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Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XA Laptop Review

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Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XA Laptop Review

The new Gigabyte Aero 15 laptop has some nice upgrades over the older model, potentially making it a great option for both gamers or content creators, so let’s take a closer look in this detailed review and help you decide if it’s a laptop you should consider.

Starting with the specs I’ve got the XA model, so there’s an Intel i7-9750H CPU, 90 watt Nvidia RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics, 16gb of memory in dual channel, 15.6” 4K 60Hz OLED screen, and a 512gb M.

2 NVMe SSD in one of the two available slots. For network connectivity it’s got gigabit ethernet, 802.11ax WiFi and Bluetooth 5. There are a few different configurations available, such as from GTX 1650 to RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, 6 or 8 core CPUs, or optional 240Hz screen for gamers, you can find updated prices for different models linked in the description.

This new model of the Aero has quite a few nice improvements over the older models, I’ll cover off the differences as we go along. Like previous Aero laptops, it’s mostly a solid metal build with a plastic trim around the edges.

Mine’s all matte black, however as we saw at Computex it’s also available in white. On the lid we’ve got the Aero logo instead of the Gigabyte logo on the older model, with a subtle brushed finish towards the bottom.

The interior is similar to most of the lid, all matte black, and overall it felt well built with no sharp edges or corners. Gigabyte list the weight as around 2kg or 4.4lb, and mine was just over 2.2kg.

Once we add the 230 watt power brick and cables the total rises up to 3.1kg. Without the brick, this makes it around 150g heavier than my older Aero 15x, and 130g heavier than the X9. The dimensions of the Aero are 35.

6cm in width, 25cm in depth, and 2cm in height, so on the smaller side for a 15” laptop. The smaller footprint gives us very thin bezels, Gigabyte list them at 3mm however from edge to the actual screen I measured them at 7mm, giving it an 89% screen to body ratio.

The 15.6” 4K 60Hz AMOLED screen has a glossy finish comes calibrated out of the box and looks excellent. As usual with a glossy display, in a bright room reflections easily show up and can be distracting.

I’ve measured the colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro and got 100% of sRGB and 98% of AdobeRGB, very impressive results. At 100% brightness I measured the panel at 476 nits in the center, which is way above the usual 300 average, and with a crazy contrast ratio which is due to the nature of OLED technology.

Basically each pixel is lit individually, so no backlight is required meaning blacks can essentially be turned off pixels, giving extremely high contrast. As a result of this, backlight bleed just isn’t a thing, a black screen would just mean all the pixels are off.

There are some downsides with the screen though, while it’s amazing for content creators, it’s probably not the best choice for gaming due to the 60Hz refresh rate. While games will look great, at lower refresh rates tearing was more noticeable, for fast paced games the 240Hz screen option would probably be beneficial.

The screen also uses pulse-width modulation, or PWM, to adjust brightness. According to the panel spec it flickers at 60Hz, it looked fine to my eyes and I couldn’t even pick it up on camera unless I filmed with a really high shutter speed.

This could cause eye strain for some people, however I didn’t personally have any problems. Burn in is an issue present with OLED screens, however it generally takes a long time to develop. During my few weeks with the Aero, I did not notice any issues.

I left the screen showing the same image for 24 hours and this didn’t do anything, others have said the new OLED panels are better in this regard to previous options and that seems to be the case, but not sure how it’d go after years of use, it’s not something I can test.

Screen flex was around average, the metal panel itself felt solid, however the hinges could have been sturdier. This isn’t really an issue, but just for example if the screen is too low it will start closing I first noticed this by walking with the machine and found the panel was shaking a little more than I’m used to, though I never found this to be an issue during normal use, I mean how many people use a laptop with the screen at less than a 40 degree angle.

Absolutely no problems at all opening it up with one finger, it felt quite well balanced and no problems using it on my lap. The bezels around the screen are so thin there’s no room for the camera, which like other Aero laptops is found down the bottom.

