Gaming

Aftershock Apex: Gaming laptop with slim screen bezels

The Aftershock Apex is the latest slim gaming laptop to offer a near-bezel-less display, joining the likes of the Gigabyte Aero 15, MSI GS65 Stealth Thin and the recently announced Razer Blade 15.

These laptops are more compact than the typical 15-inch models because of their narrow screen bezels. For instance, the Apex weighs 1.95kg and is just under 20mm thick, compared with Aftershock's other 15-inch models that tip the scales at around 2.2kg to 2.4kg.

While its competitors cost upwards of $3,000, the Apex starts at around $2,000.

My review set, which has a display with a high 144Hz refresh rate, is priced at $2,457 with a mid-range GeForce GTX 1060 (the 144Hz display option can be pre-ordered now and will be available in end-July).

This display offers good colours and wide viewing angles. But the lure for gamers is its 144Hz refresh rate that makes games feel more responsive and fluid, especially when panning or moving around the screen with the mouse.

Design-wise, it has a black, brushed aluminium lid and palm rest. It looked snazzy until grease from my hands left unsightly marks on them.

The front lip has an LED strip that glows in a customisable colour when the lid is closed. The corners of the laptop are sharper than what I would have liked.


  • SPECS

    PRICE: $2,457

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-8750H (2.2GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB GDDR5

    RAM: 8GB DDR4

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

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, 2 x mini-Display port, Ethernet port, SD card reader, audio jacks

    BATTERY: 47 watt-hour

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

A minor grouse - it lacks a Thunderbolt 3 port. However, it comes with two mini-Display outputs, a HDMI port and a pulldown Ethernet port.

Its keyboard stretches from the edge of one side of the laptop to the other.

Unlike modern chiclet keyboards where each key is raised like an island, there is no space separation between the keys on the Apex's keyboard. This style used to be popular many years back, but is less common nowadays.

It does not take much pressure for a key to be registered. But, surprisingly, there is a loud, clicky sound when a key is tapped. As a result, it took me a while to get the hang of it, but I was able to eventually type at my usual speed with minimal mistakes.

Like many gaming laptops, the keyboard's backlights are customisable. You can assign a unique colour to each individual key, if you have the patience. I usually pick one of the preset backlight profiles from the preloaded Control Center software.

The Control Center software also lets you adjust other settings such as the fan speed and colour temperature and hue of the display. This app feels slightly laggy - Aftershock says it is working to improve it.

Its audio performance was good in games - the crack of gunshots in shooting games was distinct and sounded real. But there is hardly any bass to speak of for music and videos.

Cranking up the volume or using headphones may be required in more graphic-heavy games. This is because with such games, the Apex's cooling fans automatically run faster and become noisier. But even at full throttle, the bottom of the laptop gets uncomfortably warm.

The laptop can be configured with either a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti or a GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip, putting it firmly in mid-range graphics territory.

It is fast enough to run most games at maximum graphics setting and at the native 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution.

In the first-person shooter Doom, the Apex produced 84 frames per second (fps) at Ultra setting while in Crysis 3, it managed 64 fps.

These figures are a couple of frames lower than what I recorded on the Gigabyte Aero 15 W. The Gigabyte, though, has 16GB of RAM compared with the Apex's 8GB.

• Verdict: The slim Aftershock Apex gaming laptop offers great value and more customisation than its rivals.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2018, with the headline 'Laptop with slim screen bezels'. Print Edition | Subscribe