A tsunami of new Nvidia RTX powered laptops has arrived to give the laptop market a performance boost. Although the vast majority of new models are gaming machines, a handful of Studio editions are aimed at creative professionals. Here we review the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED, which can really be either.
Design – Sleek and slight
The Aero 15 OLED for 2020 looks a little like a gaming laptop, but not a flashy and garish one. Instead, this is a sleek and stylish device that has enough going on for it to feel a bit fancy without going too far.
For example, the lid has a brushed metal finish towards the bottom and the Aero logo towards the top lights up. Not that you’ll look at the back much, but a small logo sits in between slightly menacing heat grilles.
Opening it up is a luxurious experience despite the size and weight of the lid. The hinges have the right amount of tension so using one hand is easily possible and the action is satisfyingly smooth.
Things are fairly tame around the keyboard with a triangle pattern above and otherwise just more black metal.
Those heat exhausts continue on the sides of the laptop where you’ll find plenty of ports including USB-A, USB-C, HDMI, mini DisplayPort and Ethernet.
For a 15in laptop with these specs, the Aero 15 OLED is surprisingly portable – it’s just 20mm thick and weighing 2kg.
Moving on and I found the keyboard a joy to use. It’s large, has a dedicated number pad and offers a nice smooth action with just enough crispness. Some may find it a little too soft but it suits my taste nicely.
Like a gaming laptop, the keyboard has customisable coloured lighting which can perform all kinds of tricks. Most of them are extremely distracting though so you’re best off just choosing a static colour you like.
The problem is that when using the laptop in the dark the alternative key uses, such as brightness and volume control – are not visible.
A large trackpad performed very well during my time with the Aero 15 with it’s smooth and responsive surface. There’s a fingerprint scanner in the corner which also works very well to log into Windows quickly. I would just prefer it in the top-right corner as a right-handed user.
Overall, Gigabyte has done a great job of the design but I have a couple of quibbles for things that got on my nerves. For starters, the webcam is positioned below the screen so gives you an awkward angle for video calls.
There’s a slider to block it for privacy but it’s a little fiddly to move.
Then there’s the power input which sits roughly in the middle of the right-hand side of the laptop. It’s awkward, ungly and would be much better if it plugged into the back of the laptop. Or at least towards the back if it must be on the side so it doesn’t get in the way of the SD card slot.
Display – Colourful character
The screen is arguably the main reason to buy the Aero 15 OLED. It’s big, bright, colourful and sharp.
It’s easy to see why the laptop is aimed at creative users by looking at the stickers plastered all over the chassis. It’s Pantone, Vesa and Colour Calibration certified.
This thing is truly beautiful and easily one of the best, if not the best, display I’ve ever tested on a laptop. Made all the better by those tiny bezels around the edge, with the webcam trade-off mentioned earlier.
The Aero 15 OLED, as the name suggests, provides an AMOLED panel made by Samsung – something you’re far more likely to find on a smartphone than a laptop. The display is 15.6in and uses a 4K Ultra HD resolution.
Of course at this high resolution Windows 10 is displayed at 250% to make it a usable size, but you could adjust this a little if you want to create some more space in something like video editing software, for example.
In our tests the Aero 15 OLED passed with flying colours, quite literally. It hits a peak brightness of 394cdm/2 along with 100% of sRBG, 96% AdobeRBG and 99% P3.
Colour nerds rejoice, it doesn’t get much better than this. It won’t bother most people, but it’s not touch sensitive if that’s an issue.
Note that there is a non-OLED version of the Aero 15 if you want to save some money. It’s got a Full HD IPS display and comes with either a GTX 1660 Ti GPU or RTX 2060 at £1,499 or £1,699.
Performance – Pedal to the metal
Our sample of the Aero 15 OLED is the ‘XB’ model meaning it comes with Nvidia’s new RTX 2070 Super graphics card with Max Q technology. In other words, the laptop version of the full-blown RTZ 2070 Super.
