no slouch, either. In hands-on use, the trackpad seemed solid and the keyboard fine, if not wholly inspired.

Back to those tradeoffs, though: Despite Gigabyte’s best efforts to avoid them, something always has to give. Here, it comes in the form of weight. Three or four years ago, a 4.7-pound machine might have been OK for a road warrior. Today, that kind of heft really weighs down your shoulder bag to the point where you’ll have to think carefully about whether the 15.6-inch display is worth the extra pounds.

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