The Bottom LineGIGABYTE's latest Aero 15 packs a powerful 6-core Intel processor and a GTX 1070 into a slim gaming notebook with a stellar display and very good battery life.
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Today we bring you a review of a true Coffee Lake-based 6-core notebook. Back late last year, Intel launched its mobile 8th Generation of processors, but they also told us there would be three different microarchitectures within the 8th Generation family, and today we look at the second.
Today we look at a Coffee Lake-based i7-8750H rather than the typical i7-8550U Kaby Lake-R processors we have seen in notebooks launched since the last holiday season. Now, GIGABYTE has designed this notebook to be a sleek gaming machine. Our model has a GTX 1070 Max-Q GPU, a 144Hz FHD IPS display, and a huge battery.
It might be the first time that six core mobile processors have widely proliferated the market, now let's see what they do in a well-packaged notebook from GIGABYTE.
The AERO 15 offers an i7-8750H 45W processor with six cores and 12 threads, a 2.2Ghz base clock with a 4.1GHz boost clock. Our model uses a very thin bezel 15.6" 1080P 144Hz IPS anti-glare display with X-Rite Pantone certification. Our model came with a 500Gb M.2 drive and 16GB of memory, but those can both be expanded (although if you do it, you will void the warranty).
We also have the model with the GTX 1070 built-in with Max-q technology. The notebook also carries a huge 94.24 Wh battery, which is quite large. GIGABYTE claims up to 10 hours of battery life.
The notebook also has the latest in connectivity built in, including ThunderBolt 3, 2x2 Wireless-AC, 1Gbit LAN, USB 3.1, and HDMI 2.0. The notebook measures in at 14x9.8x0.74" (WxDxH), and weighs in at roughly 4.5lbs. The keyboard has per key programmable RGB support as well.
The AERO 15 starts at $1,999, our model is $2,299, and there is one model at $2,500 that offers a UHD display and Windows 10 Pro. If you pre-order our specific model, the Aero 15X v8-BK4 you will get a free Aero Beats headset.
GIGABYTE's packaging is all biodegradable, but it also does a good job of protecting the motherboard with multiple layers of cardboard.
Like most notebooks these days, accessories are sparse. You get a card that offers you a free gift if you leave a review online about your experience with the product. Manuals and driver DVD are also present, but you will need to make your own recovery image, which you will be prompted to do when you first boot up Windows 10. The AC/DC power supply is rated email@example.comA which is roughly 180W.
The top and bottom of the unit use aluminum for the chassis, and there is a carbon fiber cutout on the top of the lid. The GIGABYTE logo lights up white when the system is on.
The unit has a very sturdy feel to it, and the aluminum chassis probably helps with cooling a small bit. The bottom of the device features five rubber feet, air intake vents, and two speaker vents.
The front edge of the notebook is bare of everything, but there are some indication LEDs, and the rear of the device is pretty much just the single large metal hinge.
The right side of the notebook features UHS-II SD card reader, a Thunderbolt 3 type-C port, two USB 3.0 ports, DC input jack, and a Kensington lock slot. The left side of the device features a 1Gbit LAN port, USB 3.1 port, HDMI 2.0 port, mini-DP 1.4 port, and an audio combo jack.
The AERO 15 features a full-sized QWERTY keyboard with number pad, although it is pretty squeezed in there. The keyboard was nice and large, and each key has its own programmable RGB LED. The keyboard also offers macros and N-key rollover.
The display is beautiful, and while a lot of editors treasure higher resolution displays in 13" and 15" panels, I think 1080P is pretty good for such small displays. At 4K at 15.6" you are going to need to get proper UI scaling to work, and while games might look nicer, they will require more processing power and your battery will be drained faster.
I think 1080P in a 13" or 15" display is perfect, and with the added 144Hz refresh rate anti-glare IPS monitor, we were in heaven. The thin bezel is really thin, and because of that, they had to move the camera down low.
Physical Overview Continued
We get an HD camera and light sensor at the base of the display panel along with a dual array microphone. The fen exhaust also blows up and out through the rear vents.
System status LEDs are located in the lower right corner of the motherboard. To get a quick system battery level check when the device is turned off you can tap the lower right corner of the touchpad, and the system LEDs will light up to five depending on battery level.
Three screws on the rear of the notebook have warranty voiding stickers, so if you open the system, you will probably void your warranty. Notice how the cooling system uses dual blower fans that cool either the CPU and/or the GPU at the same time, that way both are always being cooled and the cooling capacity naturally shifts.
A thermal pad on the M.2 drive allows the aluminum bottom of the notebook to help cool it. Our unit had one stick of memory for single channel mode. There are also an empty M.2 slot and area near one of the speakers, so you could potentially add a second M.2 PCI-E/SATA drive.
Here we see the huge 94Wh battery, and to its left, we see the Intel 8265 WIFI/BT controller, which offers solid performance.
Software and BIOS
GIGABYTE's Smart Manager is actually a very useful piece of software that allows you to control pretty much all aspects of the notebook that have been customized by GIGABYTE. You can turn on and off X-Rite calibration, tweak fans, and disable things such as the camera.
The Smart Dashboard allows you to see hardware utilization among other hardware statistics. You can also change the battery charging policy to favor faster charging or battery life.
Fan control can also be tweaked to your liking, and you get full customizable control with many control points. The keyboard is fully customizable, and you can basically control all lighting profiles. You can individually customize each key light. Macros are also available.
