Why would you pick up a device like the Aorus X5 v6 over other, similar specced gaming notebooks? That’s a hard question to answer at the best of times but when you’ve got several viable options staring you in the face that choice can get even tougher.
When you have to pick between items that are closely related in terms of quality it’s easy to get buyer’s remorse without ever putting down your credit card. Do you splash out on this product or gets something with a similar spec for similar cash? The agony of choice… Well, let us help you choose.
The one aspect of the Aorus lineup of gaming notebooks we’ve always admired is how they look. They’re not as eye-violating as Razer’s neon green and black ensembles and they’re not as plain as MSI’s offerings. Instead they’re pleasingly aggressive, as you’d expect from a company that uses a stylised bird of prey as its logo. It’s also — somehow — sedate enough that it could pass unnoticed in an office or board meeting. Till they catch you playing Destiny at lunch-time, anyway.
The Aorus X5 v6 (the v6 denotes the system iteration, as the X5 has been around for a while) looks fast on the outside. That’s often a consideration when splashing out large chunks of cash on something – you do want people to know what you paid for it without having to say ‘Guess what I paid for this.’ Don’t do that, by the way. But the price-tag will be evident, as the angular lines, rear vents and overall construction fairly yell out ‘Premium’. So you don’t have to. Sadly, the construction doesn’t feel premium throughout. The keyboard, which being up to the task of navigating you around virtual worlds, has a little more give behind it than we’d like. That’s really not a problem in the grand scheme, though.
Pieces of Sky
If the keyboard is a little iffy, just about nothing else is. The 15.6in display is a bit of a strange one, technically being classified as a 3K (2,880 x 1,620) IPS display. It makes for some mucking around with settings so you can get games running on the native resolution but the rest of the hardware is up to the task.
The X5 v6 sports one of Intel’s Core i7-6820HK processors, a Skylake chip which actually gives you a spot of overclocking headroom if you’re into that. There’s a solid 16GB of DDR 2400 RAM, though there’s also an 8GB configuration out there, and an SSD/HDD (256GB/1TB) combination to get your storage going.
The big drawcard is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 GPU. This card’s pedigree claims desktop-level performance and, based on our testing, that’s just about what it delivers. Even crammed into a chassis as slim as this one.
Fire up the turbines
Firing up our trusty benchmark programs, we found that there is a marked difference between the X5 v6’s Quiet and Gamer fan profile modes. Running Heaven (at our customary HD, Ultra textures, Extreme tessellation, 8x anti-aliasing setting) in Quiet mode returned a score of just 530. That’s an average frame rate of 21 and a max of 47.3. Playable, but not ideal.
Flip the switch for the Gamer fan profile and the fans cycle up to a jet-fighter whine and all of the internals start warming up to do some serious work. The same Heaven benchmark on the Gamer profile returns a final score of 2,217, with an average frame rate of 88 and a max fps of 187.2. That’s a lot more like it.
We also ran Firestrike and Timespy from 3D mark using both fan profiles. Firestrike, set to Quiet, managed a final score of 3,880. Flick the turbine switch and that score jumps to 13,760, with average frame rates of 80.05 (test 1) and 67.26 (test 2). That’s a lot more like it. Ditto Timespy, which got a score of 1,603 (Quiet) before hitting a high of 5,138 for the DirectX 12 benchmark. We’ll take it.
It’s worth noting, though, that running the Aorus X5 in high-performance mode is a noisy arrangement. If you’re just browsing YouTube or anything else that doesn’t require pushing pixels, it’s best to stick to the silent profile. Your ears will thank you.
What is this slim, attractive package of gaming goodness going to cost you? That’s always going to be the decider and this particular configuration will set you back around R40,000. That might seem like a lot to ask for a notebook that is still packing Skylake processor tech but there will be a Kaby Lake variation along in a bit. In the meantime, the benchmark don’t reveal much of a difference to a similarly-specced Kaby Lake competitor (which also has a GTX 1070) so you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck here anyway. If you’ve got R40k burning a hole in your pocket we say go for it.