Notebookcheck

Aorus X7 v2 Notebook Review Update

Florian Glaser (translated by Martina Osztovits), 07/25/2014

Two are better than one. Although it has not been long since it appeared on the market, the successor is already available: Not even five months after our test, Aorus launched the next model of its slim high-end gamer, the X7. Instead of a pair of GTX 765M in SLI, now two GTX 860M graphics chips deliver a lot of gaming performance.

For the original German review, see here.

While most manufacturers make do with one dedicated graphics card, Aorus even packs two Nvidia chips in its high-end product. But the X7 v2's graphics solution is not the only difference to the competition. It is also different in other aspects, for example, the hard drive setup: While the predecessor came with two mSATA-SSDs in RAID-0, the new model impresses even more with three mSATA-SSDs.

Apart from mass storage, the processor was optimized. Aorus replaced the Core i7-4700HQ with the slightly faster Core i7-4710HQ (according to the homepage a Core i7-4860HQ is planned). The RAM-type also makes the laptop stand out: Only a few companies use DDR3-1866 (previously: DDR3-1600).

Apart from that, Aorus did not change the design. The 17-inch case weighs still about 3.2 kg (~7 pounds) and is only 2.3 cm (~0.9 inches) high. The display is still a matte TN panel. Learn about the Macro keys, build quality and input devices in this review. We skipped several sections here, since they are very similar and will start directly with the display section.

Command & Control
Command & Control
Macro Hub
Macro Hub
Driver's Update
Driver's Update
System Backup
System Backup

Display

The display is a mixed bag. On the one hand, we can say that the multimedia capabilities of the AU Optronics B173HW02 V1 are good. Images have vivid colors and appear to be contrast-rich - subjectively, at least. However, it is not outstanding according to our measurements.

First of all the brightness is only mid-range with an average of 260 cd/m² (despite being the same panel, the previous test model was 8% brighter). Although reflections are very rare thanks to the matte surface, many customers might still wish for more brightness when they use the laptop outdoors.

253
cd/m²
242
cd/m²
235
cd/m²
267
cd/m²
284
cd/m²
253
cd/m²
266
cd/m²
284
cd/m²
252
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 284 cd/m²
Average: 259.6 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 83 %
Center on Battery: 284 cd/m²
Black: 0.57 cd/m²
Contrast: 498:1

The black value of the AU Optronics B173HW02 V1 is also second-rate. Just under 0.6 cd/m² is rather disappointing in view of the laptop's price of 2000 Euros (~$2687). Dark scenes in games and videos look slightly grayish. Nevertheless, the image quality is better than run-of-the-mill screens'. 

The contrast is 500:1, which is about on par with the predecessor's. Other 17-inch displays, for example the popular Chi Mei N173HGE, achieve contrast ratios between 800 and 1000:1 (MSI GS70/GT70Clevo P170SM-AClevo P177SM-A...). However, the latter suffers from a grainy finish.

Aorus X7 v2 vs. sRGB (grid)
Aorus X7 v2 vs. sRGB (grid)
Aorus X7 v2 vs. AdobeRGB (grid)
Aorus X7 v2 vs. AdobeRGB (grid)
CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Color Management
CalMAN: Color Management
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN: Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN: ColorChecker
CalMAN: ColorChecker

The color rendering of the Aorus X7 v2 is also a point of criticism. Our CalMAN screenshots show that many values (grayscale, saturation, color precision...) sometimes deviate significantly from the ideal values (the same is true for the Chi Mei N173HGE). This is a nuisance for professional users, but multimedia fans will hardly mind it. The competitor Asus, which also uses the AU Optronics B173HW02 V1 in its G750 series, conceals this weakness with its own color profile. The color space itself is satisfactory: 78% sRGB and 58% AdobeRGB are neither bad nor exemplary.

Aorus X7 v2 outdoors
Aorus X7 v2 outdoors
Aorus X7 v2 outdoors

It is similar with the viewing angles, which are slightly better than the average of TN displays. As long as you do not flip the lid too far forwards or backwards, the image looks quite realistic. However, an IPS display is required for a top rating. Smaller gaming notebooks like the Schenker M504, the Gigabyte P34G v2 or the Asus GL550JK are more apt for image enthusiasts (IPS displays are still rare in the 17-inch range).

