We're seeing some pretty crazy and groundbreaking tech come out of Taiwan recently. Gaming laptops are chief amongst those, always making advancements in processing power and graphics grunt, all while getting thinner and sleeker. This is exactly the case with the new Aorus X5, which also has a display certified for flicker-free gaming by Nvidia; apparently it's the world's most powerful 15-inch laptop.
What Is It?
The $3299 Aorus X5 is a 15-inch notebook, joining the equally fancy 13-inch X3 Plus and 17-inch X7 Pro -- both of which we’ve reviewed and loved here at Giz. It’s closer to the X7 Pro than the X3, which has a similar dual-graphics setup. Like other Aorus notebooks, the X5’s body is 22.9mm thick, and the laptop weighs in at just under 2.5kg -- both of which slide it neatly into the properly-portable-laptop category. Which is very impressive when you consider the CPU and the graphics power than the X5 contains.
Said graphics cards are Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 965Ms -- a slightly lower-grunt version of the GTX 970M, apparently, but with two inside the X5 you won’t exactly be wanting for outright gaming power; AORUS claims the X5’s dual chipsets are around 15 per cent more powerful than a single top of the line GTX 980M. They're powering a 15.6-inch LCD screen with a 3K, 2880x1620pixel resolution with IPS for good viewing angles and response times and a very high 360cd/m2 maximum luminance.
That LCD is a good match-up in terms of native resolution with the power of the X5's internal graphics; unless you're intending to play absolute top-of-the-line graphically demanding titles, then you should have more than enough power under the hood to run strong frame rates at high resolutions; the inclusion of onboard Nvidia G-Sync, too, means that you'll get a clear picture even during visually taxing parts of a game. Every other component, too, is designed for hardcore gaming or computing tasks.
In terms of ports and feeds and speeds, the Aorus X5 is similar to the company's other X3 Plus and X7 Pro laptops -- you'll get four USB 3.0 ports, HDMI and mini-DisplayPort A/V outputs, RJ45 gigabit Ethernet, surround-sound 3.5mm analog audio outputs, and an SD card reader. Inside, every X5 G-Sync laptop has the same Intel 5th-gen Core i7-5700HQ processor, 8GB to 32GB of DDR3-1866 RAM, and up to three M.2 SSDs running in RAID 0 for ludicrous speed, all on Intel's HM97 chipset.
What's It Good At?
This is a fast laptop. It's made for gaming, obviously, and it does a very good job of that. Because Aorus has used two mid-range GPUs in SLI, rather than a single high-end GPU (like a GTX 980M, for example), there's actually more power on tap than many of the other flagship gaming laptops from companies like MSI, Razer, and Gigabyte's own in-house brand. That translates into a repeatable, verifiable 3DMark 11 score of P12000, according to Aorus -- and that's something we were able to repeat with our test unit at its default specs and speeds.
- Display: 15.6in, 2880x1620 pixel
- CPU: Intel Core i7-5700HQ, 2.6-3.6GHz
- RAM: 16GB DDR3, up to 32GB
- GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M 4GB
- HDD: 128GB SSD + 1TB 7200RPM, up to 256GB SSD / 2TB
- Dimensions: 390x272x22.9mm, 2.5kg
You have to remember that the Aorus X5 is also still a thin laptop. It doesn't have the heft or the bulk of a MSI GT72 or a workstation-class laptop from a barebones manufacturer like Clevo. It is, in fact, one of the thinnest 15.6-inch gaming laptops going, if by gaming you exclude anything with a graphics card below GTX 970M levels of performance. Aorus' design is a little space-age and Lamborghini-esque, but that doesn't mean it doesn't look really good at the same time. The sleek design also makes it look thinner than it actually is.
The Aorus X5 G-Sync's 2880x1620 pixel display has to be one of the best overall screens we've ever seen in a laptop, period. Its mid-range resolution is well suited to a 15-inch panel, but it's the excellent IPS display and all the good features that go along with that tech -- an excellent colour gamut, excellent viewing angles, good black levels -- that make it really remarkable. And that G-Sync support means that whenever you're gaming, you're not getting dropped frames or laggy performance at low frame rates.
As we've praised in other Aorus notebooks, the combination of triple-SSD storage as an option means you can get seriously bonkers transfer rates and Windows start-up speed from the X5 G-Sync. The laptop actually has four storage bays, but one is a 2.5-inch form factor and means you can have a mechanical 1TB or 2TB disk for long-term storage, and dedicate the SSD setup to your games and Photoshop and anything else you'd like to load extremely quickly.
What's It Not Good At?
Being a SLI laptop, the X5 G-Sync doesn't have quite the seamless performance of its single-GPU competitors. Sometimes you have amazing performance, and sometimes it's just OK. Some games I tested ran brilliantly, while others had a little less grunt and were clearly underperforming. This is a software problem, one that can be fixed by Aorus updates and Nvidia graphics drivers in the future, but it's worth remembering that any SLI laptop you buy is going to be a little less predictable than a single-chip system.
For a laptop with the X5 G-Sync's gaming credentials, its internal speakers are mediocre in its class. It has twin stereo speakers and an integrated subwoofer, but don't expect a great deal of low frequency response, and get ready for a small amount of audio distortion if you're raising the volume beyond the halfway point in Windows or in a game. It's better than you should expect from an even thinner laptop or a gaming tablet, but it's still no substitute for a good pair of headphones.
Aorus's X5 G-Sync is, as usual, an extremely expensive laptop considering the amount of power it has compared to a similarly spec'd gaming desktop PC; you're paying a lot to get the privilege of such a great deal of power in such a slim chassis. It's absolutely true, though, that the fact that it's an unusual SLI laptop and it has that excellent integrated G-Sync technology means you're getting a lot more value than you previously would have when buying an Aorus machine.
Should You Buy It?
- Excellent SLI graphics.
- Stupidly fast storage.
- Excellent G-Sync display.
- Mediocre speakers.
- SLI is imperfect.
- Very expensive.
At the end of the day, the $3299 Aorus X5 is definitely the most unique and most appealing laptop in Aorus' lineup.
It's not quite the most portable -- that award goes to the 13-inch X3 Plus v3 -- but the extra screen real estate is welcome whether you're playing a game or browsing the web. That 2880x1620 pixel resolution is a little out of the ordinary, but suits the screen size and compromises well between visual quality and the demand it places on the X5's twin GTX 965M graphics cards.
If you want or need a high-end laptop, probably for gaming on the go but maybe for some serious CAD or other graphics-accelerated computing work, then the Aorus X5 remains an incredibly good choice.
For the money that you're spending, you get a great CPU and graphics combination along with some incredibly fast storage and the option to expand both that storage and RAM as needed. The design, too, may be similar to previous Aorus machines but that's because it's a look that works.