With so much focus given to making computers smaller and lighter it’s good to see some larger devices that can deliver great performance and double up for work and play. The Gigabyte Aero 15 backs a great 15.6-inch display with a Core i7-7700HQ processor, with 16GB of DDR4 memory and a 512GB SSD.
The 1920 by 1080 display did a great job of displaying documents, spreadsheets and all that other boring work stuff that helps pay the bills. For a performance point of view, the combination of a healthy complement of memory, fast SSD and powerful CPU means that if you hit a performance snag, it’s most likely going to be a software problem.
There’s also a 3480 by 2160 display option available but I didn’t get to play with that. And the display is not a touchscreen – that took me some getting used to!
One thing that may put business uses off is that the Aero 15 ships with Windows 10 Home. Although this might not be a big deal to everyone, being able to encrypt your hard drive is a big deal to me and BitLocker is not supported unless you spend a few extra dollars and update to Windows 10 Pro.
As well as the regular QWERTY set up, the Aero 15’s backlit keyboard has a full numeric keypad. While that’s a positive, it does mean the keyboard feels a little cramped. As someone who spends a lot of time writing, the close proximity of the Shift, End, Ctrl and Ins/0 keys to the arrows took some getting used to.
But this is part and parcel of switching to a new computer. Adapting to different keyboard arrangement is part of the transition processes.
In order to keep the bezel around that screen as thin as possible – it’s just 5mm – Gigabyte has followed the lead of other manufacturers and placed the webcam on the lower bezel, integrating it with the screens hinge mechanism.
As far as connectivity goes, there are plenty of options. Aside from Bluetooth 4.2 and 802.11ac WiFi, there are three Type A USB 3 .0 ports, a USB-C port running Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, separate 3.5mm jacks for audio in and out, an SD card reader and a good old RJ45 if you want to connect over Gigabit ethernet.
Gaming experiences today are heavily dependent on both local system performance and network latency and other factors. Testing the Aero 15 involved me playing a few games as well as seconding a couple of my teenage kids into sone testing with me.
We played a variety of different games including Overwatch, Diablo III and Destiny 2. None of us had any hassles with smooth gameplay, great graphics and great playback from cut-scenes.
Similarly, playing full-screen Netflix and other movies didn’t trouble the Aero 15.
Aside from the keyboard, which is as much about getting used to a different layout as anything, I found the red backlighting to be a little garish – But I get that some people, looking for a particular aesthetic, will like the way Gigabyte has applied that so the Aero 15 doesn’t look just like any other laptop.
The screen is great but it’s quite reflective. While that helps make colours really pop, it also means the glare on the display if you’re anywhere near a window can be annoying. I found I needed to either close the blinds or turn the device in order to make it more readable when the sun came in through the window.
Price and availability
The Gigabyte Aero 15 is available now with a street price of around $2900.