Aorus X7 v2 - Viewing angles
Aorus X7 v2 - Viewing angles

Performance

Processor

Haswell
Haswell

The processor belongs to Intel's Haswell generation. With a clock rate of 2.5 to 3.5 GHz the quad-core CPU clocks 100 MHz faster than the Core i7-4700HQ, which is also directly connected to the mainboard, and so, (other than MQ models) not replaceable. The other features are identical. With six MB L3 cache and 1.4 billion transistors, the Core i7-4710HQ is definitely top-rate.

We look critically at the waste heat. Although the Haswell architecture is produced in 22 nm lithography, quad-core chips get rather hot. A TDP of 47 Watts is not exactly low. We especially regret that the SLI array prevents graphics switching. With the Optimus technology (either the Intel or the Nvidia chip is used for graphics calculations) the battery life would be longer. In the Aorus X7 v2 the HD Graphics 4600 remains inactive.

Systeminfo CPUZ CPU
Systeminfo CPUZ Cache
Systeminfo CPUZ Mainboard
Systeminfo CPUZ Memory
Systeminfo CPUZ SPD
Systeminfo HWiNFO
Systeminfo GPUZ
Systeminfo CrystalDiskMark (SSD)
Systeminfo CrystalDiskMark (HDD)
Systeminfo HDTune (HDD)
Systeminfo Software
Systeminfo Latenzen
System information Aorus X7 v2

Turbo Boost

In realistic scenarios, the CPU easily overclocks. Regardless of single core or multi-core load, the quad-core CPU clocks between 3.3 to 3.5 GHz, which is more than respectable for a laptop. Although we observed massive throttling to 1.1 to 1.4 GHz during our stress test with FurMark and Prime95, the results in our application and gaming benchmarks do not hint of throttling in real-world applications.

Single core rendering
Single core rendering
Multi-core rendering
Multi-core rendering
CPU and GPU load
CPU and GPU load

CPU Performance

The 22 nm Core i7-4710HQ performs very well in the Cinebench R15 benchmarks thanks to the Hyperthreading technology, which simulates four virtual cores. With 659 points, the 17-incher is only marginally slower than the One K73-4N, which was powered by a Core i7-4800MQ in our review (663 points). It even did not fall too far behind the Core i7-4810MQ (680 points @ Schenker XMG P724). Meanwhile, the weaker brothers, the Core i7-4700HQ (633 points @ Aorus X7 v1) and the Core i7-4700MQ (623 points @ Nexoc G728II) are just under 5% slower. 

The Multi-CPU test did not bring any surprises: 136 points remind us of the result of the predecessor. The Core i7-4800MQ or the Core i7-4810MQ does not pay off for most users. An advantage of 5 to 7% is virtually irrelevant in practice.

Cinebench R15
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Core i7-4710HQ
Aorus X7 v2
659 Points ∼43%
Core i7-4700HQ
Aorus X7
633 Points ∼41% -4%
Core i7-4700MQ
Nexoc G728II
623 Points ∼40% -5%
Core i7-4800MQ
One K73-4N
663 Points ∼43% +1%
Core i7-4810MQ
Schenker XMG P724
680 Points ∼44% +3%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Core i7-4710HQ
Aorus X7 v2
136 Points ∼77%
Core i7-4700HQ
Aorus X7
134 Points ∼76% -1%
Core i7-4700MQ
Nexoc G728II
136 Points ∼77% 0%
Core i7-4800MQ
One K73-4N
143 Points ∼81% +5%
Core i7-4810MQ
Schenker XMG P724
145 Points ∼82% +7%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Core i7-4710HQ
Aorus X7 v2
7.11 Points ∼40%
Core i7-4700HQ
Aorus X7
6.9 Points ∼39% -3%
Core i7-4700MQ
Nexoc G728II
6.71 Points ∼38% -6%
Core i7-4800MQ
One K73-4N
7.22 Points ∼41% +2%
Core i7-4810MQ
Schenker XMG P724
7.36 Points ∼42% +4%
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Core i7-4710HQ
Aorus X7 v2
1.53 Points ∼77%
Core i7-4700HQ
Aorus X7
1.5 Points ∼75% -2%
Core i7-4700MQ
Nexoc G728II
1.5 Points ∼75% -2%
Core i7-4800MQ
One K73-4N
1.65 Points ∼83% +8%
Core i7-4810MQ
Schenker XMG P724
1.64 Points ∼82% +7%
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.53 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
7.11 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
60.12 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
136 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
659 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
105.21 fps
Help

