Gigabyte Aero 15-X9-RT5P Review
The Gigabyte Aero 15 x9 was my favorite gaming laptop of 2018. It wasn’t the most powerful gaming laptop, and certainly not the most affordable, but it was a piece of equipment that could easily replace a gaming PC and a MacBook Pro in one gadget. That felt special. The GIGABYTE AERO 15-X9-RT5P is the latest gaming laptop that promises even better performance with new components.
In 2019, Gigabyte hasn’t changed up the formula. However, by introducing new RTX video cards on the inside, it certainly gets boosted gaming performance. Our review unit comes with an RTX 2070 Max-Q, as well as your typical arrangement of a six-core processor, 16GB of memory, and a 1TB SSD. The price tag is sure to give you some stifle shock, that’s undeniable.
Still, if you take gaming seriously, and are going to pay the big bucks for a gaming laptop, it may as well be one you’ll love. Will you love the Aero 15-X9-RT5P? I think you will.
The GIGABYTE AERO 15-X9-RT5P still keeps a killer design. The matte black finish, sharp corners, and light-up silver Gigabyte logo all remain, and make for the prettiest gaming laptop you’ve seen. You can find thinner gaming laptops, like the Razer Blade, and they do look sleek as the Aero 15-X9-RT5P. Some gamers may prefer a louder design, like the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S, but this is exactly what I want in a gaming laptop.
At 0.7 inches thick and 4.5 pounds, it’s exactly portable as the newest Razer Blade 15 RTX. This time around, Gigabyte has slimmed the chassis ever so slightly from last year’s Aero 15X v8-BK4 (1 -inch thick, 4.41 pounds), but you’ll be hard pressed to notice unless you have both models side-by-side.
As you open it up, the Aero 15 design continues to impress. A narrow-edge bezel surrounds the 15.6-inch display, not leaving enough room even for the webcam, that has been moved to the hinge. The Razer Blade 15 keeps the webcam in the same spot, while others like the Huawei MateBook X Pro are shifting it to the chin for thinner bodies. The keyboard layout is precise, with everything set in the right place.
The Aero’s build quality is perhaps second only to Apple’s MacBook Pro, but in the same crib with the like of Asus’ ROG Zephyrus S and the Razer blade 15. The Aero 15-X9-RT5P is a single chunk of machined aluminum with a few stickers on the body, that is sturdy enough, although the center of the lid feels like it can give under pressure.
On the edges, there is a healthy array of ports. You’ll find three USB 3.1, one USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, one USB-C gen2, HDMI 2.0, LAN, UHS II SD card reader, headphone/mic and a Kensington Lock. Connectivity to the Internet comes via Killer 1550i Wireless AC with Bluetooth 5.0 and Killer E2500 Gigabit LAN.
The options on the GIGABYTE AERO 15-X9-RT5P provide enough real estate for gaming peripherals, plus USB-C ports that make it future proof. If anything, the Thunderbolt 3 can easily handle an external graphics card, of which Gigabyte has become a merry maker for its Aero enclosures.
The keyboard and clickpad are excellent on the GIGABYTE AERO 15-X9-RT5P . The clickpad is made of glass, and super-large, nearly the same size as wat you find on the 15-inch MacBook Pro. The extra space adds some functionality in that it offers some space for things like two-finger pinches or four-finger swipes. The tracking is accurate, texture smooth, and thanks to Windows Precision drivers, gestures work well. All that is rare on a single gaming machine even in this price range.
The typing experience is a mixed bag though, as the keys feel a bit stiff. As such, they don’t feel as nice as the mechanical keyboard on the Razer Blade Pro, the Aero 15’s keyboard feels tactile and responsive. It is among the few ultraportables to feature a full-size keyboard and a full-sized NumPad.
Yes, I have issue with arrows that are cramped in between the other keys, but they’re full-size as well, and pretty every key is where it should be.
Gigabyte does score in backlighting, thanks to adjustable bright LEDs and per-key control via the included app. However, the fonts may not be appealing to everyone, as the writing is rather narrow and utilitarian, just in line with the Aero 15’s overall design.
Just about the other thing missing on the Aero is biometric login options with support for Windows Hello.
For gamers, a great display on the GIGABYTE AERO 15-X9-RT5P is something you must have, and that’s exactly what the Aero 15 delivers. Gigabyte went with a matte 1920 x 1080 IPS FHD 144 Hz Pantone X-Rite panel, that matches the laptop’s thin profile. This is a pretty good panel for daily use and fairly good for gaming, as a result of the short response and high refresh rate, even if GSync isn’t supported.
