- Powerful CPU and GPU
- Processor and graphics overclocking
- Great design
- Punchy speakers
- High temperatures and noise output
- Middling keyboard
- So-so screen quality
- 3.6GHz Intel Core i7-6820HK
- 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
- 17.3-inch 2,560 x 1,440 G-Sync IPS screen
- 16GB 2,400MHz DDR4 memory
- 256GB Toshiba XG3 M.2 SSD
- 1TB hard disk
- Windows 10 64-bit
- 1-year RTB warranty
- Manufacturer: Gigabyte
- Review Price: £2,500.00/$3,750.00
WHAT IS AORUS X7 V6?
It’s normal for notebooks to make compromises, but Aorus machines try to go above and beyond. Take the X7 v6, which includes a huge list of features: a GTX 1070 GPU, an overclockable Core i7 processor and a 120Hz screen with G-Sync. The result is a gaming monster.
AORUS X7 V6 – FEATURES
The GTX 1070 is proving to be the most popular Nvidia Pascal GPU chipset. It’s powerful enough to play any game at Full HD and 1440p, and it’s not as expensive as the GTX 1080, which is really designed for 4K.
The mobile version of the GTX 1070 has 2,048 stream processors and a 1,442MHz core alongside 8GB of memory, which puts it on par with the desktop card.
Here, though, Aorus has done something unusual – it’s overclocked the GPU. The GTX 1070 runs at five pre-configured speeds. The first option is selected by default, which means the GPU runs at 1,468MHz and with 8,060MHz memory. The fifth option sets those clocks to 1,543MHz and 8,208MHz.
Impressively, the GPU isn’t the only overclockable component – the Core i7-6820HK is the only Intel mobile CPU with an unlocked multiplier. By default the Aorus runs at 4GHz, which is the machine’s beefiest CPU overclock, but it can be toned down to 3.6GHz – still miles above the CPU’s 2.7GHz stock pace.
This overclocking helps the Aorus to stand out. The Gigabyte P35X v6 is a superb GTX 1070 laptop, but it ran at stock speeds and costs less at £2,100/$3,150. The £2,550/$3,825 Scan 3XS LG17 Carbon Extreme is a 17.3-inch system with a GTX 1080 and a desktop-class Core i7-6700K processor, but no overclocking.
The rest of the specification is good, but contains no surprises. There’s 16GB of 2,400MHz DDR4 memory, a 512GB Toshiba XG3 SSD and a 1TB hard disk. Qualcomm’s Killer gaming brand provides the Ethernet and wireless connectivity, and there’s also Bluetooth.
Two alternative specifications are available: the X7 v6-CF2 costs £2,200/$3,300 and has a 1080p screen and 256GB SSD, while the £3,000/$4,500 X7 DT v6-CF1 has 32GB of memory and a GTX 1080.
AORUS X7 V6 – DESIGN
Aorus laptops always look great. The mirrored logo on the lid lights up and the power button is illuminated. The button is flanked with dramatic grilles for the system’s fans, and the trackpad has another Aorus logo.
There’s a chunky rear section with vents alongside smaller exhausts on the machine’s left- and right-hand edges. Those edges hold USB 3 and USB 3.1 connectors, HDMI and Mini DisplayPort outputs, and an SD card slot.
The Aorus is slimmer and lighter than its main rival, too. It weighs 3.2kg and is 25mm thick, which is impressive for a machine with this specification – the Scan is a kilo heavier and half a centimetre thicker. Despite the relative slimness, the Aorus is sturdy throughout.
The base panel can be removed, but it’s held down by a dozen Torx screws, which is awkward. However, it reveals two memory sockets and a spare M.2 connector free, which is good for a notebook.
AORUS X7 V6 – PERFORMANCE
My benchmarks were run at the X7’s default settings, with the CPU at its peak speed of 4GHz, and the GPU at its first overclocked level of 1,468MHz.
The Aorus had no trouble running games at its native resolution. Its weakest 1440p score was 92fps in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, while it averaged 101fps in Dirt Rally and 106fps in GTA V. Those two latter scores easily beat the Gigabyte. However, the Scan’s GTX 1080 was always ahead.
The GTX 1070 ran my games at 4K, too: the Aorus handled Shadow of Mordor at 50fps and was a little faster in both other titles.