Unlike the older Aero, it’s now got a sliding cover so you can physically ensure privacy without having to use tape. The nose cam is about average and the audio is good, here’s what typing sounds like and my fingers will get in the way a bit, and here’s what max fan sounds like.

The keyboard has been improved over previous generations, I was told at Computex that it’s been changed to be more responsive. In the past older Aero’s have had problems here, a problem I’m no stranger to, as while typing on my older 15X I need to press the keys down a little harder than usual to ensure the presses register, however I’m happy to report that was not a problem here.

Here’s how typing sounds to give you an idea of what to expect. There’s individual key RGB backlighting with plenty of effects built in, and the key brightness is also improved over older models, however none of the secondary key functions get lit up, something they did in the older model.

There was only minor keyboard flex while pushing down hard, overall the metal body was quite sturdy. The precision touchpad was very smooth to the touch and worked well. It presses down anywhere to click, supports the usual gestures, and unlike older models now has a fingerprint scanner in the top left corner, which means that top corner has no touchpad functionality.

I was never limited by this and preferred the addition of the fingerprint scanner, which seemed quite fast for unlocking the machine. Fingerprints show up quite easily all over, but as a smooth surface they were easy to clean.

On the left from the back there’s an air exhaust vent, something the older models didn’t have on the sides, HDMI 2.0 output, USB 3.1 Type-C port which is also wired for DisplayPort 1.4, USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port, 3.

5mm audio combo jack, and ethernet port facing the preferable way so you don’t have to lift the machine up to remove a cable. On the right from the front there are two more USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports, Type-C Thunderbolt 3 port, UHS-II SD card slot, power input, and another air exhaust.

On the back there are air exhausts towards the corners, and an Aero logo in the center which has its own white lighting that could not be customized. There’s nothing on the front except an indentation for getting your finger into for opening the lid.

On the matte black metal lid there’s the Aero logo in the center which lights up white, and like the lighting on the back cannot be controlled. Underneath there’s heaps of air ventilation towards the back half of the machine.

The rubber feet did a good job of preventing movement while in use, and the back ones appear angled such that they reduce exhausted hot air from being sucked straight back in. The two speakers are found towards the front left and right corners, they sound alright, clear at higher volumes but a bit tinny with minimal bass.

Here’s what we’re looking at while playing music at maximum volume, and the Latencymon results could have been better. The bottom panel can be easily removed by taking out 12 TR6 screws, and the four at the front were shorter than the rest.

Once inside from left to right we’ve got access to the spare M.2 slot which supports NVMe or SATA storage, battery, two memory slots, second M.2 slot and WiFi 6 card. Powering the laptop is the large 94 watt hour battery the Aero series is well known for.

I’ve tested it with the screen brightness at 50%, background apps disabled, and all RGB lighting off. While just watching YouTube videos it lasted for 6 hours and 20 minutes, and it was using the Intel integrated graphics due to Nvidia Optimus.

While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 1 hour and 41 minutes in total, however after the first hour and 15 minutes at 19% charge remaining the frame rate dipped to 6 FPS and was no longer usable.

This puts battery life around average for gaming in terms of the period the game was actually playable, while the battery life outside of gaming was simply outstanding, 6 hours in this test makes it one of the best I’ve tested.

Quite a few people asked if you can charge the new Aero over Type-C, I’ve tried both ports and this did not work for me, however you can charge devices off either Type-C port. The 230 watt power brick that Gigabyte include with the Aero 15 appears to be adequate for these specs, I was seeing some drain during my testing but it would stop at around the 95% mark which is standard behaviour.

It’s also worth noting the AI feature doesn’t work on battery power. Let’s move onto the thermal testing. As mentioned, this model improves over the old model with better air exhausts, two on the sides and two larger ones on the back corners, as well as some ventilation above the keyboard.

Inside the new model has more heatpipes and more fan blades when compared to the older Aero 15x, which as we can see here just had two shared pipes. On top of that Gigabyte have stated that they’re using Thermal Grizzly hydronaut thermal paste, which should hopefully be better than most of the others out there using who knows what.

