This is our detailed review of the 2020-model Gigabyte Aero 15 XB performance ultraportable.
After spending some time with the beefier Aorus 17 and knowing that Gigabyte have redesigned the compact Aero model for this year, I was looking forward to getting my hands on this one as well, and document how it compares to the quirky 2019 model and the other 2020 laptops in its niche.
The high thermals and noise levels, alongside the stiff keyboard and shabby display, have been my main nits with the previous generation, and the 2020 model improves on all these aspects, but also on its overall performance and out-of-the-box overall experience. Our test model is the mid-tier 8Core i7 + RTX 2070 Super configuration, with the vivid 4K OLED screen, which make for a competent work (and occasional play) notebook.
We’ve gathered all our thoughts down below, with the strong-points and the quirks that will help you decide whether this is the right buy for you or not.
Specs as reviewed – 2020 Gigabyte Aero 15 XB
|Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XB|
|Screen||3840 x 2160 px OLED 60 Hz, 16:9, non-touch, glossy, Samsung SDCA029 panel|
|Processor||Intel Comet Lake-H Core i7-10875H CPU, 8C/16T|
|Video||Intel UHD + Nvidia RTX 2070 Super 8 GB (80-90 W Max-Q, GeForce 446.14) – Optimus mode|
|Memory||16 GB DDR4 3200 MHz (2x DIMMs)|
|Storage||1x 512 GB SSD (Intel Optane) – 2x M.2 NVMe 80 mm slots|
|Connectivity||Wireless 6 (Killer AX 1650x), Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit LAN (Killer E2600)|
|Ports||3x USB-A 3.2 gen 1, 1x USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, mini-DP 1.4, LAN, UHS II SD card reader, headphone/mic, Kensington Lock|
|Battery||94.24 Wh, 230 W power adapter|
|Size||356 mm or 14” (w) x 250 mm or 9.8” (d) x 19.8 mm or .78” (h)|
|Weight||2.19 kg (4.82 lb), .80 kg (1.76 lbs) power brick, EU version|
|Extras||per-key RGB backlit keyboard with NumPad, 2x 2W stereo speakers, HD webcam|
Gigabyte offer this laptop in a multitude of other configurations, with various amounts of RAM and storage, i7-10750H to i9-10980HK processors, RTX 2060 to RTX 2080 Super graphics, and several IPS screen options, alongside the OLED on this model.
Design and build
Gigabyte laptops have this sort of utilitarian design language that might not appeal to everyone, and is rather targeted towards geekier, professional users. I kind of dig it, but I also understand why some might not.
Gigabyte have redesigned some of the construction elements on this 2020 generation, such as the screen, hinges, and edges, while keeping most of the interior chassis the same. In their majority, though, these changes are primarily functional and most of them aligned with the updated internal thermal design. With the side hinges, extra air-intakes above the keyboard, and larger exhausts on the back, the 2020 Aero does a better job at cooling the powerful components inside, and runs quieter in demanding loads. We’ll get to that in a bit.
The lid has been slightly redrawn as well, and the white panel-lit Gigabyte branding has been replaced with a white panel-lit AERO logo. It looks funkier, but still catches unwanted attention and I would have preferred a non-backlit implementation.
The build quality and choice in materials are top-notch all around, much like with the previous Aeros. The screen is made out of solid metal, and barely budges even when abused, and the interior is also metallic and among the sturdier in the class. Black metals are used for the entire chassis, including the side and underbelly, with this sort of softer finishing for the arm-rest that somehow does a slightly better job at repelling smudges than most other black metals.
The interior is also completely clean, or will be as long as you peel off those stickers. There’s no light in the power button and no status LEDs (they’re on the back edge) to get in the way when using the laptop at night, once you switch off the keyboard’s lighting.
At the same time, though, the Aero’s front lip and corners are still sharp and aggressive on the wrists, and I wish they would have done something about that.
