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

The Maxwell Architecture, Re-Introduced

Gigabyte’s gaming notebook brand Aorus knew it'd reach a captive audience when company representatives first contacted us about a new notebook a month ago. Hot on the heels of Nvidia’s second-generation Maxwell desktop GPU, rumors of the upcoming notebook version were nothing short of amazing. Better still, they claimed they’d be able to deliver a sample by the end of September, ahead of Nvidia's introduction! We were more than happy to accept.

Then Aorus informed us of a delay. Without a mobile platform to test and Nvidia's launch day quickly approaching, we contacted all of our favorite boutique builders only to discover that everyone was facing the same issue. The earliest anyone would receive their preliminary units was October 7th. The same day Nvidia was making its announcement. Aorus was at least able to deliver on the sixth.

PlatformGigabyte X7V3: Intel BGA1364, HM87 Express, Dual BGA Graphics, FW D02T07 (10/01/2014)
CPUIntegrated Intel Core i7-4870HQ (Crystal Well), 2.5 - 3.7 GHz, 6MB shared L3 cache, 47W TDP
RAM2x Crucial BLS8G3N18AES4 DDR3-1866 C10-10-10-30 SO-DIMM 2x 8GB (16GB Total)
Graphics2x Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M: 924-1038 MHz, 3GB GDDR5-5000 Dual BGA, Integrated SLI Bridge
Display17.3" 16:9 FHD(1920x1080) anti-glare LED backlight LCD
WebcamGeneric 720p webcam
AudioRealtek ALC892 with Creative Sound Blaster Cinema
SecurityKensington Security Slot
Hard Drive
Optical DriveNone
Media DriveRTS5227 SD/SDHC/SDXC flash media interface
Networking
Wireless LANIntel 7260 PCIe, Dual-Band 802.11ac (867Mb/s) Wi-Fi/BT 4.0 Combo
Wireless PANIntegrated Bluetooth 4.0 Transceiver on Wireless Combo Card
Gigabit NetworkKiller E2200 10/100/1000Mb/s Ethernet
IEEE-1394None
TelephonyNone
Peripheral Interfaces
USB2 x USB 2.0, 3 x USB 3.0
Expansion CardNot Available
HDDUSB-only
AudioHeadphone, Microphone
Video2 x HDMI, VGA, Mini DisplayPort
Power & Weight
AC Adapter200W Power Brick, 100-240V AC to 19V DC
Battery~16V, 73.26Wh Internal
WeightNotebook 6.9lbs, AC Adapter 1.8lbs, Total 8.7 pounds
Software
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows 8.1, OEM
Service
WarrantyTwo years labor, Two years parts
Price$2599

Dancing with the partner we brought at least allowed us to post some benchmark scores in our launch-day coverage. But there wasn’t any way we’d be able to post a complete product review in a mere 24 hours. Or even 48 hours. Our first problem was that the Aorus X7 Pro would be an SLI rig, and we didn’t have any GeForce GTX 970M single-GPU data to compare. And then there was this:

One of the mobile Maxwell architecture's most interesting features, BatteryBoost, doesn’t work in SLI. This technology replaced previous fixed-frequency battery-operated modes with an algorithm that bases clock rate on a target frame rate. By allowing a single mobile GPU to clock down to the lowest frequency capable of sustaining the target, it has the potential to save even more energy than the old fixed-frequency methods. Conversely, the same feature also allows the GPU to spin up much higher than previously allowed from battery mode, in order to reach the target frame rate when the going gets tough.

Our previous tests showed that in real-world gaming scenarios, BatteryBoost would act as a performance booster more often than as a battery-saver. Improvement claims for this technology demanded that we test the X7 Pro both in SLI and non-SLI graphics modes, and in both AC and DC power modes. By the time all of that extra testing was finished, we'd end up with a full notebook review. And so we have!