Hands on: Gigabyte AORUS 17G Review

The Gigabyte AORUS 17G is the very first laptop I’ve seen in the flesh to feature Nvidia’s RTX 30-Series GPU . 
With the GPU so integral to the performance, you could make the argument this represents the start of a new generation for gaming laptops, with Nvidia promising performance levels beyond what the PS5 is capable of.
But while the inclusion of an RTX 30-Series GPU is undoubtedly the headline feature here, it would be unjust to call it the only exciting feature of the AORUS 17G. Featuring a snappy mechanical keyboard and wickedly fast 300Hz refresh rate, this gaming laptop looks to have all the credentials required for eSports and high-end gaming.
But is it one of the best gaming laptops you can buy? I haven’t had enough time with the Gigabyte AORUS 17G to give it a final score and verdict, but check out my initial impressions below.
Gigabyte AORUS 17G (2021) release date and price
The Gigabyte AORUS 17G (2021) is available to buy today from retailers such as Ebuyer.
The configuration I have here is called the Aorus 17G XC and is priced at £2199. With this model you get an Intel Core i7 10875H processor, Nvidia RTX 3070 MaxQ 8GB GPU, 32GB DDR4 RAM and 512GB of SSD storage.
Gigabyte has also confirmed that RTX 3080 configurations will be coming to stores too with an unspecified price, but expect them to cost a little more.
Hands-on Gigabyte AORUS 17G (2021) review: A new generation of gaming laptops starts here
The Gigabyte AORUS 17G (2021) is one of the most exciting devices I’ve tested in a good while for one major reason: it’s one of the very first gaming laptops to feature an Nvidia 30-Series GPU.
With Nvidia’s next-gen desktop GPUs still difficult to come by, the Gigabyte AORUS 17G will potentially become one of the best opportunities for PC gamers to experience the performance hike that the new generation of GPUs bring to the table. 
Gigabyte sent me a review unit featuring an Nvidia RTX 3070 GPU, Intel Core i7-10870H and 32GB RAM. That may not be the most powerful configuration available (with an RTX 3080 model also up for grabs) but it’s still got more grunt than any laptop that came before it. 

I only started testing the AORUS 17G last Friday, but have managed to test the performance via various benchmark tests, including the built-in benchmarks from modern PC games. 
For both Horizon Zero Dawn and Borderlands 3, two notoriously demanding games, the AORUS 17G achieved an average performance beyond 80fps when set to a 1920 x 1080 resolution and ‘ultra’ graphics settings. That’s a better score than any other gaming laptop we’ve previously tested, including the Lenovo Legion 7 (RTX 2080 Super) albeit by narrow margins.
Competitive players also have plenty of reasons to get excited, with the AORUS 17G hitting an approximate average of 150fps in Apex Legends . That’s not quite taking the full advantage of the 300Hz refresh rate, but it’s still supremely speedy.
The performance looks very impressive at this early stage, but it’s not the only reason I was blown away by the AORUS 17G. The hulking big 17-inch screen is impossible to overlook, and it’s not only large but also looks absolutely gorgeous. 

Upon loading up Apex Legends, I could immediately see the crisp and vibrant colours on display. It’s a shock that this display is limited to a 1080p resolution, as it still looks sharp despite the large screen size stretching out those pixels. 
What’s more, the 17-inch display boasts a dizzyingly high 300Hz refresh rate. I do think this is a tad excessive, as I was only able to hit an average of 150fps for both Apex Legends and Dirt Rally, but you can at least have peace of mind that the display can always keep up with the pace of the GPU performance. 
That higher refresh rate makes a big difference too. Swinging my gun around to aim at a target became remarkably smoother in Apex Legends, making it easier for me to perform headshot kills in the heat of battle. My kill/death ratio improved dramatically when playing with this high refresh rate, so there’s no denying it gives you an advantage.
I have to say I’m disappointed there’s no Quad HD or 4K model available, especially since the RTX 3070 is comfortably capable of hitting such resolutions. But it’s also understandable that Gigabyte has chosen high frame rates over resolution since it’s hoping to appeal to the eSports crowd.

Another standout element of the Gigabyte AORUS 17G is the keyboard, featuring mechanical switches, which is unusual for a gaming laptop. This means the keys emit an audible click when I press down on them. They also have a crunchy tactile feel that’s ideal for games such as first-person shooters and MOBAs. 
This elevates the keyboard’s gaming performance above traditional alternatives found on most laptops, including the likes of the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 and Razer Blade 15 . The mechanical crunch didn’t just result in a more satisfying feel, but I also never had to worry whether a key had hit its actuation point as I could feel the ‘click’ straight away. 
There is a downside to having mechanical switches though, and that’s the noise they generate. In fact, the keys are so loud I recommend you don’t use this laptop in an office environment, unless you’re fine with your colleagues despising you. 
I had a couple of additional gripes with the keyboard. Firstly, there’s no on-board CAPs lock light indicator which makes entering passwords an absolute nightmare. And secondly, Gigabyte’s Aorus Control Center has some surprising limitation when it comes to RGB lighting. You can create a red ripple effect, or a blue wave pulsating under your fingertips, but there are only two presets that let you add more than two colours to the board simultaneously, putting the likes of Razer Synapse a good few strides ahead. You can can at least set Macro keys via the Control Center, but it’s a little confusing to set up compared to Razer’s offering.

The AORUS 17G is a hefty portable machine. I can just about lift it with one hand, but with a lot of strain and concern that my wrist is about to snap. Its gargantuan size also means you’ll struggle to fit it inside a bag. This all means the Gigabyte is only worth considering if you’re happy to keep it at home for the majority of use. It’s still portable enough to lug over to a friend’s house for a LAN party, but you won’t want to be carrying this around on the regular. 
Despite its large frame, the AORUS 17G doesn’t look bulky. Its skinny bezel ensures most of the focus goes to the display, creating the illusion that the display is even larger than 17 inches. The bezel is so skinny that Gigabyte has been forced to move the webcam to chassis below the screen, resulting in an unflattering angle on Zoom calls that gives onlookers a good view up my nostrils.  You at least get a privacy slider to block the webcam’s view when not in use. 

The entire laptop is painted black for a discreet look. Gigabyte has even resisted the urge to slap ‘edgy’ designs on the lid, with the lone glow-up Aorus logo drawing the eye.  You could argue that the AORUS 17G looks bland, but I’m enjoying the new trend of subtle styling over garish gaming laptop designs. 
While it’s hardly the most exciting aspect of a gaming laptop, I have to give Gigabyte credit for the generous offering of ports, too. You get USB-A, USB-C, mini DisplayPort, HDMI, Ethernet, headphone/microphone jack and even an SD Card slot. You can leave the dongle life behind by going for the Gigabyte AORUS 17G.
First Impressions
The Gigabyte AORUS 17G (2021) is the most powerful laptop I’ve tested thanks to the inclusion of the Nvidia RTX 30-Series GPU, taking the frame rate to 80fps and beyond for AAA 1080p gaming. 
It’s got high-end features elsewhere too, with the mechanical keyboard and 300Hz display both meeting the lofty requirements of eSport gamers. 
There are drawbacks to this laptop however, with an unflattering up-facing webcam and configurable software that’s not quite as sophisticated as the likes of Razer Synapse, but they’re not really an issue to the core gaming experience. 
That all said, I need more time with this laptop before declaring a final score. I need to get a better idea of the gaming performance and battery life, as well as testing its day-to-day skills such as streaming videos and browsing the web. Check back in a few days for the final review. 
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