And while we’re nitpicking, Gigabyte went with tiny top and side bezels on this notebook, but didn’t completely ditch the camera, unlike other OEMs. However, that’s a fixed nose-cam placed on the main chassis, underneath the screen, so not the most practical implementation. It gets a privacy physical cover, and is flanked by microphones.
The camera was placed on the hinge in the 2019 Aeros, and that was no longer an option with the redesigned hinges on this 2020 model. They’re firm and smooth and allow easy one-hand operation, plus keep the screen well in place, but only allow it to lean back to about 145 degrees.
As far as the IO goes, the 2020 Aero 15 still packs the complete set of ports you’ll want in a laptop, including HDMI and miniDP for video, Thunderbolt 3, 3x USB-As and a UHS-II card-reader, as well as a LAN port. However, they’ve been shuffled around from the 2019 model, in order to accommodate the redesigned thermal module with exhausts on both sides.
Those USB-A slots are only gen1, though, so a bit slow for a 2020 notebook, and the LAN and PSU plugs are especially inconveniently placed. I don’t use the wired Internet connection, but if you plan to, having the RJ45 connector towards the front on the left edge is going to be problematic. That right-placed PSU plug bothered me, though, as my desk is set-up for a power-plug on the left, the kind you’ll get with most other laptops these days, so that’s something to keep in mind when designing your setup.
Finally, I should also add that this laptop feels very dense and sturdy. It’s as compact as most of the other 15-inch ultraportables in its class, but it also the heaviest, at about 2.2 kilos (4.8 lbs) in our configuration. That’s because of those sturdy metals used for the construction, the redesigned thermal module, and that 94Wh battery inside, which is only bested by the MSI GS66 in this niche.
Keyboard and trackpad
The Aero 15 remains pretty much the only top-tier 15-inch ultraportable available with a full-size keyboard that includes a NumPad, and not a cramped variant, a full-size NumPad.
As a result, this layout might feel a bit squashed at first, especially with the lack of any separation around the arrows keys or between the Enter/Backspace keys and the Numpad section. I for one, as someone who prefers non-NumPad layouts, got used to it after a few days just fine, though.
I remember having a hard-time typing on the 2019 Aero, with its deeper stroke and stiffer keys, but I actually got along a lot better with this 2020 model. I’m not sure whether Gigabyte redesigned the rubber domes here, or perhaps I just got more accustomed to this sort of keyboards lately, having tested and used a lot more 15-inch notebooks than thinner ultrabooks lately, but I actually found this implementation to be one of the most accurate I’ve tested in a while.
Sure, the keys still need a firm press and push back harder than the shallower implementations out there, so typing for longer periods could get somewhat fatiguing and that took a toll on my overall typing speed, but these aspects were well compensated with the trusty feedback and improved accuracy. Overall, I like this keyboard, and I think most of you will as well, especially if you’re coming from a desktop computer.
I also remember the 2019 Aero as a fairly noisy typer, but once more, that wasn’t the case with this 2020 update. Even the Space key was quiet here.
Backlighting is still something Gigabyte does well, with adjustable bright LEDs beneath each keycap and per-key control in the included app. The rather utilitarian font might once more not appeal to everyone, but aligns with the laptop’s overall design.
My main nit with here is the lack of illumination for the secondary functionality on the top row of keys, making it difficult to find the right one in the dark. That wasn’t an issue on the 2019 model, and whoever decided that’s a smart update should find himself another job. This aside, this also doesn’t get any physical Caps-Lock/NumLK indicator, and the illumination doesn’t time out in any way. Instead, you can only deactivate and activate it manually, by hitting the Fn+Space key, and that’s just not ideal.
The clickpad is identical to the one in the Aorus models, isn’t very large and looks and feels like glass to me, with a smooth and nice to the touch surface. It worked fine with daily use and gestures, and I enjoyed the clicks and the fact that it feels strong and doesn’t rattle with taps.
I’m not a big fan of having a finger sensor integrated withing the clickpad, though, as moving your finger over that area will interrupt your cursor and gestures, so you need to learn to completely ignore this part in the top left corner with daily use.
