Overclockable GTX 1070 Laptop Beast
Gigabyte’s enthusiast gamer brand, Aorus, has never skimped on hardware for their top-of-the-line laptops. The brand new Aorus X5 v7 is no exception: it brings an overclockable Intel Kaby Lake CPU, powerful GeForce GTX 1070 graphics and even a high-resolution display to a sleek and compact chassis. While it doesn’t qualify as an Nvidia Max-Q laptop, the extra size that pushes it just above Max-Q spec has ensured an uncompromised gaming experience.
For hardware, we’re looking at a quad-core Intel Core i7-7820HK processor; and yes, that is a K-suffix, indicating the CPU can be overclocked. GTX 1070 graphics with 8GB of GDDR5 is paired with a high-resolution G-Sync display: either 2880 x 1620 or, in the case of our review unit, 4K resolution. 16GB of RAM is standard, but again Aorus went all out with their review unit, kicking that up to 32GB. Storage comprises of an M.2 SSD and a hard drive.
The Aorus X5 v7 isn’t a Max-Q laptop, but that doesn’t mean it’s outrageously large. In fact as far as GTX 1070 laptops go, this machine is on the smaller side with a thickness of 22.9mm and a weight of 2.5kg. It’s a 15.6-inch unit, too, so the overall footprint isn’t massive which makes it easy to carry around. Although keep in mind you’ll also need to carry the 600 gram power brick if you want to make full use of the beastly hardware inside.
While some aspects to the X5’s chassis have changed in this iteration, the base construction is largely identical. The lid and keyboard surround, which are key areas to the build, are made from magnesium with a matte finish. The material feels solid and looks pretty good, although the construction is far from seamless: the edges and some parts of the display assembly appear to be plastic, and many areas are formed by joining together several different pieces. You’re not getting the same premium unibody design as a laptop like the Razer Blade, though the Aorus X5 still looks pretty good.
The visual design is a mix of gamer elements, like aggressive vents and strange angles, as well as more understated sections. The lid, for example, looks fantastic with its subtle embellished peak and the striking illuminated Aorus logo. I’m not as keen on the vents above the keyboard, which look a bit messy. And that enormous shiny Aorus logo printed on the trackpad? I’d prefer that wasn’t there.
The X5’s cooling solution consists of many vents to provide enough airflow to the i7-7820HK and GTX 1070, but perhaps not as many as appear at first glance. Fans at the top left and right corners draw air through vents on the top and base of the laptop, which is exhausted through the back and sides. The vent that surrounds the illuminated Aorus logo power button, as well as the side vents at the front of the laptop, are used for the multi-speaker setup.
The speakers used in the laptop aren’t anything amazing. They’re acceptable volume, but they lack depth and bass, so they’re not great for music playback. They are serviceable to watch YouTube videos, but for gaming I’d recommend a headset or external speakers.
The X5 v7 is equipped with a fantastic array of ports. The left has an HDMI 2.0 port, two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader; the right has a mini DisplayPort 1.3 port, two 3.5mm audio jacks, a Thunderbolt 3 port, and a USB 3.1 Type-C port; and the back has the power port, Ethernet and two more USB 3.0 ports.
I only have two minor complaints here. It’s hard to tell the difference between the Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 Type-C ports without looking at the tiny logos printed next to them. Also, the placement of the HDMI port is a little strange, as attaching a HDMI cable will encroach on mouse space. Having the display outputs along the rear would be better.
The keyboard used on the X5 v7 is Gigabyte’s new laptop design I first saw on the Aero 15. Its travel distance is good for a gaming laptop, with a nice clicky response to the rubber dome keycaps. The amount of force required to activate each key makes it a great option for both typing and gaming. The layout is good, especially the large size for the left modifier keys. The numpad is a welcome inclusion, although it is a bit close to the main keyboard.
