OLED panels are creeping their way into more and more laptops, and they especially shine on gaming laptops like the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED. For $2,499, the Aero 15 offers an excellent 4K OLED panel, a supercomfortable keyboard and solid performance to boot, all packed into a sleek aluminum chassis. However, the performance boost it gets from Gigabyte's implementation of the Microsoft Azure AI is once again underwhelming, and no one deserves a bottom-bezel webcam. But despite its flaws, the Aero 15 OLED is one of the best gaming laptops on the market for folks willing to pay a premium.
Price and Configuration Options
I tested the $2,499 model of the Aero 15, which comes outfitted with an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a 4K Samsung AMOLED panel.
The base model costs $1,699 and drops you to a GTX 1660 Ti GPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Meanwhile, the break-the-bank version runs for $3,999 and comes with a Core i9-9980HK CPU, an RTX 2080 GPU, 64GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD.
The new Aero 15 swaps out the simple carbon-fiber arrow for a brushed-aluminum design that resembles a bow releasing an arrow toward the hinge. And instead of the Gigabyte logo hovering overhead against the matte-black hood, there's an Aero logo, which is neat, because it gives the Aero 15 an identity of its own. On the hinge, there's a steel, engraved Aero logo and just above it are two white LEDs that are shining on it, which is reminiscent of the Washington Monument at night. It's unique, but unnecessary.
All the real goodies are on the inside. First, there's the lovely per-key RGB-lit keyboard, a fingerprint sensor embedded in the touchpad and a sleek, triangle-patterned air vent just above the keyboard. The bezels on the display are pleasantly narrow, but unfortunately, the webcam is located on the hinge at the bottom. However, Gigabyte did include a privacy shutter, which is nice, because hackers won't get to sneak a look at your nostrils.
At 4.9 pounds and 14 x 9.8 x 0.8 inches, the Aero 15 is still slim and light for a 15-inch gaming laptop, so it should fit in most 15-inch laptop bags. The Alienware m15 OLED (4.8 pounds, 14.9 x 9.9 x 0.7 inches), the Razer Blade 15 (4.7 pounds, 14 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches) and the Lenovo Legion Y740 (5 pounds, 14.2 x 10.5 x 0.9 inches) are roughly in the same range.
This sleek machine still boasts a decent number of ports.
On the left, there's an HDMI 2.0 port, one USB Type-C/DP 1.4 port, one USB 3.1 port, a headphone jack and an RJ45 Ethernet port.
In the trailer for Motherless Brooklyn, Bobby Cannavale's red tie popped with color. When a shadow loomed in the dark around the Borough Bridge Authority, there was still a good amount of detail in windows off to the side. And when the M1911 sat on a coffee table, the grip looked especially sharp on the Aero 15's screen.
In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the neon sign for La Casa Mexicana was incredibly vibrant. When I took a tour through the jungle, even the darkest corners were fleshed out with visible leaves and branches. The panel was sharp enough to show off the threading on the net that a baddie was wearing over his head just 5 feet from me.
According to our colorimeter, the Aero 15's OLED panel covers a wide 200% of the sRGB color gamut, toppling the premium gaming laptop average (144%) as well as the Razer Blade 15 (149%) and the Legion Y740 (112%). However, the Alienware m15's OLED panel is still king, covering 265% of the sRGB.
At 357 nits, the Aero 15's OLED panel crushed the 306-nit category average. The Razer Blade 15 (262 nits) and the Legion Y740 (267 nits) didn't break 300 nits, but the Alienware m15's OLED screen once again excelled, at 376 nits of brightness.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Typing on the Aero 15's deep-travel keys felt oh-so-satisfying as I blasted my way through a typing test with ease.
I nailed 80 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is way over my 70-wpm average. The keys traveled at a solid 1.6 millimeters, landing within our preferred 1.5- to 2.0-mm range, and they required a meaty 71 grams of force to actuate.
Like the previous model, the keyboard features per-key RGB lighting, which can be controlled via the Gigabyte Control Center's Fusion tab. The app features effects like Wave, Breathing and Raindrop. You also have the option to assign each key a specific color.
The 4.1 x 2.7-inch touchpad is soft and comfortable to use, but some of its real estate is cut off because of the embedded fingerprint reader. Windows 10 gestures worked well, such as three-finger tabbing and two-finger scrolling. But, even if the touchpad didn't have a fingerprint reader, you'd probably want to pick up a gaming mouse.
