Aorus has yet another slender powerhouse on its hands. Weighing 7.2 pounds -- impressively light for a gaming rig like this -- the X7 v6 (starting at $2,199; reviewed at $2,499) is one of the lightest desktop replacements on the market. Equipped with an overclockable Intel Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU, this gaming laptop has power to spare and then some. Whether you're playing video games, exploring virtual reality or just watching a video, the X7 has you covered. Just make sure you're near a power outlet, or else the party will end in less than 3 hours.
The X7 v6 is an absolute beauty. A series of subtle lines placed strategically along the black aluminum lid give it that slightly avian look that its white, backlit hawk emblem suggests. The rear end tapers gently to accentuate the vents.
As nice as the exterior is, the inside of the X7 is the real showstopper. The large, island-style keyboard is awash in a mesmerizing rainbow glow. While the keyboard is definitely a sight to behold, it doesn't detract from the wing-like vents at the top of the deck, which flank the backlit, hawk-themed power button. As if that weren't enough raptor goodness, the touchpad is adorned with a dark-blue hawk that gleams majestically when the light hits it just right.
Measuring 7.2 pounds, the X7 v6 might be the lightest desktop replacement on the market. However, at 16.1 x 12.2 x 1 inches, it doesn't hold the claim of the slimmest; that honor goes to the 7.8-pound Razer Blade Pro, which measures 16.7 x 11 x 0.88 inches. Either way, it's still svelter than the Asus ROG G752VS OC Edition (8.9 pounds, 16.4 x 12.7 x 0.8-1.5 inches).
For such a slender system, the X7 has a healthy number of ports. Along the right, you'll find a USB 3.0 port, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, HDMI 2.0, a mini DisplayPort and an SD card slot. On the left, Aorus included a USB 3.0 port, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet and jacks for headphones and a microphone. A USB 3.0 port and a power port are on the rear of the system.
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Despite the X7's matte panel, it still managed to deliver vivid, albeit inaccurate, colors with crystal-clear detail. As I watched the 4K trailer for "Tears of Steel" on the 17.3-inch, 2560 x 1440 screen, I marveled at the thin highway of veins running across the deep-pink folds of a brain in a container. The neon pinks, blues and greens on the futuristic modules immediately caught my eye, as did the bright-red jacket worn by one of the actors.
The X7's display can reproduce 114 percent of the sRGB color gamut, matching the G752VS but missing the 127 percent desktop-replacement average. Although 114 percent is an excellent score, it has to contend with systems like the Blade Pro and its average-breaking 189 percent.
With a score of 3.5 on the Delta-E test, the X7's color accuracy isn't what I would expect from such a high-end system. It's much worse than the 1.4 average or 0, which is the ideal. The Blade Pro was somewhat better, at 2.3, while the G752VS proved to have the best accuracy, at 0.9.
Averaging 252 nits on our brightness test, the X7 fell noticeably short of the 297-nit average.
The Blade Pro and the G752VS were much brighter, at 304 and 326 nits each.
Aorus is the latest gaming rig to incorporate Nvidia's G-Sync technology into its display. However, it's also one of the first to support a 120-Hz refresh rate, which should equate to high frame rates with smooth graphics rendering. The technology should also eliminate input lag, which will likely come in handy when you're playing a first-person shooter or some other game genre that requires twitch reflexes.
Although those wing-like openings at the top of the keyboard deck look like speakers, they're actually vents. The speakers are bottom-mounted, which came as quite a surprise when I started listening to music and playing games. When I played George Michael's "Kissing A Fool (Remastered)," I expected a warm piano, lilting guitar and clear cymbals to accompany the singer's plaintive yet powerful alto. And while the instrumentals and vocals were clear, one of my favorite George Michael songs sounded quiet and hollow in my relatively small bedroom.
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I tried to remedy the problem using the Aorus Audio Equalizer, but despite its deep catalog of presets (categorized under Game, Movie, Meeting and Music), I couldn't improve the volume. I got a fuller sound in some cases, but not louder.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The X7's island-style keyboard is colorful and comfortable. The backlighting is bright enough that the font on the keys is clearly visible in well-lit or dim environments. Though the keys are a bit smaller than I'd prefer, I appreciate having the full number pad and the row of macro keys.
Despite the small key size, I notched my typical 65 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, with my usual 1 percent error rate.
The Elan touchpad is beautiful to look at, but it can be a hassle to use. I encountered a lot of cursor jumpiness as I wrote this review, and when I needed to highlight a word or passage, there were times the touchpad didn't respond. The corners of the touchpad worked well enough as right and left mouse buttons, but I would have liked a bit more feedback.
Similar to competing gaming laptops on the market, the X7 has a customizable keyboard. Using the included AorusKeyboard software, I changed the keyboard backlighting color, programmed macros and adjusted the audio settings. In addition to four custom settings, the Light Control tab in the Aorus Keyboard control panel offers 13 lighting effects with seven available colors. The Audio Setting tab provides four presets to choose from (RAC, STG, RPG and SPG), while Key Action allows you to record and set macros. Once you've finished tweaking everything to your liking, you can use the Settings tab to launch a specific profile with a particular app or game.
