Aorus 5 (GTX 1650/i7-9750H) Gaming Laptop Review


The Aorus 5 is Gigabyte’s new entry level
gaming laptop, in this detailed review we’ll
find out what’s on offer and see if it’s
a laptop you should consider buying.
I’ve got NA version of the Aorus 5, so there’s
an Intel i7-9750H CPU, Nvidia GTX 1650 graphics,
16gb of memory in dual channel, a 144Hz 1080p
screen and 512gb M.2 NVMe SSD and 1TB hard
drive.
For network connectivity it’s got gigabit
ethernet, 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 5.
The GA version is also available with GTX
1050 graphics instead, you can find updated
prices linked in the description.
The lid is matte black plastic with a couple
of extrusions and Aorus logo with a mirrored
finish. The interior was also matte black
and it seemed to be some sort of metal. There
were no sharp corners or edges anywhere, and
overall build quality seemed decent.
The weight is listed at 2.15kg, and mine was
a bit under this. With the 180 watt power
brick and cables for charging included the
total weight increases to 2.7kg.
The dimensions of the Aorus 5 are 35.9cm in
width, 25.3cm in depth, and 2.3cm in height.
This smaller footprint allows for thinner
screen bezels, which I measured at around
8.5mm.
The 15.6” 1080p 144Hz IPS screen has a matte
finish, viewing angles looked fine, and there’s
no G-Sync here. I’m sure many of you are
thinking a 144Hz screen with a GTX 1650 is
a bit silly, but if the price is right I think
it could make a good option for people playing
esports titles, as this should be enough power
at lower settings for high FPS without having
to buy a higher specced machine that has a
higher refresh rate panel.
I’ve measured the colour gamut of the panel
using the Spyder 5 Pro and got 97% of sRGB,
67% of NTSC, and 72% of AdobeRGB. At 100%
brightness I measured the panel at 307 nits
in the center and with a 670:1 contrast ratio.
Contrast was a little low, but the brightness
was at a good spot and colour gamut should
be alright outside of gaming for some photo
or video editing.
Backlight bleed was looking fine, no problems
at all there, but this will vary between laptop
and panel.
There was some screen flex due to the plastic
build, and due to the hinge being in the center
of the screen, however the hinge itself did
feel sturdy.
It wasn’t possible to open up with one finger
as more of the weight seems to be towards
the back, but it felt fine sitting on my lap.
Despite the thinner bezels, the 720p camera
is found above the display in the center.
The camera is pretty blurry and the audio
sounds ok. Here’s what typing sounds like,
and this is what it sounds like when we set
the fan speed to maximum. So it is pretty
loud, but you can still hear me over it, so
it’s doing a good job of isolating my voice.
The keyboard has RGB backlighting which can
be customized in three separate zones through
the Aorus control center software. There are
minimal effects available, but all keys including
secondary key functions are illuminated. Keyboard
lighting can be toggled between two brightness
levels or turned off using the function key
and space bar. Overall I liked typing with
the keyboard, though the presses were a little
mushy feeling, here’s how it sounds to give
you an idea of what to expect.
There was some keyboard flex when pushing
down hard, but I never found this to be an
issue during normal use, and I found the letter
keys needed 60 grams of force to actuate.
The power button is triangular and found up
the top left corner, it lights up like this
when powered on.
The precision touchpad worked well enough,
it clicks down anywhere and has the usual
gestures, though it felt a little small.
Fingerprints and dirt showed up on the matte
interior, but as a smooth surface they were
easy to clean.
On the left from the back there’s a Kensington
lock, gigabit ethernet, some status LEDs,
then closer to the front there’s a USB 3.1
Gen1 Type-A port, 3.5mm audio combo jack,
and SD card slot.
On the right from the front there’s a second
USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C
port which supports both HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort
1.2, no Thunderbolt though, followed by a
dedicated HDMI 2.0 output and the power input.
On the back there’s just some space for
air to exhaust down the bottom, though it’s
a pretty small gap, while the front is just
smooth plastic.
The speakers are found just above the keyboard,
they sounded ok but weren’t great, quite
tinny sounding with a lack of bass. It did
seem to get loud enough at max volume though,
and the latencymon results looked ok.
The bottom panel was a little tricky to remove,
after removing 10 Phillips head screws I used
a pry tool and started around the back by
the hinges. Once inside from left to right
we’ve got the WiFi card, two memory slots
right down the front, the battery, single
M.2 slot and 2.5” drive bay up the top right.
