The world's lightest gaming laptop packs a heavy dose of graphics might and display resolution. Today, Gigabyte announced the Aorus X3 Plus, a 13.9-inch gaming notebook that packs a powerful Core i7 CPU, Nvidia GTX 870M graphics, dual SSDs and a stunning 3200 x 1800 display into its 4.12-pound, .9-inch thick body.
Gigabyte touts the $2,299 Aorus X3 Plus as the lightest gaming laptop ever and, indeed, it appears to be the new leader. At 4.12 pounds, it is a tad lighter than the Razr Blade 14, which weighs 4.2 pounds, but is quite a bit thinner at just .66-inches thick. However, in our brief hands-on, the Aorus X3 Plus seemed a lot thinner than the 22.9 mm (.9-inch) thick measurement touted in its specs, because most of the girth is in the lid and only visible when the clamshell is closed.
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There are other contenders for the lightweight gaming crown but, to our knowledge, none are shipping a product with this much performance in this weight class. MSI showed off a prototype 15-inch gaming laptop that was less than 3-pounds at CES 2014, but it wasn't even a working model. The CyperPowerPC Zeus Herculues gaming laptop weighs just 4 pounds, but doesn't have discrete graphics, a must for serious gamers.
We had a chance to spend a few moments with the Aorus X3 Plus and were most impressed not with its light weight, but with its slick design, sharp screen and helpful Macro Engine customizable shortcut keys.
The raven black Aorus X3 Plus looks a lot like a Stealth fighter with curved edges and dual exhaust ports in the back that reminded us a bit of the famous plane. The bright backlight on the island-style keyboard adds another high-tech, space age element to the design as does the glossy glass touchpad.
In our brief experience, the keys on the notebook offered a generous amount of tactile feedback that reminded us of some of the better gaming keyboards we've used. The large, all-glass touchpad provided extremely navigation around the desktop.
Perhaps the most unique and impressive feature of the Aorus X3 Plus is its Macro Engine set of programmable keys. Located on the left side of the keyboard, the Macro Engine column features a mode change key and five customizable keys labeled G1 to G5.
Using the control panel software on the notebook, we were able to assign programs to these keys, and we could have also assigned key combinations for gaming. The mode change key lights up in five different colors. As you hit it and it changes color, the macros for the five keys below change accordingly, allowing you up to 25 different macros. For example, the "green" mode could house shortcuts to all your productivity apps.
The 3800 x 1800, 13.9-inch display on the demo unit offered wide viewing angles and sharp images. It was difficult for us to get a sense in the demo area of how vibrant and accurate the colors were, but Gigabyte claims that the Aorus X3 Plus covers 72 percent of the NTSC gamut.
Starting at $2,299, the X3 Plus is powered by a speedy Intel Core i7-4710HQ CPU, capable of running at up to 3.5-GHz, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 870M CPU with 6GB of DDR6 video memory, 8GB of RAM and dual 256 or 512GB M. SSDs in RAID 0 configuration. Thanks to their speedy M.2 interface, the SSDs promise transfer rates as high as 1,000 MBps, about triple what a typical single SSD configuration can provide. To ensure speedy connectivity, Gigabyte packs the Aorus X3 Plus with a Killer E2200 1000Mbps Ethernet port and 802.11ac wireless.
Gigabyte also makes a 13.3-inch version of the same notebook. Dubbed the Aorus X3 (without a plus), this notebook will start at $2,099 and feature a 2560 x 1440 display instead, but otherwise have the same specs. Gigabyte also showed off the a new configuration of the Aorus X7, a 17.9-inch gaming notebook it unveiled back at CES 2014, that comes with dual Nvidia GTX 860M graphics cards for blazing fast graphics.
We look forward to taking a closer look at the Aorus X3 Plus, Aorus X3 and Aorus X7 when they launch sometime in Q3 of this year.
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