Design and ergonomics, screen quality, autonomy and performance … and if this Gigabyte laptop PC had all understood the needs of the pros … real ones! Those who are willing to spend more to earn more. This is what we wanted to verify by testing this 17.3 inch, real monster equipped with the latest NVIDIA RTX Super platform and a powerful 10th generation Intel processor.
In October of last year, we were testing the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED Aero, a laptop with very serious performance that allowed us to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of this machine which is part of the NVIDIA RTX Studio family. Without going too far on the subject, remember that this category of products is aimed at content creators, professionals, freelancers or working in a small structure. Whether for video production, photo development or creation with 3D rendering tools, they will find in this full range at NVIDIA (it lives alongside PCs for gaming, office and multimedia use) everything that it takes to satisfy them: a designer chassis, a format (more or less) easy to transport, a suitable autonomy (even good) and, above all, performance and stability worthy of the expectations of professionals.
The stage is set. In the middle of it all, there is this Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR. Another Gigabyte Aero you would say, but this is explained by the fact that the machine is among the best, that it operates the new RTX Super platform that, last argument, Gigabyte quickly adopted. On the side of NVIDIA’s promises, the RTX Super range aims to be 15% more powerful still (between an RTX 2070 and an RTX 2070 Super) and also offers a small evolution in terms of Optimus technology which makes a (very) nice difference by compared to the old models. Let’s see what this 3000 euro machine has in its belly.
This Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR has the merit of going to the basics, or in any case of taking a course of action which should meet a whole audience of professionals. If you are looking for a model with a touch screen or a second screen (read our review of the Asus Zenbook Pro Duo UX581V) go your way, here in addition to performance, Gigabyte aims above all for top screen quality with a screen Ultra HD certified by Pantone Display. Perfect for the Adobe Lightroom and Premiere Pro user that we are.
- Processor : Intel Core i7-10875H (2.3GHz ~ 5.1GHz)
- RAM: 2 x 8 GB DDR4 – 2933 MHz
- Storage: 512 GB M.2 SSD
- Graphics chip 1: Intel UHD Graphics 630
- Graphics chip 2: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Super with Max-Q
- Video memory: 8 GB of GDDR6
- Screen: 17.3 inch IPS LCD – HDR
- Screen definition: 3840 x 2160 pixels
- Connections: 3 x USB 3.2 gen1, 1 Thunderbolt 3, 1 HDMI 2.0, 1 mini DisplayPort 1.4, headphone output, microphone input, SD card reader, Gigabit Ethernet
- Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi 6 AX1650 / Bluetooth 5 Low Energy
- Others: HD webcam, Fusion RGB backlit keyboard, fingerprint reader
- Dimensions: 39.6 x 27 x 2.14 cm
- Weight: 2.5 kg
Design and finish: a certain form of sobriety that we appreciate
In terms of design, the Aero 17 HDR XB very naturally resembles an Aero 15 mentioned earlier … and bigger. Same black frame, same thin screen border (about 6 mm) and same sobriety (if it had to be compared to a machine gamer in any case) which had already seduced us on the 15 inch and which does not bode well for the firepower on board under the keyboard.
Keyboard which is still also equipped with a LED backlight system whose light plays are obviously customizable. There are also two levels of light intensity. From the discreet worker who will not want to be noticed to the one who does not count his hours and who also needs a little comfort in the dark Gigabyte meets these two uses. The keys are also quite spacious and the typing is pleasant.
The touchpad measures approximately 10.5 x 7 cm and if we specify that it is that some might have appreciated having a little more space. But in the state, we find it not only big enough, but above all it avoids false manipulations. There is also the fingerprint reader housed in the upper left corner of the touchpad. It is not as responsive and precise as some of the tech found on mobile phones, but it still makes life much easier.
USB Type-C, mini Display Port, HDMI 2.0 full format and three USB 3.2 … everything is there on the connection side. There is even a memory card reader in SD format, very practical for recovering photos or video files. Finally … unless you are using small cameras using microSD. Below the machine, large air vents are provided to dissipate the heat … and believe us, it heats and it blows below. In any case when there is a call for power, because in office mode, it also knows how to make itself almost inaudible. Note the hallmark of good design quality with the large pads to raise the machine and ensure good air circulation. The manufacturer also provides ventilation at the rear of the chassis. One wonders if in the long run it will not attract dust. An area to monitor therefore for possible cleaning.