There’s a 51 watt hour battery powering
the laptop. I’ve tested it with the screen
brightness at 50%, background apps disabled,
and all keyboard lighting off. While just
watching YouTube videos it lasted for 3 hours
and 43 minutes, and it was using the Intel
integrated graphics due to Nvidia Optimus.
While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings
and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS
the battery lasted for 59 minutes the entire
time without any performance dips.
The 180 watt power brick that’s included
with the Aorus 5 was adequate for these specs,
I wasn’t seeing any drain during any of
my testing.
Let’s move onto the thermal testing. Air
is pulled in underneath the laptop through
these vents in the center towards the back,
and is then exhausted out of the back and
below the screen. Two heatpipes are shared
between the processor and graphics, and we’ve
got an interesting design with the two fans
in the center. The fans are right below the
air intakes, but the blade count of the fans
is looking a little low compared to other
laptops.
The Aorus control center software allows us
to set the CPU between 5 different levels
of power, and the GPU between 2 levels, as
defined here. Throughout this testing I’ve
tested the stock settings with the CPU at
level 2 and GPU at level 0 with the fans set
to the normal profile, or with the CPU and
GPU maxed out with the fan set to maximum.
Like other modern Aorus laptops, the AI software
is installed which allows you to have the
system automatically control things like power
levels. I haven’t tested with this here
as I’ve always found manually setting highest
settings to offer better performance.
Unlike the higher end options like the Aorus
15 it wasn’t possible to customize the fan
curve, you just have the option of toggling
it between normal and max speeds. There’s
also no shortcut on the keyboard like the
higher end Aorus models to quickly swap between
fan speeds, it’s only done through the software.
Thermal testing was completed in an ambient
room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius, so
expect different results in different environments.
At idle both the CPU and GPU were looking
fine.
The rest of the results are from combined
CPU and GPU workloads, and are meant to represent
worst case scenarios as I ran them for extended
periods of time.
The gaming results towards the upper half
of the graph were tested by playing Watch
Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination
of processor and graphics. The stress test
results shown on the lower half of the graph
are from running the Aida64 CPU stress test
with only the stress CPU option checked, and
the Heaven GPU benchmark at max settings at
the same time to fully load the system.
Whether gaming or under combined CPU and GPU
stress test, the CPU was thermal throttling
at 96 degrees Celsius. Basically there’s
no difference between normal and max fan profiles,
because as you’ll hear later, the fan was
already pretty much at max speed in normal
mode due to these higher levels of heat. Although
the GPU temperatures were a little warmer
with an actual game running, thermal throttling
on the GPU was not happening here. With the
CPU undervolt applied, thermal throttling
on the CPU was removed with this game running,
but it was still present with the stress tests.
Combining the undervolt with the cooling pad
dropped temperatures the most, especially
for the GPU, which dropped by 16 to 18 degrees
just with this change.
These are the average clock speeds for the
same tests just shown. The CPU clock speeds
don’t change between the fans at normal
and max speed due to the thermal limitations
that we just saw, though the GPU speed rose
higher here with GPU mode 1, which just as
a reminder overclocks the 1650 a little. The
CPU undervolt makes the largest improvement
to CPU clock speed, but the best results were
seen when combining the cooling pad, as this
lowered temperatures substantially. CPU clock
speed is improved with the stress test result
as the cooling pad finally removed thermal
throttling, allowing the full 4GHz all core
turbo boost speed of the 9750H to be hit.
The GPU clock speeds also rise a bit, presumably
as GPU boost prefers cooler temperatures.
These are the TDP values during these same
tests. The 50 watt limit was constantly being
reached by the 1650 which is good, as shown
by the green bars. Although the CPU is able
to boost up to 62 watts for PL1 in CPU mode
4, we only saw 50 watts or lower prior to
reducing thermal throttling with a cooling
pad and undervolting, as thermals were the
main limitation there.
Here are the CPU clock speeds while under
a CPU only stress test, the results are higher
as the GPU is not contributing heat to the
system. Despite this, it was still only possible
to reach the full 4.0GHz all core turbo boost
speed of the i7-9750H CPU with some undervolting
applied. This is because with CPU level 3
and 4, even in a CPU only workload without
GPU load, thermal throttling was being hit,
reducing performance. Although thermals were
the limitation, if we look at the average
TDP level 4 was close to hitting its 62 watt
power limit anyway. It was possible to raise
the power limit through Intel XTU, but without
first addressing the thermal limitation this
wouldn’t help, and as we saw undervolting
got us full performance anyway with less power.