Notably, the 144 HZ IPS screen simply rocks with its X-Rite Pantone certification, delivering stable viewing angles as well as low response times. That said, you’ll notice that the screen is slightly dim, though not prohibitively so. On top of that, the screen has decent color gamut and a low average color error.
The Aero 15 packs Intel’s Core i7-8750H processor, a hexa-core CPU mostly found in gaming laptops and a couple of workstation-class laptops. Right now, it isn’t the most powerful chip in the world, and the Aero isn’t the hallmark manifestation of it.
The Core i9-8950HK found on the Alienware 17 takes the honors, while newer Whiskey Lake U-Series lead in single-core performance. That explains why a laptop like the Huawei MateBook 13 outfitted with a Core i5-8565U comes alarmingly close to the Aero 15, despite having just four processing cores.
Number of processing cores aside, the Aero 15 has the right speed for multitasking and web browsing, better than the 8th gen chip found in its predecessor. At this price range, you really can’t settle for less.
Here, you can have dozens of browser tabs open on a multiple monitor setup, and everything remains fast enough. That’s exactly what 16GB of DDR4 RAM and six processing cores gets you.
There’s more in the goodies jar. The updated M.2 NVMe super-fast SSSD offers quick read and write speeds, revolving in the 1,800 MB/s range. Our review unit is outfitted with a 1TB SSD, though you can get different capacities in the same line.
Graphics & Gaming Performance
Its RTX, once again. When we reviewed the Razer Blade 15 RTX last week, we marveled at how it offers significant performance over GTX. Well, yes. Whether it exceeds your expectations or not, depends on how easy you’re wowed by new technologies. But there’s no question that these are the most powerful gaming laptop Gigabyte has ever made .
Its show of power starts in benchmark tests like 3DMark’s Fire Strike. As always, this is a GPU-intensive benchmark, and the RTX 2070 Max-Q clearly depicts why its better than GTX 1070 Max-Q with an 17 percent increase in points.
In fact, it achieves the level of performance that was initially reserved for beefier systems like the boxy Alienware 17 R5. The Aero 15 uses an AI program as well the Gigabyte Control center to adjust performance and fan speeds.
For now, there is very little the GIGABYTE AERO 15-X9-RT5P can’t do. Real world gaming yields good scores, including 92 FPS on Fortnite played at Epic settings, moving down to 139 FPS on High settings. The same apples to Battlefield V, whereby it delivers over 100 FPS easily on High and around 86 FPS on ultra. If you indulge on heavier titles like Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, the Aero may get a little challenge but it won’t be slowed down to be unplayable.
It doesn’t handle 4K well, but if you hook it up to a 1440p external monitor, you can easily get over 60FPS on most modern games. So, how does it compare with last year’s model? Well, you’re looking at a performance gain of between 15 to 25 percent depending on the game you’re playing. All in all, the new RTX GPUs perform better than the last-gen Nvidia GeForce graphics cards.
And, here’s the good news if you need the best performance possible; our review unit isn’t the most powerful Aero available. The RTX 2070 Max-Q option with an Intel Core i9-8950HK, which starts at PRICE, is the crème de la crème.
For around the same price, you can grab the RTX 2080 Max-Q Razer Blade 15 though.
The Aero 15-X9-RT5P gets a 94 Wh battery paired with Optimus, and its here that Gigabyte nails the competition. If you’re keen with gaming trends, battery life is never a strong point, but the Aero 15 gets a longer battery that actually works properly. It will last a few hours more than its closest competitors, thanks to a bigger optimized battery pack. That counts for a lot.
The Gigabyte Aero 15 is expensive, no doubt about that. But considering that it excels both as a serious gaming laptop and a standard laptop you can use for work, the price is much bearable. The Aero 15 isn’t just a great gaming laptop. It’s a value packed great laptop, period.
Is there a better alternative?
Now than ever, we have more thin-and-light gaming laptops in the market. The Razer Blade 15 RTX is a strong competitor, and is the lightest RTX gaming laptop, coming in a few hundred dollars more. Heck, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S is similarly thin.
Even so, none of these have the price of the Aero 15-X9-RT5P. They cost slightly more. If your needs are more on video editing and less gaming, the Dell XPS 15 or Surface Book 2 might be better options.
Should I buy it?
Yes. The GIGABYTE AERO 15-X9-RT5P is perhaps the best gaming laptop you can buy at this price. And, this year’s version is even better.