Aussies are no strangers to the gaming scene. Local developers have taken the world by storm with epic titles like BioShock series, Hollow Knight to arcade greats like Fruit Ninja and Crossy Road. Now, it looks like Aussies are trying to enter the fiercely competitive gaming hardware industry.
Aftershock Australia is a custom PC maker and they were kind enough to loan us one of their newest products, the Vapor 15 Pro gaming laptop. It sports the latest Intel processors with Nvidia RTX graphics, insanely fast SSD all in a slim, light package and the promise of all-day battery life. Pretty big specs for sure, but how does it all hold together in real-world use?
Really, really well actually.
Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro Review
For a laptop that starts at $2220, the Vapor 15 Pro comes packed to the gills with tech that will delight any gamer.
- Processor: 9th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-9750H Processor (6 Core, Up to 4.5 GHZ)
- Memory: 16GB DDR4 2666 mhz
- Storage: 1000GB M.2 NVME ULTRA FAST SSD
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 8GB GDDR6 Max-Q
- Display: 15.6” FHD (1920×1080) 144HZ, AHVA Display Wide Color Gamut
- 1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C™ (up to 10Gbps)
- 1 x USB 3.0 Gen 2 with Power Delivery
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 1 x Standard HDMI 1.4
- 1 x SD card reader
- 1 x Audio Out jack
- 1 x Microphone jack
- 1 x DC-in
- Weight: 1.87Kg
- Dimensions: 356.4mm x 233.66mm x 20.5mm
Built for the Aussie heat
To bring the Vapor 15 Pro to Australia with such a reasonable price, Aftershock has partnered with Intel using a magnesium designed chassis that’s pretty light prompting the claim as lightest RTX 2070 laptop.
While that might be debatable, it certainly isn’t going to ruin your shoulders carrying this machine on your commute.
Weighing 1.87Kg and measuring 35 cm x 23cm and an overall thickness of 2cm, it’s certainly not the skinniest machine but by gaming laptop standards, it’s great. And you would certainly be forgiven for mistaking the Vapor 15 Pro as your everyday business laptop thanks to its very plain looks.
In fact, if it weren’t for the RGB keyboard and RGB strip on the front of the laptop, there isn’t anything to say this is a gaming laptop. Not even the usual garish stickers announcing it’s 144Hz display or RTX graphics or aggressive exhaust grills.
It’s quite odd, to be honest.
But speaking of exhausts, the Vapor 15 Pro has plenty of them. The sides, back and a large one underneath the chassis provide excellent cooling for this slim machine. They are designed to channel heat to the rear of the laptop which does get quite hot.
The top edge of the chassis just beneath the lid as well as the top two rows of keys becomes really toasty. I was hoping the fancy magnesium alloy would keep things much cooler but don’t go playing games with this thing on your lap.
Fan noise though remains surprisingly low for a laptop this thin. When under load, the fans do get loud but not so much that you need to cover your ears with a good set of headphones. This is a far cry from something like the Asus ROG G703 monster that you can hear from a galaxy far, far away when it’s running hard.
Mechanical keyboard you say?
One of the key headlining features of the Vapor 15 Pro is a low-profile silent mechanical keyboard. This isn’t something unique to Aftershock – the Razer Blade 15 Advanced recently got this too. However, it’s still a rarity to find mechanical keyboards in laptops.
The reason is obvious, laptops don’t generally have enough space to accommodate the mechanics of such a keyboard. So I was sceptical when I got it and upon typing, my scepticism was well-founded. The keyboard just doesn’t feel like a mechanical keyboard.
I’ve been using Alienware’s 510K low-profile mechanical keyboard and the difference in tactile feel is immense. I would go so far as to say the Vapor 15 Pro’s keys feel like cheap plastic bits that I was always afraid of breaking with one wrong keystroke. A key difference with desktop mechanicals is the lack of typical bounce back and ‘click’ that follows each keypress.
Given the shallowness of the keys on the Vapor 15 Pro, you can’t have that and so it feels less satisfying to press. In saying that, it’s certainly better than the abysmal butterfly keys on my 2017 MacBook Pro. Typing speed and accuracy is very good but I just wish the keys felt more, significant.
As I said, the signature clack-ety-clack that mechanical keyboards make is missing here. The keyboard is fairly silent for a mechanical one but still definitely audible. I wouldn’t say it sounds any different to a regular laptop keyboard – only clickier.
There’s also per-key RGB lighting here – up to 16.8 million colours that can be adjusted using the Aftershock Command Center app. It’s pretty simplistic allowing you to change lighting effects and save profiles. It also provides a system monitor with a performance switcher so you can tune the laptop.