Those results are marginally quicker than the Gigabyte P35X v6, but a long way behind the Scan 3XS LG17 Carbon Extreme. They should also be taken with a pinch of salt – the test games are demanding, but several games are tougher. If those are your favourites, you’ll need a GTX 1080.
The Aorus’s overclocking tools gave the GPU a modest bump. The laptop’s original 3D Mark Fire Strike score of 12,613 improved to 13,065 with the clock boosted to 1,543MHz. That translated to a small gaming boost, with two frames added to the X7’s Dirt Rally result.
The overclocked processor almost kept up with the Scan’s desktop chip. Its Geekbench results of 4,025 and 14,585 are only a few hundred points behind, and the machines were similarly close in PC Mark 8.
The Aorus isn’t the quickest in application tests, but it’s still one of the fastest laptops around – it’ll easily cope with work as well as play.
You won’t lose out if you tone down the laptop’s overclock, either. With the CPU reined in to 3.6GHz it lost a couple of hundred points in each application benchmark, but that’s it.
The huge power, overclocking and slim design made me worried for the Aorus machine’s thermal performance – and, sadly, my concerns were valid. There’s a lot of versatility here, but high-end gaming on this machine produces plenty of noise.
By default the Aorus’s fans run at maximum speed, so I stress-tested those settings alongside the system’s default clocks. The CPU and GPU delivered peak temperatures of 98°C and 81°C – the former is particularly worrying – and the machine also made a huge amount of noise.
It’s loud enough to prove distracting, even with headphones. If you’re using the laptop’s speakers then you need to really pump up the volume.
Gameplay saw the fans ramp through three different noise levels. That maximum fan setting runs the spinners at around 5,100rpm, while the normal option drops that to 4,800rpm. That minor drop sees the GPU temperature rise to 85°C and the noise remain just as intrusive.
The quiet option drops the fan speed to 3,000rpm, which makes the fans barely audible – but this option isn’t suitable for gaming: the GPU is severely throttled, with its core dropped to its stock speed of 1,442MHz and the memory to just 2,000MHz. The CPU and GPU temperatures were a modest 66°C and 68°C, but that’s no surprise given the low speeds.
The laptop’s peak GPU overclocking mode made little difference to temperatures, and removing the CPU stress-test also had a negligible impact on noise levels.
The Aorus had issues with heat distribution, too. During gaming tests the keyboard became a little hot, while uncomfortably warm air was pumped from the vents at the back and sides. The underside became too hot to touch.
The fan noise will vary depending on the intensity of individual games but, for the most part, this machine’s thermals are disappointing. It’s louder than its rivals, and that noise is accompanied by high temperatures throughout.
AORUS X7 V6 – SCREEN AND SOUND QUALITY
The Aorus’ screen fires off an impressive set of features. This is the first time I’ve seen a laptop with Nvidia G-Sync and a 120Hz refresh rate, which is double the rate of most gaming laptops’ screens.
The inclusion of 120Hz G-Sync means games will run with perfect, synchronised smoothness. It also means the Aorus can run G-Sync with higher framerates than the Scan, which could only manage 60Hz.
The X7’s 2,560 x 1,440 resolution makes loads of sense for this size of laptop. That’s high enough to provide good detail in games, but not high enough to put undue strain on the GPU. It also means there’s no need to use the Windows scaling settings, although pixellation is visible at close quarters.
The inclusion of 120Hz G-Sync helps the Aorus out-sync rivals, but both main competitors fight back. The Scan and Gigabyte have 4K panels, and the Aorus’s panel didn’t perform well in benchmarks.
Its initial brightness level of 351 nits is fantastic, but the black level of 0.55 nits is poor – and that means a contrast level of just 638:1. That’s miles behind the Scan’s 1,106:1, and it means colours lack punch and definition between similar shades.
The Aorus’s colour temperature of 7,124K is too cool, and the 81% sRGB coverage level is disappointing, with weaknesses in red, purple, pink and light blue shades.
These tests were conducted with the Aorus’ 6800K mode, which is chosen by default. The Aorus comes with 5500K, 6000K, 6500K and Native Colour options – but, again, none of these modes delivered significant improvements.
