Aorus X7 Review – Gaming notebook newcomer Aorus has got damned close to a great little gaming laptop here, but it just feels like it’s turned up a single GPU generation too early. There is a lot to applaud Aorus’ first effort for, and most of it comes from squeezing serious gaming performance into a surprisingly svelte chassis. Despite being a gaming wide-load, with a fat 17.3-inch display, it comes in at just over 2cm thick. And that’s not some disingenuous scale where it just counts the very edge – this SLI machine really is that thin. It’s also pretty light for a gaming notebook, clocking just under 3kg on the scales. It’s not like it’s something you can drop into a shoulder bag and barely notice.
Aorus X7, A new gaming notebook that might just be a little ahead of its time
So what’s inside it? Well, there’s a Core i7-4700HQ processor sitting at the heart of the machine, running between 2.4GHz and 3.4GHz turbo on its four cores/eight threads. There’s also a chunky 16GB of DDR3 memory, a 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive doing the storage duties. But it’s the graphics cards that really set this machine apart. Yup, graphics cards. Despite that minimal girth, Aorus has managed to squeeze a pair of Nvidia’s GTX 765M graphics chips into its first notebook. The GTX 765M is an adequate GPU on its own, but it does struggle to run a lot of the latest titles at 1080p without dropping the settings down a notch or two. Throw a pair of them into the mix, however, and you’ll get some impressive performance scaling – almost touching that double-speed boost you want from adding in a second graphics chip. Multi-GPU mire But there are still problems with SLI. Sometimes, new games are released without multi-GPU coding, leaving you to wait ages for them to be patched in; there are also certain titles that refuse to operate with anything above a single graphics chip. Company of Heroes 2 and Total War: Rome II only use one GPU, and those games suddenly make your extra graphics silicon irrelevant. There’s also no getting away from the fact that two GPUs generate a lot of heat and your thermal solution is going to have to be good to dissipate the extraneous energy.
To be fair, the cooling system on the Aorus X7 is effective enough to keep the GPUs going, but comes at a cost to the aural experience. You certainly know about it when either the graphics or CPU are being seriously taxed – the fans make a definitely audible rushing noise. There is a stealth mode that drops the decibel level a bit, but certainly doesn’t make it silent. This is where it feels like the X7 is a little ahead of its time. Factor in a pair of next-gen mobile Maxwell GPUs, with their massively lower thermals and incredible performance/ Watt metrics, and you’ll get high-end frame rates from a pair of quiet, cool GPUs. Right now, SLI doesn’t have enough of a benefit to justify this £1,660 laptop, given the noise of that thin ‘n’ light chassis, but the next X from Aorus could make a bigger splash on the laptop scene.
Aorus X7 Specifications
Price Range $2,099 to $2,799
CPU Intel Core i7-4700HQ @ 2.4GHz
Memory 16GB DDR3
Graphics 2x Nvidia GTX 765M SLI
Storage 256GB SSD, 1TB HDD
Display 17.3-inch 1080p TN
Dimensions 428 x 305 x 22.9mm