Graphics Card

GPU-Infos
GPU-Infos

The graphics card is one of the biggest changes. The manufacturer upgraded from the GTX 765M to the brand new GTX 860M. Actually, “brand new” is only an adequate word for the Maxwell model of the DirectX 11 chip. Unlike most laptop companies, Aorus uses the Kepler edition, which is 10% slower. While it features more shader units (1,152 vs. 640), it has to make do with an old architecture and slower clock rates. Instead of 1029 to 1097 MHz the Kepler model only clocks at 797 to 915 MHz.

The memory clock of the 4096 MB GDDR5 VRAM is 2500 MHz, each. Due to the small interfaces (128-bit) the GTX 860M hardly profits from the big memory. At least, the clock rates are maintained in extreme situations. The test device continued to run at its full GPU Turbo speed after one hour of full load. 

An important unique feature of the Aorus X7 is its dual GPU configuration. As with the AMD counterpart called CrossFire, SLI also has disadvantages. Apart from higher power consumption, the enormous cooling requirement has to be mentioned here. Dual GPU notebooks are known to get rather loud and warm. Furthermore, they suffer from so-called micro stuttering. Due to varying intervals, the image could appear jerkier than with a single GPU despite better frame rates. In our review, we faced this problem in Far Cry 3 for example. While an average frame rate of 38 fps with maximum settings (Ultra, DX11, 4x MSAA) sounds decent, the game could not be enjoyed.

Another weakness is that multi GPU systems are driver dependent. If the system lacks a compatible SLI profile, the second graphics card is not advantageous and might even have a negative impact on performance. So, it is all the more annoying that none of the official Nvidia driver works on the Aorus X7 v2 so far (tried ForceWare 337.88 WHQL and 340.43 Beta). Although we replaced the preinstalled driver with a newer version downloaded from Aorus' homepage (333.11 instead of 333.04), the performance was rather poor in current games. Aorus has to optimize the driver support for games like GRID: AutosportWatch Dogs and Wolfenstein: The New Order to run well. Those who do not want to constantly bother about driver updates should buy a standard laptop.

GPU Performance

The X7 v2 exhibits excellent performance in the synthetic graphics benchmarks. The Radeon R9 M290X (5294 points @ One K56-4N) as well as the GeForce GTX 870M (4664 points @ One K73-4N) are far from achieving 5941 points in the Fire-Strike test of 3DMark 13. With this result, the SLI combo is on a level with the GTX 880M, which achieved just above 6000 points (Schenker XMG P704). Without the support of its twin the GTX 860M is about 50% slower (3174 points @ Schenker W504). The X7 v1 only achieved 4795 points, which is 19% less.

In Unigine Heaven 3.0, the differences are similarly noticeable. With 82.8 fps, the 17-incher is 2% faster than GTX 880M notebooks (81.2 fps) and 27% faster than GTX 870M laptops (65 fps). The Radeon R9 M290X performs just under a third worse (62 fps). With deactivated SLI, the system would achieve about 45 fps (~50 fps @Maxwell). All results considered, the Aorus X7 v2 is a high-end machine.

Unigine Heaven 3.0 - 1920x1080 DX 11, Normal Tessellation, High Shaders AA:Off AF:Off (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
82.8 fps ∼55%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
69.6 fps ∼46% -16%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
45.2 fps ∼30% -45%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Nexoc G728II
49.5 fps ∼33% -40%
AMD Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
62 fps ∼41% -25%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
65 fps ∼43% -21%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
81.2 fps ∼54% -2%
3DMark (2013) - 1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Graphics (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
5941 Points ∼47%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
4795 Points ∼38% -19%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
3174 Points ∼25% -47%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Nexoc G728II
3947 Points ∼31% -34%
AMD Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
5294 Points ∼42% -11%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
4664 Points ∼37% -21%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
6095 Points ∼48% +3%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
9840 Points ∼58%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
7991 Points ∼47% -19%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
5165 Points ∼31% -48%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Nexoc G728II
4969 Points ∼30% -50%
AMD Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
6817 Points ∼40% -31%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
7270 Points ∼43% -26%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
8690 Points ∼52% -12%
3DMark Vantage - 1280x1024 P GPU no PhysX (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
29844 Points ∼65%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
25579 Points ∼55% -14%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
17093 Points ∼37% -43%
GeForce GTX 860M Maxwell (332.60)
Nexoc G728II
18345 Points ∼40% -39%
AMD Radeon R9 M290X (13.151.0.0)
One K56-4N
24205 Points ∼52% -19%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
24065 Points ∼52% -19%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
29698 Points ∼64% 0%
3D Mark
3DMark Vantage27223 points
3DMark 118867 points
3DMark Ice Storm131117 points
3DMark Cloud Gate19048 points
3DMark Fire Strike4717 points
Help

