Now, the fun part starts, and we can begin testing this laptop’s performance. As usual, we are performing both synthetic benchmarks and subjective analysis over a week of use for work and play. Let’s get right to the results.
Subjective Impressions: Gaming
This is a gaming laptop, so let’s look at its performance in games first. Happily, I’m able to report that the Aorus X7 is as capable a competitor as its specifications would suggest. We’ll see this later in the benchmarks, but the X7 provides near-desktop levels of performance. At 1080p, you can expect playable (read: 30-60+ fps) at high settings in almost all games. This is awesome for a laptop, and makes for an ideal LAN machine.
I played through a few titles on the Aorus X7, and came away impressed each time. Low-end titles like Trackmania Nations, Super Hexagon and Call of Duty 4 run with their settings maxed out and running up against vsync as you’d expect. Performance is more surprising in medium-range and older games like StarCraft 2, again frequently rising above 60fps even on high settings. High-end and/or poorly optimised titles like Dark Souls, Battlefield 4 and World of Tanks provided the most surprising results, again running on high at 1080p at playable framerates. Overall, performance was more than respectable on all games that I tried, often coming close to my three-year-old gaming desktop in performance.
This performance comes with an important caveat though – these games must be engineered to take advantage of SLI (dual graphics card) configurations. Most games these days are indeed engineered in this way, but you will always run into exceptions, like Company of Heroes 2. Here, you’d be better off getting a single-GPU laptop like the Gigabyte P35K, as you’ll see no difference in performance between the two. For that reason, before pulling the trigger it’s important to do some research and ensure that SLI is supported in the games that you want to play; if they’re not it’d be better to have a more powerful single graphics card.
Of course, performance isn’t everything. A big problem with the P35K, my favourite gaming laptop I’ve reviewed so far, was its issues with noise and heat while gaming. Here the X7 proved exceptional, with its serious thermal design proving up to the challenge of keeping the machine cool during even the most stressful games and benchmarks. Noise was also kept to a minimum, which came as a surprise given the impressive thinness.
To sum up then, the Aorus X7 is as potent a laptop as I’ve ever played with, and it definitely works as a desktop replacement for PC gamers with a little extra cash to spend.
Subjective Impressions: Work
For gaming, CPU/GPU power is key. For traditional non-game desktop applications, you tend to see rather rapid diminishing returns after a baseline level of CPU/GPU power has been reached; here the presence and speed of storage and RAM is a bigger factor. Here, the Aorus X7 has no issues, with 16 GB of RAM and a pair of solid state drives in RAID0 providing an excess of performance.
The addition of a second logical drive, a 1 TB unit, also proved useful for storing media. Combined with the high resolution display and good to excellent input options, this is definitely a laptop that you could do some work on. The excess of USB ports also proved useful, allowing for the addition of any desired functionality.
Of course, there were some downsides too. Generally you can choose two of performance, size and battery life – and the X7 is heavily optimised for the first two options at the expense of the third. While average battery life was reasonable at four hours, it’s nowhere near that of the 12-hour MacBook Air and several other Haswell-equipped Windows options.
The massive height and width also proved a barrier, making it difficult to use the X7 on cramped public transport. If you’re looking for a laptop primarily for working on the go then you’d do better to look elsewhere. This is a gaming laptop first and foremost, meant to be moved from desk to desk.