Notebookcheck

Aorus X3 Plus v3 Notebook Review

Allen Ngo, 05/18/2015

Size doesn't matter. It may be less than 14-inches, but the Aorus X3 Plus still performs just as well as many larger gaming models currently available. What compromises must buyers make for this 3200 x 1800 QHD+ 13.9-inch notebook with 3x RAID 0 and GTX 970M graphics?

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We've already published on most every iteration of the Aorus X7 series including the X7, X7 v2, and X7 Pro. So, what about the smaller Aorus X3 series?

Our Aorus X3 Plus v3 is the latest offering with its GTX 970M GPU up from the GTX 870M in the original X3 Plus model. It also adds an additional mSATA slot for a total of 3 slots capable of RAID 0. Otherwise, most of the major specs and features remain identical including the chassis and curiously sized 13.9-inch 3200 x 1800 resolution screen.

The ultraportable gaming segment is quite niche compared to the larger 15- and 17-inch markets. Thus, the only major competitors are the slightly larger 14-inch Razer Blade 14, Gigabyte P34W, and to some extent the Lenovo Y40. Let's find out if the X3 Plus v3 is truly worth the high price of admission.

Aorus X3 Plus v3 (X3 Series)
Processor
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M - 6144 MB, Core: 924 MHz, Memory: 5010 MHz, 344.42, Optimus
Memory
16384 MB 
, 800 MHz, 11-11-11-28, Dual-Channel
Display
13.9 inch 16:9, 3200x1800 pixel, IPS, Manufacturer: Sharp, ID: SHP1401, Name: LQ140Z1JW01, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel HM87 (Lynx Point)
Storage
2x Lite-On LMT-256L9M (RAID 0) , 512 GB 
Soundcard
Intel Lynx Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm mic, 3.5 mm earphones , Card Reader: SD reader
Networking
Qualcomm Killer e2200 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 22.9 x 330 x 263.5 ( = 0.9 x 12.99 x 10.37 in)
Battery
73 Wh Lithium-Polymer
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: HD camera
Additional features
Speakers: 2 Watt stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, MacroHub, Command & Control, Power Switch, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
1.8 kg ( = 63.49 oz / 3.97 pounds), Power Supply: 560 g ( = 19.75 oz / 1.23 pounds)
Price
2400 Euro

 

Case

Visually, the Aorus X3 and X7 share a unique design that separates them quite well from the competition in the already small ultraportable gaming segment. It does take a few queues from the Asus ROG G46 such as the wider rear, single-hinge design, and dual "jet engine" ventilation grilles on the back. This is very much the anti-thesis to the leaner unibody look of Razer's Blade 14 and Apple MacBooks, yet its sharp corners and style are unmistakably gamer-centric without the extraneous brushed surfaces or flashy LEDs.

While we love the looks, case quality is a mixed bag. The full aluminum chassis is tough around the base with great resistance to twists and pressure down the center of the keyboard. Quality drops abruptly around the admittedly attractive thin-bezel display as the lid is weaker and more susceptible to side-to-side twisting than on the Blade 14 or Gigabyte P34W. Additionally, the hinges are disappointing as the lid can rock back and forth with audible creaking when adjusting the angle. Creaking is present when attempting to twist the base as well, likely because the chassis is made up of multiple pieces instead of a single cut of aluminum. Quality is relatively strong nonetheless, but the lid is the exception and could use major improvements in future iterations.

The unusual 13.9-inch screen size, thin bezel, and wide rear gives the X3 Plus a uniquely long 263.5 mm length and shorter 330 mm width compared to other 14-inch gaming notebooks as seen in our comparison below. In other words, the Aorus is more "square" than the typically rectangular notebook. It's also thicker than most ultrathin models like the Blade 14 and Gigabyte P34W while weighing relatively the same at about 1.8 kg.

Connectivity

Available interfaces are good for a sub 14-inch notebook. At the very least we're glad to see dual video-out ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and even a card reader, which is more than what we can say for the Razer Blade 14. The P34W offers VGA in place of DisplayPort and more USB ports.

Front: No connectivity
Front: No connectivity
Right: SD reader, 2x USB 3.0, Power button
Right: SD reader, 2x USB 3.0, Power button
Rear: Power adapter, Gigabit Ethernet
Rear: Power adapter, Gigabit Ethernet
Left: Mini Displayport, HDMI-out, USB 3.0, 3.5 mm mic, 3.5 mm headphones
Left: Mini Displayport, HDMI-out, USB 3.0, 3.5 mm mic, 3.5 mm headphones

Communication

WiFi, WiDi, and Bluetooth 4.0 are provided by a dual-band (2x2) half-mini PCIe Intel 7260 module. Theoretical transfer rates are up to 768 Mbps with an 802.11ac network, but are otherwise limited to 300 Mbps on a more common 802.11n network. We experienced no latency or dropout issues when connected to a home network.