To demonstrate how this translates into performance
I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks from
these same modes. Like was saw in the clock
speed results previously, there’s a nice
jump in performance with the undervolt applied,
on top of that, again as we just saw it was
also running cooler too, so the undervolt
is definitely helping nicely here.
So how do these different changes actually
affect game performance? I’ve tested a couple
of games to find out.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with
the built in benchmark at highest settings.
Like we saw in the clock speeds previously,
there was no change between normal or max
fan. Undervolting and using a cooling pad
barely helped, improving average FPS by 1
with each.
Far Cry 5 was tested with the built in benchmark
at ultra settings. Again there wasn’t really
much difference between these different settings,
though the 1% low was down a bit in this test
at the lowest setting, probably as it’s
a CPU heavy test and this is capping the max
power limit.
As for the external temperatures where you’ll
actually be putting your hands, at idle it
was quite cool, warmer on the right but still
below the 30 or so I usually see. Regardless
of the stress test or gaming workload and
whether the fans were on normal or maximum
there wasn’t really a difference to the
externals. It was noticeably warmer towards
the right of the keyboard, but it was only
warm to the touch, not hot. The left of the
wrist rest was around 10 degrees cooler than
the right, so it still felt comfortable with
my left hand on the WASD keys. Right up the
back is the hottest point, as this is where
air is exhausted.
Here’s what the fans sound like during these
different tests.
At idle the fan was still audible. Whether
gaming or under stress test with the fan on
the normal profile it was about the same,
and this hardly changed much once I manually
set it to max speed. This makes sense when
you consider that CPU thermal throttling was
being hit in these workloads with the normal
fan profile. That said though, even with the
fan at max it’s quieter than most other
gaming laptops that I’ve tested.
Overall there was a fair bit of thermal throttling
on the CPU, both under worst case stress test
and while actually gaming. To be fair though
at least the CPU wasn’t power limited to
45 watts like many other laptops, higher power
limits will typically equal hotter CPU temperatures,
it’s a trade off. Although this resulted
in performance loss in terms of clock speed,
as we saw, when actually testing out some
games there appeared to be minimal practical
difference. I think it could have been better
with more fan control with higher speeds available,
more air is clearly helping, as shown with
the cooling pad. The plus side of this is
at least that the machine does run noticeably
quieter when compared with most other gaming
laptops I’ve tested.
Next let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks,
I’ve tested these with the fans at max speed
to minimize throttling, though as we just
heard they’re essentially at max even with
the normal profile anyway. I’ve also tested
with the CPU at level 4 and GPU at level 1
for highest levels of performance.
Borderlands 3 is a new addition to my testing
suite, and it was tested with the built in
benchmark and DX 11, as DX 12 is still in
beta. As this is the first time I’ve ever
tested this game I have no other data to compare
against, but 60 FPS was possible in this test
with medium settings.
Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode,
and it was still playable at high settings
which was just below the 60 FPS sweet spot,
though medium was able to get above this,
with even higher possible at low settings,
ultra was a bit stuttery though.
Apex Legends was tested with either all settings
at maximum, or all settings on the lowest
possible values, as it doesn’t have predefined
setting presets. It still played pretty well
even with everything maxed out, though a 50%
higher frame rate at minimum was possible
which made better use of the 144Hz screen.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with
the built in benchmark, and even medium settings
wasn’t able to get us 60 FPS here, lower
settings were required for that, but we’ll
see how these results compare with other laptops
soon.
Fortnite was tested with the replay feature,
and as a less demanding game even epic settings
was playing well with above 60 FPS averages,
while medium settings was able to take advantage
of the 144Hz display.
Overwatch is another well optimized game and
was tested in the practice range, again it
was still playing well with max settings,
and even high settings were able to utilize
the 144Hz screen, with far higher frame rates
possible at lower settings too.
CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical FPS benchmark,
and as a game that depends primarily on CPU
power the results aren’t really that much
lower compared to other laptops I’ve tested
with the same i7 CPU but higher end graphics.
Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane,
and as a primarily CPU driven game the results
were still quite good here despite the 1650
graphics. Even ultra settings was scoring
higher average FPS than the refresh rate of
the display, with up to 200 FPS at low settings.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built
in benchmark. Low settings was able to smash
past the refresh rate of the display, while
high settings could still maintain 100 FPS
in this test.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with
the built in benchmark, and although this
is a CPU heavy test the frame rates were down
compared to having the same i7 CPU paired
with better graphics, granted this title doesn’t
need a super high frame rate to play, 60 FPS
was almost hit in this test at medium.
