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Aftershock Apex 15X Gaming Laptop Review

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Aftershock Apex 15X Gaming Laptop Review

The Apex 15X is a gaming laptop from Aftershock, a company who specialise in custom gaming PCs and laptops in Singapore who have expanded to Australia, so let’s find out how well their laptop holds up.

It’s using the popular Tongfang chassis, and has been updated to include Nvidia’s latest RTX graphics. Starting with the specs my unit has an Intel i7-8750H CPU, Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics, 16GB of memory running in dual channel, a 15.

6” 1080p 144Hz IPS screen, a 500GB M.2 NVMe SSD and 1TB hard drive. It’s also got gigabit ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi, and Bluetooth 5. There are a few options available when customizing through the website, for instance you can also pick RTX 2060 graphics, different memory or disk sizes, different mechanical keyboard or even liquid metal.

It’s got a black brushed metallic exterior which is completely smooth, and this matches the interior. The sides are well rounded but the front edge can feel a little sharp, but otherwise the build quality feels very solid.

The dimensions of the laptop are 36cm in width, 24cm in depth, and just under 2cm in height, so a little smaller than many other 15 inch laptops which also gives us a thin screen bezel. The weight is listed as 1.

95KG on the Aftershock website, however my configuration weighed closer to 2.1kg. With the 180 Watt power brick and cables for charging included, the total weight increases to 2.7KG. The 15.6” 1080p 144Hz screen does not G-Sync.

The bezels are also quite thin, around 8mm based on my own measurements. I’ve measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 97% of sRGB, 68% of NTSC and 74% of AdobeRGB, so not bad for a gaming laptop.

At 100% brightness I measured the panel at 311 nits in the center and with a 830 to 1 contrast ratio, so again fairly decent. I’ve taken a long exposure photo in a dark room as a worst case backlight bleed test, and it was fine, nothing detected, however this will vary between laptops.

There was only a bit of screen flex, the lid felt like solid metal and was pretty sturdy, and the hinges found towards the corners assisted with this. I was just able to open the laptop with one finger, the hinge didn’t seem too stiff I think this is just because there’s more weight towards the back.

Despite the thin bezel, the 720p camera is found above the display in the center. The camera quality is blurry but ok, and the microphone is ok too, both are about average. The keyboard was one of the unique features of the laptop, it’s mechanical and is available with blue or brown switches with a tactile 2mm depth, not something you’d expect from a 2cm thin laptop.

The keys have RGB backlighting with individual key customization with a few built in effects. As a mechanical keyboard the key presses are a little louder compared to most other laptops, here’s how they sound to give you an idea of what to expect.

There was minimal keyboard flex while pushing down hard, overall the body was quite solid. The power button is up the back, along with a button which will boost the fan speed to improve cooling at the expense of fan noise.

The touchpad was smooth to the touch, has precision drivers, clicks down when you push and otherwise worked well. Fingerprints show up easily on the brushed finish on both the lid and interior, and as the finish has small grooves they can be a little harder to wipe off.

On the left there’s a Kensington lock, air exhaust vent, gigabit ethernet port, USB 2.0 Type-A port, and 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks. On the right there are two USB 3 Type-A ports, SD card slot, and air exhaust vent.

On the back there are two more air exhaust vents toward the corners, and then from left to right we’ve got two mini DisplayPort outputs, HDMI 2.0 port, USB Type-C port, no mention of Thunderbolt support though, and the power input.

The front has an RGB light bar in the center, which can be adjusted using the installed control center software. On the back of the black brushed metal lid there’s the Aftershock logo in the center with a mirrored finish.

Underneath there are some large air vents for the cooling fans, and we’ll see how the temperatures go soon. The two speakers are found towards the front left and right corners and face down, they sound alright, but don’t get too loud and there’s not really any bass, still clear at max volume though, and things looked good in Latencymon.

The bottom panel can be removed easily by taking out 18 screws with a Phillips head screwdriver. Once inside from left to right we get access to the two M.2 slots, single 2.5 inch drive bay, battery, two memory slots and WiFi card.

Powering the laptop is a 46 Watt hour battery, and with a full charge and just watching YouTube videos with the screen on half brightness, keyboard lighting off and background apps disabled, I was able to use it for just 2 hour and 45 minutes.