All in all, we’re looking at some nice cooling upgrades compared to the older Aero 15, which if you saw my older thermal testing video would severely thermal throttle under the tests we’re about to go through.

The Gigabyte control center software allows us to set the CPU between 5 different levels of power levels, and the GPU between two levels, as defined here. Throughout this testing I’ve tested the stock settings with the CPU at level 2 and GPU at level 0 with the fans on the normal profile.

Here’s what the default fan curve of the normal profile looks like, so we’re not even getting to 70% max speed and expect it to run warmer but quieter as a result, however you can of course customize the curve.

When testing with maximum fan speed however, I’ve boosted the CPU to level 4 and the GPU to level 1 for highest levels of performance, so up to 62 watts on the CPU and 90 watts on the GPU, thermals permitting of course.

Gigabyte also have their AI feature, which basically automatically controls these power limits based on the workload being run. The idea is that you just enable the AI and over time it learns what you do with the machine and then you don’t need to go through and constantly change these settings around yourself.

Thermal testing was completed in an ambient room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, so expect different results in different environments. Let’s start with the idle results, so the machine is just sitting there doing nothing.

With the normal fan profile the fans were slightly audible, so it’s a little cooler, while the quiet profile made it completely silent so the temperatures were a bit warmer as a result. These results are from combined CPU and GPU workloads and are meant to represent worst case scenarios as I ran them for extended periods of time.

The gaming results towards the upper half of the graph were tested by playing Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination of processor and graphics. The stress test results shown on the lower half of the graph are from running the Aida64 CPU stress test with only the stress CPU option checked, and the Heaven GPU benchmark at max settings at the same time to fully load the system.

Let’s start with the stress test results, at stock with the normal fan profile we’re thermal throttling on the CPU, and this happens basically any time the blue CPU bar is at 90 degrees Celsius. When we max out the fan the CPU is still thermal throttling, however the GPU lowers back a bit despite now receiving more power, but we’ll see in the next graph how clock speeds were affected.

By applying a -0.18v undervolt to the CPU it’s still thermal throttling, and if we instead use a cooling pad with no undervolt that’s still the case. Only when we combine the undervolt with the cooling pad did we finally completely remove thermal throttling under this workload.

The gaming tests were thermal throttling on the CPU in a similar manner, however interestingly with the AI in use plus maximum fan speed the CPU temperature dropped down a fair bit. Otherwise just the CPU undervolt was also enough to remove the thermal throttling with this particular game, and when combined with the cooling pad we saw quite a large improvement.

These are the average clock speeds for the same tests just shown. With the CPU set to the default level 2 we’re seeing lower CPU performance, both in the stress test and gaming test. Setting the fan speed to maximum helps boost clock speed as the current limitation is thermal throttling.

Interestingly in the gaming tests with AI and the fans at default speed I saw no real difference compared to without AI, however with the fan at maximum and AI enabled it was now performing better, though at the same time we’re getting better performance by just manually setting CPU to maximum power limit.

It’s worth remembering that the point of the AI software is to automatically handle these changes for us so we don’t have to go around and manually tweak settings. While it was making an improvement, manually setting things to maximum works out better, but then you’ll have to keep controlling these options manually, and leaving the Gigabyte control center software open seemed to use up to 13% CPU so you’ll want to close it after making manual changes.

Almost every time the CPU was undervolted we’re reaching the full 4GHz all core turbo boost speed of the i7-9750H CPU, with the one exception being in the stress test without the cooling pad as it was still just thermal throttling in that instance.

That’s why we see a 300MHz improvement with and without the cooling pad in the stress tests, despite the CPU still thermal throttling at 90 degrees it’s throttling less with the cooling pad. Alright I know a lot of people in the past have not liked the Gigabyte Aero laptop due to the thermal throttling, and that’s fair, however despite still thermal throttling in many of these tests I think we need to take a step back and compare these results to the older Aero and see how far it’s come.

