What is the Aorus X7 Pro V3?
Fast forward and we have the very latest incarnation for review - the £1999 X7 Pro V3. It uses the same chassis as the original X7, albeit with an improved cooling system, and has been updated to include two Nvidia GTX970M GPUs with 6GB of GDDR5. There's a faster processor in the shape of Intel's i7-4870HQ CPU offering speeds up to 3.7Ghz and a new matte wide angle IPS panel. Not to mention a storage boost using two 256GB SSDs in RAID 0 and a 1TB HDD. The original X7 performed very well during our tests so we have high hopes that with the dual GTX970M GPUs in SLI the X7 Pro V3 will do even better - let's see.
Design and Connections
As with our review of the original X7, the thickness of the laptop is the first thing that you are likely to notice. For a laptop with such a high specification, measuring just under 23mm thick is very impressive indeed. Aorus no longer claim this to be the thinnest and lightest SLI laptop as they did with the original X7 which suggests a competitor has probably beaten them on that regard, but we certainly have no complaints here. It's also not the heaviest laptop we have seen coming in at 3.1kg, but it certainly isn't the lightest. Although the large footprint of 428mm wide x 305mm deep doesn't really make the weight an issue and it does feel very strong and well built.
The design continues to impress with a very sleek all over matte black finish. With plenty of sculpted lines across the top and the air vents to the rear it does have a very aerodynamic look to it. Unlike other laptops which feel they need to throw loads of chrome at you, along with LED lights, the X7 Pro has a more minimalist look which, for high end gaming, is all you really need. Apart from the basic white keyboard backlighting (no fancy RGB setup here) the only other light is the illuminated Aorus logo to the centre below the screen. The full keyboard includes a numeric keypad and, in a feature that impressed us with the original X7, programmable macro keys. The touchpad and buttons have the same glass like feel to them and are very responsive.
This feature seems fairly standard on Aorus gaming laptops, with a row of 5 programmable scissor switch keys with 5 different main configurations. The 5 configurations can be easily switched to via the main G key which illuminates with a different colour for each configuration. The simple MacroHub software allows you to program the keys to open programs, apps and of course perform those all important macros. This was very easy to use and worked as expected. For those who long for macro keys on laptops, you won't be disappointed here.
Moving onto the connections and Aorus have been very generous here. To the left we have the Ethernet port, Surround port, VGA, 1 x USB 3.0 and the headphone and microphone jacks. The right side gives us another 2 x USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, Mini Display port and the SD card reader. The power connection is to the rear along with yet more USB ports, this time 2 x USB 2.0. There is no DVD/Blu-ray drive with the X7.
Features and Specs
The X7 Pro V3 offers an impressive quadruple storage system capable of housing up to 3 x 512GB mSATA SSDs and a 2TB HDD. The V3-CF1 configuration as reviewed includes 2 x 256GB Lite-on M2 SSDs in RAID 0 configuration and a 1TB HDD. Fresh with the X7 Pro V3 is Aorus new RAID Xpress feature which can have up to three mSATA SSDs in RAID 0 configuration, this claims to offer read speeds up to 1500MB/s.
The Lite-on 256GB M2 SSD as a standalone offers read speeds up to 520MB/s and write speeds of 440MB/s. Aorus claim that using RAID 0 these read speeds should far exceed the single drive speeds and using ATTO Disk Benchmark we can confirm that is correct with a very high read speed of 938MB/s and write speed of 873MB/s. Whilst these speeds are impressive, for real world applications the differences between using an SSD in standard mode as opposed to RAID 0 are less conclusive. Whilst RAID 0 splits the data evenly across two or more disks without parity information and therefore increases the speed significantly, the downside is that there is no data redundancy, so that means if one drive fails, you lose the data across both of them.
PCMark8's Storage Test which uses workload traces recorded from actual programs such as Battlefield 3, MS Office and Photoshop for example and therefore represents real world tests rather than synthetic and is not affected by differences in CPU or GPU performance, we get a score of 5003 with a bandwidth of 306.58MB/s. This is currently our highest score seen since our introduction of the PCMark 8 benchmark but this again is very similar to other PCMark8 systems with a single SSD not running in RAID which would suggest that the benefits seen by have a RAID 0 setup do not translate to real world use.