The Witcher 3 played alright with high settings,
where I was still averaging around 60 FPS.
It doesn’t need a really high frame rate
to play, so it’s definitely possible to
play this GPU heavy game on the 1650.
If you’re after more gaming benchmarks check
the card in the top right corner where I’ve
tested 21 games in total.
Let’s also take a look at how this config
of the Aorus 5 NA compares with other laptops,
use these results as a rough guide only as
they were tested at different times with different
drivers.
In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the Aorus 5 highlighted
in red near similarly specced machines. This
game really wasn’t doing too well on this
machine, it’s worth considering that the
Lenovo L340 below it only has single channel
memory as well as an i5 CPU. Despite this
the Aorus 5 was still behind, I’m guessing
due to that CPU throttling and this game can
load up the CPU, I redid the testing three
times to check and the results were consistent.
These are the results from Far Cry 5 with
ultra settings in the built in benchmark.
This time the Aorus 5 was closer to where
I’d expect it to be, ahead of the i5 and
single channel memory in the L340, but not
quite as good as the 1660 Ti based machines.
I did think that it might come out ahead of
the Ryzen 3750H machines, as the i7 should
demolish those, but it seems that at ultra
settings the better graphics are still winning.
These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb
raider with the built in benchmark at highest
settings. Again the results are down a fair
bit compared to other machines due to the
1650 graphics. It’s worth remembering these
comparisons are with max settings though,
we’ve already seen that the Aorus 5 is better
geared towards low to medium settings in these
sort of AAA games.
Although the GTX 1650 is closer to an entry
level option, it was still able to handle
these games well enough, though low to medium
settings were needed for a playable experience
with the more graphically intensive titles.
Esports titles on the other hand did well
at lower settings, and were able to utilize
the displays 144Hz refresh rate.
Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested
Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine,
as well as Firestrike, Timespy, and VRMark
from 3DMark, just pause the video if you want
a detailed look at these results.
I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the
storage, and the 512gb NVMe M.2 SSD was performing
alright, excellent read speeds but much lower
writes comparatively. The 1TB hard drive was
performing pretty well, though it was a 7,200RPM
drive. The SD card slot was performing fairly
too, better than most other laptops I’ve
tested anyway.
For updated pricing check the links in the
description, as prices will change over time.
At the time of recording in the US this configuration
seems to be going for $1100 USD, apparently
this is a sale price. That’s not ideal,
when you consider that you could get an Acer
Helios 300 for the same amount of money but
with 1660 Ti graphics, which as we just saw
in the game comparison results was also performing
significantly better.
Here in Australia the Helios is around 10%
more money than the Aorus 5, but there are
still cheaper 1660 Ti options that will outperform
it. This is one of the issues I have with
most 1650 laptops, in most cases it seems
worth saving up a little extra to get the
1660 Ti. When I compared the 1650 and 1660
Ti in the past, I found that a 1660 Ti based
laptop was 47% faster on average, which seems
well worth it unless you’ve got a really
strict budget.
With all of that in mind let’s conclude
by looking at the good and bad aspects of
the Aorus 5 gaming laptop.
Apart from pricing, the biggest issue I had
with the actual machine was the CPU thermal
throttling. This seems to be due to the result
of a higher power limit, so that’s going
to be a trade off, though given the thickness
I thought thermals would be a bit better.
Looking at the positives though, total system
fan noise was on the lower side compared to
other gaming laptops, and It was possible
to improve thermals by undervolting or with
a cooling pad.
In terms of gaming performance, well I honestly
haven’t tested enough other 1650 laptops
to compare with yet, but it was concerning
that the Lenovo L340 beat it in Battlefield
5, considering that laptop had an i5 and single
channel memory. In most other games though
the Aorus 5 did come out ahead, and it was
able to offer a playable experience in modern
titles, granted with lower settings in many
cases.
The battery life wasn’t too good, but the
screen seemed decent in terms of colour gamut,
brightness and bleed.
The 144Hz screen is only really going to be
beneficial in esports titles at lower settings
that are capable of hitting higher frame rates.
Generally these screens are paired with higher
specs, so I was hoping the Aorus 5 could be
a good budget friendly esports gaming laptop,
but at the current price it’s difficult
to recommend over the competition. This could
all change if the price lowers though, so
keep an eye out with the links in the description.
Let me know what you thought about the Aorus
5 gaming laptop down in the comments, and
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