As is common for gaming notebooks, additional WWAN and GPS options are unavailable on the Aorus.

Maintenance

The panel underneath can be easily removed to expose the system fans, WLAN card, 2x SODIMM slots, integrated battery, and other crucial components. A small Torx screwdriver will be required as opposed to the more common Philips head.

Accessories

Included extras are essentially non-existent. There are no screen wipes, video adapters, or protective cases with the standard package. Instead, users are encouraged to purchase optional accessories directly from Aorus.

Warranty

The manufacturer provides a 24-month warranty as standard for its laptop products while the batteries themselves are covered for the first year only. In the U.S., the two-year period is longer than the standard one-year offered by most other manufacturers.

Command & Control is very useful and easy to use
Command & Control is very useful and easy to use
Macro customization for quick access and actions
Macro customization for quick access and actions
Drivers table makes it very convenient
Drivers table makes it very convenient
Easy maintenance. Note the three mSATA bays (two occupied and one available)
Easy maintenance. Note the three mSATA bays (two occupied and one available)

Input Devices

Keyboard

Despite the small size (28.5 x 10.5 cm excluding Macro keys), the keyboard performs very well with great tactile feedback when pressed. The auditory response is a little clattery, but is a fair trade-off for firmer keys and longer travel than other ultrathin notebooks of this size category. Two of the Arrow keys are unfortunately very small and can be difficult to use accurately for larger hands.

The dedicated Macro keys are similar to the ones on the Gigabyte P37X. Users can cycle between five different sets of Macro keys for a total of 25 different customizable commands. Beyond that, there are no dedicated volume or multimedia keys.

Touchpad

The 10 x 7 cm touchpad is a good size for a sub 14-inch notebook and is similar to the Blade 14. Multi-touch is supported up to three fingers with the Elan software and is responsive to gestures. We're not sure why Aorus still prefers the glossy finish on all its products as it prevents a smooth glide and accumulates fingerprints very easily.

The integrated click keys provide shallow travel that could have been much deeper, but the tactile feedback is firm nonetheless. The touchpad is quite picky as to where the user is allowed to press in order to better separate the left click from the right click.

The keyboard and dedicated Macro keys are a tight fit
The keyboard and dedicated Macro keys are a tight fit

Display

The uncommonly sized 13.9-inch matte IPS screen provides a dense QHD+ resolution of 3200 x 1800 pixels for a 262 PPI. This naturally leads to extremely crisp images with no hints of the screen-door effect even when looking up-close. The difference in quality is very noticeable, especially after just coming from the 17.3-inch Razer Blade Pro and its 1080p screen. Colors appear deep with an acceptably warm 6900K temperature and contrast is equally impressive at a measured ~600:1. A quick search for the LQ140Z1JW01 panel name reveals that the Fujitsu LifeBook U904 and Razer Blade 14 both sport the same screens manufactured by Sharp.

The average display brightness of about 300 nits is common amongst gaming notebooks and is more than sufficient for indoor gaming. This is notably lower than the claimed 400 nits by the manufacturer. Premier Ultrabooks tend to offer brighter backlights for improved outdoor usability.

319
cd/m²
319.3
cd/m²
306.4
cd/m²
308.2
cd/m²
312.4
cd/m²
302.2
cd/m²
308.2
cd/m²
290.1
cd/m²
291.2
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro Basic 2
Maximum: 319.3 cd/m² Average: 306.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 91 %
Center on Battery: 312.4 cd/m²
Contrast: 620:1 (Black: 0.504 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 4.17 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 4.4 | - Ø
62% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.26
Aorus X3 Plus v3Lenovo Y40-59423035Razer Blade 14 2015Gigabyte P34W V3Schenker XMG C405
Screen
-84%
3%
-1%
1%
Brightness
306
195
-36%
311
2%
277
-9%
267
-13%
Brightness Distribution
91
78
-14%
78
-14%
84
-8%
85
-7%
Black Level *
0.504
0.815
-62%
0.416
17%
0.72
-43%
0.32
37%
Contrast
620
260
-58%
765
23%
424
-32%
875
41%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
4.17
11.81
-183%
3.67
12%
2.81
33%
4.75
-14%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
4.4
12.73
-189%
5.41
-23%
1.92
56%
5.91
-34%
Gamma
2.26 106%
2.17 111%
2.26 106%
2.21 109%
2.52 95%
CCT
6925 94%
17141 38%
7118 91%
6384 102%
5742 113%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
62
35.29
-43%
64.64
4%
60.4
-3%
59
-5%

