Graphics chip upgrade brings out the best in Aorus X3 Plus

With the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip in the Aorus X3 Plus v6, the performance jump on the older model is huge.
With the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip in the Aorus X3 Plus v6, the performance jump on the older model is huge.PHOTO: AORUS

Earlier this year, I tested the Aorus X3 Plus, which, at 1.8kg, is one of the thinnest and lightest gaming laptops in the market.

The latest v6 revision has a similar design but a more powerful graphics chip.

This Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip is crucial because the performance jump from the GTX 970 chip on the older model is huge.

The older X3 managed around 44 frames per second (fps) at the maximum graphics setting in Crysis 3. This is a decent result, but it pales in comparison with the 70fps produced by the latest version.

More importantly, the GTX 1060 helps to fix a flaw in the older model: the laptop's ultra-high-resolution screen (3,200 x 1,800 pixels) is impractical for gaming, because its high number of pixels is too demanding on the graphics chip.

In other words, you probably have to lower the screen resolution or the graphics settings to get the latest games to run smoothly on the older laptop's 13.9-inch display.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $3,599

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6820HK (2.7GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5

    RAM: 16GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 13.9 inches, 3,200 x 1,800 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, Gigabit LAN, SD card reader, audio jacks

    BATTERY: 73 watt-hour


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 1/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

But this is no longer a problem with the new X3, which managed to run Doom (2016) at around 44fps at 3,200 x 1,800 pixels. While it does not quite reach the 60fps desired by gamers, 44fps is still very decent and playable.

Unfortunately, Aorus launched the new X3 before Intel introduced its latest seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors. As a result, the X3 Plus still uses a sixth-generation Intel Core i7 processor. But Aorus did change the CPU to the Core i7-6820HK model, which can be overclocked.

To do so, open the pre-installed Command & Control app, select the OC Launcher option and manually increase the maximum clock speeds for the processor by 100Hz increments from 3.6GHz to 4GHz.

Other less exciting uses of this app include adjusting the screen brightness, configuring the Wi-Fi network and turning on the keyboard backlight, which comes in white, and not multi-coloured like some gaming laptops.

A software gauge lets you monitor the temperatures of the CPU and graphics chip, as well as their clock speeds. You can also see how fast the cooling fan is running. Be warned that the fan gets very loud at higher speeds, which is a common drawback of ultra-thin gaming laptops like the X3 Plus.

Gamers who like to stream their gameplay videos online will find the pre-installed XSplit app (with free one-year licence) very handy.

At $3,599, the improved X3 Plus costs the same as the older model. It is comparable to the 14-inch Razer Blade, which offers similar specifications such as 16GB RAM, a 512GB solid-state drive and the GTX 1060. However, the Blade, available locally at $2,999, comes with a lower-resolution 1,920 x 1,080-pixel screen and a standard Core i7 processor.

Vincent Chang

• Verdict: A newer graphics chip is the crucial difference between the new X3 Plus and its predecessor.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 28, 2016, with the headline 'Graphics chip upgrade brings out the best in Aorus X3 Plus'. Print Edition | Subscribe