Gigabyte offers the Aero 15 with a couple of different screen options, including some high-refresh IPD FHD 144/240 Hz options that are well suited for gaming, or a UHD OLED panel that rather caters to creators, which is the one we have on this model.
Keep in mind this is a highly glossy implementation, and yet without touch support, so not a great option if you plan to use your laptop in bright light environments. The glossy coating dost cuts-out some of the graininess you’d normally get with OLED panels, though.
There’s no doubt this OLED panel looks amazing in daily use, with the technology’s unmatched blacks, contrast and viewing angles, backed up here by excellent color coverage and 400+ nits of brightness. As an OLED, this panel also doesn’t suffer from any sort of light bleeding.
What I’m not convinced is whether OLED is the right technology for a laptop or not. I’ve talked about its limitations in a previous article, and you should go and have a read. Graininess, gray-bending, blacks being crushed and color uniformity across the panel’s surface are perhaps not something you’ll notice with daily use, but something you should consider as a professional searching for perfect image reproduction. Furthermore, flickering (it’s not the same kind as on a LCD, though) and especially image burn-in and retention are my main concerns long-term, as the Windows interface is based on a lot of static content, such as the various taskbars in Windows and the Browser and so on.
Sure, OLED retention has improved over the years, but I am still not comfortable going this route on a laptop, no matter how good OLED looks. And keep in mind I’m a big advocate of OLEDs on other devices, as my main phone and the main TV in my house both use OLED panels.
Anyway, here’s what we got in our tests, with a X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
- Panel HardwareID: Samsung SDCA029;
- Coverage: 100% sRGB, 94.6% AdobeRGB, 99.8% DCI P3;
- Measured gamma: 2.37;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 418.08 cd/m2 on power;
- Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 19.33 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 1:1;
- White point: 7400 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0 cd/m2;
- PWM: Yes, but it’s not the kind of flickering we know from LCD screens.
- Response: ~2.2ms GtG (source).
Calibrating the panel further corrects the gamma and White point skews. Gigabyte ships these with a Pantone certification, but this sample has been used by other reviewers before me, and I think they somehow skewed the default calibrated profile. Retail units should ship with better out-of-the-box calibration.
In conclusion, Gigabyte are among the few to offer OLED panels on this sort of a chassis, and that alone can be a reason to pick the Aero 15 over something else. Just make sure OLED is indeed what you want on your laptop and carefully weigh in the advantages and the risks. Aside from my own thoughts shared above, there are plenty of other good articles and videos on Youtube on this topic.
I for one can’t vouch for OLED’s reliability with my own money, and would rather prefer either the FHD IPS panel options on an all-rounder with gaming abilities, or the UHD IPS panel with 100% AdobeRGB coverage as the professional option.
Hardware and performance
Our test model is a mid-specced configuration of the Gigabyte Aero 15 XB, with an Intel Core i7-10875H processor, 16 GB of DDR4 3200 MHz RAM, 512 GB of Intel Optane storage and dual graphics: the Nvidia RTX 2070 Super dGPU and the Intel UHD within the Intel platforms, with Optimus.
Before we proceed, keep in mind that our review unit is a test-model sent over by Gigabyte, running on the software available as of Mid-June 2020 (BIOS F004, Aorus Control Panel 20.04.30.01, GeForce Game Ready 446.14 drivers).
Spec-wise, this 2020 Gigabyte Aero 15 model gets an 8Core Intel Comet Lake i7-10875H processor, which outperforms the 6-Core i7s by a fair margin in demanding loads, but also needs a lot of power in order to support the higher speeds. Gigabyte also offers the 6Core i7-10750H and the 8Core i9-10980HK option for this chassis.
As for the GPU, what we have here is an Nvidia 2070 Super in a Max-Q implementation, with 80 to 100 W TDP limits between the performance modes, the same we’ve also tested on the larger Gigabyte Aorus 17 chassis.
