Aorus X3 Plus – Compact, powerful and (maybe too) good-looking

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X3 Plus Topimage0028Aorus is a gaming-specific brand that has impressed us, though it probably doesn’t hurt that we’ve been getting the fully tricked-out laptops to play with. The newest piece of kit to cross our desks is the Aorus X3 Plus, a 13.9-inch gaming notebook that comes with a wicked sleek design and all of the bells and whistles.

Read More: Aorus X7 v2 review

But all of those additions, from the high-end processor to the eye-pleasing display to the speedy graphics solution found in this oddly-sized portable gaming rig comes at a price, both literal and figurative.

Looks Fast

The X3 Plus shares visual characteristics with the Aorus X7 v2, on the outside at least. There are the same angular lines throughout the notebook, with heat and speaker vents that looks as though they’ve drawn their inspiration from a certain Italian supercar (and we’re not talking about Ferrari).

The keyboard, a chiclet-style full setup, is completely back-lit and dominates the area beneath the display. The touchpad is a smooth, shiny section centred in the middle of the notebook, unlike that found on the X7 v2 which is offset. We’re not overly fond of the touchpad though, it may look attractive but our fingertips dragged across the surface rather than skating smoothly across. It’s like using an optical mouse on a reflective surface at times.

X3 Plus Angle

Display: 13.9-inch QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) LCD
Processor: Intel Core i7-4860 HQ/2.4GHz
RAM: 16GB
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX870M/Intel Iris Pro 5200
Storage: 500GB (461GB available for use)
Operating System: Windows 8.1 Pro
Battery: Li Polymer 73.26Wh
Weight: 1.8kg

All The Right Pieces

The X3 Plus features the sort of hardware that makes PC fanatics drool (but not on the hardware, that’s not cool), starting with the Core i7-4860. The full complement of 16GB of RAM doesn’t hurt either, though this model comes standard with a ‘mere’ 8GB but the company has also managed to squeeze in a GeForce GTX870M somehow, making for an awful lot of gaming grunt.

There’s method to the… we would say madness but this much power in such a small machine is more of a blessing really. The Aorus X3 Plus is outfitted with a 13.9-inch QHD+ screen (hence the name) with a huge native resolution of 3,200 x 1,800. While it looks extremely lovely with video and images, as well as the Windows 8.1 desktop, it’s actually too much screen for the hardware to handle when you’re gaming. So much so that you’ll be forced to turn down some settings if you’re going for the full native resolution in some titles.

Too Hot To Handle?

We’ve called the X3 Plus a laptop in places earlier in this review but that’s not strictly accurate and if you’re going to be using it that way you’re going to know just what a frog on a hot-plate feels like. This Aorus, having crammed as much gaming hardware as it could in a teeny chassis, has a significant amount of heat output. It shouldn’t raise blisters but it will certainly make you feel as though it might – we wouldn’t rule it out if you’re resting it on bare legs under heavy load, something we weren’t about to give a real-world test. It’s hot, okay?

Verdict

The Aorus X3 Plus is a hot little number, literally and figuratively. It’s best used as a gaming desktop replacement, with the addition of a gaming mouse and a full-sized keyboard rather than the integrated peripherals but you can make the backlit keyboard dance to your particular fragging tune if you want. The QHD+ screen, while good for bragging rights, would have been better served appearing in the Aorus X7 v2 with its SLI graphics setup but all in all you’re looking at a whole lot of gaming machine here in a rather small package.

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