The AERO 15 is another compact entry in the notebook market from GIGABYTE. It’s not necessarily a successor to the AERO 14, but more of an addition to the family for those who need more screen real-estate. As with their other AERO notebooks, it’s an attempt to get the most power possible into as compact a chassis as modern technology allows. Given what the notebook packs, this is easier said than done – but GIGABYTE has sacrificed very little (if anything at all) in cramming all this power into as diminutive a package as possible.
While the AERO 15 isn’t sold as a gaming notebook, it’s more than capable of handling the latest games at high/ultra settings at the native resolution of 1920×1080. This is because the AERO 15 sports a 6GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 in combination with an Intel Core i7 7700HQ CPU and 2,400MHz DDR4 memory. These specs would be beyond respectable even for a desktop machine. Moreover, the AERO 15 houses a high-speed Liteon solid-state drive for your storage requirements. As far as specs are concerned, the AERO 15 ticks all the right boxes and should be more than enough for years to come, no matter what game you throw at it.
The addition of a Pantone-certified display ensures crisp, sharp colours that deliver a pristine image regardless of what it is you’re doing on the notebook, which remains true whether you have the 4K or the FHD model. Talking about the 4K model, this is a display I would personally avoid, because there’s simply nothing to be gained from having such a high pixel density on a 15.6-inch display. You’d be paying for a feature you couldn’t possibly use and as such, if you do decide to buy the AERO 15, definitely stick to the FHD model.
As with all notebooks, the machine is something you’ll be living with on a daily basis and as respectable as the specifications are, what you’re likely to end up appreciating more than anything are the things which aren’t tick-box features. Take, for example, the weight and dimensions. Normally I’d consider any notebook weighing less than 2.5kg to be fairly light, particularly these days, where “gaming” machines and other high-powered notebooks can hover around the 3kg mark. Meanwhile, the Aero 15 is only 2.1kg. It’s easily one of the lightest 15.6-inch notebooks money can buy and I’m not aware of any notebook model from any other vendor which is lighter with similar specifications.
At under 2cm in girth, the AERO 15 is also among the thinnest gaming-capable notebooks money can buy. With such a thin profile, you’d think that cooling may be an issue, but I can assure you it isn’t something you need to worry about. In specific circumstances, it’s possible to cause both the GPU and the CPU to down-clock by fairly large margins, but it’s usually one or the other, and never both. These situations are mostly limited to synthetic tests as well, which load the system in a way that regular applications would never do, so cooling shouldn’t be something that concerns you.
That said, it’s best to ensure you only use the AERO 15 on flat surfaces, or even better, consider getting an active notebook cooler if you’ll be doing intense work for hours on end. GIGABYTE has done a respectable job with cooling given the space constraints, but there’s only so much that can be done. As far as you should be concerned though, there won’t be any heating issues at all with the AERO 15.
Despite the size and weight, the AERO 15 houses a beefy 94.24Wh battery, ensuring that you’ll have power for hours on battery life, even if you choose to do a bit of gaming on the go. The combination of the Intel HD 630 and the GTX 1060 always guarantees that you’re using the right GPU for the task. Just keep in mind that in order to maximise battery life, especially when gaming, it’s imperative that you install GeForce Experience. It’s not everyone’s favourite software package for sure, but it does have several key features, including the ability to cap the GPU performance to appropriate levels for the game you’re running and the environment. You’ll get good battery life without the software package, but it can be improved tremendously with it.
The rest of the notebook is built to the highest standards as well, with USB 3.0/3.1, Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, and MiniDP (1.3) support. I wish there was just one more USB port though, if only because three tends to not be enough. This is especially true if you use an external mouse and keyboard, but it’s nothing a USB hub can’t fix. Other than that, there’s not much to dislike about the AERO 15. The fully backlit RGB keyboard will be appreciated by those who enjoy that sort of thing, but personally I’m okay with an all-white LED backlighting system with adjustable dimming options. Still, it doesn’t hurt to have other colours available.
The only downside to this notebook is that GIGABYTE has once again decided to give you all your software on an optical disk, which is puzzling given that the AERO 15 doesn’t actually have an optical drive. This isn’t the first time GIGABYTE has done this, and it’s clearly something that the engineers or whoever is in charge of these decisions insists upon. As a result, the software is of almost no use to you, the end user. Why a small USB drive isn’t used instead is beyond comprehension. This one shortcoming is enough to mar what is otherwise a fantastic, nigh-flawless offering from GIGABYTE.
Ignoring that, the AERO 15 is exactly what a modern, powerful notebook should be: light enough to take everywhere, yet powerful enough to handle anything you throw at it.