Gigabyte Aero 15 Classic XA review: Intel Core i7-9750H vs. Core i7-8750H
Battery Life, Thermal Performance & Conclusion
How good is the battery life?
The Aero 15 Classic XA's saving grace continues to be its absolutely stellar battery life. That's something you can't ever take away from Gigabyte's Aero 15 series, and it has been a class leader for the past few years. It lasted over five hours in PCMark 8 Home's battery life test, which is pretty impressive.
The large battery, good power efficiency, slim and compact design, all come together to produce a gaming laptop that has consistently topped our portability index. The index is intended to take into account things like chassis dimensions, weight, and battery life, and the Aero 15 Classic XA remains king of the hill in this department.
Does it run hot?
Unfortunately, the Gigabyte Aero 15 Classic XA does get pretty hot. The palm rests do get quite warm to touch, and I think you should definitely game in an air-conditioned room.
With that said, the previous Aero 15Y v9 also had some issues with heat and thermal throttling, so I also want to talk a bit more about thermal management here. Removing the bottom lid reveals two fans and two heat pipes, in addition to easily accessible RAM and M.2 slots, which is a nice plus point in terms of upgradeability. However, it looks like both the CPU and GPU share the two heat pipes, so there doesn't seem to be independent cooling for either. And as you'll see from the performance numbers in the next section, I think the laptop could do with an upgrade in terms of cooling.
It's difficult to say what the problem here is, but one thing that stands out compared to other notebooks like the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S and Lenovo Legion Y740 is the number of exhaust vents. The Aero 15 Classic XA has large intake vents at the bottom, but only one exhaust vent above the keyboard. To be fair, the Razer Blade 15 also doesn't have a ton of vents, but it makes up for that with separate heat pipes for both the CPU and GPU.
That said, heat appears mostly concentrated around the power button of the notebook, and the surrounding area frequently gets searing hot, sometimes to the point where you can't hold a finger to it for more than a couple of seconds.
I recorded the peak CPU and GPU temperatures after running 40 loops of 3DMark's Fire Strike Extreme stress test, and the numbers actually don't appear too alarming in and of themselves. However, compared to the other notebooks, these numbers are actually pretty high. For example, while the Lenovo Legion Y740 also had a peak CPU temperature of 79°C, it had a markedly lower GPU temperature of just 63°C. Similarly, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S had a higher GPU temperature of 86°C, but its CPU temperatures were conversely quite a bit lower at 69°C.
These numbers don't say anything alone, but after you look at the performance numbers on the previous page, it's possible that the combination of high numbers on both the CPU and GPU is what's affecting its performance potential. There is no independent cooling for either the CPU or GPU, and this could be a side effect of that.
Conclusion: A good laptop with serious flaws
The Gigabyte Aero 15 Classic XA reeks of unfulfilled promise. It's got an attractive, tasteful design, gorgeous 240Hz display, and a compact and slim aluminum chassis. The hardware is top-notch as well, with the latest 9th-generation hexa-core Core i7 chip, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, and internal components from reputable vendors. What's more, battery life is truly excellent, and there are few laptops that even come close.
But all that doesn't mean much if the Aero 15 Classic XA can't show up where it really matters, which is to churn out excellent numbers in games. I'm still really disappointed as to how the laptop performed. When I reviewed the Aero 15Y v9, I thought that maybe cramming an overclockable chip and a GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q into such a slim chassis was just too ambitious a configuration, and that a slightly less powerful hardware combination would do better.
Well, the Aero 15 Classic XA is precisely that laptop. There's no overclockable chip and the GPU is a GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q and not a 2080-class GPU. Still, performance is behind the curve, even when compared against laptops with the older Core i7-8750H processor, which is pretty unacceptable.
Taken on its own, the Aero 15 Classic XA is great. It's plenty fast and will probably run any game at 1080p. At S$3,699, it's also quite reasonably priced for its specifications. It's only when you compare it against other similarly configured options that you realize what you're missing.