The Aero 15's bottom-firing speakers are decently loud but don't provide enough bass to make the deeper beats come to life. I blasted Sum 41's "The Hell Song," and the opening electric guitar riff sounded a little shallow. I didn't notice a significant problem until more of the percussion came in. It was difficult to separate the instruments, and eventually, the song was overwhelmed by the vocals and everything in the background sounded like noise.
In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the higher-pitched tones, like the chirping birds and croaking frogs, overwhelmed more important sounds like low-toned footsteps. When I knocked out a baddie with my bow, the thud sounded muted because there wasn't enough bass backing it. Despite that, Lara's voice sounded clear and crisp when she spoke.
The system comes with the Nahimic audio software, which features four presettings: Music, Movie, Communication and Gaming. Within those tabs are settings for the bass, treble, voices and surround sound. Despite all of my tinkering, I couldn't find a sound that was just right for either music or gaming. You'll want a pair of headphones or computer speakers when gaming on this thing.
Gaming, Graphics and VR
Underneath the hood of this beastie is an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM. It tore through Middle-earth: Shadow of War at 36 frames per second on 4K at Ultra settings as I sliced and diced my way through a horde of orcs.
On the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark (Highest, 1080p), the Aero 15 OLED hit a solid 60 fps, which is nearly on par with the premium gaming laptop average (62 fps). The RTX 2070 GPUs in the Alienware m15 (40 fps) and the Legion Y740 (55 fps) weren't nearly as fast. However, at 4K, the Aero 15 OLED hit 20 fps, which is short of the category average (22 fps) and the Alienware m15 (21 fps).
The Aero 15 OLED averaged 97 fps on the Hitman benchmark (Ultra, 1080p), missing the triple-digit mark and dropping short of the 108-fps premium gaming laptop average. It did beat the Razer Blade 15 (96 fps) and the Legion Y740 (96 fps), but was then surpassed by the Alienware m15 (102 fps). On the 4K benchmark, the Aero 15 OLED matched the Alienware m15, at 48 fps, but both were under the category average (54 fps).
On the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the Aero 15 OLED nailed 81 fps, surpassing the average premium gaming laptop (77 fps), the Alienware m15 (76 fps), the Razer Blade 15 (76 fps) and the Legion Y740 (67 fps). At 4K, the Aero 15 OLED averaged 24 fps, losing out to the Alienware m15 by a single frame (25 fps) and falling below the category average (29 fps).
The Aero 15 OLED scored 79 fps on the Shadow of War benchmark (Ultra, 1080p), which is a decent way from the premium gaming laptop average (95 fps). It also couldn't get past the Alienware m15 (83 fps), the Razer Blade 15 (91 fps) and the Legion Y740 (87 fps). Meanwhile, the Aero 15 OLED performed similarly on the 4K benchmark, hitting 36 fps, which got beat by the category average (42 fps) and the Alienware m15 (38 fps).
Microsoft Azure AI
Like the Aero 15 Classic, the Aero 15 OLED boasts the power of Microsoft's Azure AI. But once again, it's not all that impressive against competitors that don't have an AI backing it. Gigabyte's Gaming+ and Professional+ software connects to Microsoft's Azure AI to automatically optimize your performance by adjusting the power distribution of the CPU and GPU, based on the data it collects on the specific app or game that's running.
We ran benchmarks with the AI both off and on in its three separate modes in order to test the difference in performance. AI Edge Learning doesn't connect to the cloud but can adjust performance based on the data it's already collected. AI Azure Download connects fully to the cloud, but doesn't share your settings, so the Azure AI cannot collect data. Finally, AI Azure Download and Upload connect to the cloud to download settings as well as upload your data.
Here are our results:
For the most part, Microsoft's Azure AI increased performance in each game, but it was incredibly inconsistent.
On the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark, the Aero 15 OLED went from 52 fps to 60 fps at 1080p; and 17 fps to 20 fps at 4K, going from off to AI Azure Download and Upload.
Meanwhile, the Aero 15 OLED did better on the AI Edge Learning setting for the Hitman benchmark, jumping from 95 fps to 97 fps (1080p) and 44 fps to 48 fps (4K).
