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Gigabyte Aero 14 - early impressions

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Disclaimer: I paid for this laptop out of my own pocket. Neither Xotic PC nor Gigabyte sent me the laptop for review, and I have no obligation to put either company in a positive light. This is not a proper review, it is based on my observations about the Gigabyte Aero 14 and may help others in deciding if this laptop is for them. Or not.

 

So last week I received my first new laptop since 2014, a Gigabyte Aero 14. I ordered it from the aftermarket seller Xotic PC in its stock configuration, using financing to help me pay off the machine. I was looking for a "do everything" laptop with a great screen and greater battery life, as well as enough power to play some games on the side, and the Aero 14 was the only laptop I found that met all my needs. The laptop I bought is configured as follows:

  • Intel Core i7-7700HQ @ 2.8 - 3.8GHz
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
  • 16GB single-channel DDR4 RAM
  • 512GB Liteon SATA M.2 SSD
  • 14" 2560x1440 IPS display
  • Windows 10 Home (almost immediately upgraded to 10 Pro tho)
  • 94.24Wh battery

 

First things first. This laptop's display is beautiful. It covers about 95% RGB and 74% AdobeRGB, with a maximum brightness of 310 nits, and the resolution of 2560x1440 comes to about 210 pixels per inch on a 14" display. While the color accuracy will suit the needs of basic users and creative professionals who rely on the SRGB color spectrum, creative professionals who rely on the AdobeRGB color spectrum may want to either calibrate the display a bit more or even look elsewhere. However, for what it is, this is one of the better displays on a laptop. For those of you who care, it is non-touch. The laptop shipped at 200% scaling, but I find 150% scaling to be far better as far as balancing viewing area and being able to read the text on the display goes.

 

But beyond the display, the battery life is phenomenal. On a typical 14" gaming laptop, you'd expect 2 - 4 hours of battery life, maybe 5 hours while idling. That 94.24Wh battery in this thing is no joke, meanwhile. It's not uncommon for me to see 7 - 10 hours of battery life during light to moderate use, sometimes even as much as 13 hours under light load. If you're looking for a gaming laptop or maybe a laptop you can use as a light workstation on the go with incredible endurance, this is it. Seriously, that 94.24Wh battery is no joke, and firmly backs up my belief that all laptops should come with a big battery like this. Because, really, people aren't always gonna be near a power plug when using their laptop.

 

Gaming performance is also really good. The GTX 1060 is capable of playing all the latest games at pretty respectable settings, and has an ample 6GB GDDR5 VRAM to help with that. However, outside of lighter titles like Overwatch or Rocket League, and maybe some older games like Half-Life 2 or Borderlands 2, or even 2D games, don't expect to run many games in the laptop's native 2560x1440 at respectable frame rates. It certainly is doable, but the frame rate may be more cinematic than what PC gamers normally expect. It is doable, but the GTX 1060 is strictly entry-level as far as 1440p gaming goes. I would have preferred a 1080p panel instead, but at the same time I really enjoy the 210ppi pixel density. Text on the display looks really sharp and even games you can run in 1440p on the 1060 do as well.

 

The build feels really solid as well. It's partially plastic and partially aluminum, with part of the lid and the palm rest/keyboard areas being made out of aluminum, while the display bezel and bottom are plastic. It's not a huge deal breaker, but for $1700, people expect more aluminum in the build. Regardless, the build quality feels absolutely solid. There's zero flex in the keyboard area and some minor flex in the display. The hinge, while strong, is openable with one finger and doesn't feel like it will give way any time soon. Granted, this is not a Thinkpad-quality build, but for what it is it's fantastic.

 

The keyboard is fine too. Key travel is adequate and it feels good to type on, although due to the slightly modified layout introduced by the macro keys will take some getting used to. Due to the macro keys, the entire keyboard is slightly offset to the right. However, they aren't entirely useless. Gigabyte's Macro Hub, while dated-looking, can provide a number of useful functions to the macro keys, such as making them dedicated volume buttons or media control keys. The only RGB you will find on the Aero 14 is related to the G button above the macro keys, which will cycle through purple, green, red, blue and orange, depending on which of 5 profiles you have loaded. The standard keyboard lighting is a solid white, with two levels of brightness.

 

However, not everything is positive. I've noticed some "freezing" while the OS is doing things like displaying the UAC prompt or when the system is loading something. I'm not entirely sure why, but I believe it might be related to the OEM install. When I upgrade the storage to a NVMe SSD, I'll likely do a custom install rather than use Gigabyte's pre-made image. I'll avoid some bloatware by doing so anyway.