If you want to go further, the ‘YB’ model has an RTX 2080 Super. These new cards come with a whole host of new features such as Dynamic Boost and DLSS 2.0 for improved performance and efficiency – read more about the new RTX laptops here.
Over on the processor side, there’s an Intel Core i7-10875H – a new eight-core chip from the Comet Lake-H range clocked at 2.3GHz and able to boost up to a whopping 5.1GHz. You can also choose a Core i9-10980HK if you like.
Our review sample has 16GB of RAM and a 512GB M.2 SSD but you can get up to 64GB and 1TB respectively if you want to splash out.
As you can see from our benchmark results, it’s one of the most powerful laptops we’ve ever tested. And although it’s not pitched as a gaming laptop, it can handle demanding games just fine.
Take a look at the best gaming laptops we’ve tested.
If there’s a downside it’s that the cooling fans are quite loud. This is somewhat acceptable when doing intensive tasks but they are loud and distracting, plus I found that they were needed – at a quieter speed – when simply running a few tabs in Chrome.
You’ll probably get used to the sound of them running and then realise how nice it is once you switch the laptop off and they stop whirring.
Battery life – So so
If there’s a downside to the Aero 15 OLED, it’s that battery life is nothing to write home about. Although I’m not exactly surprised considering the hardware that needs to be run here.
There’s a 94Wh battery inside and Gigabyte claims an eight hour battery life.
That’s ok but in our usual battery test looping a 720p video at 120cdm/2 brightness (50% for the Aero 15 OLED), we found it only lasted six hours and 28 minutes.
During a normal work day starting at 9am – that’s almost exclusively writing and web browsing for me rather than the type of creative tasks the laptop is made for – I needed to plug into the power before I’d hit five hours use.
Price – Pretty penny
Laptop models (or SKUs) can get pretty complicated and the Aero 15 OLED is no exception.
It actually starts with the non-OLED model we mentioned earlier that’s Full HD and IPS with a GTX 1660 Ti, which is £1,499. It then goes up to an RTX 2080 Super – with more impressive internals too – for a cool £2,399.
The cheapest OLED model is £1,699 and also has a GTX 1660 Ti.
In total there are 13 different models to choose from depending on what combination of display, processor, memory, storage and graphics card you want.
We’ve reviewed the OLED in the middle of the pack with a Core i7 and RTX 2070 Super for £2,399. But you can spend a whopping £4,299 if you want a Core i9, 64GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and RTX 2080 Super.
You can browse the whole range at Scan to find the right one. And our best laptop chart for a range of alternatives.
I’m thoroughly impressed with the Aero 15 OLED for 2020 which combines powerful performance and one of the best laptop displays I’ve seen into a sleek and portable design.
Like almost any piece of tech, it’s not perfect and the webcam might be in a stupid place as well as the power input but those are minor quibbles.
Otherwise, there’s very little to dislike here thanks to the 4K Samsung AMOLED screen, 10th-gen Intel processor and Nvidia RTX Super graphics card.
It might be aimed at creative users due to that display but can also handle gaming with ease. Nice if you want to let loose at the end of a long day video editing.
The kicker might be the price for some, but you needn’t spend over £4k on this to get top-notch performance, as I found with the RTX 2070 Super model I tested. And you can also drop down if a GTX 1660 Ti, Full HD IPS display, or both will be enough.
Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED (2020): Specs
OS: Windows 10 Pro
Processor: 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-10875H
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super Max-Q, 8GB
Memory: 16GB DDR4
Screen: 15.6in 4K 3840 x 2160 AMOLED
Storage: 512GB M.2 SSD
Ports: 3 x USB-A 3.2, 1 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1x mini DisplayPort 1.4, 1 x audio jack, 1x Ethernet, 1 x UHS-II SD card reader
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6 (11ac) AX165, Bluetooth 5.0 LE
Other: Fingerprint reader, webcam
Dimensions: 356 x 250 x 20mm
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