Storage Devices

AS SSD Benchmark
AS SSD Benchmark

In mass storage, it even reached first place of all laptops we have reviewed so far. The RAID-0 connection of three LiteOn LMT-128M6M mSATA-SSDs does not only score points with good total capacity (384 GB), but also with excellent performance. 886 MB/s in the sequential write test of the AS SSD benchmark is just as tremendous at 1342 MB/s in the read test. By comparison, a single SSD cannot achieve more than 500 MB/s.

However, you will not usually notice the difference. Performance when opening files, installing or booting is the same without RAID since the triple SSD system cannot achieve new top values in the 4K tests. Regardless of the number of SSD drives, the access time is impressive. 0.09 ms and 0.063 ms, respectively, meet the premium claim.

In case free memory gets low after all, Aorus also incorporated a 1000 GB 2.5 inch HDD. The HGST Travelstar 7K1000 meets all expectations with up to 142 MB/s (CrystalDiskMark).

3x Lite-On LMT-128M6M (RAID 0)
Sequential Read: 1472 MB/s
Sequential Write: 929.5 MB/s
512K Read: 920.7 MB/s
512K Write: 836.3 MB/s
4K Read: 29.22 MB/s
4K Write: 65.21 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 555.8 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 545.1 MB/s

System Performance

PCMark 7 makes apparent that the system is balanced: 5917 points are a pipe dream for most notebooks. Apart from the Asus G750JZ-T4023H and the MSI GS70-2PEi71611, the Aorus also outperforms our test model of the Alienware 17 (between 5400 and 5800 points).

PC Mark
PCMark 75917 points
PCMark 8 Home v24046 points
PCMark 8 Creative v24136 points
PCMark 8 Work v24731 points
Help

Gaming Performance

If you do not consider games, which do not (yet) have a dual GPU profile, the SLI connection is about as fast as a GTX 880M. Apart from Crysis 3, which runs just under 17% faster on Nvidia's top model (1920x1080, very high, 2x SMAA), the maximum performance difference is 9%. Compared directly, the GeForce GTX 870M does not stand a chance and is about 20% slower. The difference to the X7 v1 is slightly lower: +16% for the successor.

Graphics Card

Total performance @Ultra-Setting

GeForce GTX 860M SLI

Basis (only games with SLI profile)

GeForce GTX 880M

+/-0%

GeForce GTX 765M SLI

-14%

GeForce GTX 870M

-19%

GeForce GTX 860M

-44%

A look at the single GTX 860M shows that Nvidia is capable of developing good drivers. Upon activating the second GPU, the performance increases by 80% on average. Apart from a few exceptions (Crysis 3, Watch Dogs), the Aorus X7 v2 can run all games with maximum details. There are even enough reserves for anti-aliasing. Currently, only SLI combos of GTX 870M or GTX 880M are faster.

