Aorus X5S v5 Camo 15.6" UHD Gaming Laptop Review

The World's Most Powerful 15" Laptop? Not anymore it isn't!

by Greg Hook
SRP: £1,799.99

What is the Aorus X5S v5 Camo?

Mobile gamers had some news to cheer about recently thanks to Nvidia. With the release of their 10 series Pascal graphics chips for laptops, they are now no longer the poor equivalent of their desktop brother. Not only will this allow for some stonking performance from a gaming laptop, it will also remove the confusion for buyers who assume their mobile graphics chip will give them the same performance as the desktop equivalent. But this performance does come at a cost with a GTX1080 Laptop currently setting you back around £2,500.

For those with not quite that level of disposable income, the top end of the previous Maxwell generation of laptop graphics, the GTX980M, still has a lot to offer and one such laptop is the subject of this review. The X5S v5 Camo from Gigabyte’s gaming arm Aorus is from a limited edition of just 500 with a unique Camo design and offers a mighty specification including a 4K UHD 15.6” IPS display, GTX980M graphics, i7-6700HQ CPU, 32GB DDR4 RAM and an M.2 512GB SSD. Coming in at £1,800 it’s not cheap by an means, but read on to see how it fares in our tests and if it’s worth that price tag...

Limited Edition Design and Connections

The Aorus X5s Camo has a design unlike anything we have seen before. Using MultiCam® which is an authentic military camouflage pattern, the laptop’s had a water transfer printing process applied to everywhere except for the keyboard and the screen bezel. Rather than a cheaper looking film wrapping process the Camo printing design certainly looks the part and even covers areas such as the speaker grilles and ventilation mesh. It leaves a matte finish which does not show any fingerprints. The Camo is a 2016 limited edition of just 500 and on the base of the laptop we see the laser engraved serial number indicating that this is number 23 of 500.
Aorus X5S v5 Camo
Leaving aside the Camo design, the chassis itself includes a white lit Aorus logo to the top of the screen and the Aorus logo to the power button located in between the two speakers. The white backlit keyboard includes the full numeric keys and a row of 5 Macro keys on the left side of the keyboard. As seen with Gigabyte’s P37xV5 these keys can be configured via the MacroEngine software to 5 different profiles. The profiles can be setup so each key runs a macro, tasks such as opening a program or switching to the desktop for example. Using scissor type switches the keyboard feels very responsive and comfortable to use. The trackpad and buttons do their job, but if you are gaming you’ll be using a dedicated mouse anyway.
Aorus X5S v5 Camo
Aorus X5S v5 Camo

For a 15” laptop it does feel fairly compact and is very thin at just 22.9mm, the weight is also kept under control at just 2.5kg with a footprint of 390mm x 272mm. As for the connections everything you might need is covered here. To the left we have a Mini Display port, Headphone and Microphone jack and USB C 3.1 port. To the right we find an SD card reader, USB 3.0 port and HDMI 2.0 port. Lastly to the rear we get an Ethernet, VGA and one more USB 3.0 port. No DVD drive is fitted in this model.

Is the specification any good?

  • OS: Windows 10 64 Bit
  • CPU: Intel® Core™ i7 Skylake-6700HQ (2.6GHz - 3.5GHz)
  • Display: 15.6" UHD, (3840 x 2160) IPS Wide View Angle
  • Memory: 4 x 8GB DDR4 @ 2133Mhz
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX980M with 8GB GDDR5
A pretty top draw specification here but for £1,800 you’d expect nothing less. With a fast Skylake Intel CPU, a massive 32GB of DDR4 memory which can be upgraded to 64GB if you can find a reason why that would ever be necessary and prior to the release of the 10 series Nvidia chips, the fastest mobile GPU in the shape of the GTX980M with a huge 8GB of GDDR5. To top that off we have 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1 and a HD webcam.
Aorus X5S v5 Camo
As with Gigabyte’s P37X V5 and P35W v5 this system also comes with dual storage in the shape of a HDD and a lighting fast M.2 PCIe SSD. The 265GB NVMe Samsung PZPV256 offers quoted read speeds of up to 2260MB/s and write speeds of 1260MB/s. Using ATTO Disk Benchmark we received a very fast 2226MB/s read and 1249MB/s write which is not far off Samsung’s quoted speeds. The HDD is a 1TB 7200RPM HGST Travelstar 7K1000 which tested at 147MB/s read and 143MB/s write in our tests.

Using the latest PC Mark 8 Storage test 2.0 that has been updated to provide better support for NVMe SSDs, which uses workload traces recorded from actual programs and is not affected by differences in CPU or GPU performance we get a score of 5084 with a storage bandwidth of 580MB/s. The 256GB SSD equates to 224GB in Windows and arrived to us with 178GB of free space and the 1TB HDD equates to 931GB in Windows. Manually timed from power on with a cold boot to the Windows desktop we get an average result of 19 seconds.
Aorus X5S v5 Camo

Is the 4K Display any good?