The 2 x 256GB SSD converts to an available space of 456GB for Windows to use as the laptop has a 20GB recovery partition setup. After the Windows installation and various other pre-installed software that leaves us with 418GB. Coupled with the 1TB HDD that should give you plenty of storage for many games and other files. Manually timed from power on with a cold boot to the Windows desktop we get a quick average score of 11.5 seconds.
Is the display any good?
We use Passmark's Monitor Test program for the laptop screens currently, which runs through various standard quality tests of the screen to give you an idea of the screens performance. It also comes with a very useful help section to tell you exactly what you should be looking for and areas where the screen may not be performing well. The screen passed all the tests with no issues present. On the black screen test you can see the edge lighting slightly bleeding through, but this was only very minor. Text and websites are clear and easy to read and the colours look particularly impressive with a very bold and bright feel to it. It's a basic test admittedly, but the software is free and without resorting to buying expensive software and test equipment, this is a test most home users can easily replicate for themselves.
What pre-installed software is there?
SmartSwitch is again present which allows you to quickly shutdown and restart Windows along with a useful setting of choosing between the Windows 8.1 default or desktop as the main start screen. Another of our favourites is the Drivers Update program. This is a simple one click system to update any of the drivers such as the graphics, HD audio or Wireless to the latest official or Beta version. Other than the Killer Network manager the only other software pre-installed is a free 1 month trial of Office 365 and Power DVD 10. With no disc drive present in the X7 range, Power DVD 10 is pretty pointless, but can be quickly uninstalled if you need to.
What does it sound like?
Whilst not at MSI's level the sound came across very well, the bass was punchy and the maximum volume is more than generous enough and most likely louder than you would comfortably need. Even at maximum volume there was no distortion or audio crackling. For everything apart from gaming the on-board audio is very impressive. It is still impressive for gaming, it's just the jet engines that sound like they are firing when the system is under load tends to mask the audio and headphones are definitely recommended for gaming.
Is the battery life any good?
The low results continued with the rest of our tests. Firstly with the YouTube video test, which is a 4 hour loop of a standard 480P video, and with the laptop set to the high performance setting and the screen at 100% brightness, we managed a very poor 99 minutes. With the system turned down to the balanced setting and brightness lowered to 50% we increased that to 129 minutes. With no DVD drive installed we tested with Netflix instead and using the same 50% settings we managed a tad more at 146 minutes. So more than enough to watch a film or a couple of TV programmes, but not much else sadly.
An issue we always have with gaming laptops, particularly the high end ones such as the X7 is that gaming on the move using any sort of settings other than low is impossible due to the way the system cripples the performance when under battery alone. Even set to high performance mode the FPS drops off dramatically. Although here with the X7 Pro V3 the FPS didn't drop too badly. In Battlefield 4 for example our previous excellent result of 90 FPS using high settings dropped to an average of just 45FPS when the power was disconnected. Whilst this is still a big reduction, it allowed for a very playable game and didn't require the settings dropping any further to maintain that frame rate. With a 100% charge we did only manage 51 minutes of gaming before the battery died. The battery from flat takes 138 minutes to charge back to 100%.
