The Aorus 15 gaming laptop is on the smaller side for a 15 inch machine with some nice specs inside. In this review we’ll take a look at gaming performance, thermals, battery life and basically everything else you’d want to know to help you decide if it’s a laptop you should consider buying.
I’ve got the highest specced version of the Aorus 15, the XA, meaning it has an Intel i7-9750H CPU and Nvidia RTX 2070 graphics, no Max-Q here. There’s also 16gb of memory running in dual channel, a 15.
6” 1080p 240Hz IGZO screen, and 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD and 2TB hard drive for storage. For network connectivity it’s got gigabit ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 5. I’ve got the XA configuration here, however it’s also available in some other configurations, the WA model has 2060 graphics while the SA has the 1660 Ti, you can find updated prices to all models linked in the description.
The laptop has a matte black metallic body both on the exterior and interior, and there are no sharp corners or edges anywhere. The weight of the laptop is listed at around 2.4kg or 5.3 pounds, and mine came in at 2.
2kg, or 3.2kg with the 230 watt power brick and cable for charging included. The dimensions of the laptop are 36.1cm in width, 24.6cm in depth, and about 2.4cm in height, so it’s on the smaller side for a 15 inch laptop without being unnecessarily thin.
This smaller footprint allows for smaller bezels, around 8mm based on my own measurements. This is the first laptop I’ve had with a 240Hz screen. Visually I can’t say there are any differences just looking at this 240Hz Sharp panel compared to other 144Hz laptops I’ve tested recently.
I’ve tested colour gamut with the Spyder 5, and we’re looking at 97% of sRGB, 69% of NTSC, and 75% of AdobeRGB, so pretty decent results for a gaming laptop. At 100% brightness in the center I measured the panel at 343 nits with a 860 to 1 contrast ratio, so overall above average compared to others I’ve tested, meaning it doesn’t look like there are any obvious compromises with this 240Hz panel.
Viewing angles also looked fine to me on all angles. In terms of backlight bleed it was looking pretty good, some small imperfections down the bottom in this worst case test, but perfectly fine during normal use, though this will of course vary between laptops and panels.
There was a fair bit of screen flex, as the lid is on the thinner side and the hinge is in the center, but overall it felt fairly sturdy when opening. I was just able to open the laptop with one finger, the hinge wasn’t too stiff so this seems to show that there’s more weight towards the back.
In any case I could use it on my lap perfectly stable. Despite the thin bezel, the camera is still found above the display in the center. the camera doesn’t look great and the microphone is about average.
You can just hear some of the idle fan noise, and this is what it sounds like if we hit the fan button. The keyboard has three zones of RGB backlighting which could be controlled through the included Aorus control center software.
There are 4 different effects and the brightness can be adjusted between two levels or turned off if you prefer. The software can also be used to change the lighting found on the front left and right corners, although you’ve only got the option of red, green, blue, or off for these.
The keyboard was good to type with, although I did find the smaller arrow keys annoying when I needed to use them, I personally would have preferred larger arrow keys. Here’s how typing sounds to give you an idea of what to expect.
There’s also a dedicated fan button on the top right which will set the fan speed to maximum, and unlike other laptops you don’t need any software installed to use it. There was only a little keyboard flex while pushing down hard, overall it was fairly solid and there were no issues during normal use.
The touchpad was smooth to the touch and uses precision drivers. It clicks down when pushed and has the usual Windows gestures available. It’s a bit wider than what I’m used to, but it worked well and despite the extra width I never found it to get in the way when I needed to use the keyboard.
Fingerprints show up on the matte black surfaces, but as they’re smooth they’re easy to clean off. On the left there’s an air exhaust vent, gigabit ethernet port, USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, MicroSD card slot and status LEDs.
On the right there’s a 3.5mm audio combo jack, two more USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports, and another air exhaust vent. On the back there are two more air exhausts towards the corners, then from left to right we’ve got the power input, HDMI 2.