The updated Intel platform also supports 3200 MHz DDR4 memory. Our configuration gets 16 GB of RAM in dual-channel, with 2x 8GB DIMMs. The two DIMMs are easily accessible inside for upgrades, where you’ll also find two M.2 SSD slots (with RAID 0/1 support) and the WiFi chip. Our unit came with a single 512 GB SSD, a middling Intel Optane drive.
Getting to the components is fairly easy, you just need to pop out the back cover, hold in place by a handful of Torx screws. Careful of the warranty stickers on some of these screws, you might want to inquire about warranty conditions in your region.
The Aorus Control Panel and Gaming & Professional AI are software particularities you’ll find on Gigabyte laptops.
The Control Panel is rather quirky and not very intuitive imo, but offers most of the needed functionality that allows switching between performance, fan, charging, and screen profiles. Still, Gigabyte hopes most users won’t even bother with these settings, and instead rely on the AI to seamlessly optimize the experience for them. This is designed to juggle with CPU and fan profiles based on what you’re running. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t seem to affect the GPU aside from opting between 80 and 90W limits in some titles.
However, for the most part, the AI Azure setting does a good squeezing solid performance out of the hardware inside this portable chassis, and while further tweaking is possible, such as raising the CPU’s TDP limit or overclocking the GPU, the results only end up at best within 2-5% of this stock Azure AI setting, and sometimes even worse, so I feel this sort of tweaking isn’t necessarily worth the effort here.
The Aero 15 is not just a performance laptop, it can also handle everyday multitasking, browsing, and video, while running quietly and coolly. The fans remain active with daily use, but they’re pretty much inaudible in most situations. Here’s what to expect in terms of speeds and temperatures with Youtube, Netflix, Typing, and Browsing.
On to more demanding loads, we start by testing the CPU’s performance by running the Cinebench R15 test for 15+ times in a loop, with 2-3 seconds delay between each run.
On the standard AI (Azure) setting, which on our unit includes a -100 mV default undervolt and XTU support, the i7 processor stabilizes at 62+W, which translates in frequencies of 3.6+ GHz and temperatures of 75+ C, as well as scores of 1580+ points. It runs at higher power and clocks for the first 1-2 loops, and then the system limits it to 62 W. These are good results and temperatures, and the fans ramp up to only around 42-44 dB at head-level.
However, I’m not convinced retail units are going to allow undervolting, based on other reviews and the whole plundervolt situation. Just in case that’s not allowed, we’ve also retested without the applied undervolting, which resulted in a roughly 6% performance decrease, with the same power limit and slightly higher temperatures of 78+ C.
Disabling the AI limits the CPU to 52W, with a roughly 8-12% drop in performance from the default AI Azure profile. However, raising the TDP limit to 70W, while maintaining the -100 mV undervolt, translates in higher clocks and 1650+ points, but with slightly noisier fans at 47-48 dB (on the Gaming profile in the Control Center). Finally, on battery and the AI Performance Mode, the CPU power is limited at 25+W, with the fans at about 37-38 dB. Details below.
Here’s how the i7-10875H in this Aero 15 XB compares to other similar implementations.
We then went ahead and further verified our findings with the longer Cinebench R20 loop test and the gruesome Prime 95, on the stock Azure AI with the -100 mV applied undervolt.
We also ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this notebook. 3DMark stress runs the same test for 20 times in a loop and looks for performance variation and degradation over time, and this unit passed it without a problem. Luxmark 3.1 fully loads both the CPU and GPU at the same time. The CPU stabilizes at around 40W on the standard Azure AI undervolted setting, with the GPU running at around 80W.
Next, here are some benchmark results. We ran the entire suite of tests and benchmarks on the standard AI Azure profile, with the -100 mv default undervolt. Here’s what we got.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 17727 (Graphics – 19499, Physics – 21413, Combined – 9141);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 4643;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 7799 (Graphics – 7624, CPU – 8973);
- AIDA64 Memory test: Write: Read: 43016 MB/s, Read: 45588 MB/s, Latency: 55.8 ns;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 4842;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 15084;
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K to 1080p encode): 39.34 average fps;
- PCMark 10: 6128 (Essentials – 9240, Productivity – 7749, Digital Content Creation – 8725);
- GeekBench 4.4.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 5601, Multi-core: 31221;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1230, Multi-core: 7935;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1847 cb, CPU Single Core 202 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 3840 cb, CPU Single Core 478 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 238.58 fps, Pass 2 – 102.86 fps;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 35.92 s.