GRID: Autosport - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
33.3 fps ∼27%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (337.88/340.43)
Schenker W504
42.6 (min: 35) fps ∼35% +28%
GeForce GTX 870M (337.88/340.43)
Schenker W504
62.3 (min: 53) fps ∼51% +87%
GeForce GTX 880M (337.88/340.43)
Schenker W504
76.8 (min: 64) fps ∼63% +131%
Watch Dogs - 1920x1080 Ultra Overall Quality, Ultra Textures AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
14.6 fps ∼27%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (337.88/340.43)
Schenker W504
18.9 (min: 14) fps ∼35% +29%
GeForce GTX 870M (337.88/340.43)
Schenker W504
26.8 (min: 22) fps ∼50% +84%
GeForce GTX 880M (337.88/340.43)
Schenker W504
32.9 (min: 28) fps ∼61% +125%
Wolfenstein: The New Order - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
32.2 fps ∼54%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (337.88/340.43)
Schenker W504
35.7 (min: 29) fps ∼60% +11%
GeForce GTX 870M (337.88/340.43)
Schenker W504
48.7 (min: 38) fps ∼81% +51%
GeForce GTX 880M (337.88/340.43)
Schenker W504
58.7 (min: 45) fps ∼98% +82%
Thief - 1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:FXAA & High SS AF:8x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
40.4 fps ∼51%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
22.6 fps ∼29% -44%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
31.9 fps ∼40% -21%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
40 fps ∼51% -1%
Call of Duty: Ghosts - 1920x1080 Extra / High / HBAO+ / No dynamic fur AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
46.3 fps ∼57%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
40.7 fps ∼50% -12%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
26.1 fps ∼32% -44%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
37.3 fps ∼46% -19%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
45.9 fps ∼56% -1%
Battlefield 4 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
49.7 fps ∼53%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
40.3 fps ∼43% -19%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
26.2 fps ∼28% -47%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
36.2 fps ∼39% -27%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
45.4 fps ∼49% -9%
Saints Row IV - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:8x MS AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
55 fps ∼66%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
48.8 fps ∼59% -11%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
31.1 fps ∼38% -43%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
43.4 fps ∼52% -21%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
52.4 fps ∼63% -5%
Dota 2 - 1920x1080 High / On, Render Quality: 100 % (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
107.4 fps ∼91%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
102 fps ∼86% -5%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
58.3 fps ∼49% -46%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
99.6 fps ∼84% -7%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
105.7 fps ∼90% -2%
GRID 2 - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4xMS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
81.8 fps ∼63%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
65.4 fps ∼50% -20%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
47.9 fps ∼37% -41%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
64.1 fps ∼49% -22%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
76.2 fps ∼59% -7%
Metro: Last Light - 1920x1080 Very High (DX11) AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
39.3 fps ∼49%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
33 fps ∼41% -16%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
23.7 fps ∼29% -40%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
34.4 fps ∼43% -12%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
42.6 fps ∼53% +8%
BioShock Infinite - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF) (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
61.8 fps ∼53%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
57.4 fps ∼49% -7%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
35.9 fps ∼31% -42%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
52.2 fps ∼45% -16%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
65.6 fps ∼56% +6%
Tomb Raider - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:FX AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
80.6 fps ∼54%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
64.2 fps ∼43% -20%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
43 fps ∼29% -47%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
59.8 fps ∼40% -26%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
74.2 fps ∼50% -8%
Crysis 3 - 1920x1080 Very High Preset AA:2xSM AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
28.3 fps ∼47%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
23.7 fps ∼39% -16%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
18.4 fps ∼31% -35%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
26.7 fps ∼44% -6%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
33.2 fps ∼55% +17%
Far Cry 3 - 1920x1080 DX11 Ultra Preset (HDAO, Enhanced Alpha To Coverage) AA:4x MS (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
38.4 fps ∼58%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
30.7 fps ∼46% -20%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
20.3 fps ∼31% -47%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
28.4 fps ∼43% -26%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
35.7 fps ∼54% -7%
Hitman: Absolution - 1920x1080 Ultra Preset AA:4xMS AF:16x (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
35.8 fps ∼48%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
29.5 fps ∼40% -18%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
19.6 fps ∼26% -45%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
27.9 fps ∼38% -22%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
38 fps ∼51% +6%
Guild Wars 2 - 1920x1080 All Maximum / On AA:FX (sort by value)
GeForce GTX 860M SLI (333.11)
Aorus X7 v2
45.2 fps ∼62%
GeForce GTX 765M SLI (332.28)
Aorus X7
41.8 fps ∼57% -8%
GeForce GTX 860M Kepler (332.35)
Schenker W504
24.8 fps ∼34% -45%
GeForce GTX 870M (332.35)
One K73-4N
34.6 fps ∼47% -23%
GeForce GTX 880M (332.35)
Schenker XMG P704
43.8 fps ∼60% -3%
low med.high ultra
Guild Wars 2 (2012) 12467.545.2fps
Hitman: Absolution (2012) 6661.453.935.8fps
Far Cry 3 (2012) 111100.984.938.4fps
Crysis 3 (2013) 130.9108.583.728.3fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 384.8275.516780.6fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 223.4185162.661.8fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 95.486.56239.3fps
GRID 2 (2013) 206.7149.6133.981.8fps
Dota 2 (2013) 119111.9107.4fps
Saints Row IV (2013) 87.874.464.255fps
Battlefield 4 (2013) 172.5153120.849.7fps
Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013) 102.296.873.246.3fps
Thief (2014) 75.567.564.240.4fps
Wolfenstein: The New Order (2014) 606049.632.2fps
Watch Dogs (2014) 84.36018.914.6fps
GRID: Autosport (2014) 253.6146.16833.3fps