It was a similar situation on the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark, where setting it to AI Edge Learning pushed the system from 70 fps to 81 fps (1080p) and 21 fps to 24 fps (4K).
However, on the Shadow of War benchmark, the Aero 15 OLED capped at 79 frames per second on all of the tests except the AI Azure Download and Upload, where it hit 77 fps. The only noticeable jump was on the 4K test, when it went from 34 fps (off) to 36 fps (AI Edge Learning).
Using the power of the Microsoft Azure AI is more of a gimmick than anything else. All it does is adjust performance automatically for you, but it's nothing that you can't do on your own through the Gigabyte Control Center.
Powered by an Intel Core i7-9750H processor and 16GB of RAM, the Aero 15 blasted through everything I threw at it, from 40 Google Chrome tabs and five 1080p YouTube videos to running Shadow of the Tomb Raider in the background of everything I did.
On the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test, the Aero 15 scored 22,258. While that's below the average premium gaming laptop (24,122), it was within range of the Core i7-8750H processors in the Alienware m15 (22,027), Razer Blade 15 (22,379) and Legion Y740 (21,629).
The Aero 15 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 10 minutes and 53 seconds on our HandBrake benchmark, which is slower than the 9:29 category average. It did beat the Razer Blade 15's time, which was 12:53, but it couldn't get past the Alienware m15 (9:10) or the Legion Y740 (9:23).
Gigabyte's 512GB SSD copied 4.97GB of data in 10.5 seconds, translating to 485 megabytes per second, which is short of the premium gaming laptop average (762 MBps). It was faster than the Alienware m15's 500GB SSD (462 MBps), but it couldn't beat the Legion Y740's 256GB SSD (566 MBps) or the Razer Blade 15's 512GB SSD (636 MBps).
The Aero 15 OLED's battery life is significantly shorter than its predecessor's, but it's still not bad. After continuously surfing the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the Aero 15's battery lasted 3 hours and 38 minutes, surpassing the 3:18 premium gaming laptop average. It also beat the Legion Y740 (2:16) but still couldn't last as long as the Alienware m15 (3:51) or the Razer Blade 15 (5:02). If you're looking for a longer-lasting laptop, it'll probably be hard to find one that can competently run games.
This 720p shooter is bad not only because it has a bottom angle but also because it takes crappy shots. My face and hair were so blotchy that I couldn't make out a single, sharply defined edge. The worst part is that the camera is on the hinge, not the display, so you can't even adjust the angle if you wanted to.
To be fair, it produced decently colorful shots: Link's tunic on my shirt was appropriately green. Still, the light from the window behind me completely blew out the surrounding wall. You should definitely pick up an external webcam if you're getting this laptop.
While the Aero 15 OLED gets a little hot under the hood, the chassis isn't scalding hot while you're gaming, so a lap desk isn't absolutely necessary. After playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider for 15 minutes, the underside hit 111 degrees Fahrenheit, which is above our 95-degree comfort threshold. The center of the keyboard and touchpad hit 94 and 83 degrees, respectively. The hottest it got was just above the center of the underside, clocking in at 137 degrees.
On our normal heat test, the Aero 15 OLED's underside reached 96 degrees after streaming a 15-minute 1080p video. The center of the keyboard got 84 degrees and the touchpad hit 78 degrees.
Software and Warranty
The Aero 15 is relatively scant on software. There's the Gigabyte Control Center, which features several tabs with beneficial settings. These include the Smart Dashboard tab (monitor and change performance speed), the Manager tab (display, battery and Wi-Fi settings), the Fusion tab (keyboard lighting) and the Device Setting tab (fan control).
You also get the Killer Control Center app, which lets you prioritize your bandwidth. The Windows 10 bloatware includes such games as Candy Crush Saga, Candy Crush Friends and Microsoft Solitaire.
The Aero 15 comes with a one-year limited warranty.
The Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED is a solid performer with a gorgeous OLED panel, it's comfortable to type on and it's all wrapped in a sleek, 0.8-inch package. However, its use of the Microsoft Azure AI could have been utilized better, and the bottom-bezel webcam isn't helping anyone.
For $2,779, you can get the Alienware m15, which boasts an even more colorful panel, longer battery life and a webcam that's located where it's supposed to be (on top).
However, the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED still holds its own among the best gaming laptops, due to its solid power and stunning display.
Credit: Laptop Mag