These are the clock speeds I got under the same workloads a few months ago when I tested the Aero 15 X9 with 8750H and 2070 Max-Q graphics, so pretty similar specs, though I did also test it with a warmer room temperature.

At stock we’re 1GHz behind on the CPU compared to the new model, and even the best case result here with undervolting and cooling pad topped out at 3.3GHz, which we could easily get in the new model just by increasing fan speed.

The old model had no chance of hitting the 3.9GHz all core turbo speed in these specific workloads, it was quite far off in fact, while the new one can at least hit the 4GHz turbo speed with some modifications.

Yes the new Aero still thermal throttles on the CPU under many of these workloads, but these particular tests are meant to represent worst case scenarios and you can’t argue that these are some great improvements over what they had previously.

These are the average TDP values reported by hardware info during these same tests. Basically we can see the CPU and GPU rise up when we increase from CPU level 2 and GPU level 0 in the control center software.

These are the average CPU clock speeds while under a CPU only workload. With Aida64 and just the stress CPU option checked I couldn’t get the full 4GHz turbo boost speed even using the highest level 4 option for the CPU available through the control center software, however undervolting or manually boosting the power limit did allow this to get all the way.

This is because it was hitting the 62 watt power limit defined by this mode, so raising the power limit uses more power to hit the 4GHz clock speed, while undervolting instead requires less power to do so.

This reflects in the thermals, where more power equals more heat. We’re getting a higher temperature by taking the approach of boosting power limit, whereas undervolting is cooler than using CPU level 2.

To demonstrate how this translates into performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here. I haven’t bothered testing CPU levels 0-3, so down the bottom we’re starting with level 4, maximum stock performance using the options available through the control center software.

The result wasn’t great, however with some modifications we could get very impressive performance. With the power limit boost Intel XTU was reporting the CPU as running at 100 watts, and it was thermal throttling in this test.

Undervolting instead of touching the power limit gave a better score, but when combining the two a 3100 score was possible, so this just goes to show that we can push the CPU power limit higher manually which will be useful for intensive CPU workloads.

As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle it was in the low 30s in the center, about average. While gaming with the fan at default speed, so not even at 70%, we’re reaching the mid 40s in the center however the WASD keys are noticeably cooler due to the fan below them.

Pretty much the same results with the stress test and fan at normal speed, and then with the fans at maximum it’s not really too different, which isn’t surprising as the internal temperatures were the same, as we saw earlier.

As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle with the quiet profile it was completely silent, while with the normal fan profile the fans were audible but it was still quiet, and this is why we saw different idle temperatures earlier between these two modes.

With the normal profile whether gaming or under stress test the fan curve makes the fan run at the same speed, which isn’t even hitting 70%, so we do at least have the option of making it run quieter at the expense of lower performance.

Otherwise with the fans at maximum it can get quite loud, however I think this is a good thing considering the high level of granularity that Gigabyte are providing through the control center software, as it should allow you to customize a sweet spot.

Overall I think these are some nice improvements when compared against the older Aero 15. Yeah it still thermal throttles in many of the workloads, but the performance is much improved and with some undervolting and occasional cooling pad use thermal throttling could be eliminated.

It’s worth remembering these tests are meant to be worst case as well, most people aren’t going to be hammering their machine with full load for hours at a time. There are of course other machines with these specs that perform better and don’t quite run as hot, but if you’re willing to accept this I think the Aero has a lot to offer.

It’s worth mentioning that Gigabyte are limiting the CPU to 90 degrees too, if they did what Dell did in the G5 and let it run up to 100 degrees then we could get a bit more performance out of it, as the thermal throttle threshold would be higher, but personally I’m happy to take the performance hit and not get that hot.

I’m hoping that the new 17 inch model takes advantage of the extra space and has even better cooling, hopefully I’ll get to test it out once it’s available, so make sure you’re subscribed for that one.