Emissions

System Noise

Does the idea of a slim dual GPU notebook make you shake your head? Well, your worries are not completely unfounded. Although the two fans stay comfortably quiet while idling (only the HDD is audible), simple tasks like MS Office, videos or surfing are accompanied by an audible noise (~33 dB(A)). Sometimes it even increases to the 40 dB(A) range, which is quite absurd during normal Windows usage. 

Under load (3D applications, games...) the X7 v2 could replace a hair dryer. While we measured 44 to 49 dB(A) in our first 3DMark sequence, the noise increased to 49 to 53 dB(A) in the second run with an average of 52.8 dB(A) (46.3 dB(A) @ X7 v1). This is even high for a gaming laptop. The recently reviewed MSI GS70 shows that other manufacturers also struggle with noise: 49.6 dB(A) is also very loud and drowns out the sound effects of many games (unless you are using a headset).

The fact remains that cooling such powerful hardware is only possible with big trade-offs. Currently, Razer is the only manufacturer who has managed to produce a fast, slim and quiet gaming notebook (Blade 14). By the way, all measurements were done with the fan setting “Auto” (can be changed via Command & Control).

Noise Level

Idle 29.0 / 31.4 / 33.0 dB(A)
HDD 32.0 dB(A)
Load 52.8 / 53.2 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stresstest
Stresstest

The Aorus X7 v2 also lost points in temperature. The case surfaces get surprisingly warm just idling. Our thermometer displayed an average of 39 °C (102.2 °F) on the top side and just less than 40 °C (104 °F) on the underside. MSI is much better in cooling its GS70 (~28 °C; 82.4 °F).

In 3D mode, the two notebooks perform quite similarly. Both reach above 50 °C (122 °F) after one hour of stress test. In some parts, the case even exceeded 60 °C (140 °F). Hence, sensitive users should steer clear of this device. Longer gaming sessions might be uncomfortable. We would also advise against gaming on the lap.

It is by no means better under the hood. Quite the contrary: Although our stress test is not necessarily a realistic scenario, a maximum of 89 °C (192.2 °F) for the SLI connection and up to 98 °C (208.4 °F) for the processor (according to the CPUID HWMonitor) does not hint of perfect cooling. The MSI GS70 performed even worse. Its Nvidia chip exceeded 90 °C (194 °F) despite throttling. Thicker high-end notebooks with more cooling space tend to perform better in this aspect (for example the Asus G750JZ).

Max. Load
 55.3 °C56.7 °C59.7 °C 
 50.0 °C51.4 °C51.0 °C 
 44.7 °C47.3 °C43.2 °C 
Maximum: 59.7 °C
Average: 51 °C
59.0 °C64.2 °C62.6 °C
52.5 °C54.0 °C52.6 °C
44.0 °C44.4 °C41.3 °C
Maximum: 64.2 °C
Average: 52.7 °C
Power Supply (max.)  54.6 °C | Room Temperature 25 °C | Voltcraft IR-900

Speakers

As far as we can tell, the sound system is identical with the predecessor's.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

With active SLI, the power consumption is significantly higher than an Optimus notebook's. While the MSI GS70-2PEi71611 needs between 6.2 and 27.3 Watts while idling, the Aorus X7 v2 takes 24.4 to 35.9 Watts. The predecessor required a similar amount of energy with 26.0 to 33.6 Watts.