Then I ran some tests on the standard AI Azure profile without any applied undervolting, which could be what you’ll get on the retails units if undervolting ends-up not being supported.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 17344 (Graphics – 19997, Physics – 18860, Combined – 8200);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 7700 (Graphics – 7559, CPU – 8613);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 4889;
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K to 1080p encode): 36.97 average fps;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1236, Multi-core: 7543;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1651 cb, CPU Single Core 190 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 3467 cb, CPU Single Core 472 cb;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 34.72 s.
And then we went to what we’ll call the AI Tweaked profile, which consists of the CPU on AI Azure (with 62W TDP, -100 mV) and the GPU overclocked with MSI Afterburner, at + 120 MHz Core, +200 MHz Memory. Here’s what we got in this case.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 18312 (Graphics – 20671, Physics – 20287, Cobined – 9149);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 4834;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 7980 (Graphics – 7859, CPU – 8744);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 4911;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 15260;
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K to 1080p encode): 38.24 average fps;
- PCMark 10: 5279 (Essentials – 9233, Productivity – 8100, Digital Content Creation – 5340);
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1232, Multi-core: 7962;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1740 cb, CPU Single Core 194 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 3754 cb, CPU Single Core 476 cb;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 38.44 s.
We also ran some tests on AI Disabled mode with the CPU pushed to 70W, which resulted in some gains in CPU-only tests, but a decrease in performance in combined loads. You could pursue this further on your units, but in our case, I found this further tweaking not worth my time.
We also ran some Workstation related loads, on the Ai Azure profiles:
- Blender 2.82 – BMW Car scene- CPU Compute: 3m 42s (Ai Azure);
- Blender 2.82 – BMW Car scene- GPU Compute: 1m 4s (CUDA – Ai Azure), 32s (Optix – Ai Azure);
- Blender 2.82 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 11m 43s (Ai Azure);
- Blender 2.82 – Classroom scene – GPU Compute: 3m 26s (CUDA – Ai Azure), 2m 1s (Optix – Ai Azure);
- Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPUs + GPUs score: 22892 (Ai Azure) – CPU not properly recognized;
- SPECviewerf 13 – 3DSMax: 176.97 (Ai Azure);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Catia: 131.49 (Ai Azure);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Creo: 169.44 (Ai Azure);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Energy: 18.66 (Ai Azure);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Maya: 214.36 (Ai Azure);
- SPECviewerf 13 – SW: 86.94 (Ai Azure).
As far as gaming goes on this laptop, we ran a couple of DX11, DX12, and Vulkan titles on the default AI Azure modes, and on the AI Tweaked profile, with the undervolted CPU and overclocked GPU. Here’s what we got:
|i7-10875H + RTX 2070 Super Max-Q||FHD – AI Azure||FHD – Tweaked||QHD – AI Azure|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)||111 fps (80 fps – 1% low)||113 fps (77 fps – 1% low)||83 fps (65 fps – 1% low)|
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing ON, DLSS OFF)||60 fps (44 fps – 1% low)||63 fps (45 fps – 1% low)||43 fps (35 fps – 1% low)|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)||102 fps (72 fps – 1% low)||107 fps (72 fps – 1% low)||81 fps (68 fps – 1% low)|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Ultra Preset)||139 fps (96 fps – 1% low)||136 fps (98 fps – 1% low)||97 fps (75 fps – 1% low)|
|Red Dead Redemption 2 (DX 12, Ultra Optimized, TAA)||77 fps (56 fps – 1% low)||80 fps (59 fps – 1% low)||59 fps (38 fps – 1% low)|
|Rise of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Very High Preset, FXAA)||121 fps (60 fps – 1% low)||125 fps (64 fps – 1% low)||87 fps (42 fps – 1% low)|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)||87 fps (61 fps – 1% low)||89 fps (62 fps – 1% low)||65 fps (52 fps – 1% low)|
|Strange Brigade (Vulkan, Ultra Preset)||135 fps (102 fps – 1% low)||143 fps (107 fps – 1% low)||107 fps (85 fps – 1% low)|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4)||99 fps (54 fps – 1% low)||101 fps (62 fps – 1% low)||70 fps (49 fps – 1% low)|
- Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recorded with Fraps/in-game FPS counter in campaign mode;
- Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Strange Brigade, Red Dead Redemption, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities;
- Red Dead Optimized profile based on these settings.