I’d expect the 8 core model to run hotter, however if you are doing multithreaded work the extra two cores should still give a nice performance improvement in such workloads. In the future I think if Gigabyte start undervolting out of the box like we’ve seen Acer do in the Helios 300 and Razer do in the Blade Pro 17 then it should be in pretty good shape, ideally if the AI software controlled this dynamically within a known stable range it could make it much more useful, though as we’ve seen we can of course do this ourselves.

Next let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks. I’ve tested these with the CPU set to level 4 and GPU set to level 1, so the highest power limits available, though this does not apply any overclocks.

I’ve run most of these games at 1080p for better performance, which scales down perfectly on the 4K screen. Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode. The game was still playing quite well for me at ultra settings with RTX off, with even the 1% low above 60 FPS.

As usual with RTX on it was only really performing well at low or medium settings, and in my opinion it looks better at ultra with RTX off and performs similarly. As we’ve got a 4K screen I’ve tested a few games at 4K to see what we can expect.

Battlefield 5 is an example of a modern game that is generally too resource demanding for this resolution. It ran ok at the lower settings, but in my opinion it looked and played nicer at 1080p with ultra and most people are probably after higher frame rates.

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. It was still playing well with maximum settings, however with minimum settings we could boost average FPS by 52% and get a higher 1% low than the average maximum could deliver.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built in benchmark, the results from this test were looking pretty good at lower settings where we’re more CPU bound, while higher settings still did well with the increased power limit on the GPU, but we’ll see how this game compares with other machines soon.

Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the built in benchmark. This game seems to be fairly CPU heavy, so the results are pretty decent thanks to the boosted maximum CPU power limit of 62 watts. Fortnite was tested with the replay feature.

Epic settings still averaged 130 FPS and played perfectly smoothly without any issues, while medium settings would be a good match if you get the Aero with 240Hz screen. As this game runs quite well I’ve also given it a go at 4K, and it was still playing very well with medium settings, with the 1% low above the 60Hz refresh rate of the 4K panel.

Overwatch is another well optimized game and was tested in the practice range. Again even at maximum settings very high frame rates were possible and it played very nicely, while we’re only just below the 300 FPS frame cap at low.

I’ve also tested this one out at 4K as it runs so well, and ultra settings were still reaching above 60 FPS for the 1% low, so again working quite well at a high setting level at 4K, with much higher FPS possible at lower levels.

CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical FPS benchmark, and as a game that is pretty CPU bound the average FPS results are about what I expected from a 9750H, maybe a little higher due to the boosted power limit though.

Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark. Even with maximum ultra settings we’re getting above 100 for the 1% low, so still perfectly smooth in this test, with up to 200 FPS averages possible at low settings.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the built in benchmark, and from my experience seems to be a fairly CPU heavy game. This is why a cheaper laptop like the Acer Helios 300 is able to beat it at all setting levels except ultra, as that machine is undervolted out of the box while also having a boosted power limit.

At ultra settings the higher GPU power from the 2070 Max-Q puts it ahead though. Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane with an average amount of action going on, and is yet another game that I’ve found to prefer higher CPU power, which would explain these fairly high results, and it was running extremely well even at max settings.

Watch Dogs 2 is a resource heavy game, but in my opinion is still playable with a stable 30 FPS, so even at ultra settings with our 60 FPS here it’s playing very well without any problems. If you’re after more gaming benchmarks check the card in the top right corner where I’ve tested 20 games in total.

Let’s also take a look at how this config of the new Aero 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 got the Aero 15 highlighted in red. I’ve got the older Aero just below it, and we can see there’s a nice performance improvement with the new model despite having similar specs on paper.

It’s worth noting that it’s not quite as high as the Blade Pro 17 above it with similar looking specs, as that undervolts the CPU out of the box, has a higher 100 watt power limit on the GPU, overclocks the GPU and is a larger machine with 4 fans.

Still though the performance wasn’t too far behind the non Max-Q 2070 laptops. Here are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark. I’ve found this to be a pretty CPU heavy test, which I think is why we’re seeing a larger improvement in this game compared to the older Aero, but also compared to many other machines likely thanks to that boosted CPU power limit.

