Aorus updates its X3 and X3 Plus gaming laptops with GTX 970M graphics
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The Taiwanese company Aorus has revealed updated models of their smallest gaming laptops, the X3 v3 (13.3") and the X3 Plus v3 (13.9"). They now come equipped with nVIDIA's GTX 970M graphics card, which is an expected change from the GTX 870M in the previous models. The amount of GDDR5 video memory remains unchanged at 6 GB, considerably exceeding the usual 3-4 GB offered with the GTX 970M by most competing manufacturers. The other notable change is the storage: instead of two M.2 slots there are now three mSATA slots. The capacities of offered SSDs, however, remain the same (128, 256 or 512 GB) and RAID 0 configuration is still available. There is no room for a conventional hard drive or a DVD/Blu-ray reader inside the thin and compact chassis - instead, Aorus utilizes the available space for a powerful cooling solution with two fans and a large 73.26 Wh battery.
Nothing changed in terms of available ports and communications, either. Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 are provided by an Intel wireless module while Qualcomm's Killer E2200 gigabit Ethernet module takes care of wired networking. Three USB 3.0 ports are installed as well as an SD cardreader and two 3.5-mm audio jacks (audio-in and audio-out with S/PDIF support). Connection to extermal monitors is available via a full-size HDMI port or a mini-DisplayPort, the latter capable of Ultra HD (3840x2160 pixels, "4K") output at 60 Hz. The laptops' own screens offer very high resolutions for their size: while the 13.3-inch X3 is only available with QHD (2560x1440 pixels), the 13.9-inch X3 Plus can be purchased with either QHD or QHD+ (3200x1800 pixels). The QHD+ panel is supposed to cover 72% of the NTSC color gamut and offer 400 cd/m² maximum brightness and very high color accuracy as well as wide viewing angles thanks to the underlying IGZO technology. While many demanding games won't be rendered smoothly at such high resolutions and high DPI will inevitably lead to scaling issues in poorly optimized applications (such as EA's Origin - see our MSI GS60 4K review), the 16:9 aspect ratio should permit flawless scaling to Full HD for better gaming performance while the full resolution will remain useful for sharper fonts and images in high-DPI compatible applications and playback of high resolution videos.
Intel's Core i7-4710HQ is the only processor option available to the buyers this time. Nvidia Optimus is enabled, allowing the CPU's HD 4600 internal graphics to take over for non-gaming tasks. 2 SO-DIMM slots are available, supporting up to 16 GB DDR3L RAM, which should be enough for any games, including those expected to be released within the next two years.
Both laptops weigh about 1.87 kg (4.12 lbs) and are 23 mm (0.9 inch) thin, making them pretty easy to carry around. While the small form-factor didn't allow Aorus to install a numeric pad, five macro keys are located to the left of the keyboard. The casing is made of aluminium, promising high stability, but appears to be coated with the same fingerprint magnet matte finish as before. A 2-year warranty is offered by Aorus, the first year of which is valid internationally. Pricing will depend on the chosen configuration: for example, the X3 Plus v3 with a QHD+ screen, 16 GB of RAM and two 256 GB SSDs will cost $2200 in the US, while models with a QHD panel and/or less RAM and storage space should be available for several hundred dollars less. Those interested in the updated X3s should be able to find them in stores by February.