It was using the Intel integrated graphics in this test with Nvidia Optimus too, so a lower than expected result. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 1 hour and 3 minutes all up, however with 13% charge left the frame rate dropped to 6 FPS and was no longer playable, and that was about 57 minutes in.

Like other tongfang laptops, it should be possible to upgrade the battery at the expense of taking up the 2.5” drive bay, however Aftershock don’t appear to offer this option through their website.

I’ll also note that I never saw the battery discharge while the 180 watt power brick was plugged in. Now for the temperatures, as we’ve got some nice air vents underneath I’m hoping this helps. Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 24 degrees Celsius, expect different results in different environments.

There were three heatpipes shared between processor and graphics, so a change in temperature of one of these will affect the other. The idle temperatures were fairly warm, as shown down the bottom, and this was despite audible fans, which you’ll hear soon.

The gaming tests were done by playing Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination of both CPU and GPU, while the stress tests were done by running the Aida64 stress test and Heaven benchmark at the same time in order to try and fully load the system.

Each data point was running for at least 30 minutes, and all testing was done back to back after full heat saturation has taken place, so temperatures would not get any worse. The CPU undervolt, shown by UV on the graph, was -0.

12 volts, while the GPU overclock was +150MHz to the GPU core. I also found the fans to end up running at maximum speed with these tests, so no need to test both default and max speeds separately. With the stress tests running there was thermal throttling on the CPU at 95 degrees Celsius, even best case at the top of the graph with the undervolt applied and my Thermaltake Massive 20 cooler in use.

These are the average clock speeds for the same tests just shown. We can see the CPU undervolt is improving clock speed of the CPU by around 300MHz, both while gaming and while under stress test. Despite the three stress tests thermal throttling on the CPU, we can see that undervolting and adding the cooling pad is actually helping improve performance, it’s still throttling with all these tweaks, but it is also performing a fair bit better.

These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load. Despite there being less load on the system as the graphics are not contributing heat into the system or drawing as much power as before there was still thermal throttling on the CPU at stock, preventing the full 3.

9GHz all core turbo speed of the i7-8750H from being reached in this workload. Once undervolted though, it was possible to hit this clock speed. The undervolt not only improved performance, but the temperature of the CPU also lowered by 11 degrees Celsius in this test, a nice improvement.

To demonstrate how this translates into performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here. There’s no change to the single core result, as that’s not enough to cause any throttling, and we’re able to get a small improvement to the multicore performance with the undervolting applied, and as shown just before this also ran cooler too.

Here are the GPU only clock speeds while under a graphical only stress test, as well as the improvements seen by applying a 150MHz overclock to the core with MSI Afterburner, although there was power limit throttling seen in both tests at 80 watts.

The average temperature of the GPU core rose 1 degree Celsius once overclocked, and I thought this was fairly warm considering there’s no additional CPU load here. As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle the wrist rest was around 30 degrees Celsius, while the center of the keyboard was in the high 30s.

While gaming the area just above the touchpad reached 50 degrees Celsius and felt hot to the touch, about the same temperature as the center of the keyboard, however the sides where the WASD keys are were much cooler in comparison.

Similar result with the CPU and GPU stress test running, 50 degrees in the center, while the very back was in the mid 60s and quite hot, normally I’d say you don’t touch here so it doesn’t matter, but the fan boost button next to the power button is up there, but you can adjust this through software instead.

While gaming on battery power the wrist rest area heated up a bit on the left and in the center, as the battery is just below that point. As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests.

At idle the fans were still fairly audible, and while gaming or under stress test the fans were at the highest possible speed, which was fairly loud, though pretty close to many other laptops I’ve tested once maxed out.

Overall the laptop was running pretty hot, with more thermal throttling present than I’d like. Even adding a cooling pad into the mix didn’t help as much as I’d hoped, I thought it would do more given the larger than average air vents found underneath.

Aftershock note that they use Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut paste by default, however they do offer a liquid metal upgrade, so based on these results I’d probably be going for that. With that said it was possible to claw back some performance by undervolting the CPU and adding the cooling pad.

While the thermal throttling was not happening in my gaming tests and only in the stress tests, it’s worth noting that under combined CPU and GPU load, the CPU TDP was capped to 35 watts. In other laptops where the limit is 45 watts I still don’t usually see thermal throttling in those same tests, it does happen, but not that common, so worth keeping in mind.

