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In contrast to the Aorus series, the Gigabyte Aero series focuses on multimedia suitability, while the resulting gaming features are rather a nice side effect. Compared to its predecessor, last year’s Aero 15 XB, not too much seems to have improved at first glance, except for the new Ampere graphics card.
Case – Aero with impressive metal housing
The Aero’s case is visually very appealing. The subtle, relatively slim aluminum chassis is only decorated with the Aero logo and some glossy black stripes. Together with the sturdy case, this creates a thoroughly high-quality impression. The build quality is good, and there are no uneven gaps; only the webcam cover under the screen looks a bit cheap.
The lid has a recessed section, allowing it to be opened with one hand without any problems, which proved to be very useful in practice. Compared to the predecessor, there were no changes in the Aero 15 XC in this regard.
Connectivity – Gigabyte Aero with Thunderbolt and SD card reader
The ports are distributed across the left and right sides of the laptop with sufficient spacing between them. The Thunderbolt 3 port, which you have to do without in many of the currently popular AMD-based models, is a particularly positive feature. In addition to the integrated DisplayPort in the Thunderbolt 3 port, you also get a separate Mini DisplayPort, so that theoretically, up to three external displays (2x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI) can be connected.
SD card reader
The Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XC has a built-in card reader that can accommodate regular-sized SD cards. In a class comparison, it achieves very good transfer rates with our UHS II reference memory card, the 64 GB Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC. However, the card reader of last year’s Aero 15 OLED XB was still a bit faster in this respect.
Input devices – Keyboard with room for improvement
The keyboard includes a numeric keypad and extends across the entire width of the base unit, providing enough space for regular-sized keys. By making minimal adjustments to the width of individual keys, Gigabyte has managed to arrange all keys in a rectangular layout here, which gives the laptop an uncluttered overall look when opened.
Unfortunately, this technique doesn’t quite live up to what the looks promise, though, since the keys offer low and quite mushy resistance as well as a shallow key travel. This makes the keyboard only partially suitable for typing longer text, but at least the keys are relatively quiet and visible even in low light thanks to the individual RGB lighting.
With an area of 10.5 x 7 cm, the touchpad is relatively small by today’s standards, especially since the integrated fingerprint scanner further limits the usable area. However, the gliding properties of the plastic ClickPad are at the usual good level, and in contrast to the keyboard’s keys, the integrated mouse buttons offer a clear pressure point and satisfying feedback.
Display – Impressive 4K OLED panel
The built-in glossy AMOLED panel has a resolution of 3840×2160 pixels (4K) and features a Pantone X Rite certification. The numerous rich colors of Gigabyte’s cleverly chosen background image come into their own as a result and quickly show that the display of content on the 15.6-inch screen is the main focus here. Therefore, no other display options are available within the series.
The display is optimally equipped for media playback. The OLED display also has an HDR400 certification, which acknowledges its higher-quality reproduction of image areas with different brightness levels. Unfortunately, PWM is used for brightness control (as is common with OLED displays), which can be a problem for users who are sensitive to this. That being said, this is an excellent panel with a brightness distribution of 95% and a brightness level that is around 450 cd/m² according to our independent measurements. The OLED display doesn’t suffer from screen bleeding due to the underlying technology.
The glossy 4K display is razor-sharp, and the black level of only 0.05 is excellent thanks to OLED technology. As a result, it achieves a contrast ratio of 8,840:1, which is almost unattainable for IPS displays. In addition, we were able to register a color-space coverage of 100% for sRGB and 99% for AdobeRGB in an independent measurement, which shows that the laptop is very well suited for digital image and video-editing.
Performance – Plenty of performance potential
The Aero 15 OLED is equipped with an Intel Core i7-10870H, a laptop version of the GeForce RTX 3060, and an NVMe SSD. This is accompanied by 32 GB of DDR4-3200 RAM in dual-channel mode. As a result, it offers enough performance for common office tasks, multimedia applications, and a little more, so that there are plenty of resources for video and image-editing on the go. The two sibling models, the Aero 15 OLED YC and KC, respectively, only differ in terms of the graphics card: The former is equipped with a 105-watt laptop GeForce RTX 3080 and the latter with a 105-watt laptop GeForce RTX 3060.
