Bland and unassuming. That has been my impression of the Gigabyte laptops I have tried.
They may have gaming-grade hardware, but they look professional rather than like the typical flashy gaming machine.But that is not a knock on Gigabyte's design chops, because it has a dedicated gaming brand Aorus that gets all the snazzy designs.
The latest Aero 14 keeps it mostly business-like. My review set was decked in black, its monotonous design broken by a triangular pattern near the hinge. However, Gigabyte also has it in lime-green and orange, if you want something more eye-catching.
At around 1.9kg, it is relatively portable for a 14-inch model. But it is not as lightweight as typical ultrabooks. In fact, it weighs a fraction more than the 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro (1.83kg).
Part of the reason for the Aero 14's weight is probably its 94 watt-hour battery. It is massive compared with the 40 to 50 watt-hour batteries in laptops of this size.
Unfortunately, the large battery did not provide the all-day battery life touted by Gigabyte. The Aero 14 lasted around 4.5hr in our video-loop battery test, which is inferior to the 6hr you'll find on a standard 13-inch ultrabook.
There are probably two reasons for this. First, the Aero 14 comes with a 2,560 x 1,440-pixel display that is more likely to drain the battery faster than the usual 1,920 x 1,080-pixel screen because of the increased number of pixels.
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6700HQ (2.6GHz)
GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5
RAM: 16 GB
SCREEN SIZE: 14 inches, 2,560 x 1,440 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 3 x USB 3.0, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort, SD card reader, audio jack
BATTERY: 94 watt-hour
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
BATTERY LIFE: 3/5
The other reason is that the Aero 14 is equipped with a mid-range Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip. Even though this chip is not used for non-gaming applications, it still draws some power. The laptop's CPU is also a standard-voltage model, and not the low-power version used in ultrabooks.
As a result, the Aero 14 performs very well in our gaming benchmarks. It scored around 97 frames per second (fps) in Crysis 3 at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels at Very High setting. It also produced around 79fps in Doom at Ultra setting at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels.
Based on these figures, this laptop is probably fast enough to run virtual reality game titles.
Unfortunately, the heat produced by the graphics card makes the laptop too warm to place on your lap while running video games. This is despite the cooling fan spinning fast and loud enough to rival the gunfire and explosions in my games.
To cater to gamers, the Aero 14 comes with a column of extra macro keys on the left of the keyboard that can be configured using a preloaded app. This keyboard layout threw me off initially, until I got used to it. The keys themselves have decent travel and do not feel mushy at all.
Gigabyte's Smart Manager is a one-stop app that lets you change everything from fan speeds to adjusting the screen's colour temperature. More importantly for gamers, the app can disable the Windows logo key to prevent accidental key presses that may disrupt your gaming session.
My review set, which hails from Taiwan, comes with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD). In Singapore, you can buy only the higher-end model ($2,699) with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.
•Verdict: The Gigabyte Aero 14 is powerful, but gets warm and noisy when running games. Battery life is decent for a gaming PC.
To cater to gamers, the Aero 14 comes with a column of extra macro keys on the left of the keyboard that can be configured using a preloaded app.