A bright and well calibrated screen
Our 17 inch version is not equipped with the OLED screen manufactured by Samsung, but with an IPS Ultra HD HDR LCD panel which benefits from X-Rite Pantone certification (calibration is done at the factory), a sign of excellent fidelity and extensive color reproduction. In this case, Gigabyte announces 100% coverage of the Adobe RGB color space. Translation: whether you’re editing photos or video editing, you should be able to meet your color matching requirements.
Our measurements made with our X-Rite probe also validate Gibabyte’s promises. There is an excellent reproduction of black with a Delta E of 0.27 measured on gray levels between 0 and 10% white. The observation is identical with the “white neighborhood” measurements for which the average Delta E is measured at 1.92 with measurements between 65 and 100% of white.
During our measurements carried out in the dark, the slab almost illuminates the room and for good reason, we measured a brightness of 538 cd / m² for it. Everything seems perfect, right down to the luminance or gamma curves, which are around 2.2, the reference value. Our probe also notes a somewhat warm color calibration, between 6000 and 6200K: not so far from the reference 6500K. And even nitpicking, note also that the color fidelity is increased to 3.38 which again points to a result very close to perfection.
Big regret, however, our measurements were made with the HCFR software, much less efficient than our usual Calman tool and which we could not install here due to a license problem which we did not manage to resolve due to lack of response from Portrait Display’s technical support, probably due to confinement. It is therefore impossible to verify whether the promise of a 100% return of the Adobe RGB color space is true.
Anyway, the screen is contrasted, fair, bright and all the more pleasant to contemplate because it has a matt coating that we really appreciate. The reflections are lower and this is of interest both for those who work alone in front of their screen and for the pros who will have to simulate a 3D rendering of the kitchen, for example, around its customers. Viewing angles are therefore a positive point. However, we regret that the Pantone settings are disabled as soon as you connect an external monitor via HDMI, Display Port or via USB-C.
Imaging professionals equipped accordingly will always be able to try to calibrate the second screen – especially since they may have chosen a high-end monitor – but for most users, this is rather restrictive. Indeed, we would have liked it to be possible to use the Pantone certified screen of the laptop and connect a second monitor to it to deposit its tool palettes, its bins or simply keep an eye on a web browser. Too bad.
Should it be specified however, but it is obvious that the definition of 3840 x 2160 pixels is a real treat also for your office applications. Typing text per kilometer on a slab of such quality is indisputable comfort.
Gigabyte Aero 17: a beast for 4K editing
This architecture NVIDIA RTX Studio today benefits nearly fifty applications. We were able to test the artificial intelligence of our RTX 2070 Super chip in the development of photos using Adobe Lightroom software which also knows how to harness the power of these graphics cards in improving image clarity, for example.
The AI is responsible for analyzing the pixels of the different areas of the image to extrapolate the rendering and improve the sharpness somewhat. Please note, this does not work with JPEG files (even if Lightroom does a remarkable job with this type of file), you have to work in RAW, the negative of the digital photo. It goes without saying that the overall performance of the machine (high-performance processor, 16 GB of RAM and fast M2 SSD) also greatly accelerates all digital processing tasks and very heavy photo imports.
During our test, we were mainly interested in editing in 4K on Adobe Premiere Pro. We could obviously tell you that this machine at 3000 euros integrating also a good M.2 SSD and a powerful Intel Core i7-10875H processor can work with rushes, in 4K, but is it really the working methodology? Not sure. Except, perhaps, to make small videos with few effects and few tracks, without which, you will quickly suffer from slowness which is very simple to avoid by creating virtual copies.
And it is exactly in the creation of these proxies that a machine like this Gigabyte laptop makes the difference. The 55 GB of 4K video files that we decided to convert to 720p overlay are assimilated and processed by Adobe Media Encoder in less than 30 minutes. A very good performance therefore, doubly remarkable since during the conversion time, this portable PC remains completely usable. We can see, in the utility of MSI, that the CPU load runs smoothly (or almost) with a load rate that oscillates between 28 and 40%, while the GPU whips with a load rate that varies between 63 and 75% – there is still margin. This is one of the characteristics of RTX which, thanks to CUDA in the context of mounting in particular, can relieve the processor in large calculation phases by up to 15% according to NVIDIA. As we have seen, this allows you to continue working (check your emails, surf the web, write documents, make photo edits) even when the Media Encoder is in full work.