LAN Optimizer allows gaming prioritization so that your games are top priority over things such as downloads. When you first boot up your system you will be prompted to create a backup of the OS in case things go south; we highly recommend you use it.
Updating drivers, BIOS, and GIGABYTE software is made easy by GIGABYTE's Update utility. When you first boot up, you will also see a waiver to provide GIGABYTE with some usage statics to help improve their software.
The BIOS is pretty basic, and you probably will never need to enter the BIOS unless you want to configure the system for Windows 7 installation. Otherwise, it's really only useful for disabling things such as the webcam.
System Performance Benchmarks
CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks
These benchmarks are run using default settings and configuration.
AIDA64 AES and HASH
Handbrake 4K and 720P Transcoding
The i7-8750H has 6-cores and 12-threads, it has a base of 2.2Ghz with a Turbo up to 4.1GHz. With an extra two cores in the same TDP, the base clock was lowered compared to the 7th Generation CPU it replaces.
However, we can see a lot of improvement in multi-core benchmarks, and that is great because many people are doing multiple things on their computer at a time. We should also mention the notebook is in single channel mode, which possibly limits overall performance in some instances.
Gaming Performance Benchmarks
UNIGINE Heaven 4.0
Ashes of Singularity
What we take away from these gaming benchmarks is that the new CPU has added two more cores within the same TDP, but hasn't managed to lose much performance (sometimes it went up) due to the TDP/core restriction that requires lower multi-core boosts.
Overall, performance was quite decent, and while it's similar to that of notebooks with top of the line i7 H-series CPUs, it also offers two more cores.
System IO and Battery Performance
System IO Benchmarks
Internal Storage Read Test:
Internal Storage Write Test:
ixChariot Network Throughput:
The Toshiba M.2 drive does quite well, and networking performance is very solid as the notebook uses Intel's Wireless AC 8265 controller.
The battery performance is excellent, and it's really a shocker. It is partially due to the increased battery size, but overall this notebook really does have an all-day battery. You can also look forward to 2-3 hours of gaming at 1080P on the go, which is not possible on a lot of gaming notebooks.
We can see that the top portion of the keyboard does heat up after 30minutes of strenuous synthetic testing on the CPU and GPU. We get a rise of 15C at our hottest point, but thankfully it seems to be localized to the hinge where the exhaust fans blow.
We can see where the two blower fans pull in air to cool down the internal heat sinks since we find cold spots where they pull in fresh air. Now the area where the CPU and GPU sit heats up a lot, and while we expected this, we didn't expect for the aluminum chassis to absorb a lot of the heat and spread it around a bit.
What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts
Here are key points about the GIGABYTE AERO 15
Coffee Lake-H: Intel's latest mobile processors have finally landed, and they are pretty strong. With the extra TDP headroom offered up by the 45W TDP (from 15W U-series), Intel added more cores and boosted max clocks, and the result is a very powerful mobile CPU. It was very nice to see 50% more cores on Intel's 8th Generation U-series CPUs, but even nicer to see it on Intel's 8th Generation H-series.
Gaming Display Panel: I am in love with the 144Hz IPS 15.6" display, and even at 1080P details were crisp, and I felt it was a perfect resolution for a gaming notebook of this size. The bezel is also super thin, and it's the first 144Hz 15" display of its kind with such a thin bezel.
Battery Life: Many gaming notebooks are ill-equipped when it comes to batteries, but not this gaming notebook. The Aero 15 offers excellent battery life for a gaming PC, and it was super surprising. We think it has to do with the combination of the new CPU, the 1080P display, and of course the 94Wh battery that takes up almost half the internal space of the notebook.
ThunderBolt 3 and USB 3.1: The notebook features a single ThunderBolt 3 port, which is great since the ThunderBolt 3 port is backward compatible with a wide array of type-C devices and offers more throughput than any other type-C port. The notebook also features a USB 3.1 (10Gbps) type-A port on the other side of the device, and that's something we didn't expect (we assume it's due to the new chipset).
Single Channel Memory: While performance was top notch, we only had single channel memory. We would have preferred two 8Gb sticks rather than a single 16GB stick.
The AERO 15 is an awesome gaming laptop. Many times when we get in gaming notebooks, they have one aspect that can annoy. Either they are too bulky, too heavy, too loud, or don't offer decent battery life. The new Aero 15 is slim, has an excellent display, battery life, and performance.
It's really a true mobile gaming notebook, plus you get Intel's latest 6-core 12-thread processor and a GTX 1070 Max-Q that work well for gaming on the go. However, all of this will cost you a pretty penny, and the Aero 15 will start out at $1999, and will go up from there. The fans do spin up when you game and the notebook can get warm, but the same is true for pretty much every high-performance gaming notebook.
GIGABYTE also teamed up with Beats for a custom Beats x Aero limited edition headphone model, and if you pre-order this specific configuration, I am told you will get the headphones for free.
The 144Hz display is excellent, and you get all the bells and whistles of modern notebooks such as an RGB customizable keyboard, or an X-Rite Pantone certified display. There are also many customization options in GIGABYTE's software so that you can tweak the notebook a lot. If you are in the market for a portable gaming machine that packs a decent gaming punch, give the Aero 15 a look.
The Bottom Line: GIGABYTE's latest Aero 15 packs a powerful 6-core Intel processor and a GTX 1070 into a slim gaming notebook with a stellar display and very good battery life.
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