This has been quite a year for gaming laptops (opens in new tab). AMD launched its Ryzen 6000 series mobile CPUs, Intel launched Alder Lake for the same market, and Nvidia has expanded the existing mobile GPU lineup with the RTX 3080 Ti and RTX 3070 Ti. Given that things were already pretty healthy in the laptop space, these latest releases have given laptop makers plenty of options when it comes to assembling powerful machines.
For the new Aorus 17 XE4, Gigabyte decided to use Intel’s Alder Lake alongside Nvidia’s more sensible new offerings. In particular, you’re looking at an Intel Core i7 12700H running alongside an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti. This is a solid pairing, capable of producing strong numbers in both gaming and more serious uses without completely breaking the bank.
The Intel Core i7 12700H isn’t the top-end chip, but it still brings plenty of cores and a high clock speed to ensure you leave nothing to be desired. You get a total of 14 cores here, made up of six performance cores and eight efficient cores, to give Windows a total of 20 threads to mess around with. These Performance cores can accelerate up to 4.7GHz, while the Efficient cores max out at 3.5GHz. Quickly.
As for the GPU, the RTX 3070 Ti is an impressive piece of modern silicon that can hit silly numbers at this screen’s native 1080p. At 130W, the RTX 3070 Ti in the Aorus 17 is more powerful than some RTX 3080s we’ve seen from other manufacturers. It’s really no longer just about how fast a GPU is or how many CUDA cores a GPU has, but how much power the GPU can set aside for its own purposes. And 130W is way more than many laptops can handle – especially those thin and light machines that look great but don’t have the cooling to handle such beefy GPUs.
Gigabyte Aorus 17 XE4 specifications
CPU: Intel Core i7 12700H
Graphic card: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070Ti (130W)
R.A.M: 16GB (2x 8GB) DDR4-3200
Advertisement: 17.3 inches
Native resolution: 1920×1080
refresh rate: 360Hz
Storage: 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
I/O: 1x Gigabit LAN, 1x HDMI 2.1, 1x headphones/microphone, 1x Mini DisplayPort 1.4, 1x Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
Price: $2,099 (opens in new tab) | £1,999 (opens in new tab)
The Aorus 17 makes a slick impression of a thin and light laptop. The base cuts off at the front edge from the thickest point of the case, so in actual use it’s easy to believe it’s thinner than it actually is. Importantly, it’s actually thick enough to house a decent cooling system that has a good chance of keeping the aforementioned CPU and GPU cool.
There’s one annoying misstep on the styling front, though: the power button. While this is clearly still a slot due to its thickness, it’s a mostly subdued affair with a clean aesthetic. This is especially true if you go back on the keyboard’s default RGB light show. But that squishy-looking power button wouldn’t look out of place on a kid’s toy. Not something you’d expect on a machine that’s rolling in for $2,000.
The rest of the spec is pretty much what you’d expect, with a speedy 1TB NVMe SSD to keep things moving and 16GB of RAM as standard, although Gigabyte has stuck with DDR4 here, rather than DDR5 has gone. A prudent choice given the value for money of the newer storage standard, although you feel like you’re missing out on the latest by perusing the spec list, although you can’t really tell the difference in a workout.
Before we move on to the all-important performance, it’s worth highlighting the keyboard, which is spacious and responsive. There’s even a full number pad, although there’s no demarcation between it and the main keyboard, which can feel odd at times. Still, the keyboard is overall comfortable to type on and more than capable of handling your gaming needs. The touchpad is also generous, although it’s not particularly useful when gaming. As always, you really want a decent mouse if you’re serious about gaming on the go.
The final important piece of the portable gaming puzzle is the 360Hz 1080p display, and here you’re looking at a relatively massive 17.3-inch panel squeezed into a 15-inch body, which is what Gigabyte suggests. While the physics would challenge that proposition, it has a good screen-to-laptop ratio with thin bezels on the top and sides, and the laptop itself is slightly smaller than some traditional 17-inch gaming laptops. I mean it’s big, don’t get me wrong, but it could be bigger.
With that we come to the performance. And this is where the Gigabyte Aorus 17 XE4 shines brightest. It might not be the fastest device we’ve seen, nor is it the thinnest or the quietest, but for the money it takes some serious hitting to balance all of those things and focus on what suits most gamers what really matters is performance. This is where this machine is pretty much at the top of its game, capable of outperforming more expensive laptops.
That 130W Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti is the key ingredient here, but the fact that Gigabyte has paired it with a Core i7 chip, as opposed to the far more expensive Core i9, pays off in terms of value for money out. Either way, you’ll see smooth frame rates in pretty much every game you throw at it. Metro Exodus hits 76 fps with RTX beauties on, Horizon Zero Dawn hits 117 fps, and F1 2020 hits a silky 180 fps.
One could argue that an RTX 3070 Ti is overkill for a 1080p display, but that would forget the 360Hz refresh rate. This machine, more than most, has a good chance of hitting a frame rate close to that refresh rate. If you’re enjoying a good game of Apex Legends, Valorant, or CS:GO, you’ll frankly hit ridiculous frame rates (300fps in Apex is pretty easy to get) and know that your losses are due to your reactions, not the inability to do so laptops to keep up.
The only downside is that squeezing this laptop hard will punish your ears. The Aorus 17 XE4 can get annoyingly loud during use. To the point where you’ll either reach for a headset while gaming or turn up the volume to try to drown out the “Windforce Infinity Cooling System” at full volume. At least you have the option to play in Silence mode and there’s still plenty of power on offer if you prefer the quiet life, at least when you’re tackling your game’s settings screen.
Obviously £1,999 ($2,099) is still a big bag of cash to throw at any laptop, even one as wild as this one. It’s a bit annoying that so much money doesn’t buy top-notch components anymore, although it rarely really pays to just throw all the top-of-the-line kit into a laptop, as thermal limitations often keep such dream machines in check. Essentially, if you’re paying a lot more, you’re in diminishing return territory.
The real question to ask yourself is do you want your game to be a little more portable? I’ll admit that I prefer something a little more modest myself, these 13 and 14 inch laptops are often far more versatile, even if they don’t pack the same gaming punch that these can muster. However, if you’re looking for a serious desktop replacement, there’s a lot to love here. Especially when it comes to real gaming. Just a shame it’s so loud.