Being ourselves producers of video content for our channel YouTube, we know how important it is. For the entrepreneurs we are: time is money. It is essential that each modification during assembly does not take hours to be treated. And if the creation of the liners helps a lot, the support by CUDA of almost all the video effects of Première Pro – you have to think about activating the option in the menus – is another real asset for the rendering in real time . After several hours of editing, it is time to render our video which is then more than 16 minutes. Again, this Gigabyte Aero 17 opens its bronchial tubes wide and you can hear it. The fan is panicking to dissipate the calories – beware of you if you try to render while your other half is sleeping nearby – and it will take the beast less than 15 minutes to create a 4K file, about 5 , 4 GB (i.e. the profile YouTube Adobe 2160p with a slight increase in bitrate) from 720p liners.
Not bad at all ! It is almost a minute of rendering for a minute of editing with our multiple tracks and the different effects, some of which are quite heavy from the Red Giant extension for Adobe Premiere Pro.
It goes without saying that we will experience much better any glitches noted after a rendering. You know this missing space in a synth, this false fitting or this slightly too present audio track … It will certainly take a moment to come back to it, but everything is going fast enough not to tear your hair out.
With such a computing power and such a quality of slab, one can also imagine very well the interest that this represents for professionals using 3D software. They will be able to render in real time in front of their customers and thus save time in the round trips and minimize the risks of having a job taken for hours. What compensate for the big starting bet which is still 3000 euros … remember.
Minecraft RTX: a must
The test of this Gigabyte Aero 17 is also an opportunity to come back to Minecraft RTX. This title, which is none other than the most sold in the World with its 175 million copies, is the opportunity for NVIDIA to demonstrate the rise in performance of its famous techno Ray Traycing. Already known in more or less successful versions (Battlefield V, first title launched with Ray Traycing, had not really impressed the gaming community), it’s really with Minecraft that techno is expressed – even if we has a hard time associating graphics performance with Minecraft.
Below, DLSS 2.0 technology is not activated, but in Full HD, the fluidity is good.
You will know all the details in this article, but with Minecraft, we can appreciate the best of this techno at the moment. Indeed, NVIDIA and the Swedish studio Mojang have managed to improve the rendering by using not only the effects included in Ray Tracing (light effect, shadow, transparency, diffraction, reflection, etc.), but also in associating the path tracing to reproduce an even more realistic rendering, taking into account the textures on which the famous “rays” are reflected.
So not simple, but essential for the future, because this information is stored in PBRs, for Physically Based Rendering, which will allow game publishers to produce ever more impressive titles of realism. Obviously, it will be the same for professionals. Besides, no doubt, this techno comes from pro design studios with which NVIDIA has worked for a very long time. Nearly 10 years ago, we were able to appreciate the first real-time renderings of the effects of the atmosphere of a digital world on a car body.
Going back to our test laptop, its RTX 2070 Super graphics card also supports DLSS 2.0 – be careful, however, use the graphics driver optimized for games here until the next (imminent) update of the Studio driver. This techno which is currently only supported by a few titles (Minecraft, Woflenstein: Youngblood or MechWarrior 5) is another revolution for the gaming world. Much like the upscalling technology built into televisions, DLSS 2.0 uses AI capable of enhancing a degraded video signal to display it losslessly in higher definition. For example, to display a beautiful image on the 4K panel of our laptop, the DLSS 2.0 could be satisfied with a Full HD image (depending on the quality settings), considerably reducing the computing power required and, you will have it understood, by a lowering in the passage of energy consumption – even if our Gigabyte PC will be connected to the sector most of the time. In the longer term, it is also a benefit for the consumer / gamer who can enjoy his machine longer, and thus run recent titles … finally if the developers and editors adopt DLSS 2.0. A condition and question to which NVIDIA responds favorably, evoking the fact that this version 2.0 would be easier to integrate than the previous one.
