We really liked the Aorus X3 Plus when we looked at it in September last year, appreciating its just-right mix of satchel-bag portability and outright computing and high-res gaming performance. Aorus’ new and improved version of the X3 Plus has a more powerful graphics card, more SSD storage that is even faster than it was before, and faster RAM to boot.
The other standout is the X3 Plus’ integrated 74Wh battery. Powerful laptops using desktop-grade components usually don’t perform especially well, especially when they’re relatively small and need to be portable, and doubly so when they’re running uncommonly high resolution and high brightness displays. Looping a 720p video with Wi-Fi on and screen brightness set to 50 per cent, though, the X3 Plus actually managed four and three-quarter hours of running time. That’s not long enough for an international flight, but it’s pretty damn good considering the power you have on tap. It’s also an improvement from the previous model, which is great to see.
Even when it’s running graphically intensive benchmarks or 3D games, the Aorus X3 Plus runs relatively quietly under heavy load — and it’s an improvement from the previous model, too, thanks to cooler graphics components. That’s a result of having large front and rear fan intakes channeling air through the laptop’s components, exhausting out the base with equally spacious output holes. That’s a great recipe for quiet cooling, and it means that you’ll be able to use the X3 Plus for marathon gaming sessions — provided you’re not using it on your lap. There’s some minor thermal throttling going on after extended torturous use, but that’s an outlier and you won’t often run into it on the X3 Plus.
The Aorus X3 Plus’ screen is beautiful. It’s a 3200×1800 pixel native resolution IGZO display, boasting a relatively enormous 264ppi across its 13.9-inch diagonal screen area. It’s also able to operate across a very wide range of brightness, extending from relatively dim to extremely bright, which is incredibly useful when paired with its semi-matte coating for working outdoors or in bright environments. (That’s one of the most important screen specs to consider when buying a laptop, so is a big point in the X3 Plus’ favour.)
What Is It Not Good At?
Some people aren’t going to like the thickness and relative bulk of the X3 Plus considering its 14-inch dimensions. It’s not the thinnest laptop you can get, and it’s not the lightest, and when it’s facing competition from something like a 13-inch MacBook Pro that is significantly thinner and more streamlined, you really have to want the X3 Plus’ extra power and graphical performance. You do get a beautiful boost in performance, though, and the V3 is a machine you can legitimately use for gaming.
The design, too, is going to turn some people off. It’s not quite the MacBook Pro, and it’s not quite the MSI GT70, and that means it’s a little bit gaudy — it doesn’t know what to be. It’s also worth mentioning that the internal speakers are OK, but not necessarily great. They don’t perform well with bass at high volumes, although near-field listening and lower volumes perform just fine.
Much improved from the previous model is the compromise that the 13.9-inch screen makes with its 3200×1800 pixel resolution. Because the GTX 970M has 6GB of VRAM, it’s better able to store the high resolution textures needed to play modern games at this kind of quality, and that means everything runs a little more smoothly. Depending on the title, it still doesn’t have the power to play some modern games like Far Cry 3 or even Crysis 3 at higher frame rates. It’s more than powerful enough for 1080p gaming, that’s for sure.
Being a performance laptop, the 180 Watt power brick bundled with the X3 Plus is large. That’s not at all a problem if you intend to leave it tethered to a desk and only work remotely for one power cycle at a time, but if you intend to travel, it does take up a fair bit of luggage space. If you’re travelling from home to work and back, for example, it’s probably a good idea to consider buying a second charger and leaving one at each location to save yourself the hassle and extra weight.
It’s expensive, too. Any high-powered laptop is a pricy ask, especially when you consider the compromises inherent in its design, but when you consider that you could get a MacBook Pro or Razer Blade 14 for the same money thereabouts as the X3 Plus — both of which are sleeker and are still pretty damn powerful, although not for gaming — you should grip those extra dollars tightly. If you can shop around, and ideally find the Aorus X3 Plus for sub-$2500, that’s when it starts to become a great deal.
Should You Buy It?
The Aorus X3 Plus V3 is a powerful machine. More than powerful enough for everyday tasks, unless you have a really specific and high-powered requirement for a high-end laptop. Even then, its triple SSDs, quad-core Core i7, and revamped graphics chipset make for a multipurpose laptop that should really be gutsy enough for any mainstream game or computing task that you throw at it. The recent upgrade just solidifies its place in our list of the top laptops of 2015.
Despite all that power, the X3 Plus isn’t nearly as bulky as you’d expect it to be. It’s no MSI GT72, no chunky build-your-own Clevo — everything is refined and adequately ventilated and cooled, but built into a slim chassis with a carefully smoothed and chamfered and gently carved profile. Apart from that rather chunky power brick, the V3 is a device that’s more than portable and usable if you’re a travelling computer-user.