* ... smaller is better

Color coverage is good for an IPS panel at about 62 percent and 83 percent of AdobeRGB and sRGB standards, respectively. This is similar to the high-end panels of the Blade 14 and P34W and all three even share at least 90 percent gamut overlap between them. This is significantly better than inexpensive TN panels where coverage can be less than 40 percent of AdobeRGB with more inaccurate colors. Professional panels on certain workstations and barebones target 95 percent AdobeRGB coverage or higher.

vs. AdobeRGB
vs. AdobeRGB
vs. sRGB
vs. sRGB
vs. Razer Blade 14
vs. Razer Blade 14
vs. Gigabyte P34W
vs. Gigabyte P34W

Further analyses with a spectrophotometer reveal good grayscale and even better colors out-of-the-box from the IGZO display. Accuracy is consistent throughout the tested saturation levels and actually increases ever so slightly at deeper saturation. A quick calibration flattens the RGB balance and both improves color accuracy and grayscale. Blue could have been more accurate, but all other primary and secondary colors are well represented. Results here are somewhat similar to the IPS panels of the P34W and Blade 14 and much better than the TN panel of the Lenovo Y40.

Grayscale pre-calibration
Grayscale pre-calibration
Saturation Sweeps pre-calibration
Saturation Sweeps pre-calibration
ColorChecker pre-calibration
ColorChecker pre-calibration
Grayscale post calibration
Grayscale post calibration
Saturation Sweeps post calibration
Saturation Sweeps post calibration
ColorChecker post calibration
ColorChecker post calibration

Outdoor usability is average at best as the backlight will need to be much brighter for comfortable use on a bright day. The screen becomes washed out if under direct sunlight, so the maximum brightness setting under shade or overcast day is recommended. The matte panel helps in reducing glare as much as possible.

Viewing angles are excellent as expected from an IPS panel. Relative brightness does not dramatically decrease if viewing from the sides and colors do not degrade.

Good outdoor visibility under shade
Good outdoor visibility under shade
Stable viewing angles
Stable viewing angles

Performance

Turbo Boost up to 3.3 GHz for four active cores
Turbo Boost up to 3.3 GHz for four active cores

The Aorus X3 Plus v3 comes only with an Intel Core i7-4710HQ and currently no other options. This is compared to the original X3 Plus, which has both i7-4710HQ and i7-4860HQ options. Most larger gaming notebooks tend to offer the i7-4720HQ as standard, but the i7-4710HQ is essentially identical in TDP and cache sizes save for a slower 100 MHz core clock. For gaming purposes, however, any differences should be minuscule.

The CPU here is capable of operating up to its maximum 3.6 GHz Turbo Boost for a single active core, but will otherwise run up to 800 MHz on the Power Saver profile. Likewise, the Nvidia GTX 970M GPU will run at 135/162 MHz core/memory when idling and can switch to the integrated Intel HD 4600 GPU via Optimus.

System RAM is provided by two 8 GB PC3-12800 modules from Transcend. The memory chips are not soldered onto the board, so users can easily remove and replace these SODIMM modules. This is compared to the Blade 14 where users must choose between the fixed 8 GB or 16 GB configurations.

Processor

CPU Performance according to synthetic benchmarks is in line with what we expected. Final CineBench scores trade blows with the i7-4700HQ and i7-4720HQ in the Lenovo Y50 and P34W, respectively, due to the wider variation in Turbo Boost on mobile CPUs. Theoretically, the i7-4710HQ in our Aorus should score somewhere in between the two CPUs above, but this is not always the case. For example, its single-core CineBench R15 score of 135 points is higher than the Lenovo Y50 and just slightly above the P34W.

Compared to the previous Ivy Bridge generation, the i7-4710HQ is most similar to the i7-3820QM while operating at lower frequencies. More technical information and benchmarks on the i7-4710HQ can be found on our dedicated page here.