Advanced Optimus: THE “killer app” of RTX Super
Do you remember NDIVIA Optimus? This techno introduced at the beginning of 2010 which consisted in creating hybrid and slightly more versatile portable PCs. When they use light office applications, it is the graphics part of the CPU that is called upon to reduce energy consumption and, if necessary, a dedicated graphics chip can come into action to respond to the increase in load. A good idea on paper, especially since the power of the CPUs and their graphics has also evolved. But the NVIDIA Optimus techno was basic rather badly concretized and therefore necessarily very disparaged.
Indeed the initial architecture of Optimus is designed so that, whatever laptop you use, the HDMI sockets, Display Port or the USB type C connector are connected to the graphics circuit of the CPU. Consequence, even if you buy a monster at 2500 euros with a good big graphics card, thinking to connect everything to a desktop monitor to play in Full HD (and beyond) in 120 Hz and well it is not possible. … well, not always. Indeed, some manufacturers of high-performance machines obviously did what is necessary for the NVIDIA graphics card take precedence over the GPU of the processor to offer good performance, even on an external screen.
Now with these new solutions RTX Super NVIDIA corrects the problem for everyone. It’s in the specifications … or in the “features” as they say. The graphics card is connected to the video outputs and it will make a HUGE difference! Even if we could not test it with recent titles and on a monitor with a high refresh rate, we were able to note the good fluidity which is ensured on Warzone while we play on a Philips 346B monitor at 100 Hz.
Be careful, however, it would seem that some adjustments remain to be made. With this Gibagyte Aero 17 HDR, we could only use the NVIDIA graphics card through the HDMI interface. It does not work via the USB Type C connector and, due to the lack of a cable, we could not check what is happening via the mini Display Port interface. Gigabyte having therefore adopted the RTX 2070 Super chip fairly quickly, perhaps we are also in an “in-between”. Anyway, if the promises of Nvidia are true, this development which you may never hear about in store (except to fall on an expert seller) is in our opinion THE revolution that many players expected!
3D benchmark, audio quality, autonomy … its other performances
Who can do the most … can do the least. It is undoubtedly with this idea in mind that you may have recommended to a loved one who requested your expertise, to buy a gaming machine for their needs in 3D editing or application. This RTX Studio machine can do both and benchmarks that we have passed confirm it.
Without even changing the drivers to install those dedicated to gaming, the 3D Mark graphics test tool reveals scores of 7250 and 3443 respectively for the “Time Spy and Time Spy extreme” modes. This last mode which exploits a Direct X12 benchmark in the definition of 3840 x 2160 pixels obviously puts this machine in trouble (it would take a 2080Ti to play in such a definition). But the performance remains remarkable with an honorable result for Time Spy mode where we can see that this laptop maintains an average of 41 to 46 fps at 2560 x 1440 pixels. Fluidity should therefore be present in all games – and even more so with the expected generalization of DLSS 2.0.
In terms of audio quality, the Aero 17 offers the same level of service as the 15-inch version already tested. Few, even no bass and treble that try to break from time to time among more present mediums, certainly, but without real flavor. As we said for the Aero 15, it helps out from time to time, but music lovers, film buffs and video editors will have to rely on headphone listening. In any case, the Aero 17 forces us to do so as soon as power is needed.
Finally, the last measure: autonomy. We measured it at 2:35 am in Wi-Fi video playback under Netflix, with the brightness at 100% and using the native definition. In Full HD mode autonomy increases very slightly and we get a little more than a quarter of an hour. Nothing transcendent on paper, but remember that the brightness of the slab is very important. This Aero 17 is sure to do better with a light intensity reduced by half, while remaining very comfortable to use indoors. Under these conditions it will be possible to approach 3h / 3h30 of office work … even a little more if you agree to lower the image resolution (the image is very clean in Full HD and quite sufficient for office or movies) and play with the brightness. For our part, we have always given it a shot … the fleas! Note that, according to our measurements, it takes approximately 2h10 to refuel the 94 Wh battery when the machine is switched off and connected to the mains.
