The Aorus X7 comes in a rather incredible box, giving a good first impression. The standard cardboard suitcase opens to reveal a black gift box of considerable size, held in place at each of the four corners by a triangular piece of foam.
Open up the box, and you’ll see the laptop, wrapped in a thin synthetic cloth. Below this, you’ll find the accessories included with the laptop – a power cable and a welcome guide.
Additional accessories – a gaming mouse, keyboard and headset – are also available for purchase, but I didn’t receive any. I’d certainly say that a good mouse is required for any PC gaming, so make sure you’ve got one handy!
The Aorus X7 has a certain presence, immediately upon taking it out of its wrapper. The matte black metal frame sits solidly, cold to the touch. The frame is a mixture of clean lines and small design flourishes; a hybrid between traditional business and gaming laptops. The result is a laptop that’s certainly a gaming machine, with fan vents on every surface, but one that feels more elegant and mature than the work of Razer or Alienware.
The Aorus X7’s raw dimensions contribute to that feeling of strength; this is a laptop that is both taller and wider than any other 17-inch laptop I’ve used before, even the HP ZD8000 desktop replacement I got in 2006. Thankfully, on the remaining dimension – thickness – the X7 excels, making for a laptop that takes up surprisingly little space once you can actually find a bag big enough for it. The laptop is fairly heavy, too, which provides a reassuring rigidity to the chassis.
The lid of the Aorus X7 reminds me of a muscle car, with a definite prow at opening edge. A white Aorus logo sits mid-centre, while two smaller ridges sit near the hinge. The hinge is somewhat unusual for a laptop in that it isn’t at the absolute end of the laptop; instead it’s inset about an inch. That leaves room for a cooling stack that uses the full thickness of the laptop, while the impressive dimensions still allow for a full display, keyboard and mouse in the space remaining.
Opening the laptop, we see these elements, in their standard positions. The display is a 17.3-inch unit, with a resolution of 1920 by 1080. Choosing the 1080p standard makes sense for multimedia purposes, and also ensures decent game performance at the panel’s native resolution. We’ve seen smaller laptops with higher resolution screens, but getting playable framerates in recent games while maintaining acceptable detail settings is nearly impossible for them. The panel is good to middling in quality, offering good viewing angles and colour accuracy without really approaching MacBook Pro territory.
The keyboard and touchpad are also of a good quality, as befitting the X7’s high-end market position. The keyboard is a tiny bit shallow for my tastes, but is otherwise fine. The scissor switches provide decent tactile feedback, and the layout is quite sensible – from left to right we have a column of macro keys, the main cluster and a numberpad. These macro keys are controlled in software, and can be set to replicate any key or sequence of keys. They’re mostly useful in MMOs and desktop applications, but will occasionally prove useful in other games as well.
My only remaining gripe with the keyboard is its highlighting of the WASD keys with a white stroke, which serves no practical purpose. All gamers will know these keys by heart, while non-gamers won’t get useful information from the highlighting. It seems to ruin the otherwise decent legends, for the sake of ticking a ‘for gamers’ laptop design checklist.
The touchpad is likewise almost perfect, with one small flaw. The touchpad is made of glass, like that of Apple’s MacBook Pro, and offers a rather satisfying experience – at least while it’s clean. Unfortunately, the touchpad seems to have a knack for picking up finger grease quickly, which interrupt the smooth touch gestures with small stops and starts. Thankfully this is something you’ll quickly learn to deal with, either by stroking a little more forcefully or by cleaning the touchpad regularly, but it’s still an annoying imperfection.
So a good first impression and overall look; a well-chosen display; near-perfect keyboard and touchpad. The remaining areas are the ports and features on the left, right and back sides, and here the Aorus X7 shines.
The left hand side is home to the following ports, from left to right: Gigabit ethernet, HDMI, VGA, USB 3.0 and two 3.5mm audio jacks for headphone out and microphone in.
On the right hand side, we have another good range of ports, again from left to right: SD card slot, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and mini Display Port. That brings the total number of video outputs to four (three digital, one analogue). It’s worth noting that three displays can be driven by the laptop, but to use the HDMI on the left hand side you’ll need to disable SLI.
On the back we have three further inputs – two USB 2.0 ports and the AC power port. I like the inclusion of these extra USB ports, as they’re ideal for plugging in extra input devices like mice and controllers without taking up valuable space to the left and right of the laptop, as this is where your mouse would likely sit.
The remaining physical feature is the bottom of the laptop, which is fairly nondescript – just regulatory information in the bottom-centre, plus a large assortment of exhaust inputs and outputs in vaguely geometric shapes.