Aorus includes RGB backlighting with the ability to individually customize the color of each key. You can achieve awesome effects through the Gigabyte Fusion utility, and you can also create profiles for each game that illuminate just the keys required for the game. The utility and customizability isn’t as well featured as Razer’s competing offering, though it’s nice to see another laptop with full RGB keyboard lighting.
The trackpad is a garbage ELAN unit. I’m not going to spend much time on it because, especially at high resolutions, its tracking performance is poor. You’ll need to use a mouse with this laptop.
The display is one of the best aspects to the Aorus X5 v7. Most gaming laptops opt to use boring 1080p displays, which often don’t get the most out of the hardware inside them. The X5 v7 comes in two display options, and neither are 1080p. You can get a 2880 x 1620 WQHD+ display, or a 3840 x 2160 UHD display, both G-Sync and both IPS. My review unit was the UHD model, so it was no surprise to discover it had just a maximum refresh rate of 60 Hz, but G-Sync here is hugely important for a smooth gaming experience.
Like the Gigabyte Aero 15, the Aorus X5 v7 display is X-Rite Pantone certified, which means this laptop comes with an sRGB-accurate display profile that can be toggled in the Command & Control utility. Most gaming laptops are poor in terms of their display accuracy, but thanks to the X-Rite Pantone profile, the X5 v7 is actually quite decent in this regard. Not as good as the Aero 15, but below a dE2000 value of 2.0 across our color tests and with an average color temperature that’s near accurate.
Calibration comes at the expense of brightness: the X5 v7 is only capable of 265 nits of brightness, and the IPS’ panels contrast ratio of 1041:1 is only okay. For those that require a fully-calibrated display, I was able to achieve fantastic results with SpectraCAL CALMAN 5, pushing a dE2000 average of below 0.7 across the board. That’s dead accurate as far as I’m concerned.
The Aorus X5 x7 includes slightly different hardware than what we usually see in gaming laptops. Most gaming machines opt for Intel’s Core i7-7700HQ, which is a locked quad-core, eight-thread processor with a base clock of 2.8 GHz and a maximum boost clock of 3.8 GHz. The X5 v7 uses a higher-end Kaby Lake quad-core: the Core i7-7820HK, which is clocked at 2.9 GHz with a boost to 3.9 GHz.
Normally a 100 MHz clock speed increase isn’t anything to get excited about, but the i7-7820HK is a K-series processor, so it can be overclocked. Out of the box, the Aorus X5 v7 makes use of this capability, pushing the clock speed up to 4.2 GHz for single-core workloads, and around 3.8 GHz for all-core workloads. Sometimes I observed all-core clock speeds dip to 3.6 GHz during sustained usage, but that’s still a 100 to 300 MHz overclock, which is nothing to sneeze at in a laptop form factor.
The GPU is a GTX 1070 with 8GB of GDDR5. As has always been the case, the laptop GTX 1070 is slightly different to the desktop part, with more CUDA cores (2048 compared to 1920) at a lower peak rated clock speed (1645 MHz compared to 1683 MHz). The performance of both chips is very similar.
My review unit was kitted out with 32GB of G.Skill Ripjaws DDR4-2400, although I believe 16GB is the norm for this laptop. Inside the laptop are two M.2 slots, though only one is occupied, in this case with a Toshiba THNSN5256GPU7 SSD, which is a 256GB NVMe PCIe unit. So you can install more than just 3 games, the X5 v7 also includes a 1TB HGST 7200RPM hard drive.
As you’d expect, system performance is a bit higher than what I’ve seen in the past from gaming laptops that pack the i7-7700HQ. Clock speed differences of up to 400 MHz do lead to better performance in some situations, particularly rendering workloads like Cinebench and the x264 Benchmark. Here the CPU can be up to 20 percent faster, which is a decent margin that does help when it comes to games.
Storage performance is decent, though nothing hugely outstanding as most gaming systems these days include fast M.2 drives with sequential performance above 1 GB/s. A larger drive would be nice, though as I mentioned before, there’s a spare M.2 slot inside for upgradeability.