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[Review] More Muscle, Fewer Frills: The Gigabyte Aorus 15G XC (2021)


Gigabyte Aorus 15G XC

RM8,299

Just a few months ago, we reviewed the Gigabyte Aorus 15G. I really liked the overall package, especially the mechanical keyboard - so much so that the title was dedicated to the feature.


This year's refresh however, has gotten rid of the mechanical keyboard as well as some other handy features, while retaining a couple of quirks that I didn't like, such as the webcam and charging port placement. In return, you'll get a brand-new RTX 3070 GPU, though the CPU still hasn't been upgraded to Tiger Lake yet.


Alhough the introduction sounds a bit foreboding, I actually ended up liking the overall package. Read on and find out why!

 

A brand-new finish


Gone is the distinctive gunmetal finish of last year's Aorus 15G. This time we have a more conservative matte black plastic finish that still looks great, albeit a little generic. However, this means that the overall package is lighter, and that's a trade-off I'm willing to make.

Apart from that, everything else looks pretty familiar, from the hinge design down to the port layouts and generous amount of vents on the bottom. The vents on the back no longer stretch along the entire chassis, and are placed on the left and right instead.

You can still open the lid with just one hand, which is always a plus. However, the hinges feel a little wobblier than they used to, presumably due to the lighter plastic material. It's nothing to be alarmed about though - just expect some bounciness when you're adjusting the angle of the lid.

 

Same display, same webcam location


The buttery smooth 240Hz refresh rate is back, which is great for gamers, especially for FPS titles where every frame counts. The 15.6" IPS panel is Pantone-validated and covers 72% of the NTSC colour gamut, which is great for gamers who enjoy some light content creation on the side (frag highlights, anyone?)

There's little to no light leakage on this review unit, though your experience may vary. We're treated to the same slim bezels as its predecessor, which always looks nice, but you ALSO get the same chin-facing webcam nestled in the keyboard deck instead of the top bezel. It's not particularly flattering (my 5 chins concur) but it's still great that they've managed to fit one in there for the ever-increasing amounts of virtual conferences nowadays.

If you're a fan of walking around naked after showering, there's a physical privacy shutter on the webcam so you won't be receiving blackmail threats anytime soon.

 

Goodbye thocc


One of the most prominent features of the Aorus 15G used to be the mechanical keyboard, which was loud but offered a clicky typing experience like no other. I really liked it - while it definitely doesn't offer the same amount of key travel as a standalone mechanical keyboard, it was definitely a huge step up from the usual laptop keys.

Some people were not really a fan of it though, preferring a quieter and less disruptive keyboard. Anyway, luckily for those people, the mechanical keyboard has now been omitted. In any case, the new keyboard is still great to type on as far as laptop keyboards go. It has a satisfying amount of key travel, is still tactile enough to prevent careless mistakes, AND has the added perk of not turning every head in the room as soon as you start typing.

The layout is still the same, with a numpad fitted snugly onto the side, as well as full-sized arrow keys nestled into the main keyboard cluster. The power button sits separately centered above the keyboard, while the speaker grille design has been updated.


RGB is, of course, present, as is the usual 'gamer-ish' font that hasn't changed from the previous iteration. The touchpad is as smooth and pleasant as ever, though the fingerprint sensor is absent. This might be a bummer for those of you who are used to biometric logins, as the position of the webcam means facial recognition is an no-go either.

 

Same ol' I/O and audio


The I/O offerings and arrangement seem identical to the previous generation - on the surface anyway. While we still get the highly welcome 3.5mm jack and not-too-common full-sized SD card reader, Gigabyte has quietly nerfed the speed of the USB-C port to USB 3.0, instead of the Thunderbolt 3.0 it used to support.


To my chagrin, the charging port is still in the same position on the right, which is highly prone to collisions with your mouse hand during heated gaming sessions. However, i you aren't half as violent as I am and aren't a low sensitivity gamer, this may not even bother you at all.

Otherwise, the selection is still great. You'll get:

  • 3x USB 3.2 Gen1 (Type-A)

  • 1x USB 3.2 Gen1 (Type-C)

  • 1x HDMI 2.1

  • 1x mini DP 1.4

  • 1x 3.5mm Audio Combo Jack

  • 1x UHS-II SD Card Reader

  • 1x DC-in Jack

  • 1x RJ-45

I'm still hoping for a new chassis with rearranged ports for the next gen though :P

The speakers are largely the same - good enough for casual YouTube sessions as long as you're not listening to bass-heavy stuff. Either way, it's still advisable to use a headset for a more immersive experience, especially for gaming once the fans start whirring.

 

A step-up in performance


Here's where you'll see the biggest change from the last generation. While it's still using a 10th Gen Intel processor, the graphics have been upgraded to a shiny new RTX 3070. We also have a massive 32GB of RAM, though we're still saddled with just 512GB of SSD storage.

Interestingly enough, although the i7-10870H in this unit is considered a minor downgrade from the previous i7-10875H, the multi-core performance has inexplicably gone up quite a bit, though the single-core performance has gone down.

In every other synthetic and gaming benchmark, the updated Aorus 15G surpasses its predecessor easily, scoring higher in every test we threw at it.

In the PCMark 10 benchmark, the scores see a significant leap in productivity and digital content creation, which bodes well again for gamers who enjoy doing some content creation on the side. The massive 32GB of RAM definitely doesn't hurt, either.


Overall, gaming and working on this thing was an excellent experience, only hampered by the limited storage space. If it could fit in 1TB of SSD storage, then it would be perfect.

In terms of thermals and battery life, it is markedly similar to last year's 15G, with the same 5 heatpipes and 2 fans along with a generous amount of vents on all sides as well as the bottom.

The battery capacity has seen a tiny increase from 94Wh to 99Wh, but the lasting power is the same - around 7 hours for general productivity, which means you can go nearly the whole day without being hooked up to the power brick. You'll definitely want to bring it around for gaming though.

 

Buy or no buy?


Comparing this laptop against its immediate predecessor, you'll notice that there weren't many innovations on this year's model. In fact, it's been nerfed in several areas such as the removed fingerprint sensor, Thunderbolt 3.0 support, and mechanical keyboard.

However, these features are not necessarily appreciated by everyone - in fact, some may prefer the quieter keyboard which still boasts a decent amount of tactility.


What HAS improved this year is the performance, which should be the main criteria for choosing a gaming laptop. Without comparing to last year's model, this year's Aorus 15G is still an extremely attractive package - you get beastly performance with great cooling, a generous array of I/O ports, a high refresh rate display, along with generous battery life.


It ticks all the boxes for gamers and casual content creators, while bringing an excellent perk that I have yet to mention so far - the reduced price tag.

Last year's Aorus 15G retailed for RM10,499, while this year's refresh costs a mere RM8,299. This means you'll be upgrading to a powerful new RTX 3070 for much less. For me, the pricing seals the deal - for a smaller price tag, you'll be getting powerful performance and an extremely solid package overall.


My only gripe would be that I'd strongly prefer a 16GB RAM + 1TB SSD configuration over the existing 32GB RAM + 512GB SSD. It makes much more sense due to the size of games nowadays, and 32GB is probably overkill for all but the most hardcore content creators.


That said, if the price tag is still too hefty for you, there's always the Aorus 15G KC variant which comes with a more modest RTX 3060, and if you have the big bucks to splash out for an RTX 3080, you can also take a look at the Aorus 15G YC variant.


For more information, head on over to the official product page here.


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