CineBench R10 64-bit
CineBench R10 64-bit
CineBench R11.5 64-bit
CineBench R11.5 64-bit
CineBench R15 64-bit
CineBench R15 64-bit
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
6510 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
24459 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
6610 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
6631
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
18911
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
5014
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
58.98 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
6.73 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.55 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.6 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
93.31 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
608 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
135 Points
Help
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
1.55 Points ∼6%
Gigabyte P34W V3
1.47 Points ∼5% -5%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
1.46 Points ∼5% -6%
Eurocom X8
1.77 Points ∼7% +14%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
6.73 Points ∼9%
Gigabyte P34W V3
6 Points ∼8% -11%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
5.29 Points ∼7% -21%
Eurocom X8
7.64 Points ∼11% +14%
OpenGL 64Bit (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
58.98 fps ∼48%
Gigabyte P34W V3
59.64 fps ∼49% +1%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
55.96 fps ∼46% -5%
Eurocom X8
74.91 fps ∼61% +27%
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
135 Points ∼73%
Gigabyte P34W V3
130 Points ∼70% -4%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
125 Points ∼68% -7%
Eurocom X8
157 Points ∼85% +16%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
608 Points ∼39%
Gigabyte P34W V3
636 Points ∼41% +5%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
490 Points ∼32% -19%
Eurocom X8
708 Points ∼46% +16%
Ref. Match 64Bit (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
99.6 % ∼100%
Gigabyte P34W V3
99.6 % ∼100% 0%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
99.6 % ∼100% 0%
Eurocom X8
99.6 % ∼100% 0%
OpenGL 64Bit (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
93.31 fps ∼56%
Gigabyte P34W V3
110.15 fps ∼66% +18%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
95.61 fps ∼58% +2%
Eurocom X8
128.85 fps ∼78% +38%
Cinebench R10
Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
6610 Points ∼73%
Gigabyte P34W V3
6611 Points ∼73% 0%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
6493 Points ∼72% -2%
Eurocom X8
7696 Points ∼85% +16%
Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
24459 Points ∼67%
Gigabyte P34W V3
25825 Points ∼71% +6%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
18887 Points ∼52% -23%
Eurocom X8
26547 Points ∼73% +9%
Shading 64Bit (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
6510 Points ∼30%
Gigabyte P34W V3
6849 Points ∼32% +5%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
6759 Points ∼31% +4%
Eurocom X8
12173 Points ∼57% +87%
Rendering Single 32Bit (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
5014 Points ∼71%
Gigabyte P34W V3
5080 Points ∼72% +1%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
4999 Points ∼71% 0%
Eurocom X8
5853 Points ∼83% +17%
Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
18911 Points ∼54%
Gigabyte P34W V3
19447 Points ∼56% +3%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
14329 Points ∼41% -24%
Eurocom X8
21022 Points ∼60% +11%
Shading 32Bit (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
6631 Points ∼42%
Gigabyte P34W V3
6848 Points ∼44% +3%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
6738 Points ∼43% +2%
Eurocom X8
11857 Points ∼75% +79%
wPrime 2.0x
1024m (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
246.038 s * ∼3%
Gigabyte P34W V3
238.428 s * ∼3% +3%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
323 s * ∼4% -31%
Eurocom X8
218.553 s * ∼3% +11%
32m (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
7.533 s * ∼2%
Gigabyte P34W V3
7.206 s * ∼1% +4%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
7.813 s * ∼2% -4%
Eurocom X8
7.004 s * ∼1% +7%
Super Pi Mod 1.5 XS 32M - --- (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
575.629 Seconds * ∼3%
Gigabyte P34W V3
564.382 Seconds * ∼3% +2%
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50
569.349 Seconds * ∼3% +1%
Eurocom X8
491.477 Seconds * ∼2% +15%

Legend

 
Aorus X3 Plus v3 Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M, 2x Lite-On LMT-256L9M (RAID 0)
 
Gigabyte P34W V3 Intel Core i7-4720HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M, Lite-On LMT-128L9M
 
Lenovo IdeaPad Y50 Intel Core i7-4700HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M, Western Digital WD10S21X SSHD 1TB + 8GB SSD-Cache
 
Eurocom X8 Intel Core i7-4940MX, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M SLI, Samsung SSD 840 EVO 120GB mSATA

* ... smaller is better

Discussion

System Performance

PCMark 7
PCMark 7

PCMark 8 unfortunately does not run to completion on our test model despite using the most up-to-date version (2.4.304) at the time of review. Thus, we refer to PCMark 7 scores for comparisons against similarly equipped models. At just over 6000 points, our Aorus is in the same league as heavy hitters like the MSI GT72 and its GTX 980M GPU and other gaming systems with RAID 0 or fast SSDs. Subjectively, the two RAID 0 SSDs in our test model provide fast OS navigation and near instantaneous launching of everyday applications in line with high-end Ultrabooks.

