Super speedy portable gaming

The Aorus X3 Plus v5 has an unusual screen size of 13.9 inches, and its keyboard has an additional column of keys on the left.
The Aorus X3 Plus v5 has an unusual screen size of 13.9 inches, and its keyboard has an additional column of keys on the left.PHOTO: AORUS

Thin, light and powerful, this gaming laptop weighs around 1.8kg, which, its manufacturer Aorus says, makes it the lightest 13-inch gaming laptop in the world.

Of course, it helps that the Aorus X3 Plus v5 has an unusual screen size of 13.9 inches and its nearest rival in this area is probably the Razer Blade. But the Blade has a 14-inch screen and is also heavier at 1.9kg.

The X3's screen is bright and vibrant, with an ultra-high, 3,200x 1,800 pixel resolution to boot. Colours appear accurate, although look slightly off when viewed from the side.

Another minor grouse: You will probably have to adjust the screen resolution setting while running a game because the laptop's native 3,200x1,800-pixel resolution is too taxing on the graphics chip.

The X3 actually has a very capable Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M graphics chip that will comfortably run the latest games at 1,920x 1,080 pixels. In fact, it is the third-fastest graphics chip in a laptop.

For instance, the X3 produced around 44 frames per second (fps) at the maximum graphics setting in Crysis 3, which is good enough for most gamers.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $3,599

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

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M 6GB GDDR5

    RAM: 16GB DDR4

    SCREEN SIZE: 13.9 inches, 3,200x1,800 pixels

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

    BATTERY: 73 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 2/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

It takes a while to get used to the X3's keyboard, which has an additional column of keys on the left. At first, I would accidentally hit them while trying to press the Ctrl or Shift keys.

These keys can be programmed to a sequence of in-game actions, making it easier to execute complex moves. Also, the Windows logo key can be disabled by the preloaded Command and Control app, thus avoiding any accidental key presses that may distract you while gaming.

This app has other functions: It can adjust the speed of the laptop's cooling fans and monitor the internal temperatures.

But you can simply leave the fan settings alone as the default ones seem to work well.

The X3 was quieter than other gaming laptops I have tried, with barely a squeak from its fans even while a game is running.

I was impressed by the speed of the X3's solid-state drive (SSD). It uses the new NVMe interface that is much faster than the standard SATA interface.

In my tests, the SSD averaged 1,389MB/s in sequential read speeds, compared with about 500MB/s for a SATA-based SSD. There is also ample storage space for games, videos and photos on the 512GB SSD.

At $3,599, the Aorus X3 seems expensive, but this is not unexpected for a premium gaming laptop. The Razer Blade costs $3,999 for a similar configuration.

Vincent Chang

•The thin and light Aorus X3 Plus has useful gaming features, but it does not come cheap.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2016, with the headline 'Super speedy portable gaming'. Print Edition | Subscribe