Date Joined: 05/11/05
Pros: Unboxing - The package arrived in your typical generic shipping box. Inside that box was another brown Gigabyte labelled box where the computer, relatively small power supply and three prong cable, and some printed literature were carefully stored. The computer itself comes in a black cloth sleeve with another piece of the same black cloth placed covering the keyboard and separating it from the screen.
Initial Bootup - Upon initial bootup, you have the usual Windows registration process, asking for your name, desired password/pin and local wifi login. Nothing out of the ordinary.
The default desktop and computer pleasantly has very little bloatware. There are gigabyte’s own utilities – such as RGB management and driver update manager which are both handy and necessary, as well as some of the usual free programs and pre-installs, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader and MS Office starter files. I know some users will label these as bloatware but as an office worker, these are likely programs you will download and install anyway as I do. You can always uninstall them as needed. For me in particular, these get a pass.
My Initial Impressions - The unit feels very tight, well-built and the metal surfaces cool to the touch. It is surprisingly light for its size and despite having many metal parts. This is especially true compared to other medium sized laptops I’ve used before, such as an (older) Alienware 14 and the (mostly plastic) Asus GL502v. Looking at the high end CPU and GPU specs, this lightness is even more impressive.
Though I haven’t had hands-on time with any of the Aero 15x’s new peers – such as the Alienware m15, the MSI GS65 or the Zephryus S – it definitely seems that the tech companies (especially with Nvidia’s Max Q technology and Intel’s 8750H with 6 core / 12 threads) have made quite a jump in performance this generation compared to laptops just one or two generations ago, especially in the thin and light (+ now thin bezels) laptop category.
The 15.6” 144 hertz screen is matte finished and is a visual treat. Just moving the mouse around the desktop is noticeably smoother than the usual 60 hertz screens I’ve used. With the IPS display, the (Pantone certified) screen has good off-side viewing angles and the colors and brightness are also noticeably vibrant, even at my usual 50% brightness setting.
For me, the other hidden gem is the SD card reader. Gigabyte must have an engineer / designer who is also a photographer, since as far as I know, they are the only company to offer a built-in high speed UHS-II SD card reader. This is especially good for those who shoot RAW format photos or video and need to transfer large numbers of files to the computer for further processing.
Cons: The kinda "Cons" - given how impressive the hardware is, I really only have a few very particular nits I can pick, so they aren't CONs per se.
Some "Not Cons," just notes:
From watching the different reviews on Youtube it seemed that the majority of the test machines had 16gb G. Skill Ripjaw sodimms, but the production / retail unit I received did not. Mine is a Kingston labelled sodimm with unknown specs. Not as cool looking as the Ripjaws but works perfectly fine, so no real issues.
The m.2 SSD in my retail unit was a 500gb Transcend unit with a heat / thermal pad attached to the PCB (along with the manufacturer’s label). Gigabyte also included a spare adhesive thermal pad in a plastic bag in case you decide to install a second m.2 drive down the road.
The Transcend drive worked for all intents and purposes. The only issue I had with this drive was with its high operating temps. Is it normal or not? I’ve never used a Transcend before, so I’m not sure.
At desktop, it was idling at 50 degrees C - no games, no benchmarks running, just Windows 10. For comparison, I cloned a copy of the exact same windows install to a brand new Samsung 970 EVO 1 TB and rebooted and that was operating at 29 degrees C. Both temps were measured by Crystal Disk Info with only one drive installed in the unit, so the higher readings were not the result of heat cross-contamination from multiple drives or anything of the sort. I don’t have any idea why the Transcend was running so hot, but since it came with the computer, I’m keeping it as a spare / not actually running it, so I’m not going to worry about it too much.
This is something to consider if you are planning on buying this laptop and using it in its stock configuration.
Another nit I had to pick had to do with the Gigabyte software updater - The Gigabyte updater ran and took some time as it worked to update the pre-loaded drivers that shipped with my unit. A good point about the Gigabyte updater is letting you know what the versions numbers are: including the current version number, the latest “official” Gigabyte driver, as well as the latest driver available from the manufacturer. Kudos, Gigabyte, very handy!
Everything was looking good and updating at a steady pace - that was until I tried to update the Nvidia driver (via the updater). it tried to install a few times, including rebooting, but could not actually finish. I don't know what was going on. Eventually I just gave up and went to Nvidia.com myself and downloaded the driver from there. Installed the Nvidia.com driver without issue after that.
Outside of the heat issue with the stock m.2 SSD, these were really the only other Nits / "Not Cons" I could think of.
- The black metal parts are finger-print magnets. If that’s a concern, you can always carry around a towel or put a skin on it – which is what I plan on doing. Not a major issue but for people who are particular about keeping their gear clean, it could be.
- The keyboard is offset to the left due to the inclusion of the numpad much like any desktop keyboard – but since laptop keyboards are much narrower, there’s less room overall and the offset more extreme. You will have to move your right hand / arm further left here than on other non-numpad keyboards or laptops. As an Excel user, I’m glad they did include the numpad, but I can see it having greater negative effect on non-numpad users.
- USB Ports criticism #1. The USB ports are very tight on my unit. Attaching and removing USB devices / cables takes some effort. Maybe it’s the cold weather causing the metal ports to be so tight – or the newness of the unit?
- USB Ports criticism #2. The USB ports shut down at reboot and upon restart your mouse or other attached peripheral might not be recognized until you unplug then plug it back in.
Overall Review: This has proven to be a great computer / desktop replacement with just a few minor caveats I've noted above, most of which are just me being nit-picky. Also there may be solutions in the UEFI/Bios that address what I'm noticing (especially the USB stuff), but I'm not sharp enough to find them and make the changes myself.