J ust over a year ago we checked out the Aorus X3 v3 gaming laptop, and were impressed at its ability to pack solid gaming performance into a relatively portable form factor. Since then the price has jumped $700 in the move to the v5 (we didn’t get the v4 down under), despite it using the exact same chassis. Luckily it’s now offering a lot more hardware within for the price, though Australia’s weak dollar surely isn’t helping things.

The first major improvement is the upgrade to the 13.9 inch screen. The v3 shipped with a 2560 x 1440 panel, while the latest version ups this to a “3K display”. Yep, first time we’ve heard that phrase too. It turns out that this is a super sharp resolution of 3200 x 1800, which is simply massive for a screen of this size. You can absolutely forget running games at this resolution, as no laptop can move that many pixels, but thankfully it scales down nicely to a more realistic 1920 x 1080. Aorus claims the IGZO panel delivers ultra-wide viewing angles of 170 degrees, but it does appear a little more susceptible to colour shift than IPS displays when viewed off-centre.

As mentioned, the chassis is identical to last year’s model, with a very simple plain black design that doesn’t give away its gaming intentions. To our surprise it’s entirely metallic on the outside – perhaps it’s our aging fingers, but it feels just like plastic to us. There’s also a little bit of keyboard flex in the centre, surprising considering its metallic structure. Despite such a heavy material, the entire unit weighs just 1.83kg, a tiny 40 gram improvement over its predecessor. Hence Aorus’ claims that this is the lightest and most powerful 13-inch gaming laptop in the world… though we’d argue it’s closer to 14 inches.  Another size improvement is the power supply, which is now thinner and includes a USB port for phone/device charging. 

The real improvements are under the hood though. For starters, Aorus has whacked Intel’s new 6th Gen Core CPU inside, opting for the i7-6700HQ Processor, a quad-cored, Hyper-Threaded critter with a top speed of 3.5GHz. Interestingly that’s the exact same speed as the chip in last year’s model, though the CPU architecture improvements should bring a small performance increase. 16GB of DDR memory is the same amount as last year, but now it’s DDR4 and runs at 2133MHz. Long term storage has been given a huge performance shot in the arm, moving to twin SSDs running off PCIe 3.0 x4. This wipes the floor with last year’s single 512GB SSD. There’s no secondary mechanical drive though, a little surprising considering the cost.

Arguably the biggest upgrade though is in the GPU. Last year’s GTX 870M was relatively capable, but this year’s Nvidia GTX 970M is a hefty performance increase. It’s still got the ridiculously huge 6GB of dedicated memory that last year’s model had, which we think is more of a marketing spiel than anything else. However, what isn’t up for debate is how much quieter it is than last year; while the fan is still audible, it’s much better than before.
As expected, this laptop performed rather admirably considering its small size. However, it’s not quite the value-packed offering of last year’s model, with the price increasing by around a third. It’s not entirely Aorus’ fault that this year’s model is a far more expensive proposition, but we would have liked to see a few more changes along with the price hike. 

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