Price (RRP): $from 2399 to 4999
I think I am in love with Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XA laptop. Why? It is almost everything that I could want in a 15” 2020 notebook.
From the moment you switch the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XA on and see the glorious Samsung 4K AMOLED (non-touch) panel to the wildly psychedelic RGB keyboard (which I need to tone down) it just continues to delight. Screw gamers – if we can get the keyboard lights under control this is a creative and mobile warriors dream (Lights fixed!).
Ironically the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XA was the next review after the Acer ConceptD 5 and Pro (15 and 17”), and these share a lot of common features. Same processor, NVIDIA RTX GPU, Pantone certified screen, SSD expansion, Killer LAN/WAN and more.
Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XA
There are many variations, but essentially you are looking for the Intel 9th generation Core i7/i9 processor, 15 OLED XA. Not to confuse you but there are 15 and 15S OLED XA, YA, WA, SA, NA and these all have slightly different specs – mainly the NVIDIA GeForce goes from 1650, 1660, 2060, 2070, 2080. Gigabyte has a comparison selector on the series page.
Price as tested: Approx. $3800 (ranges from $2399 to i9 version $4999)
From: List of Gigabyte vendors here
- Intel 9th Generation Core i7-9750H 2.6/4.5GHz and Intel UHD Graphic 630
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 With Max-Q Design GDDR6 8GB
- 15.6-inch, thin bezel, Samsung 4K 3840×2160, 16:9, 282ppi, AMOLED, factory calibrated, Pantone Certified
- 16GB DDR4-2666 (Dual channel 1333) max 64GB in two slots
- 2x M.2 2280 SSD slots (SATA6 or NVMe PCIe)
Screen – EXCEED
OLED is only in 15.6” at this time but the 17” has an excellent HDR, LED/LCD IPS screen.
This is the screen we should all aspire to – it is a Samsung AMOLED 60Hz panel capable of 600 nits (max), infinite contrast, can be driven to do Windows HDR and supports up to 100% DCI-P3. It is the basis of all 15.6” OLED notebooks at present. PS – gamers will love it for its 2.6ms G-T-G.
Then manufacturers add screen protection and drivers that change the specifications a little or a lot!
In our tests brightness varies from 450 (average) to 472 (max) – not bad, but not 600 nits. You can tweak colour profiles to get a little more. Still, it is more than bright enough, although the screen is a tad reflective for daylight use.
It is calibrated by X-Rite to Pantone (PMS)
Our tests confirm 100+% sRGB (which covers the PANTONE), and about 99% ADOBE RGB. To get more, you must tweak. Turn off so-called HDR and it then ramps up to 100% DCI-P3. Still, with a claimed Delta E <1 colour professionals should be comfortable using it.
And it has a 3mm bezel on three sides – very thin. The HD camera (not Windows Hello) is below the screen and has a privacy shutter.
Screen: Even a bad OLED (and this is not) is better than almost any LED/LCD. Colours pop, blacks are deep, and contrast is perfect. This is the same panel as in the HP x360 Spectre 15, Dell XPS 15 OLED and a few more – it is as good as current technology gets.
Processor – EXCEED
It uses the Intel 9th generation Core i7-9750H 2.6/4.5Ghz with a 45W TPD. It is closer to a desktop processor than a mobile one.
PassMark gives it single/multi 2469/13,559. To put that in perspective, the 10th gen i9-1090XE (Extreme edition) for desktops is 31,521. The H series is faster than any U series.
Throttling 15-minute 100% test – EXCEED
On mains power, it starts at 100% and as core temperatures ramp up to 85°, you get occasional 8% drop-offs. The CPU temperature is about 31°. Fan noise tends to average out a 40dB with an occasional whoosh to 47dB.
On battery, it immediately throttles to 8% and over time 17% less to keeps the temperatures closer to 70°. Fan noise is similar.
This is terrific cooling but gets toasty on around the copious vents.
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 With Max-Q Design GDDR6 8GB – EXCEED
This is a GPU for both power and power efficiency – although at 80W it draws a lot. The 2070 mobile GPU has the same CUDA core count as the desktop version 2304 cores but a lot lower clock speed 885/1185MHz. So it can do what the desktop version can – only a lot slower. It is a gamers GPU – about 10% faster than the GTX 1070 Max-Q it replaces.