Gaming, Graphics and VR
Thanks to Nvidia's Pascal 10-Series GPUs, gamers no longer have to sacrifice power in favor of portability. The X7's Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU with 8GB of VRAM can service all of your gaming, graphics and VR needs with aplomb. When we tested the system's virtual-reality readiness, it achieved 10.7 on the SteamVR performance test, which tops the 9.3 desktop-replacement average. The G752VS, with its own Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU, was right behind, with 10.5, while the Blade Pro's GTX 1080 GPU went full Spinal Tap, with a score of 11.
But before you go traipsing off on a virtual adventure, don't forget that the X7 can also deliver great frame rates on most modern games. The rig hit 101 frames per second on the Hitman benchmark, which runs on Very High at 1080p, thrashing the 90-fps desktop average and the G752VS' 89 fps. The Blade Pro, however, pulled out the win, with 103 fps.
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During the Rise of the Tomb Raider test (Very High, 1080p), the X7 hit 56 fps, which is just short of the 58-fps category average. It's better than the G752VS' 52 fps, but not the Blade Pro's 65 fps. But the X7 v6 got a taste of victory on the Grand Theft Auto benchmark, notching 74 fps. It missed the 90 fps average but still defeated the G752VS and the Blade Pro, which scored 69 fps and 65 fps, respectively.
Oh, the joys of overclocking. The X7 is outfitted with a 2.7-GHz Intel Core i7-6820HK processor with 16GB of RAM, but if you need a bit more power, you should be able to get the clock speed up to 4 GHz. As it stands, I was able to stream an episode of Black Mirror with 18 additional open tabs in Google Chrome while running Windows Defender without seeing any trace of lag.
The X7 also performed well on our synthetic tests, scoring 16,411 on the Geekbench 3 test, which is below the 17,320 desktop-replacement average. However, that score was enough to fend off the G752VS (2.7-GHz Intel Core i7-6820HK CPU) and the Blade Pro (2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU), which delivered 15,563 and 13,406, respectively.
During our File Transfer test, the X7's 512GB NVMe PCIe solid-state drive took 11 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of multimedia files, for a transfer rate of 462.7 MBps. That's good enough to top the Blade Pro's (dual 256GB PCIe SSDs) 391.5 MBps but not the 537.5-MBps average or the G752VS' (256GB M.2 SSD) insane 848.2 MBps.
The X7 saw a measure of redemption on the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro test, where it took only 3 minutes and 9 seconds to pair 20,000 names and addresses. It was just fast enough to beat the G752VS (3:23), category average (3:34) and Blade Pro (4:06).
As slim and light as the X7 v6 is, it's a real power hog. The system lasted only 2 hours and 23 minutes on our battery test, which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi. That's much shorter than the 4:25 desktop-replacement average. The Blade Pro did slightly better, lasting 2:45, while the G752VS endured for 3:42.
The X7 has a passable webcam if you're OK with inaccurate colors. Stills I shot using the 720p device made my midnight-blue wall look lighter than it actually is. My purple hair looked red, while my royal-blue robe took on a grayish hue. Even worse was the visual noise, which didn't allow for too much detail.
Software and Warranty
Aorus made sure to preinstall a few apps to help optimize your gaming experience and maintain system health. The Command & Control module houses controls to adjust volume, display brightness, Wi-Fi, fan speed and clock speed for the CPU and GPU. The laptop also has Nvidia GeForce Experience, which offers Battery Boost, Game Optimization and ShadowPlay, so you can broadcast your latest gaming exploits. The laptop also features XSplit Gamecaster and Broadcaster for intermediate to professional streamers. Killer Networking software is also on board to help prioritize network bandwidth when necessary.
The X7 does have some bloatware, however, including Facebook, Twitter, Candy Crush Soda Saga, Royal Revolt 2, Drawboard PDF and Adobe Reader 11.
The Aorus X7 v6 comes with a two-year warranty.
I had a blast reviewing the $2,499 model of the Aorus X7 v6, which has an overclockable 2.7-GHz Intel Core i7-6820HK GPU; 16GB of RAM; a 512GB NVMe PCIe SSD with a 1TB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU with 8GB of VRAM; and a 2650 x 1440 display. However, if you want to save $300, there's the $2,199 base model, which halves the storage to a 256GB SSD.
Because of the Aorus X7 v6's svelte dimensions, you might assume that it is one of those gaming laptops that places portability over power -- and you'd be mostly wrong. For $2,499, the system features an overclockable Core i7 CPU and a VR-ready Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU with an Nvidia G-Sync display. The one trade-off is its extremely short battery life. However you slice it, this a laptop that can handle anything you can throw at it without missing a step.