The screen here is a 15.6" UHD 3840 x 2160 resolution IPS LCD display. This offers excellent viewing angles with an image still viewable at angles of around 170°. The panel has a matte finish and gives a decent level of anti-glare with reflections reduced to a low level. Text is very clear and colours look bright and bold. An issue with 4K and Windows is that not all the apps are suited to this high resolution. Without using scaling, text in most apps would need a magnifying glass to read and some games such as Sims4 in 4K do not scale the menu systems, so it becomes challenging to use, which it really shouldn't be as 4K has been around for a while now.
Aorus X5S v5 Camo
Using SpectraCal software and our C3 Colorimeter, the maximum screen luminance was detected at 249.5cd/m2. The screenshot above shows the pre and post calibration results. Out of the box the ColorChecker error was pretty good at 3.03 (an error level less than 3 is the target) and Greyscale error of 4. Following the calibration the ColorChecker error was reduced to an excellent 0.54 and Greyscale to 0.77.

Many thanks to SpectraCal for providing the software and C3 Colorimeter for use with our reviews.

Pre-installed software

Aorus have again kept the amount of installed gumpf to a very minimal level thankfully. The software is almost identical to the Gigabyte gaming laptops with just a slight restyling and renaming, but essentially the same software. The main one being Command and Control which gives you quick access to all of the system settings including keyboard backlighting, mouse speed and fan control for example. Access is also found here to System Gauge which gives a dashboard style readout of the system performance such as CPU usage, battery life, temperatures and fan speeds etc.
Aorus X5S v5 Camo
Other than the MacroEngine software discussed above, the only other software of note is the Drivers Update which gives you a very easy and simple way to update all of the laptop’s drivers and software and Aorus Audio Equalizer which allows you to tweak the audio settings to best suit your requirements. Not pre-installed but ready to download is XSplit Gamecaster which gives you an easy way to stream and record your gaming exploits to your audience of 2 people. Finally we have the obligatory 1 month free trial of Microsoft 365. Thankfully no annoying anti-virus or firewall trial software to try and uninstall but never actually fully get rid of.
Aorus X5S v5 Camo

Is the audio any good?

The audio here is in the shape of 2 x 1.5watt speakers with 1 x 2W subwoofer. Our previous experience of Aorus laptops found the audio to be much better than Gigabyte’s gaming laptops and on par with MSI and this follows suit here with this X5s. The maximum volume is more than enough for most uses and there was no distortion or crackling at this level either. Headphones are still an essential purchase for laptop audio, but Aorus at least seem to have made a reasonable effort here. We’d recommend uninstalling the Aorus Audio Equalizer as it made the audio sound significantly worse!
Aorus X5S v5 Camo

Aorus X5S v5 Battery Life

The battery fitted here is of a decent enough capacity, being a 73.26Wh Li-Polymer.

Battery Life Tests

Powermark Battery Test 154 minutes
YouTube 4K, High Performance, 100% Brightness 132 minutes
YouTube 1080P, Balanced, 50% Brightness 159 minutes
Netflix 1080P, High Performance, 100% Brightness 161 minutes
Gaming 48 minutes
Compared to the 75.81Wh battery used in Gigabyte’s P37X v5 and P35W v5, the results here using the 73.26Wh battery don’t really stand up. General YouTube and Netflix usage gave enough to watch a long movie or a good video session, but even so they were a lot less than expected. As for gaming it’s the same story as with every gaming laptop we’ve reviewed. Even with the GTX980M the system caps the FPS at just 30, which i enough to keep to, but doesn’t really make for satisfying gaming. Here we managed a pitiful 48 minutes before the battery died.

To charge from flat to 100% took 118 minutes. As with most Windows laptops, the laptop will go to sleep with a good 4-7% of battery life remaining, so if it does die on you when you are in the middle of important work, you can start it back up and save all your work.

Aorus X5S v5 Benchmarks

Our standard tests as shown in the table below are each run at least 3 times, with the average score taken. The tests were all carried out with the laptop in high performance mode, mains power plugged in and the screen set to 3840 x 2160 resolution. With this laptop we are using Nvidia 365.24 graphics drivers which aren’t the latest, but are the most recent ones that this laptop seemed to prefer. The GTX980M prior to the release of the 10 series Nvidia chips was the best mobile GPU available and which according to Passmark's Video Card benchmark listing sits very close in performance to that of a desktop GTX680 or R9 380X. Using Nvidia's Maxwell technology we have 1536 pipelines, a core clock of 1038-1127Mhz and memory speed of 5000Mhz.