 

There's also the trackpad. It uses Elan drivers rather than the native Windows Precision drivers. Trust me, you will want to open up Smart Update and update the trackpad drivers as soon as possible. After some adjustment, like lowering the mouse speed to a more reasonable amount and disabling some gestures I don't like/need in the Elan driver software, I got tracking to be relatively accurate, but I would have preferred a Precision trackpad rather than an Elan one. Maybe something Gigabyte can consider for the next-generation Aero 14. Seriously, Gigabyte, if you're gonna offer a premium-priced laptop you should offer a premium experience the whole way through.

 

Finally, there's the biggest trade-off for a 14" laptop that's 0.71" thick and packs this much power: fan noise. The fans unfortunately do get loud while gaming, so if you're playing Overwatch or GTA with your buddies, you'll want to wear headphones. This is a trade-off that you must make when you purchase a laptop like this. If this is too much of a deal-breaker to you, the similarly-sized Gigabyte Aero 15 might be better for you.

 

Overall, though, my early impressions of the Aero 14 are very positive. This is the definition of a "do-everything" laptop, and it definitely can appeal to a wider range of people than just gamers. In fact, the only inherently "gamer-y" thing on the entire laptop is this angular design on the lid. If you are in the market for a new laptop, and have $1700 to spend, I'd recommend the Aero 14. However, if you can get it from somewhere other than Xotic PC, I'd suggest doing so. It might save you some trouble if you need after-sale support. Or, hell, just go through Gigabyte's warranty service. They offer a 2-year warranty on the laptop, which is longer than what MSI, Asus and Lenovo offer.

 

Overall, I give this laptop a 1023/1024. it's funny because it's less than a gigabyte. ha. haha. I'm hilarious.


Now listen closely!

@Daring x @KingCry 5ever <3 We are number one!

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Current rig (Ninetales):

Intel Core i5-4690K @ 4.5GHz, ASUS Strix GTX 1070 (8GB), 16GB DDR3, Windows 10 Pro x64

Laptop (Vulpix): 

Intel Core i7-7700HQ, GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB), 16GB DDR4, Windows 10 Pro x64
More detailed specs on my profile.

 

On 4/17/2017 at 5:36 PM, Ryan_Vickers said:

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Damn, that battery is huge for a standard internal one.  I have a battery for my laptop that's about that size but it's a massive aftermarket lump xD 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
3 minutes ago, Ryan_Vickers said:

Damn, that battery is huge for a standard internal one.  I have a battery for my laptop that's about that size but it's a massive aftermarket lump xD 

It's very close to the federal limit for a carry-on laptop of 99Wh. 100Wh and bigger, it needs to be checked. So yes, it is massive.

 

Oh yeah, forgot to mention this in the OP, but the 150W power supply has a USB charging port on it. Useful for if you need to charge your phone or tablet, and you forgot the wall wart or there's nowhere to plug it in otherwise.


Now listen closely!

@Daring x @KingCry 5ever <3 We are number one!

Please quote me so I can see that you replied.

Spoiler

Current rig (Ninetales):

Intel Core i5-4690K @ 4.5GHz, ASUS Strix GTX 1070 (8GB), 16GB DDR3, Windows 10 Pro x64

Laptop (Vulpix): 

Intel Core i7-7700HQ, GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB), 16GB DDR4, Windows 10 Pro x64
More detailed specs on my profile.

 

On 4/17/2017 at 5:36 PM, Ryan_Vickers said:

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1 minute ago, Daring said:

It's very close to the federal limit for a carry-on laptop of 99Wh. 100Wh and bigger, it needs to be checked. So yes, it is massive.

I assume there's no finer details to that law, like, letting you bring on any battery if it's drained or degraded such that the capacity is no longer over the limit :P 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
Just now, Ryan_Vickers said:

I assume there's no finer details to that law, like, letting you bring on any battery if it's drained or degraded such that the capacity is no longer over the limit :P 

Probably some battery safety thing put into place by lawmakers who don't understand this newfangled "technology" thing very well.


Now listen closely!

@Daring x @KingCry 5ever <3 We are number one!

Please quote me so I can see that you replied.

Spoiler

Current rig (Ninetales):

Intel Core i5-4690K @ 4.5GHz, ASUS Strix GTX 1070 (8GB), 16GB DDR3, Windows 10 Pro x64

Laptop (Vulpix): 

Intel Core i7-7700HQ, GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB), 16GB DDR4, Windows 10 Pro x64
More detailed specs on my profile.

 

On 4/17/2017 at 5:36 PM, Ryan_Vickers said:

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Just now, Daring said:

Probably some battery safety thing put into place by lawmakers who don't understand this newfangled "technology" thing very well.

Well, in fairness, batteries do pose quite a risk.  I assume you've seen one on fire at some point in a video.  But, as with the liquid quantity restriction, I have to wonder if it's one of those things where the limit that's been set is well over what would be safe anyway and thus it may as well not exist.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
Just now, Ryan_Vickers said:

Well, in fairness, batteries do pose quite a risk.  I assume you've seen one on fire at some point in a video.  But, as with the liquid quantity restriction, I have to wonder if it's one of those things where the limit that's been set is well over what would be safe anyway and thus it may as well not exist.