PCMark 7 Score
6078 points
Help

Storage Devices

With 3x mSATA slots and RAID 0 support, the X3 Plus v3 offers one of the fastest storage performances available for a small ultrathin gaming notebook. The dual Lite-On LMT-256L9M drives return sequential read writes of almost 1000 MB/s according to CDM. Performance differences between various SSD and HDD models are detailed in our expansive comparison table here.

The drawback is that the X3 Plus series includes no standard 2.5-inch SATA III slot, so users must invest in costlier high capacity SSDs for game installations instead of more cost-effective HDD solutions. This is a similar situation to the new Razer Blade 14 and a notable disadvantage compared to the P34W and most every larger gaming notebook where 2.5-inch SATA expansions are standard.

AS SSD
AS SSD
CrystalDiskMark
CrystalDiskMark
PCMark 8 Storage
PCMark 8 Storage
2x Lite-On LMT-256L9M (RAID 0)
Transfer Rate Minimum: 694.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 994.4 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 964 MB/s
Access Time: 0.1 ms
Burst Rate: 1695.2 MB/s
CPU Usage: 8.1 %

GPU Performance

The GTX 970M is one of the fastest mobile GPUs on the market and the high 3DMark benchmark scores prove our point. Its GPU score of 9862 points in 3DMark 11 is almost identical to the desktop GTX 680, which was Nvidia's top dog in 2012. Its monstrous 6 GB of dedicated GDDR5 VRAM is sufficient for extreme texture settings.

More technical information and benchmark comparisons on the GTX 970M can be found on our dedicated GPU page here.

3DMark 11
3DMark 11
3DMark Fire Strike
3DMark Fire Strike
3DMark Fire Strike Extreme
3DMark Fire Strike Extreme
3DMark Fire Strike Ultra
3DMark Fire Strike Ultra
3DMark 06 Standard
26947 points
3DMark 11 Performance
9203 points
3DMark Ice Storm Standard Score
76306 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
18084 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
6514 points
3DMark Fire Strike Extreme Score
3315 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The performance jump from a GTX 960M to a GTX 970M compared to a GTX 950M to a GTX 960M is massive. Though they are all Maxwell cards, the 970M ups the number of CUDA cores dramatically from 640 to 1280 with a 50 percent larger memory interface. Thus, the bottleneck is widened for a 50 to 60 percent increase in FPS compared to even the larger Razer Blade Pro. The GTX 980M is faster still by another 20 to 30 percent over the GTX 970M depending on the title. Nearly all of today's titles should play well over 30 FPS at 1080p, though performance at the native 3200 x 1800 resolution will be a mixed bag. Instead, older and less demanding titles will benefit much more appropriately from the QHD+ display.

Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm
Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm
Ryse: Son of Rome
Ryse: Son of Rome
F1 2014
F1 2014
low med. high ultra
Sleeping Dogs (2012) 133.245.1fps
Guild Wars 2 (2012) 60.651.7fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 186.179.3fps
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (2013) 116.679.3fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 154.772fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 93.652.6fps
Thief (2014) 67.947.4fps
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014) 65.752.5fps
Ryse: Son of Rome (2014) 48.845.3fps
F1 2014 (2014) 11197fps
Title 3200 x 1800 Ultra Settings (FPS)
Sleeping Dogs 14.9
Guild Wars 2 40.3
Tomb Raider 32.1
SC II: Heart of the Swarm 50.1
Metro: Last Light 23.9
Thief 21.8
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor 26
Ryse: Son of Rome 19.7
F1 2014 82
Sleeping Dogs
1920x1080 Extreme Preset AA:Extreme (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
45.1 fps ∼31%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
24.3 fps ∼16% -46%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
20 fps ∼14% -56%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
56.5 fps ∼38% +25%
1366x768 High Preset AA:High (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
133.2 fps ∼65%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
93.1 fps ∼46% -30%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
70 fps ∼34% -47%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
162.3 fps ∼80% +22%
Guild Wars 2
1920x1080 All Maximum / On AA:FX (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
51.7 fps ∼62%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
36 fps ∼43% -30%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
34 fps ∼41% -34%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
68.4 fps ∼82% +32%
1366x768 Best Appearance Preset AA:FX (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
60.6 fps ∼66%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
62.6 fps ∼68% +3%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
48 fps ∼52% -21%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
81.7 fps ∼89% +35%
Tomb Raider
1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:FX AF:16x (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
79.3 fps ∼29%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
50.8 fps ∼18% -36%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
44 fps ∼16% -45%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
102.6 fps ∼37% +29%
1366x768 High Preset AA:FX AF:8x (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
186.1 fps ∼37%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
113.2 fps ∼22% -39%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
97 fps ∼19% -48%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
241.8 fps ∼48% +30%
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm
1920x1080 Ultra / Extreme AA:on (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
79.3 fps ∼45%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
55.1 fps ∼31% -31%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
56 fps ∼32% -29%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
101.5 fps ∼58% +28%
1366x768 High AA:on (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
116.6 fps ∼68%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
127.8 fps ∼75% +10%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
97 fps ∼57% -17%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
123 fps ∼72% +5%
BioShock Infinite
1920x1080 Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF) (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
72 fps ∼37%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
46.8 fps ∼24% -35%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
41 fps ∼21% -43%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
85.8 fps ∼44% +19%
1366x768 High Preset (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
154.7 fps ∼53%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
120 fps ∼41% -22%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
102 fps ∼35% -34%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
217.8 fps ∼75% +41%
Metro: Last Light
1920x1080 Very High (DX11) AF:16x (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
52.6 fps ∼38%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
32.2 fps ∼23% -39%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
28 fps ∼20% -47%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
65 fps ∼46% +24%
1366x768 High (DX11) AF:16x (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
93.6 fps ∼59%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
61.9 fps ∼39% -34%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
52 fps ∼33% -44%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
117.5 fps ∼73% +26%
Thief
1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:FXAA & High SS AF:8x (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
47.4 fps ∼38%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
28.3 fps ∼23% -40%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
24 fps ∼19% -49%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
62.5 fps ∼50% +32%
1366x768 High Preset AA:FXAA & Low SS AF:4x (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
67.9 fps ∼52%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
54.1 fps ∼41% -20%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
43 fps ∼33% -37%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
101 fps ∼77% +49%
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
1920x1080 Ultra Preset (HD Package) (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
52.5 fps ∼33%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
31 fps ∼19% -41%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
66.6 fps ∼41% +27%
1920x1080 High Preset (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
65.7 fps ∼35%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
40.1 fps ∼22% -39%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
90.7 fps ∼49% +38%
Ryse: Son of Rome
1920x1080 Very High Texture Res. + High Graphics Quality (Motion Blur & Temporal AA On, Rest Off/Disabled) AF:8x (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
45.3 fps ∼44%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
28.2 fps ∼27% -38%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
56.6 fps ∼55% +25%
1920x1080 High Texture Res. + High Graphics Quality (Rest Off/Disabled) AF:8x (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
48.8 fps ∼44%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
30.5 fps ∼27% -37%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
23 fps ∼21% -53%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
58 fps ∼52% +19%
1366x768 Medium Texture Res. + Normal Graphics Quality (Rest Off/Disabled) AF:4x (sort by value)
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
47 fps ∼39%
F1 2014
1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
97 fps ∼81%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
94 fps ∼78% -3%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
77 fps ∼64% -21%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
116 fps ∼97% +20%
1920x1080 High Preset (sort by value)
Aorus X3 Plus v3
111 fps ∼83%
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015
113 fps ∼85% +2%
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS
96 fps ∼72% -14%
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme
118 fps ∼89% +6%

Legend

 
Aorus X3 Plus v3 Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M, 2x Lite-On LMT-256L9M (RAID 0)
 
Razer Blade Pro 17 inch 2015 Intel Core i7-4720HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M, Samsung PM851 Series MZMTE256HMHP
 
Lenovo Y70 DU004HUS Intel Core i7-4710HQ, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M, Western Digital WD10S21X SSHD 1TB + 8GB SSD-Cache
 
Eurocom P5 Pro Extreme Intel Core i7-4790K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M, 2x Micron M600 MTFDDAV128MBF (RAID 0)

Stress Test

We stress the Aorus with synthetic benchmarks to observe for any stability or throttling issues. With just Prime95 active, the CPU can be observed running at 3.2 GHz for the first minute or so before dropping to a more consistent 2.8 to 2.9 GHz range (or about 500 MHz below its maximum quad-core Turbo Boost). Core temperature holds steady at 71 to 73 C, but can go up to 80 C under these conditions. With just FurMark active, the GPU runs in the 822 to 835 MHz range (or about 100 MHz below its base clock) while maintaining a relatively low core temperature of 65 to 68 C.

Maximum stress with both Prime95 and FurMark active simultaneously will bump down both CPU and GPU clock rates further to 2.5 GHz and 810 MHz, respectively. Core temperatures become much hotter at 90 C for the CPU and 76 C for the GPU. After a few minutes, the CPU experiences slight throttling to the 2.2 to 2.5 GHz range.