Finally let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks, I’ve tested these games with the these Nvidia drivers and all available Windows updates to date installed. Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode and not in multiplayer mode, as it’s easier to consistently reproduce the test run.

The purple bars show the results with ray tracing disabled, while the green bars show RTX on. The results with RTX on were good at low and medium, and it was kind of playable at higher settings, personally I prefer higher frame rates for a first person shooter though so I’d leave RTX off here.

Apex Legends was tested with either all settings at maximum, or all settings on the lowest possible values, as it doesn’t have predefined setting presets. The game played smoothly for me even maxed out, and was just able to average 100 frames per second.

Metro Exodus was tested using the built in benchmark, which performs worse than actual game play, making this more of a synthetic test rather than indicative of actual game performance. I’ve found this test to perform consistently, so should be good for comparing with my other recent videos.

Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the built in benchmark as well, and over 60 FPS was still possible with ultra settings. Fortnite was tested with the replay feature, and as a well optimized game it was running very well at epic settings, almost able to average 100 FPS.

Overwatch was also performing very well as it’s another well optimized game. I tested it in the practice range, and even with epic settings the frame rate was extremely high, easily able to take full advantage of the 144Hz screen at 1080p.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built in benchmark, and I’ve found this to be more of a graphically intensive test, with 100 FPS average possible at low settings and above 60 at the highest settings.

PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and the results were good for this test, with 100 FPS averages possible at high settings, but not really too much of a difference between the different setting levels.

CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical FPS benchmark, so as usual high frame rates were easily achievable with a 1080p resolution. Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and is a game I’ve found to benefit from Nvidia’s new turing architecture, which means we’re seeing very high frame rates from this test.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was another that was tested with the built in benchmark, and it seems to be a poorly optimized game, however doesn’t need a high frame rate to play. Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane with an average amount of action going on, and even with all settings at maximum 120 FPS was possible, so it was running perfectly fine without any problems.

I’ve tested more games in the dedicated gaming benchmark video, check the card in the top right corner if you want to see more results. The i7-8750H CPU, RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics and dual channel memory are giving us impressive results in most of the games tested, even at higher settings.

The Apex 15X is also available with 2060 graphics too, so expect different results there. I will be doing a 2060 vs 2070 Max-Q comparison in future, so if you’re new here get subscribed for that. Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, Port Royal and VRMark from 3DMark, just pause the video if you want a detailed look at these results.

As we saw earlier we’ve got the option of overclocking the graphics and undervolting the CPU to increase performance, so let’s see how this actually helps in gaming. Far Cry 5 was retested using the built in benchmark at 1080p.

At low and normal there was almost no difference between average frame rate, where there was more improvement seen at high and ultra settings. At ultra there was a 6.8% improvement to average FPS with the tweaks in place, and a 5% improvement to 1% low.

I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, the 500GB NVMe M.2 drive is a Samsung 970 EVO and it was performing very nicely. The 1TB 5,400RPM hard drive was performing about as expected, while the SD card slot seemed to be a bit above average, however expect different results based on what drives you select.

For updated pricing check the links in the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording here in Australia the base model is going for $2400 AUD, but with my exact specs here we’re looking at around the $3200 AUD mark.

For my international viewers without our taxes and after conversion that’s about $1500 USD for the base model and about $2000 USD for the specs I’ve tested here. So what do you guys think about the Apex 15X gaming laptop from Aftershock? Overall it’s pretty good, the build quality is solid for a machine that’s on the smaller and thinner side, you get a mechanical keyboard which is pretty uncommon for a laptop, good CPU, graphics and 144Hz screen for gaming.

The battery life was on the lower side, however as discussed it may be possible to upgrade that, and while under heavy load it ran quite warm, with thermal throttling possible under stress test, even with a cooling pad and CPU undervolt applied.

Aftershock are also offering quite a few different options when you configure it, such as liquid metal which should help improve temperatures, and many other different choices to customize it how you want, again refer to the link in the description.

Let me know what you guys thought about the Apex 15X gaming laptop from Aftershock down in the comments, and if the review was useful give the like button some loving. Thanks for watching, and don’t forget to subscribe for future tech videos like this one.

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