The difference to the competitor from MSI is not that huge in 3DMark 06. 137.5 instead of 123.5 Watts is acceptable in view of the higher performance. With an average of 130.4 Watts, the Aorus X7 v1 comes in between the two. Good news regarding the power adapter: Although we measured up to 229 Watts at the wall socket, the 200-Watt adapter had no issues. The 180-Watt power adapter stopped working during the stress test.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.6 Watt
Idle 24.4 / 31.4 / 35.9 Watt
Load 137.5 / 229.2 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Life

Reader's Test
maximum battery life (Reader's Test)
Classic Test
minimum battery life (Classic Test)

To start with, the first X7 model did not have an especially good battery life. 104 minutes (Classic Test @ Battery Eater) and 185 minutes (Reader's Test @ Battery) are anything but overwhelming. Due to the more powerful hardware, the X7 v2 runtimes are even less. 82 up to a maximum of 156 minutes are only sufficient for very short trips. The GS70 from MSI performs better. Thanks to its graphics switching, the 17-incher lasts up to seven hours (4 hours during WLAN surfing with medium brightness). The battery life should be longer without SLI.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
2h 36min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 22min

Verdict

Aorus X7 v2
Aorus X7 v2

Did Aorus produce the slimmest and lightest dual GPU notebook with the X7 v2? Probably yes. However, as expected, the exciting concept also involves disadvantages like high temperatures and loud noise in 3D mode. The manufacturer should also improve the display (mediocre values) and the sound system. More quality is to be expected for a price of 2000 Euros (~$2687).

There are also smaller flaws in build quality. As with the Gigabyte P34G v2 and P35W v2, the keyboard does not attach homogeneously to the surrounding case. With a closer look, the gaps between the parts are uneven at the edges, too.

It is up to you whether you consider SLI useful. While the GTX 860M duo is sometimes faster than the GTX 880M, which could not be used in such a slim notebook anyway, it also relies on the very latest drivers. Without a compatible SLI profile, the second graphics chip does not have an effect. The high power consumption when idle and other drawbacks (micro stuttering...) will discourage many customers from buying. We are still convinced that a single graphics card is the better solution for gamers. In addition, we would like to see a matte touchpad and a smaller power adapter. 

Certainly, the Aorus X7 v2 also has its advantages. The highlights include an attractive look, which is neither extravagant nor boring. Many interfaces and the backlit keyboard (macro keys with five functions each) are also pros. In general, the equipment is very extensive. By that we do not only mean the case, but especially the hardware. Three mSATA-SSDs in RAID-0: Who would have thought it a few years ago? However, it is controversial whether such a combination makes sense. The bottom line is that one Solid State Drive would be sufficient, too. According to the author, the RAID solution has primarily been used for marketing purposes.

Conclusion: Despite the mentioned weaknesses the X7 v2 is worth being considered. Aorus is nearly alone with its approach. Individualistic gamers who like to experiment with technology should get their money's worth. We can only hope that it is also possible to get hold of the device. Currently, the availability is still low. A review of the promising X3 Plus brother is already planned. 

Comment this article:

In Review: Aorus X7 v2. Test model provided by Freaks 4U Gaming GmbH
In Review: Aorus X7 v2. Test model provided by Freaks 4U Gaming GmbH

Specifications

Aorus X7 v2

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM87 (Lynx Point)
:: Memory
16384 MB, 2x 8 GB SO-DIMM DDR3-RAM PC3-14200 (1866), 2 of 4 slots occupied, max. 32 GB
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 860M SLI - 2x 4096 MB, Core: 797 MHz, Memory: 2500 MHz, GDDR5, ForceWare 333.11
:: Display
17.3 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, AU Optronics B173HW02 V1 (AUO219D), TN LED, Full HD, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
3x Lite-On LMT-128M6M (RAID 0), 384 GB mSATA-SSDs + HGST Travelstar 7K1000 (HTS721010A9E630), 7200 rpm, 1000 GB HDD. Slots: 3x mSATA & 1x 2.5
:: Soundcard
Realtek ALC282 @ Intel Lynx Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
2 USB 2.0, 3 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Kopfhörer (S/PDIF), Mikrofon, Card Reader: SD, Sensors: brightness, Surround-Port (HDMI)
:: Networking
Qualcomm Killer e2200 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 (a b g n ac), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 23 x 428 x 305
:: Weight
3.24 kg Power Supply: 0.81 kg
:: Battery
73.26 Wh Lithium-Polymer
:: Price
2000 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8.1 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 1.0 MP, Speakers: 2 speakers + 2 subwoofers, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, power adapter: 200 Watt, cleaning cloth, warranty card, CyberLink PowerDVD 10, Microsoft Office 365 Trial, Windows Essentials 2012, several tools from the manufacturer, 24 Months Warranty