The processor used here is the Core i7-10870H, an octa-core CPU from Intel’s Comet Lake generation. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the predecessor was actually equipped with the faster Core i7-10875H. The reason for using the weaker CPU, which only loses 100 MHz of base clock speed, is the significantly better efficiency in production. Although little changes for end users (the performance differences are usually within 5-8%), the differences in the production of the processors are quite substantial.
You don’t have to worry about the processor’s performance in either case, since it’s at a very high level. However, the benchmarks also suggest that AMD’s Ryzen 5000 CPUs are currently ahead in terms of raw performance and especially in multi-thread scenarios.
this configuration of the Aero 15 uses a laptop version of the GeForce RTX 3060 with a TDP of 105 watts. The chip is based on Nvidia’s current Ampere generation and has a lot to offer in terms of performance. Consequently, the laptop hardly breaks a sweat even in high resolutions and can also fully show its strengths in demanding 3D applications.
The “Max-Q” designation no longer denotes graphics cards with a good balance between performance and heat development but rather special functionality features of the GPU. In our case, Dynamic Boost 2.0, Resizable BAR (a new technology that grants the CPU access to the graphics memory), and Optimus are supported.
Our test laptop develops its performance well in the 3DMark benchmarks, and the results are mostly in line with our expectations. Only with the slightly older, lower-resolution Cloud Gate benchmark does the brand-new graphics card not seem to harmonize quite well.
Performance is limited on battery power. A Fire Strike run delivers Physics and Graphics scores of 13,950 and 16,387, respectively, here, while 20,756 and 23,674 points are achieved when plugged in.
Gaming performance is excellent thanks to the GeForce RTX 3060 laptop GPU. As you can see from the frame rates, most modern games are also playable in the full 4K resolution. For a multimedia laptop, the graphics performance is already way above average. Therefore, a great gaming experience in games that don’t require a high display refresh rate is a nice bonus.
Due to the powerful hardware inside and the sluggish fans, not only does the laptop get quite warm in extreme situations but also while playing The Witcher 3, for example. Since the keyboard surface also reaches relatively high temperatures, the question of whether the manufacturer has geared the laptop a bit too much towards quiet operation inevitably arises here. It can quickly become uncomfortable, especially when using the device on the lap.
At the beginning of the stress test, the clock rates of the CPU and GPU are 4 GHz and 1,300-1,700 MHz, respectively. The processor reaches a temperature of 88 °C (~190 °F) within seconds and then lowers its clock speed to 3.3 GHz. The GPU slowly approaches a core temperature of around 75 °C (~167 °F) and reduces its clock rate to 1,200 MHz in the long run. The CPU settles at around 2.6 GHz and 80 °C (~176°F) after a few minutes. This shouldn’t result in any limitations in everyday use, especially since the Aero will probably only reach the limit of its performance potential very rarely being a multimedia laptop.
The Aero 15 OLED is equipped with a 99 Wh battery, with which it achieves a battery runtime of 6:39 hours in our standardized WLAN test (web-browsing script, 150 cd/m² brightness). This is slightly above the class average. While the same is true for our video test with the short film Big Buck Bunny, the runtime under load of 3:22 hours is unusually high. This is probably due to aggressive energy management that limits performance depending on the situation.
Verdict – Solid laptop with Thunderbolt, OLED, and RTX 3060
The Aero 15 OLED XC makes a great first impression. The case looks sturdy, has a high-quality build, and does without flashy design features or an LED light show. Considering the installed hardware, it’s still compact and relatively light. The 105-watt Nvidia GPU offers an enormous amount of performance, which might not even be fully utilized by many users of the laptop. Nevertheless, the power is available, should it ever be needed, to let the bright, impressive 4K OLED display shine in all its glory. However, we can only hope that the high heat development in combination with the sluggish fans will not have a negative impact on the lifespan of the multimedia laptop.
You’re better off watching a movie than typing text on the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED’s great display.
One of the laptop’s biggest weaknesses is its rather mushy keyboard, which makes typing longer text a bit tedious. The relatively small touchpad, on the other hand, is more acceptable, especially since the built-in buttons are thoroughly convincing.
The Gigabyte laptop has a lot to offer in terms of connectivity: Besides three video outputs, you get a fast SD card reader and a Thunderbolt 3 port, which makes the device even more flexible. For users who don’t spend much time typing, the Aero 15 OLED XC is a good choice thanks to its excellent display and strong results in a variety of disciplines.