Aorus 15G XC Gaming Notebook

With RTX 30 Series GPUs being practically impossible to buy, we thought we’d check out what a RTX 30 Series Gaming Notebook could bring to the table, and as such we requested the Aorus 15G XC Gaming Notebook from Gigabyte to put though its paces. The Aorus 15G XC is a sleek gaming notebook, clearly based on Gigabyte’s previous AERO range of slim but high-performance notebooks. It comes in at 2kgs and while at 2.3cm it might seem a bit thicker than other notebooks in its class, it doesn’t feel hefty or out of place in a business environment thanks to its clean square edging and minimalistic aesthetic. The model we were given to use for this review comes packed with an Intel Core i7-11870H processor, 32GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM (running at 2933MHz thanks to limitations from Intel), 512GB NVMe SSD, 15.6″ 1080p 240Hz IPS display, Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and a fairly decent full-size per-key RGB Keyboard all powered by a 99Wh battery and 230W charger.

The standout feature of the Aorus 15G VC is of course its Nvidia RTX 3070 8GB GPU, which brings along Nvidia’s latest 8nm Ampere architecture featuring 2nd generation Ray-Tracing cores and 3rd generation AI focused Tensor cores. In terms of connectivity the Aorus 15G VC features 3x USB 3.2 Gen1 (Type-A), 1x USB 3.2 Gen1 (Type-C), 1x HDMI 2.1 with support for 4K 120Hz, 1x mini DP 1.4, 1x 3.5mm Audio Combo Jack, 1x Full-Size UHS-II SD Card Reader, 1x DC-in Jack and 1x RJ-45 connector for it’s 2.5 Gigabit ethernet.

For our testing we ran CS:GO, Metro Exodus, 3DMark’s DLSS Feature Test, ATTO Disk Benchmark, and PCMark10’s battery test to see how well this notebook performs at various tasks.

First up, in Counter-Strike’s uLLeticaL Benchmark the Aorus 15G sustained an average of 320 frames per second, with lows of 108 and an extremely high max of 1005fps. While CS:GO is basically a decade old at this point, it still helps us see how light-weight competitive titles will run on the notebook, which are fully able to make use of the 240Hz panel that Aorus decided to include in this model. While CS:GO has historically performed a lot faster on desktops due to it’s thirst for high clock speed processors, we checked out what was going on behind the hood while running the CS:GO benchmark to see if there were any bottlenecks holding this system back.

As seen in the graphs above, the RTX 3070 was clearly performing more than adequate with it’s temperatures never exceeding 82 degrees and the boost clock being considerably higher than the rated 1290MHz advertised on the Gigabyte website. The CPU on the other hand showed that Intel’s 14nm process has practically reached the end of its life, leading to its temperature fluctuating up to around 90 degrees where it started to throttle. Even though a CPU Frequency around 4GHz is really commendable for a notebook, it’s performance lags behind the near 5GHz that modern Desktop CPUs are sustaining in 2021. That said, CS:GO is still completely playable and even at it’s worst it maintains framerates above those seen on a standard 60Hz monitor.

Metro Exodus, a title that supports Nvidia’s RTX Ray-Tracing shows that the Aorus 15G is able to keep up with demanding AAA titles even with RTX ON, maintaining an average around 60fps when running at the notebook’s native resolution of 1920×1080. It’s worth noting that while Metro’s standard RTX preset is less demanding than the “Extreme” setting, regardless of the visual detail chosen the game is completely playable and will likely lead to a more enjoyable experience than that seen on modern gaming consoles. With all settings cranked to their lowest we saw an average of 142fps, but even though Metro is a first person shooter, we’d rather settle for higher visual detail over framerate as the game is a single player experience and has stunning visuals.

To further test the Aorus 15G XC’s graphics capability we ran the 3DMark Nvidia DLSS Feature Test. This test showed that even the most demanding graphical titles could be made playable by pushing the framerate from 44.34fps to 71.33fps in the quality preset, and 89.86fps in the performance preset. We’d generally recommend that on a display running 1080p that you rather keep the preset on Quality as even though Nvidia’s Deep Learning Super Sampling (basically AI upscaling for those not in the know) has matured to the point of being a default feature we enable in most games, the performance preset drops the visual quality to a point where it would be better to just lower the resolution if ever required.

While most of our gaming reviews generally only showcase the performance of the systems CPU and GPU combined, we thought we’d check out how the SSD and battery faired in this device, as with most people now working from home and on the go, both of these features could make all the difference in making a purchasing decision for work and play.

Running ATTO Disk Benchmark showed us that the PCIe 3.0 NVMe that Gigabyte put in the Aorus 15G XC was no slouch achieving reads of around 2700 MB/s and writes of 2350 MB/s. While these transfer speeds aren’t anywhere near what’s seen on the current PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs in the market, most of our tests have concluded that as long as you have a decent PCIe 3.0 NVMe your game load times will be practically indistinguishable from those seen on PCIe 4.0. Users who need to transfer large files to and from their notebook would likely have zero issues as the speed of the drive already outpaces it’s 2.5 GB/s LAN and 2.4 GB/s Wi-Fi 6 connectivity.

Battery life on gaming notebooks has always been somewhat of a joke, with the Aorus 15G only managing to game for just over an hour when on running on the High Performance battery profile. That said, we’ve generally never encouraged anyone to actually game on their notebook while on battery, and you’d be more likely to see a user doing general productivity when on the go. PCMark10’s Battery Test saw the Aorus 15G’s 99Wh battery run for 4 hours and 7 minutes in it’s “Modern Office” test while on the Battery Saver profile. This result is way more impressive than we were expecting as here in South Africa it means that you’re likely to be able to work during a scheduled 2.5-4 hour rolling blackout (load shedding) then charge the notebook back to full in around 2 hours.

A feature of Gigabyte notebooks that has been a pain to use in the past is its “Aorus Control Center”, with Gigabyte historically having some of the worst software we’ve seen from gaming brands. Thankfully in recent times Gigabyte has focused on changing this and with recent tweaks the Control Center has become something that I would actually recommend every user make sure to have installed on their system.

Gigabyte shows you clear statistics of your system from CPU load to SSD health and even battery status. You’re able to change the CPU and GPU profiles easily by pressing on the orange squares labelled ECO, Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Boost for the CPU and Maximum and Turbo for the GPU – these settings each ramping up the power profiles of each components to sustain maximum performance. In the Control Center you’re also able to easily adjust the RGB (Fusion) Keyboards lighting, though we do feel like it needs a bit more customization outside standard profiles, and the Control Center even includes a handy Smart Utilities section which shows whether your drivers are up to date, and allows 1 click installations to keep your system running smooth and in check.

Overall the Aorus 15G VC is quite an impressive Gaming Notebook. The system is built sturdy, looks clean and not over-gamified, and has all the bells and whistles you’d want in a gaming notebook from a high refresh rate screen to bleeding edge graphics horsepower – though we feel like it’s time that Gigabyte possibly made the move to AMD for it’s CPUs as the 10th Gen Intel Core i7 processor seems to be holding the system back a bit. That said, we do live in a time where pricing and availability of parts has become next to impossible to predict, and if you’re able to pick up this notebook for it’s MSRP of around R35000 to R40000 you’d likely end up with a better system than an equivalent priced desktop due to the current GPU market.

8/10

Aorus 15G XC Gaming Notebook

A high-performance notebook with decent specs and next gen RTX 30 Series GPU held back by a lackluster CPU.