Gigabyte have refreshed their Aero 17 laptop with Intel 10th gen processor, faster memory and Nvidia Super graphics, let’s find out how this new configuration performs and see what other changes they’ve made over the older model in this detailed review.
I’ve got the HDR XB model, so there’s an 8 core Intel i7-10875H CPU, 90 watt Nvidia RTX 2070 Super Max-Q graphics, 16gb of memory in dual channel, a 17.3” HDR 4K 60Hz IPS screen, and a 512gb M.2 NVMe SSD in one of the two available slots. For network connectivity it’s got gigabit ethernet, WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.
There are a few different configurations available, the HDR version that I’ve got has the 4K HDR screen, while the non HDR model has a 1080p 144Hz option.
On the matte black metal lid we’ve got the Aero logo, with a subtle brushed finish towards the bottom. The interior is similar to most of the lid, all matte black metal but with a plastic outer trim, and overall it felt well built with no sharp edges or corners. Gigabyte list the weight as around 2.5kg or 5.5lb, and mine was just over 2.6kg. Once we add the 230 watt power brick and cables the total rises up to 3.5kg.
The dimensions are about what you’d expect from a modern 17” machine, however the height is just 2.1cm thick, we’ll see how this affects thermals and performance later. I’ve measured the screen bezels at 8.5mm on the sides, and Gigabyte say this gives it an 89% screen to body ratio. The 17.3” 4K 60Hz IPS screen has a matte finish, comes Pantone calibrated out of the box and looks excellent, noticeably better compared to most 1080p panels I regularly test with.
I’ve measured the colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro and got 99% of sRGB, 92% of NTSC, 96% of AdobeRGB, and 86% of DCI-P3.
At 100% brightness I measured the panel at 530 nits in the center with a 1290:1 contrast ratio, so overall quite a nice display. Backlight bleed looked fine, only some extremely minor glow spots that I never noticed when viewing darker content, but this will vary between laptop and panel. It’s also DisplayHDR 400 certified, and while nothing amazing when compared to other HDR monitors I’ve tested, it’s still a step up over nothing, though I haven’t tested many HDR laptops yet as selection is still minimal.
Screen flex was on the lower side, the metal lid felt quite solid. The hinges are found out towards the corners and felt equally solid, however I think the exterior is plastic. One finger opening was only just possible, it’s a little heavier at the back, however it felt fine sitting on my lap.
Like other Aero laptops, the screen bezel is too thin so the 720p camera is found down the bottom, no Windows hello support, but it’s got a physically sliding privacy cover.
The keyboard worked well and I had no issues typing with it. It’s got individual key RGB backlighting with quite a few effects built in, however unfortunately the secondary key functions still don’t get lit up, as was the case last gen too, it would have been good to have that improved with the new model. There was only minor keyboard flex while pushing down hard, overall the metal body was quite sturdy, absolutely no issues at all during normal use.
The precision touchpad was extremely smooth to the touch and worked very well. It presses down anywhere to click, supports the usual gestures, and has a fingerprint scanner in the top left corner, which means that the top corner has no touchpad functionality. I was never limited by this and liked the fingerprint scanner, which I found fast for unlocking the machine.
Fingerprints show up easily but are kind of masked by the matte finish, and they weren’t too hard to clean with a microfiber cloth.
On the left from the back there’s an air exhaust vent, gigabit ethernet port which is facing the prefered way, no lifting the machine to get the cable out, full size UHS-II SD card slot, thank you for always keeping this in the Aero series, USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port, 3.5mm mic and headphone jacks, and second USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port. On the right from the front there’s a third USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port, a Type-C port which has both Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort support, mini DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 outputs, power input and another air exhaust vent. This side has changed slightly from last gen which had two Type-C ports here. The mini DisplayPort and HDMI ports connect directly to the Nvidia GPU, however the Type-C port goes via the Intel iGPU first.
On the back there are air exhausts towards the corners, and the Aero logo in the center. Meanwhile the front is just plastic with a groove for your finger to open the lid. The Aero logo on the lid lights up white from the backlight of the screen, so it cannot be adjusted.