 

[+] compare
Since the case is identical to the first model ...
Since the case is identical to the first model ...
... most of the images are from the previous test.
... most of the images are from the previous test.
The most important changes are under the hood.
The most important changes are under the hood.
The notebook looks like a mixture from MSI GS70 and Asus G750.
The notebook looks like a mixture from MSI GS70 and Asus G750.
Aorus largely used matte surfaces.
Aorus largely used matte surfaces.
Only the touchpad is high-gloss.
Only the touchpad is high-gloss.
The keyboard does not attach perfectly with the surrounding case.
The keyboard does not attach perfectly with the surrounding case.
The underside is fixed with twelve Torx screws (size T6).
The underside is fixed with twelve Torx screws (size T6).
The inside is similar to an ultrabook's
The inside is similar to an ultrabook's
The HDD runs at 7200 rpm
The HDD runs at 7200 rpm
The battery is connected to the mainboard with a cable.
The battery is connected to the mainboard with a cable.
Two of four RAM slots are still free.
Two of four RAM slots are still free.
The manufacturer incorporated not just two,...
The manufacturer incorporated not just two,...
... but even three mSATA SSDs (RAID 0).
... but even three mSATA SSDs (RAID 0).
During 3D tasks the cooling system reaches its limits.
During 3D tasks the cooling system reaches its limits.
The speakers are on the front side.
The speakers are on the front side.
There is a brightness sensor beside the webcam.
There is a brightness sensor beside the webcam.
The power button glows white.
The power button glows white.
Aorus is a trademark from Gigabyte.
Aorus is a trademark from Gigabyte.
You must first get used to the Macro field.
You must first get used to the Macro field.
The WASD keys are especially marked.
The WASD keys are especially marked.
That's how it should be: fully-fledged number block + properly sized cursor keys.
That's how it should be: fully-fledged number block + properly sized cursor keys.
The keyboard light features two levels of brightness.
The keyboard light features two levels of brightness.
Again, the ClickPad could not convince us.
Again, the ClickPad could not convince us.
The speakers are hidden beneath the grille.
The speakers are hidden beneath the grille.
HDMI and mini DisplayPort are available for digital image transmission.
HDMI and mini DisplayPort are available for digital image transmission.
The case is surprisingly slim.
The case is surprisingly slim.
Some of the USB ports are on the rear side.
Some of the USB ports are on the rear side.
The finish also tends to peel off in the new model.
The finish also tends to peel off in the new model.
Hardly any notebook comes with that many video outs.
Hardly any notebook comes with that many video outs.
The 17-incher is delivered in a stylish box.
The 17-incher is delivered in a stylish box.
The power adapter is 200 Watts instead of 180.
The power adapter is 200 Watts instead of 180.

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Links

Compare Prices

Pro

+Performance on par with the GTX 880M
+Underside can be completely removed
+Many interfaces
+Three mSATA SSDs in RAID
+High system performance
+Aluminum surfaces
+Backlit keyboard
+Useful software
+Many features
+Nice look
+Slim case
+Macro keys
 

Cons

-Display results could be better (no IPS)
-Currently only the graphics driver from Aorus can be used
-Dual GPU weaknesses such as micro stuttering
-GTX 860M not based on Maxwell
-Smaller flaws in build quality
-Gets very loud
-CPU throttling when full load is applied
-Battery can only be reached indirectly
-Very high temperatures
-Sensitive touchpad
-Low battery life
-Bulky power adapter

Shortcut

What we like

The amount of hardware inside a 2 cm high case? Respect!

What we would like to see

The battery life is very low without graphics switching.

What surprises us

Aorus only used the Kepler version of the GTX 860M. 

The competition

Slim 17-inch gamers like the MSI GS70.

Rating

Aorus X7 v2
07/22/2014 v4
Florian Glaser

Chassis
78 / 98 → 80%
Keyboard
81%
Pointing Device
56%
Connectivity
73 / 91 → 80%
Weight
55 / 66 → 80%
Battery
68%
Display
78%
Games Performance
98%
Application Performance
94%
Temperature
58 / 95 → 61%
Noise
64 / 90 → 71%
Audio
55%
Average
72%
80%
Gaming *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Aorus X7 v2 Notebook Review Update
Author: Florian Glaser, 2014-07-25 (Update: 2014-07-30)