0 port, mini DisplayPort 1.3 output, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port, which also has DisplayPort 1.3 support although no Thunderbolt despite the logo, and then kensington lock. On the lid in the center there’s the Aorus logo with a mirrored finish, as well as two lines, and both the lines and logo light up white while powered on.
The colour can’t be customized, as this is just using the backlight from the screen. Underneath there’s heaps of ventilation holes to assist air flow. The two speakers are found towards the front left and right corners and face down, they sounded alright for a laptop, clear at higher volumes but not really any bass.
Here’s what we’re looking at while playing music at maximum volume, and the latencymon results weren’t excellent. The bottom panel can be removed easily by taking out 11 screws with a Phillips head screwdriver.
Once inside from left to right we get access to the single 2.5 inch drive bay, WiFi card, battery, two memory slots, and two M.2 slots, both of which support NVMe and SATA. Powering the laptop is a 62 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 1 hour and 47 minutes.
This lower result was caused by the RTX 2070 graphics being in use the entire time, you don’t have the option of using the Intel integrated graphics here with Optimus. Despite this, there’s still no G-Sync, however this does mean we should see higher performance when compared against a laptop with equivalent specs that uses Optimus.
While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 58 minutes all up, however with 12% charge left the frame rate dropped to 5 FPS and was no longer playable.
The AI feature doesn’t work while on battery power, though as we’ll see later it didn’t help much anyway. I’ll also note that I never saw the battery discharge while the 230 watt power brick was plugged in.
Before we get into the thermal testing I need to briefly talk about Gigabyte’s new AI feature that comes with their new laptops. It’s been updated to include three modes, AI Edge, and two cloud options, AI Download and AI Download and Upload.
AI Edge processes data locally to make the best decisions in terms of what to change like power limits and clock speeds, while the AI Cloud settings get data from Microsoft Azure. The download only option is new, and rather than sending your data to the cloud to improve the service it only downloads profiles to help it run better.
The download and upload one on the other hand will submit data though. All tests had AI disabled, except where explicitly mentioned. The Aorus control center software allows you to choose between five levels of CPU power and two for the GPU.
The CPU settings boost the maximum TDP between these levels, while GPU level 0 is stock and level 1 boosts the core clock by 140MHz and memory by 70MHz. Any time you press the fan button on the keyboard to boost fan speed GPU mode 1 is automatically engaged, overclocking the graphics.
For the purposes of this video, when maximum fan speed is mentioned I’m running the CPU at level 4 for the highest limit, and GPU at level 1. While at default stock levels I’m running the CPU at level 2 and GPU at level 0.
The large air intake vent on the bottom should help out when we test with the cooling pad. The rubber feet also seem to be angled such that they block the hot air being exhausted out the back from coming straight back into the fans, so cooler air should only be pulled in from the front.
There are also quite a few heatpipes here, and some are shared between both processor and graphics, so a change in one component will affect the other, for instance if the CPU gets hot the graphics will be affected as a result.
Thermal testing was completed with an ambient temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, expect different results in different environments. There’s a lot of data here, CPU temperatures are shown by the blue bars and GPU temperatures are shown by the green bars.
We’re looking at combined CPU and GPU load here, so both are fully loaded as a worst case. The gaming tests towards the upper half of the graph were tested by playing Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good amount of combined processor and graphics resources.
The stress tests were tested by running the Aida64 CPU stress test and Heaven GPU benchmark at the same time to fully load the system. This isn’t meant to show typical performance, these are worst case results which you can use to compare with my other videos.
The idle temperatures down the bottom are looking fine. Let’s start with the stress tests. At stock the CPU is thermal throttling at 96 degrees Celsius while the GPU was thermal throttling at 92. Even with a -0.
15v undervolt to the CPU we’re not seeing changes to temperatures, however we’ll see how clock speeds were affected in the next graph. If we max out the fan the GPU temperatures drop back to 86, though hardware info still lists it as thermal throttling.