Underneath there’s heaps of air ventilation towards the back half of the machine. The bottom panel can be easily removed by taking out 14 TR6 screws. Once inside from left to right we’ve got an M.2 slot for NVMe or SATA storage, the battery down the bottom, WiFi 6 card and two memory slots above this, followed by the second M.2 slot on the right which is NVMe only. The two speakers are found towards the front left and right corners, they sound alright, clear at higher volumes with a little bass present.
The Aero 17 is powered by a large 94 watt hour battery which 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 Intel integrated graphics due to Nvidia Optimus, and it’s a little behind last year’s model. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 1 hour and 22 minutes before dropping to 6 FPS, then in total it lasted for an hour and 46 minutes if you include the period where it wasn’t playable. This puts battery life around average for gaming in terms of the period where the game was actually playable, while the battery life outside of gaming is excellent given the specs we’re dealing with.
The 230 watt power brick that Gigabyte includes with the Aero 17 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 pretty standard behaviour, it never dropped further. We’ll just quickly recap thermal testing here. Air is pulled in through the large mesh area underneath and also from the vents above the keyboard. It then gets exhausted out the back, and from the left and right sides towards the back.
There are shared heatpipes inside, and Gigabyte use thermal grizzly hydronaut thermal paste here. The Gigabyte control center software allows us to set the CPU between 5 different levels of power, and the GPU between two levels, as defined here. We also get a few different default fan curves, but have the option of customizing it for optimal performance.
In different workloads the Aero would thermal throttle on the CPU at 90 degrees, but honestly I think this is preferable compared to it having say a 100 degree celsius limit like the G5. By boosting the fan speed and using a cooling pad it was possible to improve the temps.
These are the average clock speeds for those same tests. Even in the worst case combined CPU and GPU stress tests with higher fan speed and the cooling pad it was possible to hit 4.2GHz over all 8 cores, not bad at all given the laptop is just 2.1cm thick.
These are the power levels being hit. The GPU had no issues running at the 90 watt limit once we boost it to level 1, otherwise the CPU being able to go above 60 watts with the cooling pad was quite impressive when you consider most other laptops will hard cap the CPU at 45 watts in combined CPU and GPU loads.
Here’s how CPU only performance was looking in Cinebench.Again, by manually boosting the power limit it was possible to improve the score quite nicely.
Here’s how the 10th gen 8 core processor compares against others I’ve tested in the past.It’s slightly behind the 9980HK in the last gen Aero 17, however it’s worth mentioning that was undervolted while undervolting is locked on this newer 10th gen Aero, so I couldn’t do it.
Boosting the power limit and overclocking the graphics was able to give us a fair performance boost in games though, even without being able to undervolt. Playing games in quiet mode was alright in GPU heavier titles, but as we saw earlier the CPU gets capped more harshly, so CPU heavy games may lag in that mode.
The fans were completely silent at idle, however there was some coil whine present in my unit. Quiet mode does what it says even under heavy load. The normal profile wasn’t too loud when under stress test, and the gaming profile was still quieter when compared to many other less powerful gaming laptops I’ve tested. Max fan speed is quite loud, but personally I think this is an advantage. Rather than being locked to a lower fan speed and being forced to run hotter, the user at least has the choice, and given you can customize the fan curve greatly, you have the option of finding a good mixture of noise and thermals.
As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle it was in the mid 30s, so a little warmer than many other laptops I’ve tested but no issue. With the stress tests running the middle gets a little warm, while the WASD keys and wrist rest area was still cool. With the fans at max speed it’s cooler, but also quite loud. As a laptop primarily designed with content creation in mind, here’s how it performed in Adobe Premiere. The Aero 17 was offering one of the best results in this test out of all laptops tested, though to be fair, it was not too far behind other lower specced machines. With Quicksync in use there seems to be diminishing returns once you have an i7 and 1660 Ti.
