Nvidia’s RTX 30-series gaming laptops are finally here and the Gigabyte Aorus 17G is one of the first to come to market. For the uninitiated, the Aorus line is to Gigabyte what ROG is to Asus — the gaming focused products. Everything about the Aorus is streamlined for gaming — Windforce Infinity cooling, 300Hz refresh displays and the fastest graphics and CPU to ensure only the highest of frame rates. Heck, the laptops even carry a seal of approval from the world’s top CS:GO team, G2 Esports.
And perhaps that’s why the Aorus 17G can command a starting price of $3,599 in Australia. Not pocket change for sure but at least that gets you a 300Hz 17-inch, color calibrated display mated to either a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 or 3080 and 10th Gen Intel CPU’s. If you want, you can have up to 64GB of RAM, two M.2 SSD’s and a per-key mechanical keyboard with OMRON switches.
Gigabyte Aorus 17GYC Review.
The overall design of the Aorus 17G remains unchanged from last years model that I also reviewed. Check out that review as I’ll refer to the outgoing model throughout this piece. The Aorus 17G is a 17-inch laptop with the footprint of a smaller machine thanks to Gigabyte’s slimming choices.
The chassis is made out of a CNC milled aluminium, finished in a matte black that leans more to ash grey depending on the light. It feels very sturdy and weighs just under 3kilos which is featherweight compared to 17-inch laptops of old. It’s also pretty slim, coming in at about 1 inch at it’s thickest which is again pretty amazing.
The design is clearly gamery but still somewhat subdued. The angled vents on the sides and the back announce the power within. The lid is blissfully plain with only a shiny, mirror finish Aorus eagle logo. Looking at it closed, you’d be forgiven in thinking it’s just another business laptop. I appreciate that as many of us aren’t too happy with blingy gaming laptops in more professional situations.
The Aorus packs plenty of I/O with three USB 3.2 ports, a Thunderbolt 3 Type-C, a UHS-II SD Card reader, ethernet and an audio jack. Thanks to the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080, you also now have an HDMI 2.1 port for that sweet 4K, 120FPS gaming on compatible TV’s. This is wonderful for people who love big screen, couch gaming as the Aorus 17 can transform into a more than capable living room console.
Opening the lid reveals possibly the best mechanical keyboard on any laptop todate. Yes, yes, I know it’s not a ‘real’ mechanical keyboard thanks to the obvious limitations a laptop chassis presents but I must give credit where it’s due. Gigabyte managed to squeeze OMRON mechanical switches with a surprisingly generous 1.6mm actuation distance. The slightly curved keycaps feel nice to touch and sound suitably clicky.
Keypresses are satisfying and responsive whether you are frantically dodging and weaving your way through Apex Legends or banging away at a 10,000 word report. Now while I enjoyed the tactile experience of the keys, I still don’t like the finish that leads to rather dull RGB lighting. I’ve complained about this on all Gigabyte laptops but maybe I’m the only one seeing as it has changed in the last three years.
My other complaint is the number pad squashed on the right. As it is, a standard laptop keyboard is barely the size of a 60% desktop keyboard and adding a number pad just leads to a very cramped keyboard with keys so tightly spaced which leads to so many typing errors. I hate how I constantly have to remind myself to shift my hands to the left so I can hit the typing home keys correctly. Please Gigabyte, we don’t need a number pad, just a big, glorious keyboard to fit our mitts.
The touchpad though decently sized is somewhat floaty in it’s response. I felt like I had to work harder than usual to move the cursor around as well as clicking stuff. Aside from using it for basic tasks, I always had an external mouse for more serious work and gaming. But there is a crown jewel and that is the excellent fingerprint scanner built into the top left of the pad. It’s accurate and fast, making signing into Windows a sublime affair.
One last thing to note is that Gigabyte thankfully still includes a webcam on all their models. Sure, it’s still in the unsightly up-your-nose position beneath the display and will get blocked when you are typing on the keyboard. If you use the Aorus 17G with a laptop stand, the angle is better though. For those who are security conscious(and we all should be), the webcam has a handy cover that you can slide to cover it.
Performance and battery
Our review unit is the top line model, the Aorus 17G YC which comes with a 105W variant of the GeForce RTX 3080. I point this out because NVIDIA opted to let manufacturers choose the power rating for the new RTX 3000 cards meaning that not all 3080’s are equal. In fact, some laptops with an RTX 3080 might perform significantly worse than those with an RTX 3070 or even 3060 depending on the power rating.
Gigabyte has settled somewhere close to the middle of the road with this model which is pushing 105watts — the limit for such a skinny chassis. Performance then is good, but not the impressive leap you’d expect. Every game in my test suite runs above 100 fps with ultra settings. Turning on Ray tracing saw obviously resulted in a dip but most games managed to keep above 60fps. As usual, outside of games like CS:GO or Valorant, I couldn’t get anywhere near the 300Hz refresh which again, feels like an expensive waste of time for most people.
Even with all the improvements in performance over previous generations, the new RTX 3080 just can’t attain those frame rates. Last year’s Aorus with an RTX 2080 Super Max-Q performed fairly similarly and since it’s an outgoing model, you can likely get that version much cheaper now.
However, thermal performance when gaming is good. I recorded average GPU temperatures of around 75-85C when gaming. The Aorus also has a Turbo mode that you can activate using the Fn + Esc keys which turns the machine into a noisy vacuum cleaner but it does keep things cooler by about 5C. The keyboard deck also remains relatively cool to the touch but by now it’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t be doing lap gaming unless you don’t value your body.
It’s not all about gaming though and that’s where the 10th Gen Intel i7-10870H processor comes in. This 8-core CPU isn’t the latest and greatest but games and productivity tasks run smoothly. Using the laptop for everyday tasks such as hundred-tab web browsing, photo editing, watching videos and streaming saw no dips or stutters. The 32Gb of DDR4 memory helps significantly as you can have more apps running at the same time.
Sadly, this performance will cost you in battery life. Gigabyte claims up to 7 hour battery life but the best I got was 4 hours 40 minute. And that was using a fairly extreme power saving mode with all RGB off and looping 1080p video in fullscreen. Using it like a normal working person yielded closer to 3.5 hours which I guess is good enough to finish one part of Lord of the Rings.
As always, forget about gaming on battery. Not only will you get much shorter time out of the battery, but the Nvidia Optimus will seriously cripple gaming performance. Of course you can override that but you get the point. There’s enough juice to do some light gaming on the go but if you really want the performance, then plug in.
The Gigabyte Aorus 17G is nothing more than an update of an already good gaming laptop. Gigabyte hasn’t strayed too far from the outgoing model, changing nothing on the outside and very little on the inside. I would have loved to see some AMD Ryzen 5000 processor options on the table or at least the newer 11th Gen intel processors. As it is, just changing the graphics card doesn’t provide enough of a boost.
The price, though high at $3600 is still $2000 cheaper than a similarly priced Alienware m17 or Razer Blade Pro 17. That’s…a lot! Yes, the Aorus 17G doesn’t hold a candle to the design and build of those two but darn it, the value it has to offer for the price is simply unbeatable. Top performance, decent battery, solid build and a large, fast display make the Aorus fantastic for esports pros and casual worker bee gamers. Bravo Gigabyte, bravo.
Gigabyte ANZ loaned the Aorus 17GYC to PowerUp for the purpose of this review.