With the CPU undervolt applied too the CPU is now thermal throttling intermittently rather than constantly, and if we add on the Thermaltake Massive 20 cooling pad the CPU temperature drops by 9 degrees, though no change in temperatures to the GPU, most likely due to the overclock applied from the max fan button.
Moving up to the gaming results again there was thermal throttling with the fan at default speed. I’ll also note that for the gaming tests I’m undervolting the CPU and GPU rather than just the CPU only, in the stress tests I didn’t test with the GPU undervolt due to reasons.
Anyway in most cases both are still running quite hot. The AI settings didn’t appear to help in this game, I got the same thermals as running the machine at stock with the default fan speed. In the past the AI would control the fan speed, in this case it didn’t touch it and the fan speed remained unchanged, resulting in the temperatures we’ve got here.
The best results are seen right up the top, when the fan is at maximum, CPU and GPU are undervolted, and the cooling pad is in use. These are the average clock speeds for the same tests just shown. If we start with the stress tests down the bottom, we can see the GPU is downclocking quite a bit to keep cool, same with the CPU.
With the -0.15v CPU undervolt we can boost average clock speed by 450MHz over all 6 cores. Simply by boosting the fan speed we almost see a similar improvement to CPU performance, but also to the graphics as this helps reduce the thermal throttling there too.
With the CPU undervolt applied in combination with the fans maxed out we’re basically reaching the full 4.0GHz all core turbo boost speed of the i7-9750H CPU. With the cooling pad added despite thermal throttling still being reported on the GPU as we saw before, the clock speed does rise a bit now, and the CPU is now solid at 4GHz, which I think is a nice result.
In the gaming tests we can see the clock speed increase with the GPU undervolts, as this helps reduce the thermal throttling taking place. The CPU undervolt is also seeing us get pretty much full performance, even without resorting to boosting the fan speed, which is good because as you’ll hear soon it gets pretty loud.
The AI settings, like we saw in the temperatures, are performing similar to the stock settings, again this seems to be due to the AI feature not controlling fan speed for some reason, so hopefully that will be updated in future, I’m pretty sure the old model did it.
Up the top we’re getting the best result in terms of clock speed with CPU and GPU undervolted and the cooling pad in use, as this was the only test the GPU was no longer thermal throttling the clock speed is the highest out of all results.
These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load. As mentioned earlier there are 5 different levels in the Aorus control center software that control CPU TDP, so these are the clock speeds we’re able to achieve with each.
With the 62 watt limit at level 4 we’re only just below the full 4.0GHz boost speed of the 9750H, the undervolt gets us all the way though. These are the temperatures for the same tests just shown. As the TDP increases, resulting in higher clock speed, so do the temperatures.
The undervolt provided a massive improvement here of about 15 degrees, while also performing the best. Here are the average CPU TDPs from these tests, so the undervolt puts us around the power usage of level 1 with similar temperatures, but with 500MHz of extra performance over all 6 cores.
To demonstrate how this translates into performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here. There’s no difference in single core as that’s not enough to trigger throttling, though even in the best case with the CPU undervolted and no restrictions I was still seeing similar scores to the 8750H.
I will be comparing these two CPUs in a future video though, so make sure you’re subscribed for that. Here’s what we’re looking at in Cinebench R20, until I have more data from other laptops I’ll keep including results from both.
Here are the GPU only clock speeds while under a graphical only stress test. Just as a reminder, the GPU 0 setting in the Aorus control center software is default, while GPU 1 overclocks the core by 140MHz.
With my crappy undervolt I was getting similar speeds to default, and when we check the temperatures the thermal throttling was removed with this though it only lowered by one degree under this workload.
Given it’s thermal throttling at both levels 0 and 1 at the same temperature, the clock speeds in the previous graph are likely not accurate. It does seem a bit strange that even with the fan maxed out the GPU is thermal throttling under GPU only stress test, but I suppose it is the full fat 2070 and this is the first laptop I’ve had with it, so I don’t really know what the normal is there.
As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle it was about average in the low 30s. While gaming it gets to the mid 40s in the center, a little warm but definitely not hot feeling.
