Aorus X7 Pro Notebook Review: GeForce GTX 970M Gets Slim In SLI

How We Tested The Aorus X7 Pro

Test Hardware Configurations
 Aorus X7 ProMSI GT60-2PC-424USQ3 $1600 Performance PC
ProcessorIntel Core i7-4870HQ: 2.5 - 3.7GHz, Four Physical CoresIntel Core i7-4800MQ: 2.7 - 3.7GHz, Four Physical CoresIntel Core i7-4790K: 4.0GHz -
4.40GHz, Four Physical Cores
Graphics2x Nvidia GTX 970M: 1038MHz GPU, GDDR5-5000, SLINvidia GTX 870M: 967MHz GPU, GDDR5-5000PowerColor 290X: 1050MHz GPU,  GDDR5-5400
Memory16GB Crucial DDR3-1866 CAS 10-10-10-308GB Kingston DDR3-1600 CAS 11-11-11-28 (single-channel)8GB G.Skill DDR3-1866 CAS 8-9-9-24
MotherboardGigabyte X7V3:
BGA1364, HM87 Express
MS-16F4:
FCPGA946, HM87 Express
MSI Z97 Gaming 5:
LGA 1150, Intel Z97 Express
CaseAorus X7 MSI GT60Enermax Ostrog GT
CPU CoolerAorus X7 MSI GT60Phanteks PH-TC14PE 140mm
Hard Drive2x Lite-On LMT-256L9M 256GB mSATA 6Gb/s SSD, RAID 0HGST HTS721010A9E630: 1TB, 7200RPM, 32MB cachePlextor M6S PX-256M6S 256GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD
PowerChicony A11-200P1A: 200W, 19V, Level V Efficiency (~87%)Delta ADP-180NB: 180W 19.5V, ExternalEVGA SuperNova 750 B2: 750W, 80 PLUS Bronze
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Pro x64Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64Microsoft Windows 8 Pro x64
GraphicsNvidia Mobile Version 344.24Nvidia Mobile Version 337.5AMD Catalyst 14.4
ChipsetIntel INF 9.4.0.1027Intel INF 9.4.0.1023Intel INF 9.4.0.1026

Unlike boutiques that can match hardware to specific test requirements, Aorus sells turnkey systems with limited configuration options. That sales method provides buyers with improved pricing, but also forces us to compare the X7 Pro to another pre-configured system. MSI’s GT60-2PC Dominator is the closest of our previously-tested machines, but it has only one GPU.

A head-to-head between a single GeForce GTX 970M and one GTX 870M would have required us to remove one of the modules from the X7 Pro, except Aorus doesn't use modules. The next option was to chisel the second GPU off the X7 Pro’s motherboard. We didn’t do that either. Rather than destroy the notebook to get accurate single-GPU power numbers, we decided to put more of our focus on the performance aspect.

Aorus was so certain that its notebook would deliver desktop-class gaming performance that it offered to send along a GeForce GTX 980 discrete card for the sole purpose of making the comparison. After the firm failed to meet both its own delivery deadline and its desktop hardware commitment, I decided to put it up against my System Builder Marathon $1600 Performance PC using the full set of SBM benchmarks.