Prime95 stress
Prime95 stress
FurMark stress
FurMark stress
Full stress
Full stress

Unigine Heaven represents a more real-world stress test compared to the benchmarks above. The Aorus performs much better under these conditions with consistent Boost for both the CPU and GPU. The CPU has no issues maintaining its maximum 3.3 GHz+ Turbo while the GPU never dips below 1037 MHz, so users need not worry about throttling issues when gaming. To test this, we ran the Metro: Last Light benchmark ten times in a row to observe for any dips in average frame rates between each run. Performance remained consistent from a high 94.1 FPS on the first run to 93.6 FPS on the last. This is compared to the Gigabyte P34W, which experiences major throttling under similar conditions.

CPU and GPU temperatures settle around 75 C and 70 C, respectively. If the Max Fan option is not activated, the CPU and GPU can both reach up to 80 C and CPU performance may drop slightly.

Running on batteries will reduce both CPU and GPU performance. A quick 3DMark 11 run on battery power returns a Physics and GPU score of 6464 and 6435 points, respectively, compared to 7683 and 9862 points when connected to mains. The GPU core can be observed running in the 670 to 746 MHz range with memory speed down to the 405 to 800 MHz range according to GPU-Z, while the CPU can range wildly from 800 MHz up to 2.5 GHz.

Unigine Heaven stress
Unigine Heaven stress
Metro: Last Light Benchmark run #1
Metro: Last Light Benchmark run #1
Metro: Last Light Benchmark run #10
Metro: Last Light Benchmark run #10
System vitals after 10 minutes of running Unigine Heaven
System vitals after 10 minutes of running Unigine Heaven

Emissions

System Noise

It's a fact that ultrathin gaming notebooks tend to be louder than their larger and thicker counterparts. While this still holds true for our X3 Plus, the fan controls available here give the user a wider control over the extent and range of fan noise. The Stealth, Max Fan, and two separate Auto settings are a feature shared between Aorus and Gigabyte gaming notebooks.

Stealth mode puts the notebook in near silence (32 to 33 dB(A)) and will periodically stop both system fans when under low processing loads. Using this mode when gaming in High Performance will throttle both the CPU and GPU accordingly to compensate. The Low Auto and High Auto settings will bump fan noise considerably from a lowly 32 dB(A) to a pulsating 36 to 40 dB(A) range when browsing or watching video. Gaming in High Auto mode will induce fan noise anywhere from 45 dB(A) to 56 dB(A) up to a constant 60 dB(A) when Max Fan mode is enabled.

In general, users can expect fan noise to be in the high 40s to low 50 dB(A) range when gaming, which is more or less similar to competing models. For a wider comparison, the large Asus G751 tends to remain in the low 40s when under stress. The Stealth mode is certainly recommended for browsing, videos, word processing, and any other less demanding tasks just to avoid the pulsating fans of the two Auto modes. Otherwise, gaming is best on High Auto or Max Fan for maximum performance.

Dual 50 mm fans. Hot spots will be directly above the two heat pipes
Dual 50 mm fans. Hot spots will be directly above the two heat pipes

Noise Level

Idle
30.9 / 31 / 31.1 dB(A)
Load
36.7 / 60 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   BK Precision 732A (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Surface temperatures when idling are relatively flat with a slight but noticeable gradient starting from the rear of the notebook to the front. It is an almost 5 degrees difference from both extremes. When under maximum load, the rear can be as warm as 53 C. The palm rests and WASD keys stay relatively cool in the low 30s, though the center and right side of the keyboard can get much warmer.

Compared to other ultrathins, the Aorus is not significantly better or worse. The Blade 14 and larger Aorus X7 can become warmer especially towards the front, while the P34W and Lenovo Y40 have more asymmetrical heat gains similar to our X3 Plus.

Max. Load
 28.8 °C44.4 °C36.2 °C 
 31.4 °C45.2 °C40 °C 
 30.8 °C29.6 °C33.8 °C 
Maximum: 45.2 °C
Average: 35.6 °C
32.2 °C53.2 °C35 °C
39.4 °C49.2 °C36.2 °C
34.8 °C34.6 °C33.2 °C
Maximum: 53.2 °C
Average: 38.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  53.4 °C | Room Temperature 22 °C | Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer

Speakers

The 2 Watt stereo speakers are nothing special with average bass due to size constraints and lack of a subwoofer. Sounds emanate front the front corners of the notebook where the openings can be easily mistaken as ventilation grilles. Quality is good for a sub 14-inch notebook as long as users do not expect too much from the small hardware. The speakers do not produce unwanted static and stays consistent when on higher volume settings.