With the stress tests running it’s a little cooler, with noticeably cooler WASD keys. As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle it was quiet, however the fan was making this sort of pulsating noise.
With the stress tests running or gaming it was about average compared to other gaming laptops I’ve tested, but when we hit the fan button to max it out it gets very loud. Normally I like at least having the option of raising fan speed, however in this case there doesn’t seem to be granular control, I wasn’t able to adjust it like in previous models, so it seems to either be all or nothing in terms of fan speed.
In general the Aorus 15-XA runs fairly hot, at least in my top end configuration here with full 2070 and 9750H, I’d expect others to run a bit cooler. Even with undervolting we didn’t really improve temperatures by that much, however this did significantly improve the performance.
It’s worth noting that we’re able to boost the power limits over the CPUs specified 45 watt TDP rating though. Many laptops don’t give us the option and perform worse as a result due to power limit throttling, though the trade off to this increased performance is of course higher temperatures, so it’s good the Aorus is equipped with such powerful fans.
The only downside of those powerful fans is at this time they don’t seem to give you the ability to customize the fan speed like with other models, hopefully that changes in the future. In most cases once undervolted we’re able to get the full 4.
0GHz all core turbo boost speed from the 9750H CPU even under worst case combined CPU and GPU load, which I think is pretty good given there are other laptops that cannot hit full boost speed under these tests.
In my tests the AI didn’t seem to do much, so I’d just stick to undervolting and if you can put up with the extra fan noise, boosting the fan speed also. 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.
The drivers are a little behind, but they’re the latest Gigabyte currently offer. I’ve also tested with the fan maxed out, with CPU at setting 4 and GPU at setting 1, so raised CPU TDP and overclocked graphics.
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 RTX results weren’t great at ultra and high settings, though it was usable at high. For a game like this I’d want higher frame rate though, and RTX off at ultra settings both looks and runs better than with RTX on at low settings.
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 results in this game were a little lower than I expected based on the specs, but it’s running well enough even maxed out, while minimum settings boosted FPS by 30%.
Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the built in benchmark. Not too much to say here, above 60 FPS at ultra settings is good, oh and it was coming out ahead of the 2080 Max-Q in the Razer Blade I recently reviewed at every setting level.
This may be due to the slightly better CPU though. Fortnite was tested with the replay feature, and while I have to regularly refresh the replay due to updates I test in the same area. This game doesn’t need powerful hardware to run, so even with epic settings we’re seeing 120 FPS averages, with low settings actually able to make good use of the 240Hz display.
Overwatch is another well optimized game and was tested in the practice range, as other players, bots and even different maps in actual gameplay affect the frame rate and this allows for consistent testing.
At low and medium the 300 FPS frame cap is hit, while epic settings still played extremely well. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built in benchmark, the results were pretty good, just a couple of FPS behind the 2080 Max-Q in the Razer Blade I recently tested, and actually ahead at lower settings, possible due to the higher clocked 9750H CPU.
CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical FPS benchmark, and like always high frame rates were coming out of this test. This is the sort of game the 240Hz screen would be more useful for if you’re playing competitively.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and in general is a game I’ve found to benefit from Nvidia’s new turing architecture. I’ll also note this was another test where low settings were getting frame rates that would be well matched with the 240Hz screen.
PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and even at ultra settings almost 100 FPS was possible in this test, with lower settings getting us closer to 130 FPS, which seems to be about as well as this game performs on laptop hardware, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it much above 140 FPS in my test run.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the built in benchmark, and I was seeing some fairly high frame rates at the lower setting levels when compared to other laptops I’ve tested. This is my first 9750H machine and this does seem to be a CPU heavy game so it may be helping a bit there.
Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane with an average amount of action going on, and it was running very smoothly without any problems at all. At maximum settings it was still performing very well at 150 FPS, with closer to 200 at lower settings also possible.
