Thanks to a need to travel, my constant power issues, the lines being stolen and me living in the black hole of cellphone signal, I am in the market for a laptop. Obviously a laptop that can run a few games is the order of the day, because what is the point of it all if all it does is let me type and use a mouse? Sadly my bank balance will hardly allow anything better than smoke signals for the days I don’t have internet, so for now I will just review machines and tell you lovely, rich readers of mine about the Aorus X3 Plus, which is made for gaming where you go.
The first thing you will notice is the size of the screen. 14 inches and we are talking about a gaming laptop? What is this? The shrink in size is to counterbalance the cost of increasing the pixel density, I would imagine. At 3,200 x 1,800 this QHD+ screen is brimming with pixels, at it looks pretty solid at 1,080p too. You might note that the Aorus X7 v2 I reviewed earlier this year had dual 860M cards in SLI and it hit a Firestrike score of just under 5,000. The machine is really stable, with the Firestrike benchmark never budging by more than more than 20 points.
Pushing out enough pixels to power a screen running at 3,200 x 1,800 is a lot of work. The cooling system of the Aorus X3 takes that heat and pushes it out the back of the machine so fast that you can keep your coffee warm if you leave it near the rear exhaust port. The upside of this is that the machine’s innards are left cool when the little jet engine on your desk expels all that heat. The image below shows the temperature of the machine after running Firestrike benchmarks. In the time it took to open HW Monitor and have it read the temps (not really that long), this is what the machine was running at. As you can see, the innards are running in a manageable 60° range. All that heat, however, means that this will not be a machine that you run in your lap, so keep that in mind if your working on the move requires this.
So how much will a machine with a QHD+ 14″ monitor and a 870M GPU set you back? R32.000 will get you the goods. My biggest issue is that the screen and the GPU seem to be at odds with one another. While the panel is amazing quality, it is hard to use the native resolution for work, with Chrome looking blurry. In the gaming department, most games need to gimp their settings several notches to run at native screen resolution, or run the games at 1,080p anyway. Personally, an IPS running at 1080p would work a lot better, as greater viewing angle always wins when it comes to laptops.
While the increased resolution means things like anti-aliasing can be switched off with minimal quality loss, it still feels like it is adding extra fiddling to optimise when it provides a solid 55 fps in Batman: Arkham Origins at 1,080p with everything turned up to 11 (44 min and 84 max). Conversely, to get it run at 40 fps on 3,200 by 1,800, almost all settings had to be dropped to normal. It is a major conflict for a gamer, as yes, the game looks amazing at that resolution, even with the settings dialled down. But, you know the settings are gimped, which will not sit well with a lot of people. Is it all in the head and a personal preference issue? Maybe, but the niggle will be there for many users who want to show off their tech running with all taps on, not on ‘normal’. As such, it loses score in the ratings for how it runs at native resolution. At 1080p, that would be a tad higher.
[toggle_simple title=”Full specs” width=”Width of toggle box”] Specification
OS Windows 8.1 / Windows 8.1 Pro
CPU 4th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-4860HQ Processor 2.4GHz
Display 13.9″ QHD+ 3200×1800 LCD
System Memory 8GB DDR3L 1600, 2 slots (Max 16GB)
Chipset Mobile Intel® HM87 Express Chipset
Video Graphics NVIDIA® GTX 870M GDDR5 6GB
Storage M.2 SSD 128GB/256GB/512GB, 2 slots
2.5” HDD 500GB/750GB/1TB/2TB 5400/7200rpm , 1 slot
Keyboard Type Backlit Keyboard Backlit Keyboard
Optical Disk Drive N/A
I/O Port USB(3.0) x2,USB(2.0) x1, HDMI, mini-Display port, RJ45,SD card reader, microphone-in, earphone-out( SPDIF)
Audio 2 watt speaker*2
LAN: Killer LAN Chip
Wireless LAN: 802.11ac
Bluetooth: Bluetooth V4.0
Security Kensington Lock
Battery Li Polymer 73.26Wh
Dimensions 330(W) x 263.5(D) x 22.9(H)mm
Weight 1.8kg [/toggle_simple]