We’re just a couple FPS behind the non Max-Q 2070s and the 2080 Max-Q in the GS75, while the 1% low is actually slightly ahead, again due to that boosted CPU power limit. These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider with the built in benchmark at highest settings.

Just a little improvement over the older Aero this time, and a respectable result overall. Not quite on the same level as the non Max-Q 2070’s this time, but still a fair bit ahead of the 2060’s and below.

Overall the new Gigabyte Aero 15 laptop is providing higher levels of performance with essentially the same specs when compared to the older model, due to improved cooling which allows for higher power limits.

While it has a 4K screen, the specs aren’t the best for a 4K gaming experience in modern titles, however less demanding games played alright. 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 making some changes to improve performance, so let’s see how these performance boosts actually translate into games. I’ve tested Far Cry 5 with the built in benchmark at 1080p.

At the bottom we’ve got the default settings the laptop comes with, which are still outperforming the 81 FPS the old Aero with same GPU but 8750H got in this test. The AI mode did actually improve on this, however it’s not going to beat us setting the max CPU and GPU speeds through the control center software and manually maxing out the fan.

When we undervolt the CPU and boost the power limit we see the best result, I didn’t do GPU overclocking here as I actually averaged 1 FPS worse performance with it on as the GPU is always power limit throttled, which seems to be pretty standard with RTX laptops before undervolting.

It’s not all about gaming though, arguably with the OLED screen the new Aero is great for content creators, so I’ve tested it against my older Aero 15x in Adobe Premiere. In terms of export speed, while exporting a 4K project the new Aero was just over 8% faster in this test.

I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, and the 512gb NVMe M.2 SSD was performing quite well, though a fair bit lower on the writes compared to reads, while the UHS-II SD card slot was performing very well with my V90 rated card.

For updated pricing check the links in the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording in the US the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XA that I’ve got here goes for around $2500 USD, while here in Australia we’re looking at $3800 AUD, though there are both cheaper and more expensive configurations available, again prices to different specced models linked below.

So to conclude, the new Aero 15 laptop has some nice improvements over the older model, however it’s also a step back in some other regards. The option of OLED screen is excellent for content creators, I seriously wish I had one over my older 15x, and for gamers the 240Hz option will likely be better in many instances.

The screen hinges seemed a bit less rigid in my unit, but honestly not really a problem in practical use. Gigabyte have made good improvements to the thermals, including more air vents, more heatpipes, more fan blades and better thermal paste, which allow the machine to run at higher power limits for increased levels of performance.

It still does get hot under full worst case load, though we could improve this and it’s still significantly better over the older models. I like that they’ve fixed the keyboard in the newer one to make it more responsive, however the lack of backlighting for secondary key functions which was present in the older model is one of those steps back I mentioned.

The need to move the ports towards the front isn’t great, having the ethernet cable right at the front just feels in the way at times, but I completely get it and understand the compromise to get the air vents up the back which weren’t there previously.

Maybe in the future it would be possible for larger I/O to be placed on the back like the Lenovo Y740 for instance. Nose cam is still a thing, but at least we’ve got the option of a cover, so that’s a small improvement, and the addition of a fingerprint scanner was nice.

Otherwise the addition of dual channel memory compared to previous single channel configurations i’ve been sent with latest WiFi 6 support was nice to see. Overall there are some nice incremental improvements all over the place which for the most part resolve the small issues I’ve had with the older models, and if given the choice between this new version and the old one I’d pick the new one every time, I’d happily trade the 15x for this OLED config.

The new Gigabyte Aero 15 offers great all round features that not many other machines have, including excellent battery life, Thunderbolt 3, fast SD card reader, OLED screen, good levels of performance all while being in a relatively small package for a 15 inch machine.

Let me know what you thought about the new Aero 15 laptop down in the comments, I know quite a few of my viewers use the older models so I’m interested to hear what you think about the changes, and of course if you’re new to the channel consider getting subscribed for future laptop reviews and tech videos like this one.

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