While not a deal breaker, the Aorus includes no special dedicated audio software such as those from SoundBlaster or Dolby Digital that are commonly found on larger multimedia and gaming notebooks.

Battery Life

The integrated 73 Wh Li-Ion polymer battery is high in capacity considering its size and is actually the exact same capacity as the one in the larger Aorus X7 Pro. The Blade 14 (71 Wh), Gigabyte P34W (61 Wh), and Lenovo Y40 (54 Wh) sport smaller batteries in comparison.

Battery runtimes are good for a gaming notebook at a little over 4 hours of constant WLAN use on the Balanced profile at a 150 nits brightness setting. Users should be able to squeeze out a bit more if on the Power Saver profile instead. At worst, the Aorus can last for 1.5 hours when gaming and under high loads.

Maximum runtime (Reader's Test)
Maximum runtime (Reader's Test)
Minimum runtime (Classic Test)
Minimum runtime (Classic Test)
WLAN runtime
WLAN runtime
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
7h 03min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
4h 18min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 36min
Aorus X3 Plus v3Lenovo Y40-59423035Razer Blade 14 2015Gigabyte P34W V3Schenker C404
Battery Runtime
49%
-18%
4%
-15%
Reader / Idle
423
800
89%
380
-10%
522
23%
326
-23%
Load
96
105
9%
66
-31%
82
-15%
90
-6%
WiFi
513
284
248
WiFi v1.3
258
222
-14%

Pro

+ Great design
+ Full aluminum case and strong base
+ High quality QHD IPS screen
+ Easy-to-use Aorus software for accessible system controls
+ Powerful CPU and GPU performance with no throttling
+ Dual video-out ports
+ Easy maintenance and access to internals
+ 3x mSATA slots with RAID 0 support

Cons

- Hinges creak easily
- Weak lid
- Poor traction on touchpad
- Loud fan noise when gaming
- No 2.5-inch SATA expansion
- Reduced performance on battery power
- Small keyboard size
- Non-removable battery
- Pricey

Verdict

In review: Aorus X3 Plus v3. Test model provided by Aorus
In review: Aorus X3 Plus v3. Test model provided by Aorus

Users have a lot more choices in the larger 17-inch gaming segment, so recommending the Aorus X7 Pro is much more difficult when up against well-established Asus ROG or Alienware models. In this smaller and less crowded 14-inch gaming segment, however, the X3 Plus stands out much more favorably. The design is sharp without being eccentric, the matte QHD+ screen is of very high quality, the all-aluminum chassis is rigid on the base portion, and performance is not throttled under gaming conditions. The 3x mSATA slots may be a bit overkill as we would have gladly sacrificed one slot for a standard 2.5-inch SATA bay to store game installations. Nonetheless, the X3 Plus offers more connectivity features and easier system controls than the Razer Blade 14 without the novel glass touchscreen options.

Notable downsides include high fan noise and surface temperatures and just average speakers. However, let's be honest here -- anyone expecting low fan noise and temperatures with great speakers from an ultrathin sub 14-inch notebook with a high-end GTX 970M should probably look elsewhere. At the very least, the fan settings give users more manual control depending on the workload.

...the X3 Plus offers more connectivity features and easier system controls than the Razer Blade 14...

Some imperfections include a weak lid that twists and creaks much more easily than the Blade 14 and even the Gigabyte P34W. The base feels more rigid in comparison, but more creaking occurs near the weak hinges. The thinner unibody design of the Blade 14 is a step ahead of the Aorus in terms of overall chassis quality. The glossy touchpad is another poor design that does not work well in practice. If the manufacturer can improve upon these aspects on future X3 Plus models, then Aorus would be the top player in this 14-inch gaming segment.

Aorus X3 Plus v3 - 05/18/2015 v4(old)
Allen Ngo

Chassis
78 / 98 → 80%
Keyboard
84%
Pointing Device
76%
Connectivity
66 / 81 → 81%
Weight
65 / 66 → 98%
Battery
84%
Display
86%
Games Performance
95%
Application Performance
94%
Temperature
84 / 95 → 88%
Noise
74 / 90 → 82%
Audio
78%
Average
80%
85%
Gaming - Weighted Average

Pricecompare

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Aorus X3 Plus v3 Notebook Review
Allen Ngo, 2015-05-18 (Update: 2015-05-25)