We recently had the opportunity to get a hands on preview of Gigabyte’s new hyper-powerful Aorus X9 gaming laptop, and, while its angular looks aren’t for everyone, its twin GTX 1070 heart should please all gamers. So long as you’ve got some good noise-cancelling headphones that is.
With that in mind… here’s our pick of the best gaming headsets around today.
The Aorus X9 is the direct replacement of Gigabyte’s last SLI Aorus, the X7. We checked out the Aorus X7 Pro v5 almost exactly a year ago, but its SLI’d GTX 970M graphics silicon, and slimline chassis, meant it was a frustratingly noisey, powerful notebook. We were hoping then the new Pascal GPUs would offer some respite in future iterations.
That future is here with the X9, sporting a pair of Pascal-based GTX 1070 cards, and the sort of gaming performance pretty much any desktop machine would weep silicon tears to have. It’s also sporting a Core i7 7820HK CPU, but don’t confuse that with the eight-core desktop Core i7 7820X chip (why would you?), this is just a straight quad-core, eight-thread standard Kaby Lake mobile chip.
Gigabyte are also following the recent trend of dropping mechanical switches into their high-end gaming laptops, but unlike the monstrous key caps of the MSI Titan or Acer 21X the low-profile Cherry MX Brown-a-like switches the X9 uses don’t stand too far proud of the chassis. They’re not actual Cherry switches, but they are fully mechanical with a 2.5mm travel.
And, of course, there are more RGB LEDs on show with the X9 than at a Corsair Appreciation Society fun-day. Gigabyte have added RGB strips around the oustide of the mostly aluminium frame, which can be individually managed, and the mech-switch board also has per-key illumination too. There is, however, one genuinely useful RGB section, the Aorus HUD. It’s a strip of 11 LEDs under the screen, which can be switched to indicate battery capacity, fan speed, or the temperature or usage of either the GPUs or CPU.
Or they can simply join into the LED ‘party mode’ where the lights dance in time to the music pumping out of the twin speakers and dual subwoofers. Yeah. Ain’t no party, like an Aorus party.
The are two choices of display for the X9, a 4K IPS panel with 100% Adobe RGB coverage for the professional gang, or a 120Hz 1440p VA screen with a 5ms response time. We checked out the 1440p screen and it was delightfully crisp and bright when we started throwing different games its way.
It was also stunningly quiet when we started really pushing the twin GPUs at its heart. All those tales of the ground-up redesign of the Aorus X9’s CPU and GPU cooling seemed to be bearing fruit. The X7 was horrendously noisey when gaming, but as our initial Aorus X9 Heaven benchmark neared the end of its almost silent loop our friends from Gigabyte started to get a little nervous.
It turned out the fans had been set to manual in the Aorus command centre software. It allows you to set different levels of cooling - with a ten-step fan control - unfortunately the step we were on meant the fans were essentially just twiddling their thumbs as the two graphics chips edged past 90°C.
Once turned on the fans turned turbine-loud as they fought to bring down the spiking temperatures, but even when they’d settled into their standard pattern there was still a very definite, and very audible, whine from within the chassis.
But there’s a good chance you’ll be able to manage those noise levels via both the Aorus command centre and through the Nvidia GeForce Experience app. Because they’re 10-series GPUs, you can make good with the Whisper Mode, and that should allow you to bring the fans down to a less obtrusive level.
Obviously this sort of gaming laptop doesn’t come cheap. There are three different SKUs at launch: a top-end 4K version with a 512GB NVMe SSD at $3,649, a 1440p machine with a 256GB NVMe drive at $3,199, and a 1440p version with RAID’d 512GB NVMe drives which is priced in between the other two setups.
We’ll be getting a full review sample into the office soon, and we’ll be able to see how quiet we can get the powerful SLI setup, and just how much performance we can get out of the doubled-up Pascal.