Benchmark Configuration
3D Games
Battlefield 4Version 1.0.0.1, DirectX 11, 100-Sec. Fraps "Tashgar"
Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA, 4x AF, SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 4x MSAA, 16x AF, HBAO
Grid 2Steam Version, In-Game Test
Test Set 1: High Quality Preset, No AA
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset, 8x AA
Arma 3
Version 1.08.113494, 30-Sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase"
Test Set 1: Standard Preset, No AA, Standard AF
Test Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x FSAA, Ultra AF
Far Cry 3V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost"
Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC., SSAO
Test Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
Adobe Creative Suite
Adobe After Effects CCVersion 12.0.0.404: Create Video which includes 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneously
Adobe Photoshop CCVersion 14.0 x64: Filter 15.7MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premiere Pro CCVersion 7.0.0 (342), 6.61GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
Audio/Video Encoding
iTunesVersion 11.0.4.4 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format 
LAME MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 0.99: Video from Canon EOS 7D (1920x1080, 25FPS) 1 Minutes 22 Seconds
Audio: PCM-S16, 48,000Hz, 2-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
TotalCode Studio 2.5Version: 2.5.0.10677: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1kHz, 2-Channel, 16-Bit, 224Kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
Productivity
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Acrobat 11Version 11.0.0.379: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion: 2.68A, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual Studio 2010Version 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
File Compression
WinZipVersion 18.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 5.0: THG-Workload (1.3GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.30 alpha (64-bit): THG-Workload (1.3GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"
Synthetic Benchmarks
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.5.0, Benchmark Only
3DMark ProfessionalVersion: 1.2.250.0 (64-bit), Fire Strike Benchmark
PCMark 8Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test
SiSoftware SandraVersion 2014.02.20.10, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia / Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks

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22 comments
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  • Nuckles_56
    A nice machine but I wouldn't consider buying one til Nvidia fixes up the issues that the machine is having with SLI
  • blackmagnum
    Boo SLI. You create more miserly than happiness. Do yourself a favor and buy a top single-gpu gaming notebook instead.
  • StarBound
    I'm assuming the screen is a 60hz making the SLI somewhat pointless. Still the machine is impressive but at the end of the day I cannot see myself getting something that lasts only 40min when performing its primary function (in this case gaming).
  • eriko
    Certainly has my attention...
  • Steveymoo
    Colour me impressed. This could be the first truly functional gaming desktop replacement! It's faster than my desktop, and my GPU is less than a year old. Wowzers. And such a slim package.
  • AndrewBrodie
    Does the HDMI Port support HDMI 2.0? I would like to use it with a 4K TV and hope to exceed 30 FPS.
  • xyster
    FYI: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M is offered also in 8GB capacities; not just 4gb. ie: MSI Dominator versions have it.
  • npyrhone
    The performance figures are really impressive, but why on earth are the "idle" and "reading" power consumption levels so absurdly high?

    I mean, I can somehow even understand the zombie drain by the other gpu, but even so: how is it possible that if you just write a word document and read news from the internet, you get something like 2h of battery life.

    Obviously, the person who purchases this might not need even 1h battery life ever, but that does not change the fact that something seems to be wrong here, or even broken, when the previous gen laptop achieves 5-6h of battery life in such scenarios.

    I am like 95% sure that either the power saving options were not enabled, or they were not functioning properly or some component was flawed or some driver was misbehaving. Or then something else weird was going on.

    In any case, I am 100% certain that I can get 3-4h of battery life in a light use, non-gaming scenario with a properly built laptop even if it was sporting this kind of hardware (ie. i7-4870HQ, 970M SLI, 17,3" FHD...)
  • sportfreak23
    Was thinking of purchasing this to replace my current Sony Vaio S as the dual core is starting to show its age. But the 1080p screen is kinda turn off when aorus offers a high res screen on its X3. Wish they made a high res 980M sli option to be purchased as this current 970m setup doesn't impress me much.
  • hst101rox
    On page 4, it is not just the Aorus x7 pro that has an AC adapter with an efficiency rating of "V", but the Delta 180W of the MSI GT60/70 and most any other new laptop, and tablet/smart phone charger should also be at that efficiency rating.
  • mlga91
    Its really impresive that this little machine can outperform in some cases a full sized $1600 desktop, i'd love to see this setup in a small factor case.
  • Karpet360
    How's the heat dissipation for this laptop? Are people gonna get thermal throttling when they play for a few hours?

    The "Gaming" laptops that I've had, have had serious heat issues that forced me to open my laptop up and re-apply the thermal compound, which only partially fixed the issue since the fan was underpowered.

    I don't mean to bash laptops, I just don't know if this has changed in the past year...I just think buyers should be more aware since heat issues translate to stuttering and graphical problems in game- which is inherent to laptops due to the small space packing powerful components.