Yeah, I've seen batteries catch fire before. And yeah, there's a lot of weird federal aviation rules and regulations that may as well not exist :P 


Now listen closely!

@Daring x @KingCry 5ever <3 We are number one!

Please quote me so I can see that you replied.

Spoiler

Current rig (Ninetales):

Intel Core i5-4690K @ 4.5GHz, ASUS Strix GTX 1070 (8GB), 16GB DDR3, Windows 10 Pro x64

Laptop (Vulpix): 

Intel Core i7-7700HQ, GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB), 16GB DDR4, Windows 10 Pro x64
More detailed specs on my profile.

 

On 4/17/2017 at 5:36 PM, Ryan_Vickers said:

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PS, I've moved this to Member Reviews.  Even if you don't think it's a full review, it definitely counts

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If you reinstalled Windows to W10 Pro how would you have used a Gigabyte image of W10?

 

Is that smart update thing a utility program for the touchpad?  Or something else?

 

I've never heard of that brand of ssd.  It sounds like an Eevee evolution.  lol

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5 minutes ago, Ryan_Vickers said:

PS, I've moved this to Member Reviews.  Even if you don't think it's a full review, it definitely counts

Why does he get a post saying you moved his topic?    I never get that...  😥 lol

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Posted · Original PosterOP
6 minutes ago, Ryan_Vickers said:

PS, I've moved this to Member Reviews.  Even if you don't think it's a full review, it definitely counts

Alright.

 

1 minute ago, Bleedingyamato said:

If you reinstalled Windows to W10 Pro how would you have used a Gigabyte image of W10?

No, I just simply entered my Windows 10 Pro key into the Activation section of Settings to upgrade it. It's still running the Gigabyte image.

 

2 minutes ago, Bleedingyamato said:

Is that smart update thing a utility program for the touchpad?  Or something else?

It's for drivers on the laptop in general.


Now listen closely!

@Daring x @KingCry 5ever <3 We are number one!

Please quote me so I can see that you replied.

Spoiler

Current rig (Ninetales):

Intel Core i5-4690K @ 4.5GHz, ASUS Strix GTX 1070 (8GB), 16GB DDR3, Windows 10 Pro x64

Laptop (Vulpix): 

Intel Core i7-7700HQ, GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB), 16GB DDR4, Windows 10 Pro x64
More detailed specs on my profile.

 

On 4/17/2017 at 5:36 PM, Ryan_Vickers said:

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1 hour ago, Daring said:

There's also the trackpad. It uses Elan drivers rather than the native Windows Precision drivers. Trust me, you will want to open up Smart Update and update the trackpad drivers as soon as possible. After some adjustment, like lowering the mouse speed to a more reasonable amount and disabling some gestures I don't like/need in the Elan driver software, I got tracking to be relatively accurate, but I would have preferred a Precision trackpad rather than an Elan one. Maybe something Gigabyte can consider for the next-generation Aero 14. Seriously, Gigabyte, if you're gonna offer a premium-priced laptop you should offer a premium experience the whole way through.

Does the Windows native precision drivers enable multi touch gestures like inertial scrolling and pinch to zoom?

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Posted · Original PosterOP
9 hours ago, hey_yo_ said:

Does the Windows native precision drivers enable multi touch gestures like inertial scrolling and pinch to zoom?

Yes, and from what I hear they work well.


Now listen closely!

@Daring x @KingCry 5ever <3 We are number one!

Please quote me so I can see that you replied.

Spoiler

Current rig (Ninetales):

Intel Core i5-4690K @ 4.5GHz, ASUS Strix GTX 1070 (8GB), 16GB DDR3, Windows 10 Pro x64

Laptop (Vulpix): 

Intel Core i7-7700HQ, GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB), 16GB DDR4, Windows 10 Pro x64
More detailed specs on my profile.

 

On 4/17/2017 at 5:36 PM, Ryan_Vickers said:

Rawr9 Furry Sex

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Updated the OP a bit to clarify some things.


Now listen closely!

@Daring x @KingCry 5ever <3 We are number one!

Please quote me so I can see that you replied.

Spoiler

Current rig (Ninetales):

Intel Core i5-4690K @ 4.5GHz, ASUS Strix GTX 1070 (8GB), 16GB DDR3, Windows 10 Pro x64

Laptop (Vulpix): 

Intel Core i7-7700HQ, GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB), 16GB DDR4, Windows 10 Pro x64
More detailed specs on my profile.

 

On 4/17/2017 at 5:36 PM, Ryan_Vickers said:

Rawr9 Furry Sex

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