The extra stuff we like …
We have been testing this laptop for about ten days … but it has also been almost a year since we have been using a MSI laptop PC with a RTX 2060 (not Super) for personal / professional use. photos or video montages on a daily basis.
It is therefore with this experience that we can note the first “next” that we appreciate on these platforms, namely that even after a year, we have not noticed any loss of stability and performance. . No doubt this will also apply to this Gigabyte laptop, which is more efficient, but also more expensive than our personal machine. Note that we have however added a 1 TB M.2 SSD to meet our needs and that we will probably have to do the same with this Gigabyte because its 512 GB of storage space is not enough.
Anyway, this stability is also due to the fact that Nvidia delivers (almost) monthly updates of drivers in the Studio version while the drivers of the Gamer versions are generally confined to the various headline releases.
Let’s add that we also like the Gigabyte Control Center application which allows you to adjust some parameters of the laptop (like the keyboard backlight, the power according to two levels and even preconfigured modes to highlight the keys for your titles FPS, for example), but also to update the different drivers as easily as updating the applications on your smartphone. It is really very appreciable.
Finally, even if it is almost a detail on this level of configuration, we could note that the Wi-Fi 6 controller, obviously a Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650x, delivering a theoretical bandwidth of 2.4 Gbits / s, offers remarkable performance. We did not carry out many speed measurements, because we are not equipped with a Wi-Fi router 6, but the Wi-Fi card Killer AC15501 (theoretical speed of 1.73 Gbits / s) of our MSI staff, allowed us to do a quick duel.
Both were connected to our Netgear Orbi RBK50 router at a distance of about 5 meters. The performance delta is not huge, but no doubt it will be even better with a Wi-Fi 6 compatible router.
… and we don’t like
But all is not rosy either on this Aero 17. The most annoying, if not unbearable, is undoubtedly the noise of the ventilation when the computing power skyrockets. He blows so much that it is not possible to carry out a gourmet task with someone who is trying to watch a movie or to rest next to us. In fact, it is even annoying to make a video montage or play without even wearing a helmet as the wind tunnel takes the lead. Fortunately, in office or multimedia use, the “Quiet” mode offered by the Gigabyte utility makes it completely silent.
We mentioned above the comfort provided by the backlit buttons, but a detail annoys us. The function and special character inscriptions associated with certain keys on the keyboard are not backlit.
For example, you will not see in the dark that the F4 and F3 keys allow you to adjust the brightness, any more than the F7, F8 and F9 allow you to control the volume. Ditto if you have a doubt on which key is used to introduce a parenthesis, the acronym%, or a hook. On these keys, only the main characters light up. It’s a bit of a shame – our MSI highlights everything.
Finally, to conclude, in this period of confinement which has given our webcams (almost) forgotten importance, let us indicate that the quality of that integrated in this laptop is simply ridiculous. What Gigabyte indicates on the data sheet as being an HD camera results in a 0.9 Mpixel sensor taking photos and videos 1280 x 720 pixels. But if only these were even of suitable quality and better placed. In the state the video quality is not only very bad, but its low position gives rise to a framing more than questionable, or in any case unflattering. The quality of the microphone, placed very close to the keyboard is also questionable. In short, it is a failure: all this is not worthy of a 2020 machine and even less at this price. It’s as noisy as possible, you would think you came back 10 years back which is no more acceptable when you know the progress made on the sensors smartphones.
Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XB test, our verdict
Undeniable firepower, a very high quality Ultra HD screen, user-friendliness at the rendezvous (even if the blowing noise can quickly become a problem) and additional quality components (Wi-Fi, SSD, connectors, etc.), how not to be seduced by Gigabyte Aero 17. During our week of testing spent using it mainly for montages YouTube, office automation and photo retouching, he showed us the very palpable evolution of this RTX Super generation on which the Advanced Optimus represents a major asset. Still, we still have to pay almost 3000 euros to acquire such a machine, but if it ages as well as our MSI laptop (with its RTX 2060) that we use intensively daily every day, then fall for such a computer is not just a purchase, it is a (big) investment that will save you time … and therefore money.
Note that NVIDIA currently offers you three months of subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud for any purchase of an RTX Super machine and that Gigabyte offers three of subscription to Xplit services to stream your content on Twitch, for example – using an external webcam!