The HWinfo logs below show the CPU and GPU speeds and temperatures in Farcry 5, Red Dead Redemptions 2, and Witcher 3 on the stock Ai Azure profile.
The CPU runs at between 80-90 degrees between the tested titles, with the GPU at around 78-82 degrees, with the fans spinning at around 42-44 dB, which is quieter than on most other laptops in this class. The performance is pretty solid across the board, but the frequencies and power vary between each title. For instance, the GPU runs at only 80W in Red Dead Redemption 2, but at 90W in Far Cry 5 and around 100W in Witcher 3. That’s rather weird and I haven’t figured out a way to adjust these limits.
Overclocking the GPU marginally pushes up the overall frequencies by 2-5%, with a slight increase in GPU temperatures.
You can further adjust the fans’ behavior in the Deep Control panel of the Fan Control tab in the Aorus Control Center, and force them to spin faster. At max, they ramp up to 54-55 dB at head level and allow the components to run significantly cooler, but with some weird GPU settings that actually lead to slightly lower framerates. The GPU runs at 90W in Witcher and 80W in FarCry 5 in this case.
Raising the laptop from the desk in order to improve the airflow underneath has a minor effect on the internal temperatures, of only within 2-3 degrees, so not as pronounced as on other laptops. That’s because Gigabyte went with a wide wide-open back design that doesn’t build up as much heat as other implementations, but which will gather dust a lot easier, so I’d keep in mind to clean out this laptop at least once a month.
Finally, the Aero 15 is also a good candidate for external monitor use. In this case, the GPU runs at 100W on both Far Cry 5 and Witcher 3, with lower CPU and GPU temperatures than when routing the signal through the internal display. And with that open back design, this can be also be used in a vertical stand, with the lid closed.
Overall, Gigabyte did well here, this 2020 Aero 15 is a much more competent gaming notebook with this redesigned thermal module, and delivers solid performance out of the box, on the stock Azure AI power profile, with fine thermals and even quieter fans than most of the competition.
I still don’t understand those GPU limits set up by the AI in some games, and I still think Gigabyte should also include some degree of GPU overclocking to the recipe, in order to match the overall performance offered by the competition. Right now, this trails behind other i7 + RTX 2070 Super MQ configurations we’ve reviewed by 2-10% in combined loads and games, but also runs quieter.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
The Aero 15 gets a complex cooling design, with two large fans, two shared heatpipes, and an extra two individual heatpipes for the CPU and GPU. Thermal plates also cover the VRMs and Northbridge.
The fans run quietly with daily use and you won’t notice them in a regular school/work environment, but the CPU fan is always active and audible in a quiet room, even on the Silent profile. I haven’t noticed any coil winning or electronic noises.
Here’s what to expect in terms of noise, at head-level.
- Ai Azure, fans on Max – 54-55 dB with games;
- Ai Azure, fans on Auto – 42-44 dB with games, 42-44 dB with Cinebench loop test, 32-35 dB with Daily use.
With games, the fans ramp up to only about 42-44 dB at head-level on the stock Azure AI profile, which is quieter than the standard gaming ultraportable. Ramping up the fans to their max (Fn + Esc) pushes the noise to unusable 54-55 dB levels.
