Aorus X3 Plus V5 Review: Big Things Come in Small Packages

by Reads (6,342)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Software & Support
      • 9
      • Upgrade Capabilities
      • 6
      • Usability
      • 8
      • Design
      • 9
      • Performance
      • 10
      • Features
      • 9
      • Price/Value Rating
      • 9
      • Total Score:
      • 8.57
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Portable attractive design
    • Strong Performance
    • Beautiful Display
  • Cons

    • Awkward touchpad placement
    • Shallow touchpad compression

Quick Take

With an alluring travel-friendly design, eye-catching display and powerful specs the Aorus X3 Plus V5 is one of the best ultra thin gaming laptops on the market.


Editor's choiceAorus describes the X3 Plus V5 as “the world’s most powerful 13.9-inch laptop”. They’re absolutely correct. However, Aorus is also the only 13.9-inch gaming laptop. But don’t let that detract from the notebook’s prowess as a gaming giant. While we may not have any 13.9-inch laptops to compare the X3 against the device has no issues squaring up with many 14-inch, 15-inch and even 17-inch gaming notebooks.

The Aorus X3 Plus V5, like other of the manufacturer’s devices, packs a ludicrous amount of power into an impossibly small package. Equipped with a sixth generation Skylake processor and Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M GPU the X3 delivers solid performance and a portable 13-inch package. Add in the gorgeous display and you have one of the most attractive ultra slim gaming laptops on the market.

Build and Design

Aorus X3 Plus V5 backThe Aorus X3 Plus V5 shares a similar look to many of its larger counterparts. The slim black full aluminum chassis imbues the sophistication and ferocity of an expensive sports car, with slow moving curves and sharp cutting angles. While many gaming laptops can be discounted for their loud gaudy appearances, there’s an elegance to the X3’s design. It still looks the part, powerful and strong, but it’s tempered. The Aorus X3 Plus V5 feels just as at home in the meeting room, as it does on the floor of a gaming convention.

With its compact dimensions and large keyboard, there’s little room for much else on the Aorus X3’s deck. The relatively large touchpad takes up much of the remaining space. In fact — similar to the Lenovo Ideapad 700 — it’s not uncommon to have your thumb or wrist drag across the pad when typing, or using WASD controls. However, the X3’s fumble is a bit more forgivable given the size of the device. It’s a compromise worth making, the benefit of a spacious keyboard easily outweighs the slightly narrow wrist rests.

Aorus X3 Plus V5 front - CopyArous ditched its signature logo power button; placing a small rectangular button along the right side of the chassis. However, the logo remains on the front and center of the display lid in all its chrome glory. The chrome insignia beautifully catches the light to produce a faint shimmer.

While the Aorus X3 Plus V5 is incredibly thin for a gaming device, its profile is a bit thicker thanks to the sizable heat vents sitting at the rear of the chassis. Measuring 12.9 x 10.4 x 0.9 -inches and weighing 3.9 pounds the Aorus X3 Plus V5 is both thinner and lighter than the competing Alienware 13 (4.5 pounds).

Ports

 

The Aorus X3 Plus V5 manages to fit a wide array of ports into its compact chassis. The right side features two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader. The left side houses a Mini Displayport, an HDMI connector, a USB 3.0 port, a microphone jack, a headphone jack and a USB 3.1 Type-C port. Finally, the rear of the device offers a power adapter and an Ethernet connector.

Aorus X3 Plus V5 ports left - CopyAorus X3 Plus V5 ports right - Copy

In addition to the ports on the device, the Aorus X3’s power brick features a USB DC jack. It’s a small feature, but one that could feel incredibly valuable when faced with limited power outlets while traveling. Considering power bricks on gaming notebooks can be quite massive, it’s nice to have another reason to carry this one around.

Display and Speakers

The Aorus X3 Plus V5 houses a beautiful QHD (3200 x 1800) IPS matte display. The 372 nit panel with a 262 PPI (pixels per inch) offers superb visibility with crisp detailed images perfect for reading or watching media. But what really impressed NBR was the rich vibrant color contrast. The X3 perfectly captured the matted sanguine blood stains against Big Boss’ black dusted war fatigues in “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” (MGS V).

Aorus X3 Plus V5 screen forward - CopyAorus X3 Plus V5 screen front

Aorus X3 Plus V5 screen sideAorus X3 Plus V5 screen back

The X3 not only offers an excellent picture but manages to maintain it under nearly any situation thanks to the matte finish. Viewing angels hold up well past 150 degrees without any noticeable distortion or color loss. The display fairs just as well under heavy and direct lighting. Even when faced directly under my desk lamp, image quality remained pristine.

The X3 sports one of the best panels we’ve seen on a lightweight gaming device.

The speaker vents are located on the bottom of the chassis. Despite their placement, the X3 still manages to produce audio capable of comfortably filling a small sized room. Audio quality is pristine, as NBR was impressed by the laptop’s ability to accurately depict the classical duet Histoire du Tango III Nightclub 1960 by Duo Sonidos. The X3 does lack a subwoofer though, so while the quality is near unblemished, the device does lack a certain tangible quality, especially when recreating sound effects in games. 

Keyboard and Touchpad

Aorus X3 Plus V5 keyboard - CopyThe X3 features a Chiclet-style keyboard complete with function keys and five macro keys along the left hand side. The squared black plastic keys are smooth to the touch. Key travel is fantastic given the device’s relatively thin 0.9-inch profile. Feedback offers consistent tactile feedback as keys quickly snaps back into place after being struck. The X3 offers 5 different macro layers. The different layers are designated by different colors, with five different layers, totaling 25 different macro keys.

