PC

An affordable VR-ready gaming laptop

While you can upgrade to a GTX 1070 graphics chip for $420 more, the Aftershock S-15's GTX 1060 is fast enough unless you plan to connect the laptop to a 4K display.
While you can upgrade to a GTX 1070 graphics chip for $420 more, the Aftershock S-15's GTX 1060 is fast enough unless you plan to connect the laptop to a 4K display. PHOTO: AFTERSHOCK

Its new graphics chip puts the Aftershock S-15 up to speed

The Aftershock S-15 is among the first gaming laptops to feature Nvidia's new GTX 10-Series graphics chips.

Unlike in the past, the 10-Series mobile graphics chips have the same number of processing units as their desktop counterparts. Accordingly, Nvidia has dropped the "M" suffix denoting the mobile version in its model numbers.

There is still a slight performance advantage for the desktop version because of higher clock speeds, but the bottom line is that the gap between mobile and desktop graphics has been narrowed significantly.

Powering the 15-inch Aftershock S-15 is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, the most affordable of the three 10-Series graphics chips launched so far. You can upgrade to a GTX 1070 for an extra $420.

The good news is that, unless you plan to connect the S-15 to a 4K (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) display, the GTX 1060 is fast enough.

In Crysis 3 at Very High settings, the S-15 scored 61 frames per second (fps) at the laptop's native 1,920 x 1,080-pixel screen resolution. In comparison, the Asus ROG G752, with Nvidia's previous flagship GTX 980M mobile graphics chip, managed only around 55fps.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $2,308

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6700HQ (2.6GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5

    RAM: 8GB DDR4

    SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 2 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 3 x USB 3.0, HDMI, 2 x mini-DisplayPort, Ethernet port, SD card slot, audio jacks

    BATTERY: 60 watt-hour


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 1/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

In Doom, the S-15 achieved a smooth 72fps at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and with the settings at Ultra.

However, the laptop is not quite ready for 4K gaming, unless you reduce the graphics settings. The S-15 managed just 27fps at 3,840 x 2,160 pixels at Ultra setting in Doom.

For those considering virtual reality (VR) games, the S-15 was deemed VR-ready when I ran the Steam VR performance test, which means it is capable enough to run VR games at the best quality. However, you have to import the VR headset from overseas as they are currently unavailable here.

The S-15 has an identical chassis as last year's version. At around 2.5kg, it is more portable than 17-inch gaming laptops.

New to this model is the keyboard, which now comes with an RGB-illuminated backlight that can be customised to show any colour using the preloaded app. Key travel has been improved and it feels much nicer to type on.

If you have an Android smartphone, download FlexiAccess from the Google Play store. This newly launched app connects to the Control Center program on the S-15 via Bluetooth, and lets users monitor the laptop's internal temperature and fan speed.

The connectors have also been upgraded, with the S-15 now sporting two USB 3.1 Type-C ports that support faster transfer speeds.

My review unit comes with an excellent IPS screen that has wide viewing angles and covers 100 per cent of the sRGB colour space. More importantly for gamers, it supports Nvidia's G-Sync feature that, together with the GTX 1060, helps to reduce stutter in games.

• Verdict: Thanks to Nvidia's latest graphics chip, the Aftershock S-15 will handle the latest games, including VR titles, at its native resolution with ease.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'An affordable VR-ready gaming laptop'. Print Edition | Subscribe