    I'd like to see a stress-test benchmark to see how bad the thermal throttling is (if any) on newer laptops.
  • WyomingKnott
    1327195 said:
    ... but at the end of the day I cannot see myself getting something that lasts only 40min when performing its primary function (in this case gaming).


    My wife would love it if I could perform my primary function for a whole forty minutes. It's all relative.
  • s1rrah
    All that and not a single mention of GPU temps? .... WTF?
  • jazzy663
    Yeah, the heat that thing will generate is really a concern here. For the price that it costs, you could build a wonderfully powerful desktop. Aside from the portability I don't see why anyone would buy this, unless you do a lot, and I do mean a lot of traveling, and like to game while doing so.
  • Gotham
    One look at the msi gs60 ghost pro 3k-097 and the aorus x7 looses appeal.. it's a beast of a machine though..
  • rannon
    1798029 said:
    How's the heat dissipation for this laptop? Are people gonna get thermal throttling when they play for a few hours? The "Gaming" laptops that I've had, have had serious heat issues that forced me to open my laptop up and re-apply the thermal compound, which only partially fixed the issue since the fan was underpowered. I don't mean to bash laptops, I just don't know if this has changed in the past year...I just think buyers should be more aware since heat issues translate to stuttering and graphical problems in game- which is inherent to laptops due to the small space packing powerful components. I'd like to see a stress-test benchmark to see how bad the thermal throttling is (if any) on newer laptops.

    ( if i recall correctly ) linus tech tips reviewed this product, the cpu apparently throttled, but it was minor... the gpu's held their clock speed even after an hour of furmark and prime 95....so i would have assumed that replacing the thermal paste would fix the issue( NOTE:- the review model had dual 800m series gpu, )...but personally, not a fan of slim "gaming" machines. as you said, they normally have issues dissipating the heat... im looking towards the asus g751 with the single 970m, as their gaming line i known for its superior cooling thanks to its radical heatsink design. and i wouldn't even bother about frame rates.. because taken into fact that the refresh rate only 60hz, anything above that it practically useless. neverthe less the g751 with the 970m can run battlefield 4 on max setting and resolution and still crank over 50 fps easily. the other version of the g751 comes with a gtx 980m... and that is about 10-20% faster depending on the scenario. as for a benchmark. battlefield 4 max settings and resolution ... and "maintain" over 60fps at all times. (yes im talking about 64 player map multiplayer for both individual gpu's ).
    hope this helped :D
  • rannon
    22024 said:
    Does the HDMI Port support HDMI 2.0? I would like to use it with a 4K TV and hope to exceed 30 FPS.

    the performance of the 2 cards in sli outperform the gtx 970..... yes , you can easily do 4k and over 30fps...
    hoped this helped
  • rannon
    1089362 said:
    All that and not a single mention of GPU temps? .... WTF?

    gpu temps for both cards hover around 85c and cpu is at 88c under full load ... which of the bat is not bad but lets say after a year, this will run into overheating issues. so cleaning hsf and replacing thermal paste is a must. (i recommend arctic silver 5)
    so yeah.
  • ygohome
    I like the laptop a lot. I only wish it had more VRAM. 3 seems too little. I also wish it used the faster m.2 PCIe SSDs rather than SATA. And most of all I wish they could offer NBD repairs since I would use the laptop as my primary workstation business computer.
  • fatheroffour
    Would have love to see some performance numbers at higher resolutions. Looking to replace my desktop machine - with SLI 970s but if this laptop gave decent FPS at 1200p/1440p/4k I would really consider it. Anyone know of any such tests?
  • rannon
    1807343 said:
    Would have love to see some performance numbers at higher resolutions. Looking to replace my desktop machine - with SLI 970s but if this laptop gave decent FPS at 1200p/1440p/4k I would really consider it. Anyone know of any such tests?


    this can even haul ass at 1440p , by that i mean maintain above 50fps in most cases...but then again, anything under 60fps in sli seems to stutter. hope this helped