Colour temperature declined a tiny bit with each mode engaged, but it never dipped below 7,000K. The average Delta E never veered from 4.3, and other benchmark results remained near-identical to the default results. The screen barely looks different with these modes engaged.
The uniformity results were similarly mediocre. The Aorus’s panel lost 14% of its brightness along the top edge, 13% in the middle and 17% along its bottom row. The colour temperature and accuracy levels barely shifted, but the Scan is far better in this regard.
The X7 v6’s screen is good enough for gaming, especially thanks to pure brightness levels and the inclusion of Nvidia G-Sync.
That said, both rivals are better – and not just because they’re 4K. The Scan is superior in most benchmarks and also includes Nvidia’s synchronisation technology. Gigabyte’s screen doesn’t have G-Sync, but it’s better in benchmarks than both other laptops.
The Aorus has a pair of 2W speakers and subwoofers, and audio quality is great. The Aorus uses its RPG gaming mode by default, and there’s plenty to like: the bass is detailed and deep without proving overwhelming, and the high-end is solid. The mid-range is a tiny bit muddy, but that’s a minor complaint. There’s loads of volume too.
The speakers are miles ahead of the weak units inside the slim, subwoofer-free Gigabyte, and they’re similar to the Scan’s.
I like the Aorus Audio Equalizer app. It’s got a full equaliser and options for modifying the audio for the laptop speakers, external speakers, headphones and microphones.
It also has modes for a huge variety of different scenarios, although these operate with varying levels of success. There’s little difference between the Gaming section’s RPG, Racing, Strategy and Shooter settings. The Movie section’s Action mode is muddy and the Sci-fi option is even worse – but the Horror setting is far too tinny.
The Music options are better. The Rock setting offers superb balance, while the Jazz and Rap settings are a little deeper. I’d never use the Ballad setting, though, as again it’s far too tinny.
AORUS X7 V6 – KEYBOARD & TRACKPAD
The Aorus’s chiclet keyboard is a mixed bag. I like its row of six macro keys, but I’m less keen on the single-height Return button or the closed-in cursor keys.
The keyboard also suffers from familiar foibles. Its buttons are comfortable, with a consistent action and a cushioned base, but that’s not great for gaming – it’s far better for typing. The keys are quiet, but their modest design means they don’t have the speed required from a gaming keyboard.
The Scan 3XS LG17 Carbon Extreme proved far better here. Its traditional keyboard offers far more snap and speed, which makes it excellent for gaming.
The AorusFusion app controls the RGB lighting beneath every key. The lighting can be static or made to follow more patterns than I’ve seen on any other notebook – some respond dynamically to individual key touches, while others glow, pulse and wave, no matter what’s going on.
Macro recording is easy, and the keys can also be assigned to open individual applications or perform common PC and media functions.
It’s a shame the keyboard is too soft and underwhelming to excel in games, because the trackpad is excellent. The surface is slick, and the buttons are great – fast and with a rapid clicking motion that’s reminiscent of proper gaming mice.
AORUS X7 V6 – BATTERY LIFE
The Aorus delivered middling longevity from its 94Wh battery. That’s a huge capacity, but it’s tempered by the high-end GPU, powerful CPU and copious overclocking.
In the standard application test the Aorus lasted for two hours and 53 minutes. That’s almost an hour more than the Scan, with its desktop processor, but theGigabyte P35X v6 lasted for more than five hours – no surprise given its more modest components.
That middling result was followed by an hour-long lifespan in a gaming test, which is entirely ordinary for gaming notebooks
SHOULD I BUY THE AORUS X7 V6?
The 17.3-inch Aorus has inventive features, but they’re hamstrung by more conventional limitations.
The overclocked CPU and GPU deliver fantastic speeds, and the Aorus has top-notch design and build quality. Its keyboard lighting and macro recording are welcome, the trackpad is excellent, and the speakers are great.
However, the keyboard and screen are both middling, and the laptop proves far too loud and hot through most of its numerous fan and overclocking options.
This is a desirable piece of tech with several upsides, but I’d still opt for alternatives that combine powerful components with designs that can properly cope with their heat and noise demands.
The Aorus looks great and the innovative overclocking options help it to perform really well. But the screen’s underwhelming, and this machine is simply too hot and loud.