Located below the keyboard is a large glossy touchpad. The pad is firm to the touch and braised along the bottom section for dedicated mouse clicks. The mouse keys are shallow with limited feedback, making it hard to know when they’ve actually been compressed. The touchpad corresponds to swipes clicks and multi-finger gestures accurately without delay. Despite the solid performance the hard surface and limited feedback does make using the touchpad uncomfortable for long periods of time.

Performance

Aorus packs some serious heat under the hood. The X3 houses an impressive array of specs, that allow the laptop to go toe to toe with many 17-inch desktop replacements. Aorus is able to do this in large part due to their custom builds. While that’s great for offering consumers strong performance in a thin form factor, it does usually mean that most Aorus devices offer limited configurable options, and the X3 Plus V5 is no different in that regard.

The unit that NBR tested was outfitted with a Skylake 2.6GHz sixth generation Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU, with 16GB of DDR4 memory, on board Intel HD Graphics 530, discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M GPU with 6GB of GDDR5 and a 512GB SSD. The laptop as built is currently selling for $2,200 from various online retailers (at the time this review was written). There’s not much for users to change, but those looking shave off a few bucks can scale down the RAM to 8GB and the on board storage to a 256GB SSD.

As the impressive spec loadout infers, the Aorus X3 Plus V5 is powerhouse. Not only for a mobile 13.9-inch device, but for any gaming laptop. The X3 is a leader among other ultra slim gaming devices and is capable of standing toe to toe with many 17-inch desktop replacements. The X3 makes short work of everyday tasks. While testing the device NBR was able to run 20 active Google Chrome tabs, along with two HD video streams, all while streaming Spotify in the background without any drop in performance. The lightning fast 2.6GHz Skylake CPU and responsive 512GB SSD make the X3 well suited for more demanding processes such compiling programs, video encoding or complicated spreadsheet calculations. The X3 boasts just as strong graphical performance with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M. Video editing and playing the latest games at high resolutions will be no issue for the Aorus X3 Plus V5. The X3 was capable of running Metal Gear Solid V on high settings at 1080p recording a solid 60fps.

Technical specifications for our Aorus X3 Plus V5 review unit:

  • Aorus X3 Plus V5 game - CopyMicrosoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)
  • 13.9-inch QHD (3200 x 1800) IPS display
  • Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU 2.6GHz
  • Intel HD Graphics 530
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M GDDR5 6GB
  • 16GB of DDR4
  • 512GB SSD
  • Killer LAN
  • 802.11 a/c
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Dimensions: 12.9 x 10.4 x 0.9 -inches
  • Weight: 3.9 pounds
  • Price, $2,200

Benchmarks

wPrime processor comparison results (listed in seconds – lower scores mean better performance):

Aorus X3 Plus V5 wprime

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):

Aorus X3 Plus V5 pcm 8 h

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):

Aorus X3 Plus V5 pcm 8 w

3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):

Aorus X3 Plus V5 3dm 11

3DMark Fire Strike is a newer benchmark measuring overall graphics card performance for visually demanding games (higher scores mean better performance):

Aorus X3 Plus V5 firestrike

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance tests:

Aorus X3 Plus V5 CDM

Heat and Noise

The Aorus X3 Plus V5 utilizes dual heat pipes and a pair of 50mm fans. The laptop offers silent, normal and gaming fan control settings to match the user’s workload. However, even in silent mode the fans are distinctly audible. But that’s all worth it considering the cooling system is able to keep the device relatively cool. Heating has at times been the Achilles heel of the Aorus brand, but the X3 suffers no such affliction. The device still heats up to the point where using it as a laptop may be uncomfortable, even when under typical processing loads. But the thermals will never cause issues with performance or threaten the durability of the notebooks impressive list of innards.

Battery Life

To test battery life, we used Futuremark’s PowerMark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback workloads. The test is far more strenuous than typical web browsing alone, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate high-stress usage. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than what you’ll experience just checking Facebook or watching Netflix.

Powermark battery life benchmark test results listed in minutes (higher scores indicate longer battery life):

Aorus X3 Plus V5 powermark

Gaming laptops typically aren’t know for their battery lives but the Aorus X3 Plus V5 managed to score an impressive 3 hours and 36 minutes before shutting down. While that’s not incredible for a consumer level device, it is more than respectable by gaming standards. The longer than average battery life is in part due to the sizable 73 Wh battery. Nvidia’s Optimus technology also played a part, helping the device to seamlessly switch between its dedicated GPU when graphical performance is needed and the far less power-hungry integrated GPU when it’s not. Optimus won’t mean much when playing games, but the tech will help to extend the battery life when running less demanding applications.

Conclusion

Editor's choiceNBR knows a device is something special when we struggle to list “cons” at the conclusion of a review. The Aorus X3 Plus V5 is one of those devices. With an attractive portable design, top-notch performance, a solid keyboard and a beautiful display this device delivers on almost every front. It’s a bit expensive at $2,200, but it’s well worth the price tag given its high quality design and powerful specs.

The Aorus X3 Plus V5 is one of the best portable gaming laptops on the market.

Pros:

  • Portable attractive design
  • Strong Performance
  • Beautiful Display

Cons:

  • Awkward touchpad placement
  • Shallow touchpad compression



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