Watch Dogs 2 is a resource intensive game, though with a solid 30 FPS it plays just fine to me, so hitting the 60 FPS sweet spot at ultra on this laptop was quite a nice result. The Witcher 3 was running well with hairworks disabled, and it played perfectly fine for me even with ultra settings.
90 FPS with 60 for the 1% low works well, and while you can get higher FPS at lower settings I don’t think this game benefits much from it and would prefer the higher visual quality with high settings.
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. Let’s also take a look at how this config of the Aorus 15 compares with other laptops to see how it stacks up, use these results as a rough guide only as they were tested at different times with different drivers.
In Battlefield 5 I’ve tested ultra settings and I’ve got the Aorus 15 up the top in red, and it was doing quite well, only coming in behind the 90 watt 2080 Max-Q laptops I’ve tested. It’s worth remembering this is my first 9750H laptop test, so all the others here have the 8750H.
Here are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark, and the Aorus was doing well here, coming in at second place, only behind the ASUS GX701, which is ahead of the other 2080 Max-Q laptops due to G-Sync.
These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider with the built in benchmark at highest settings, and in this test the Aorus is a little ahead of the Alienware m17, which isn’t too surprising, as I had some thermal throttling on the graphics in that one.
This is the first time I’ve tested a laptop with RTX 2070 graphics, and for the most part it seems to be slotting in about where I expected, between the 2070 Max-Q and 2080 Max-Q, though it does of course depend on the game, in some it was beating the 2080 Max-Q machines.
Overall we’re seeing pretty good performance. It’s worth noting that as there was no Nvidia Optimus here, the display is connected straight to the Nvidia graphics, meaning we should be seeing higher performance.
This does however come at the expense of battery life, it’s a trade off. I’ve got a video linked in the description covering this topic further if you’re after more information. Now let’s see how the undervolting and AI settings actually help improve gaming performance.
Far Cry 5 was tested using the built in benchmark at 1080p with ultra settings. Down the bottom I tested with both the CPU and GPU maxed out in the Aorus control center software, the only difference was one had the fan at default speed and the other at maximum.
This simple change gave 9% higher FPS as it helps reduce thermal throttling. I’ll note that the AI settings in themselves do not modify fan speed, as covered earlier, though I think they should, but I tested with the fan maxed out to try and show best case performance with them, though as we can see it’s basically the same as not using it, at least in this test.
The results up the top with the manual undervolting gave us the best performance. 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.
I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, and the 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD that was installed was giving nice reads and alright writes. The 2TB hard drive was performing about as expected for a 5,400RPM hard drive.
Unfortunately I couldn’t test the microSD slot as I don’t have any cards that size. For updated pricing check the links in the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording in the US the XA version with these specs is going for $2175 USD, while the 8th gen model is over $200 less.
Meanwhile here in Australia it’s going for $3300 AUD. So what do you guys think about the Aorus 15-XA gaming laptop? Overall I think it’s checking a lot of boxes, but as always nothing is perfect.
It’s well built, the chassis is on the smaller side for a 15 inch laptop, allowing it to have nice thin bezels, and it’s got good specs which allow it to perform well in games. There’s no Nvidia Optimus, so while gaming performance will be improved, battery life suffers as a result, that’s the trade off.
It does get warm, but it’s got good performance behind that along with some powerful fans to help with cooling, though I would have like to have seen granular fan control considering how loud maximum speed gets.
The big opening on the bottom was great for helping airflow, especially with a cooling pad, I hope more companies go this way in the future. Once undervolted even under worst case combined CPU and GPU load still being able to hit the full 4GHz turbo boost speed of the 9750H was pretty impressive, despite the temperatures.
For more than $200 USD more money over the 8th gen version, I honestly think I’d just get the slightly cheaper 8th gen model. I don’t think you’re getting $200 of value going from the 8750H to 9750H, at least in this laptop, and the 240Hz screen is realistically only beneficial in esports titles, so depends on the types of games you’ll be playing.
Let me know what you guys thought about the Aorus 15 gaming laptop down in the comments, and if you’re new to the channel get subscribed for future tech videos like this one.