PassMark give it 11,205
RAM and Storage – PASS
It has two ram SODIMM slots and can take up to 64GB. Gamers will want 32GB but for the rest of us, 16GB is fine.
The Intel 512GB SSD is a more of an entry-level PCIe NVMe 3.0 4 lane SSD but it is slower than the Samsung 970 EVO or WD Black (that achieve over 3000Mbps). It is however way more power-efficient.
It achieves sequential read/writes of 2677/1505MBps. If performance is an issue, then put in a faster SSD in the second slot.
Sound – PASS
The twin down-firing 2W speakers are quite loud – 80dB with good stereo separation but there is a certain harshness at full volume.
- Deep Bass: 20-40Hz – none
- Middle Bass: 40-100Hz – almost none
- High Bass: 100 to 200Hz – flat
- Low-mids: 200-400Hz – flat
- Mids: 400-1000Hz – flat
- High-mids: 1-2kHz – flat
- Low-treble: 2-4kHz – flat
- Treble:4-6kHz – decline but overall flat
- High Treble: 6-10kHz – decline
- Dog whistle: 10-20 – off the cliff at 10kHz
This is mid-centric verging in bright vocal, and that is where the harshness comes in. Realtek has an EQ that offers +/-12dB from 31Hz to 16kHz but it really does not do much. It helps make the speakers less harsh by reducing the mid/high treble but does not boost bass.
While a little disappointing, these days people tend to use BT headphones (this is BT 5.0 LE aptX capable) and the sound signature is far flatter, and the EQ does work there.
Nahimic 3 is for gamers (not tested) and loads sound profiles for strategic games to add spatial co-ordinates.
Gaming or content AI-Enabled – Microsoft Azure AI – INTERESTING
Gigabyte claim this is a world first.
User preference data passes through the Microsoft Azure Machine Learning platform in to automatically and dynamically adjust the best CPU and GPU wattage setting for different apps. Users experience a steady performance increase without the hassle and additional manual switch whether it is for gaming or content creation. If you are off-line, it references a database stored on the PC.
It seems to work but we do not have enough experience with it.
Ports – EXCEED
- Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps)
- USB-C ALT DP 3.1, gen 2 (10Gbps)
- 3x USB-A 3.1 Gen1 (5Gbps)
- HDMI 2.0
- 3.5mm Headphone/Microphone Combo Jack
- UHS-II SD Card Reader
- Gigabit Ethernet RJ-45
Killer LAN and WAN – EXCEED
It has the latest Killer Wi-Fi AX tech and BT5.0 LE. In all tests, it outperformed standard Wi-Fi AC.
You can also use the Killer App to analyse and prioritise traffic.
Keyboard, trackpad – EXCEED
Gigabyte’s Control Centre can set patterns or static down to each individually lit LED key. Here we conquered the gamer’s garish lighting.
It is an excellent keyboard with 1.5mm throw and 40g actuation – perfect for touch typists except for some non-standard layout that you need to get used to.
The 10.5 x 7cm Windows Precision trackpad allows you to swipe from the top right to bottom left in one stroke – perfect. Although it does have a fingerprint reader in the top left.
Battery – PASS
It is a big 94.24Wh battery and an even bigger 230W power supply.
- 50% screen brightness, Wi-Fi and office use – 3.5 hours
- Typical use – 6 hours
- 100% load – 2.5 hours
- T-Rex = 1.3 hours
Build – Exceed
356(W) x 250(D) x 20(H) mm x 2kg (approx.) plus PS 722g for the power supply.
It is well made, well cooled and not noisy at under 40dB.
GadgetGuy’s take – Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XA beats all comers
If I was after a 15” OLED ‘power’ notebook for creatives, this is the one I would buy. It is not perfect – the Gigabyte screen drivers need some work to make the most of the panel but overall it is a very attractive package (once you turn off the gaudy gamer lighting).
You can complain about the camera placement (double chin heaven), the mid-range SSD, the power cable placement (middle right) and the toasty feeling around the air vents but that goes with the territory.