The name Aftershock PC is now synonymous with hardcore, uncompromising gaming PC’s and peripherals that fit every budget. We’ve reviewed a fair few of their products and come away impressed every time. So, it might come as a bit of a shock that their latest offering is pretty much the opposite of everything they are known for.
The Aftershock Lunar 15 Max is the ‘ultimate productivity laptop’ and it starts at $2000 in Australia. It promises all day battery life, top-notch performance for creative and productive work. You get an 11th Gen Intel i7 processor with Iris Xe graphics for some modest gaming but more on that later. 16GB LPDDR4x 4266MHz RAM, 1TB NVMe SSD and plenty of next-gen USB ports for connectivity really sell the productivity nature of the Lunar.
I went hands on with the Lunar 15 Max for just over two weeks and I came away with a few thoughts.
Aftershock Lunar 15 Max Review
I was immediately impressed when I opened the box to the Lunar. Inside is a very shiny, silver MacBook lookalike that weighs an astonishingly light 1.65Kg which is far lighter than any gaming laptop I’ve reviewed. A keen eye might notice the familiarity of the design and that’s because the Lunar isn’t an original design but rather a branded Intel NUC m15.
Intel started the NUC program to create reference hardware platforms (essentially computer templates) that other companies can brand as their own devices. As you can imagine, this saves them the millions of dollars required to custom design their own hardware like Razer, Asus or MSI does. This means smaller companies like Aftershock can offer high quality and affordable hardware and yet still turn a profit.
And indeed, the hardware here is quality. The chassis is a CNC anodized aluminum that’s extremely rigid and solid while still being very light. The similarity to an Apple MacBook is unmistakable but welcome as that is a handsome machine. The chassis is devoid of any markings or etchings and the Silver Aftershock logo is a nice flourish which gives the Lunar a very clean and professional look.
The only interruption to the clean chassis are the great selection of ports on either side including two fast Thunderbolt 4 (USB 4.0 Type-C) ports which also serve as power inlets. You also get two USB 3.2 Type-A, a 3.5mm audio jack and HDMI 2.0 out for connecting to a monitor or TV.
Opening the lid reveals the Lunar’s 15.6-inch display. It’s an IPS panel with 100% sRGB coverage and touch enabled though I didn’t really find that useful since it’s not a convertible style laptop. The panel has an 85% screen-to-body ratio which allows the Lunar to have the footprint of a 14-inch laptop. The panel gets very bright at 450 nits. I used the Lunar as my main laptop for work and found it good enough for my creative work thanks to the decent color accuracy and brightness. I also found that movies and games all looked vibrant and punchy.
There’s also a very necessary HD webcam for your Zoom calls and it supports Windows Hello facial recognition. This worked flawlessly for me and I especially loved the attention awareness which wakes the laptop when it detects your physical presence and also locks it when you aren’t. I really enjoyed this feature as it means I never had to type a password or even worry about locking my machine when I left my desk.
Below the display is a silent membrane keyboard that I found a tad bit too soft. A little bit more crispness with each stroke would feel better for people who type a lot. The keys are backlit but not the standard per key RGB vomit here. The keys only have white light which is suitably bright but very irritatingly turns off after a few seconds of inactivity and takes a few more to wake up. Frustratingly For the life of me I couldn’t find anywhere in the software to change this but trust me it’s irritating especially if you use your laptop in the dark a lot.
Powering the Lunar is a quad-core Intel Core i7-1165G7 that can clock up to 4.7Ghz and while it won’t blow your socks off, it’s more than capable for most productivity tasks. I put the Lunar through our usual suite of benchmarks and as expected, it came behind the many gaming laptops but not as much as you’d think. Geekbench scores were surprising at 1491 Single-Core and 5592 in Multi-core. Graphics benchmarks like 3DMark11 and UniEngine Superposition were expectedly lackluster.
|Geekbench CPU Single Score||1491|
|Geekbench CPU Multi-Core||5592|
|3DMark 11 TimeSpy||1 769|
|3DMark 11 FireStrike||5 177|
|3DMark 11 Port Royal||0|
|CPU Max Temp||54|
|GPU Max Temp||55|
That said, the Lunar does something those big boys can’t – last all day on battery. The Intel NUC spec advertises up to 16 hours battery life but by now you know we don’t drink that Kool-Aid. My real-world tests saw the Lunar last about Eight hours of usage, which is indeed, a whole work day. This was running the Lunar without any fancy power profiles while doing a combination of web browsing, streaming music and Zoom calls.
But while I was impressed, it was clear that my particular review unit was a bit of lemon as even with different power profiles, I never got anywhere beyond half the advertised 16 hours. So, I consulted with the excellent customer support at Aftershock in Melbourne and they observed my particular unit was draining battery faster than it should have been. And they were more than willing to replace the unit but I didn’t need more convincing of the battery prowess.
Alright then. Productivity, check. All day battery, check. Great screen, check. MacBook looks, check. Gaming? Err, kinda check?
You see, this is possibly the only Aftershock machine that you’ll ever buy that has neither NVIDIA or AMD dedicated graphics. Instead, you get Intel’s new Iris Xe graphics which is a big step up from the old Intel UHD integrated graphics but still no match for any of the dedicated offerings from the big boys. You can expect performance similar to the NVIDIA GeForce MX series that used to appear in some Ultrabook’s like the Razer Blade 13.
Suffice to say, the Iris Xe can run AAA games at 1080p very low settings. Interestingly, some games like Doom Eternal and Call of Duty Warzone wouldn’t even boot up at all; probably due to Intel driver issues. But for the games I was able to run, the results were actually playable with an average of 30fps. While this pales in comparison to full gaming laptops but plays games as well as a PS4 or an Xbox One. And when you think about it, that’s really not a bad result at all for a portable machine that you can use for a ton of other things as well.
|Shadow of Tomb Raider||24|
|The Division 2||39|
|Call of Duty: Warzone||–|
|Forza Horizon 4||41|
|Metro Exodus Enhanced||–|
The Aftershock Lunar 15 Max isn’t the gaming powerhouse we are used to seeing from the company but that really isn’t the point. It’s a productivity machine that excels at all day office and school tasks but also lets you experience some gaming. It’s an excellent laptop for Uni students who need something stylish, light and powerful without paying elitist Apple MacBook prices. It’s not a true Ultrabook like the MacBook Air and $2000 is still a chunk of change for most people but the value on offer is undeniable.