Below the keyboard is a decently sized standard glass touchpad. It isn’t anything anyone will rave about but then again, I’ve been ruined by Apple’s Touchpads that are more like wizardry than technology.
The Vapor 15 Pro’s trackpad has a glass surface which is a tad bit resistive to your finger gliding across it. It’s not a problem by any means but you will notice it.
Games at speed
The Vapor 15 Pro is a performance machine. The Intel Core i7-9750H with six cores paired with 16GB of DDR4 RAM and a super-speedy NVMe SSD hard drive make this machine sing. Windows boots very fast and apps open and close snappily.
In the few weeks I used the Vapor 15 Pro for all manner of tasks ranging from web browsing to writing to gaming and watching episodes of The Mandalorian, the Vapor 15 Pro hasn’t lagged or stuttered at all.
Our synthetic benchmarks further proved the processing power on tap. Cinebench scored 2333 while Geekbench Single CPU score of 1132 and Multi CPU score of 5319. Turning to games, well now, the Vapor 15 Pro comes with a 15-inch 144Hz display mated to the powerful Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q.
I’ve seen this card before in other laptops so I expected exceptional performance and I wasn’t disappointed. 3DMark 11 Firestrike scored 14336 while the DirectX 12 TimeSpy scored 6992 which is a little behind the Asus Scar Strix III which was almost 1000 points faster in the same benchmark. UniEngine Heaven score of 2028 with an average of 80FPS at 1080p.
In games, the performance was stellar. All the games in my test suite easily ran above 80FPS with all graphics settings maxed out at 1080p. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was the slowest at 75FPS but that’s hardly anything to complain about. Games like Doom, Fortnite and Apex Legends could very easily meet the in-built displays 144Hz refresh if you lowered the settings to medium.
No doubt, the Vapor 15 Pro is a gamers machine.
So we’ve seen that the Vapor 15 Pro has the performance for pros but that means little if you can’t connect it to other power tools. Fortunately, Aftershock hasn’t skimped here. There’s everything you would need to connect peripherals or drive a higher resolution external monitor.
On the back, there’s a standard HDMI 1.4 port and a high-speed ThunderBolt 3.0 port for connecting to monitors, eGPU’s or external hard drives. Elsewhere, the Vapor 15 Pro is littered with USB Type-A’s with one even supporting power delivery for fast charging your smartphone.
While the Vapor 15 Pro does have speakers, they really aren’t worth using if you have a choice. The sound is weak, lacking strength and oomph; like most laptops, it sounds tinny and flat. You can use it to get by in a pinch or in conference calls but use headphones instead.
Thankfully, the Vapor 15 Pro has both dedicated audio and microphone jack so streaming professionals can connect their audio gear.
On top of the display is a built-in webcam for video conferencing but more importantly, it allows for the excellent Windows Hello. This is Microsoft’s facial recognition feature for Windows 10 that allows you to log in with a look. It’s a feature I love and wish was on every laptop and surprisingly is missing from more established brands. Aftershock has won me over with this and so many more features that normally would be found on much more expensive laptops.
Battery is fine; for a gaming laptop
Aftershock has put a 94Whr battery in the Vapor 15 Pro with a bold claim that it will last 10 hours on a charge.
Technically I suppose it can but not if you are using the laptop like normal human beings and if you use it as a power user, it certainly won’t even last two hours.
In my testing, I was able to get around 3-4 hours of typical productivity work. That’s mostly a ton of browser tabs, Spotify, YouTube and a few game clients running in the background. It’s certainly not bad, especially considering the hardware at play here. It’ll get you through your commutes to work but it’s nowhere near the claim of 10 hours.
Verdict: Should you buy?
I’d never heard of Aftershock before but what it’s put together in the Vapor 15 Pro has left me rather impressed. For an astonishingly low $3000, you get exceptional gaming and productivity laptop whose direct competitors costs at least $1000 more. And yet, they don’t offer significant performance improvements over the Vapor 15 Pro.
Sure, those others will definitely give you a much more premium design and finish but not much else; not even a mechanical keyboard. In saying that, it’s not all perfect. The aforementioned keyboard isn’t all that impressive and the overall design is just meh. But putting the sum of parts together, the Vapor Pro 15 is extremely hard to overlook.
Even if you think $3000 is too much, there’s also a $2200 configuration with a Geforce GTX 1660Ti which is still an exceptional 1080p gaming card. It’s really hard to beat this much value for money. Well done Aftershock.
The Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro was loaned to PowerUp! by Aftershock Australia for the purpose of this review.
Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro Review
Product Name: Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro
Product Description: Aussie made gaming laptop.
Offer price: $3099
- Plain design looks like a business notebook
- Gaming and productivity is above reproach
- Mechanical keyboard isn't that great in practice
- Value for money is tops