Aorus X7 Pro V3 Benchmarks
Benchmark Score Summary
|Time to Desktop||11.5 Seconds||9|
|Super Pi @ 1M||9.99 seconds||9|
|3D Mark - Ice Storm 1.2||133286||8|
|3D Mark - Cloud Gate 1.1||22872||8|
|3D Mark - Fire Strike||10529||8|
|3D Mark - Sky Diver||25557||8|
|Passmark Performance Test 8.0||4972.3||8|
|Cinebench 11.5||Open GL 65.78FPS - CPU 6.53pts||7|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||2194||8|
|Unigine Valley 1.0||2851||8|
|PC Mark 8 - Home Conventional 3.0||4036||8|
|PC Mark 8 - Storage Test||5003||8|
As you probably might expect with the SLI 970M graphics setup, the results were stunning and by far the best we have seen on a laptop to date. With Max Payne 3 set to maximum we achieved a superb 65FPS far above the usual 20-30FPS we see on single card gaming laptops and even the 47FPS seen on the original X7 using the two GTX765M. With the latest Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare we managed 91FPS with everything set to maximum, all except super-sampling which crippled the performance down to just 15FPS when this was set to high. Battlefield 4 continued the good scores, although we did have issues running in SLI which appears to be a common problem with this game but we still achieved 69FPS on Ultra. Finally with Sims 4 on medium settings we had 149FPS and 125 using Ultra settings.
The benchmark tests continued the excellent scores with 4038 on PC Mark 8 Home Conventional, 2851 in Unigine Valley 1.0, 2195 on Unigine Heaven 4 and 4972 with Passmark Performance Test 8. This laptop may be just shy of £2000 but it definitely packs in the performance for the money.
Benchmark Score Summary
|1920 x 1080 Resolution||FPS (Fraps)|
|Battlefield 4||High Settings||91|
|Battlefield 4||Ultra Settings||69|
|Sims 4||Medium Settings||149|
|Sims 4||Ultra Settings||125|
|Max Payne 3||High Settings||151|
|Max Payne 3||Maximum Settings||65|
|COD: Advanced Warfare||Maximum Settings||91|
Any fan noise or heat?
Whilst the previous X7 did get pretty hot and reached levels of 46dBs for gaming, it wasn't in the same league as some of Gigabyte's laptops which clearly didn't appear to have adequate cooling. The new X7 Pro V3 gave a very similar story to the original, but it did top out at 51dBs during gaming. During most other uses, the system is silent but during gaming the noise is a tad too excessive for our liking with very significant amounts of heat being expelled from the side and rear air vents. It's always difficult to tell in the short period we have the laptop for review how it will fare long term with all the components getting as hot as they do. With the excellent on-board audio if you crank the volume up a notch you can just about drown the system noise out, although for quieter games, such as the Sims 4, the noise might get annoying. We'd still suggest keeping a pair of headphones close by!
- Top draw gaming performance
- Superb specification
- Good on-board audio
- Stylish design
- Macro Keys
- Very thin
- Could be too noisy for some
- Poor battery life
- No Blu-ray drive
Aorus X7 Pro V3 17" Gaming Laptop Review
Should I buy the Aorus X7 Pro V3?If you are looking for a serious high end gaming laptop then the Aorus X7 Pro V3 definitely ticks a lot of the boxes. It's not cheap though at £1999, but then is anything high end? The 2 x GTX970M GPUs in SLI give a performance that will match most single card desktop PCs. Owning a gaming laptop will no longer mean having to play games on low settings as with the X7 Pro V3 you can run everything on maximum and enjoy very high frame rates (on mains power of course), although the compromise is a rather noisy system and one that chucks out a significant amount of heat.
The specification is superb with a high quality 17.3" IPS LCD Full HD display, 16GB of RAM @ 1866Mhz and a Quad Core i7-4870HQ CPU with a turbo speed of 3.7Ghz. The whole system has been tailored and designed to give the very best gaming performance and this shows with top marks across the board in all our gaming and benchmarking tests. As we saw with the original X7, the only major negative is the battery life which is extremely poor - gaming times of just 50 minutes aren't particularly impressive.
What alternatives are available?There isn't a huge amount of competition in the Nvidia 9 series SLI laptop arena as many are still using the older 8 series. Scan do offer a 980M SLI laptop, although this comes in at over £400 more. The Alienware 18 with dual 880M for example comes in at well over £2500, so even at £1999 the X7 Pro V3 does offer good value for money for those that want the ultimate laptop gaming experience. As with the original X7, we are happy to award the X7 Pro V3 our AVForums Recommended Award.
Value For Money
Our Review Ethos
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