The outer temperatures are about average. The interior heats up to about mid-50s in the area above the keyboard, around the power button, which is right on top of the exhausts, but the arrows and WASD regions rarely go above 40 degrees C. One of the fans is placed beneath the WASD region and helps cool that area. At the same time, we measured temperatures in the high 60s on the bottom, and that’s because the thermal heaptipes are exposed and visible through the back mesh. The back panel doesn’t reach this sort of temperatures, but gaming on the lap is still not an option on this notebook.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, AI Balanced profile, fans at 27-33 dB
*Gaming – Ai Azure – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, Ai Azure profile, fans at 42-44 dB
*Gaming – Ai Azure + Max Fans – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, Ai Azure profile, fans at 54-55 dB
For connectivity, there’s Wireless 6 and Bluetooth 5 through an Intel AX201 chip on this unit, as well as Gigabit Lan. Our sample did not perform as well as other notebooks, and the speeds dropped even further at 30+ feet away with obstacles in between, so the range seems to be a bit short here.
Audio is handled by a pair of fairly punchy speakers that fire through grills on the underbelly. Given their size, they’re louder than I was expecting at about 80 dB, however, the quality isn’t much, with decent mids and high, but very little at the lower end.
The webcam is placed beneath the screen and fixed in place, and the image quality isn’t much either. I doubt you’ll want to use this often, if at all.
There’s a large 94Wh battery inside this Aero 15, which allows for pretty good runtimes on a charge.
Here’s what we got on our unit, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120-nits (50%):
- 16.5 W (~5 h 30 min of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Balanced AI Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 13.5 W (~7+ h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Balanced AI Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12.5 W (~7 h 30 min of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Balanced AI Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 20 W (~4 h 45 min of use) – browsing in Edge, Balanced AI Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 65 W (~1h 20 min of use) – Gaming – Witcher 3, Max Performance AI Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON, no fps limit.
The OLED screens takes its toll with browsing and when it comes to displaying lots of white/bright content, but helps in Netflix over a standard IPS UHD panel, due to its design particularities.
Gigabyte pairs the laptop with a fairly compact 230W power-brick, which still weighs around .83 kilos with the included cables in this US version. Refilling the battery takes more than 2 hours, and USB-C charging is not supported through the Thunderbolt 3 port.
Price and availability
The 2020 Gigabyte Aero 15 is available from select retailers around the world, in a bunch of different configurations.
The XB variant that we have here, with the i7-10875H processor, RTX 2070 Super graphics, 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB of storage, and the OLED screen is listed at $2699 in the US, and that’s fairly pricey. In comparison, the same laptop, but with a 6Core i7-10750H processor and a 144 Hz FHD IPS screen goes for $2099, and RTX 2060 models go for less.
Overall, the Aero 15 lineup ranges from around $1700 to $4500 between configurations.
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As a whole, this 2020 15-inch Aero is among the better performance laptops in this niche.
Gigabyte improved on the overall performance, thermals, and noise levels from the previous generation, making this among the quietest in our full-load and gaming tests. Furthermore, the AI software they keep touting as a differentiation actually does a good job juggling with the power and fan settings here. Manual tweaking is possible, and while we couldn’t squeeze significantly extra over the default Azure AI profile, some degree of GPU overclocking would help this Aero 15 narrow down the roughly 10% gap from the best performing models in the class.
On top of these, the Aero 15 offers certain features that you won’t get with most of the competition, such as a full-size keyboard with a NumPad section, a full set of ports and a large battery, a multitude of configuration options, as well as good upgradeability.
On the other hand, Gigabyte’s utilitarian design language might not be for everyone and still has its practicality quirks, and the OLED Aero 15 model is priced fairly high. I’ve made my case on OLED laptops in general in the Screen section, but that doesn’t mean you should absolutely stay away from this if you are willing to cope with the technology’s downsides, for its awesome overall image quality. Even if an avid OLED supporter and user on phones and TVs, I for one would rather vouch for one of the IPS panels on a laptop.
This pretty much wraps up our review of the Gigabyte Aero 15 XB, but I’d love to hear your thoughts and impressions down below, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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