Gaming Performance

3840x2160 4K Resolution FPS (Fraps)
Battlefield 4 High Settings 36
Battlefield 4 Ultra Settings 28
Sims 4 Medium Settings 74
Sims 4 Ultra Settings 61
Max Payne 3 High Settings 37
Max Payne 3 Maximum Settings 32
Metal Gear Solid 5 Maximum Settings 26
Metal Gear Solid 5 High Settings 38

Gaming Performance

1920 x 1080 Resolution FPS (Fraps)
Battlefield 4 Ultra Settings 90
Sims 4 Ultra Settings 61
Max Payne 3 Maximum Settings 43
Metal Gear Solid 5 Maximum Settings 60
As with previous gaming laptops using the GTX980M, the gaming performance was superb, but not at 4K. We did have to drop down to 1080P to get a decent result in some of the more demanding games we test with. Battlefield 4 gives a superb 90FPS in 1080P, but increase to 4K and that gets reduced to just 37FPS. Of the 4 test games, only Sims4 gives a decent enough framerate in 4K with the rest needing to be restricted to 1080P. The GPU does have 8GB of GDDR5, but Max Payne 3 again only recognises a maximum of 3GB.

Our other test results were all as expected when compared to similar systems with a Unigine Valley 1.0 score of 2080 and Heaven 4 of 1571. This system could play all our test games at maximum settings at a high frame rate, just not at 4K. Don’t buy this system expecting to play the latest games in 4K as you will be very disappointed.

Benchmark Score Summary

Time to Desktop 19.03 Seconds 7
Super Pi @ 1M 10.8 seconds 9
3D Mark - Ice Storm 1.2 40789 5
3D Mark - Cloud Gate 1.1 17825 5
3D Mark - Fire Strike 8303 7
3D Mark - Sky Diver 19944 7
3D Mark - TimeSpy 2996 6
Passmark Performance Test 8.0 4188 7
Cinebench R15 Open GL 97.22FPS - CPU 677 CB 8
Unigine Heaven 4.0 1571 7
Unigine Valley 1.0 2080 7
PC Mark 8 - Home Conventional 3.0 2862 6
PC Mark 8 - Storage Test 2.0 5084 8

System Noise and Heat

The HWMonitor screenshot below shows the maximum temperatures the various system components reached during our benchmark and gaming test sessions. The CPU core temperatures at idle were 39°C and under test conditions these kept surprisingly cool at just 73°C with the Nvidia GPU reaching 85°C. We are always concerned with the levels of heat and noise with some of these top end gaming laptops but Aorus have done an excellent job with the cooling system to keep the temperatures low.
Aorus X5S v5 Camo
As for noise, it’s definitely not the quietest laptop we’ve ever reviewed, but it definitely isn’t the loudest either. During our benchmarking and gaming tests the loudest volume we registered was 48dBs but it was usually around 38-44dBs. Whilst the laptop does well at expelling heat efficiently, the downside is anything underneath it such as your legs will get hot. Have it running a game whilst it’s on your legs, especially in shorts during the summer and your legs will soon start to get very hot indeed. So bear than it mind if the laptop is on an expensive dining table that you would rather not leave a heat stain on.

Verdict

Pros

  • High Specification
  • Powerful GTX980M GPU
  • Gorgeous 4K display
  • Smart Camo design

Cons

  • £300 extra just for Camo?
  • Poorer than expected battery life
  • Restricted performance when gaming using battery
  • No disc drive
  • Gets very hot underneath

Aorus X5S v5 Camo 15.6" UHD Gaming Laptop Review

Should I buy the Aorus X5S v5?

Aorus claim this to be the World’s most powerful 15” laptop. Frankly that’s just not true anymore and you do have to feel a little sorry for the X5S v5 Camo. A few months back it would have been the cream of the crop as far as performance is concerned but with the release of Nvidia’s 10 series chips its thunder has been stolen.

Overall the laptop performed very well in all of our tests, with a superb cooling system to keep the temperatures down when under load and a reasonable quality on-board audio system. The battery life was a lot lower than we would have expected unfortunately and as with all gaming laptops you need it plugged in if you want to game properly. The specification here is still superb with the stunning 15.6” 4K display, Skylake i7-6700HQ CPU, GTX980M graphics with 8GB of GDDR5, 32GB of DDR4 and a very fast 256GB M.2 SSD but it most definitely isn’t the fastest 15” laptop anymore.

What alternatives are available?

Of the £1,800 price tag, the limited edition Camo version takes up £300 of that. Remove that and £1500 offers reasonable value and isn’t far off the likes of Scan’s similarly specified system with G-Sync, the 3XS LG15 at £1,550. The recently released MSI GS63 using Nvidia 1060 graphics and a 4K display is currently £2,000, so £500 cheaper makes the Aorus X5S one to consider.

The Camo version is what we are reviewing here though and unfortunately unless you have money to burn we can see no reason why you would pay £300 extra just for a fancy camouflage skin. Four months ago this may well have scored an 8 and received an AVF Recommended Award, but with the extra for the Camo and the Nvidia 10 series laptops now available, a 7 is a more appropriate score we feel.

Scores

Screen Quality

.
9

Sound Quality

.
.
.
7

Processing Speed

.
9

Connectivity

.
9

Features

.
.
8

Build Quality

.
.
8

Value For Money

.
.
.
7

Verdict

.
.
.
7
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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