I’ve also tested out SPECviewperf, which is a benchmark for professional 3D workloads. I’ve compared the 2070 Super Max-Q in this new 10th gen Aero 17 with the 2070 Max-Q non super from the previous Aero 17 I reviewed last year, and we can see that in some tests the Super graphics were able to offer a nice improvement.
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 with the Gigabyte software, though this does not apply any overclocks or undervolting. While the Aero 17 came with Nvidia Studio drivers, for the game tests I installed game ready drivers for best performance. In Battlefield 5 I’ve got this Aero 17 highlighted in red near similarly specced machines. The results were fair in this game, the average FPS of the 2070 Super Max-Q is keeping up with many of the other 2080 Max-Q laptops that I’ve previously tested, however the results were more interesting in the other titles.
These are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark. This test tends to favour CPU power, and the 8 core 10th gen processor can actually hit some nice speeds in this chassis as we saw earlier in the thermal tests. Anyway the results in this game are some of the best out of all laptops tested, likely only behind the Triton 500 at the top as that lets you disable the integrated graphics which boosts performance.
These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider with the built in benchmark at highest settings. Again the Aero 17 with this new hardware was producing one of the best results out of this selection of laptops. I found it interesting that it was ahead of the GX502GW, given that it has the 115w 2070 with the iGPU disabled. The FPS from the new Aero is almost 19% faster than the last gen Aero I’ve got on the graph too, with 9th gen 8 core i9 and 2070 Max-Q.
Based on these results, it looks like the combination of the 10th gen processor with faster memory and new Super graphics is actually holding up quite well compared to the last 9th gen and non Super graphics options. I was pretty surprised when I found the 90 watt 2070 Super Max-Q outperforming the 115 watt 2070 laptops, now I’m really interested to see how the new 115w 2070 Super laptops stack up.
I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, and the 512gb NVMe M.2 SSD was performing quite well. The UHS-II SD card slot was doing great for the reads, however writes were noticeably slower but given most people probably use this to offload stuff from a camera, reads would be more important.
The SD card sticks out by this much when inserted into the machine. The Gigabyte Aero 17 with these same specs is going for $2900 USD, however there are also much cheaper versions available with lower tier CPU or GPU. Compared to the Aero 17 I covered last year, it’s $300 less, so that seems pretty decent given CPU performance wasn’t all that different and the GPU was better.
With all of that in mind, let’s conclude by covering the good and bad aspects of the new Gigabyte Aero 17 laptop. Overall the Aero 17 is a nice laptop for content creators and gamers alike that are after the larger 17 inch screen. There’s the 4K HDR screen for creators or 1080p 144Hz option for gamers, and as we saw, both creator workloads like video exporting or games were performing very well.
The build quality is great, battery life is nice for specs and I didn’t have any major issues to report aside from some subtle coil whine while idle, though that would come and go depending on the workload and would get masked by low fan noise. The performance is quite good all things considered, it’s a thinner 2.1cm machine with good specs inside. As a result under worst case loads it does thermal throttle, however the performance was actually quite good, especially if you’re willing to boost the fan speed and use a cooling pad. Unfortunately undervolting was locked in the 10th gen model, I’m not sure if Gigabyte did this or if Intel have just blocked it 10th gen wide, as 4 laptops from both Gigabyte and MSI so far have had it locked.
It was good to see that we’re able to customize the fans so much as well as the power limits, however I feel Gigabyte may be leaving performance on the table by maxing the CPU out at 62 watts by their software when I could manually boost this in Intel XTU to achieve even higher performance.
Regardless, it’s still good that it’s not just hard capped to a lower value like other machines. In the end though, there’s not really much change compared to the last gen Aero 17. It seems like Gigabyte have just dropped in an Intel 10th gen processor with faster memory and Nvidia Super graphics and called it a day. It would have been great to see some more incremental improvements at this price point, such as 2.5 gigabit ethernet, or even just having the keyboard backlighting light up all functions.
In terms of those hardware differences though, 10th gen doesn’t seem to offer too much improvement over 9th gen, while the Super graphics seemed to offer a bit more compared to non super variants. Let me know what you thought about the Gigabyte Aero 17 laptop down in the comments.