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Aorus X5s v5 Camo review - hot under the collar

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
2,050
inc VAT (as of 8th June)

The Aorus X5s Camo is one of the most powerful gaming laptops you can buy, but it's very expensive and very noisy

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Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ, RAM: 16GB, Dimensions: 272x22.9x390mm, Weight: 2.5Kg, Screen size: 15.6in, Screen resolution: 3,840x2,160, Graphics adaptor: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M, Total storage: 1TB HDD, 256GB SSD

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Aorus is going all out with its latest line of gaming laptops, and the new X5s v5 leads the pack. Available in either black or a rather fetching limited edition Camo version, the X5s has everything you could possibly want from a gaming laptop, including top-tier gaming specs and a 4K resolution display. As such, it also demands a rather eye-watering top-tier price, as even the regular version still costs £2,000 - the Camo version on test here costs £2,050.

Still, when you’re paying this much, an extra £50 is probably neither here nor there, especially when you take into account that each X5s Camo case is utterly unique. Each one is individually dipped in water-transferable MultiCam camouflage paint - the same stuff used by armed forces around the world - so no two X5s Camos look exactly alike.

It’s definitely a good look, and the paint extends into every last nook and cranny, too, leaving no stone unturned. It’s also laser engraved on the bottom, too, just to remind you that you’re one of 500 people that own one. There’s definitely something impressive about having a unique and limited edition laptop, but the big question is whether the laptop itself justifies such an extortionate amount of money.

Display and sound

Let’s start with the 15.6in, 3,840x2,160 IPS display. With its wide viewing angles and impressive 93% coverage of the sRGB colour gamut, the Aorus X5s certainly has one of the better gaming displays I’ve seen in recent months. Its contrast ratio of 1,286:1 was also excellent, giving you plenty of detail even in dark shadow areas.

The matt finish also helps cut down on reflections, but it does tend to make some colours look a little washed out, especially when you compare it to the vibrant 4K display on the Asus ZenBook Pro UX501VW. Still, rich colours aren’t always what you want in a dark first-person-shooter, and I noticed when playing Metro:Last Light that its tunnels and caverns all had very distinct shadow gradients, helping me see much further into the gloom than the UX501VW.

It’s not overly bright, either, reaching a maximum of 297.4cd/m2 according to our colour calibrator. However, this isn’t likely to be much of a problem, as this is still perfectly bright enough for indoor use, and you’re hardly going to be lugging this thing outdoors to play games in the sun.

Battery life

That’s mostly because the battery life on the Aorus X5s is, unsurprisingly, pretty poor. The 73.26Wh battery ran out of juice in just over 3 hours in our continuous video playback test with the screen set to our standard brightness setting of 170cd/m2, so it’s likely to run out even faster when playing games away from the mains.

Performance

Still, you needn’t worry about the overall power of the Aorus X5s, as both versions come with an impressive Nvidia GeForce GTX980M under the hood and a quad-core 2.6GHz i7-6700HQ processor and 16GB of GDDR5 RAM. Admittedly, the unit I was sent had 32GB of RAM - something which isn’t commercially available, although you can expand it up to 64GB yourself if you feel so inclined and are confident doing so - so the benchmark results discussed below may be slightly skewed compared to other, similarly-specified laptops.

Overall, it achieved a score of 111 in our 4K benchmark tests, putting it on par with the Dell XPS 15 and ahead of the Acer Predator 17, the latter of which only scored 108. It’s also miles in front of the Gigabyte P57W, which scored just 93 overall. Either way, even with half as much RAM, the Aorus X5s should still be more than capable of handling pretty much any task you throw at it, whether it’s gaming or intensive video editing.

Graphics performance was equally phenomenal thanks to its GTX 980M chip. Again, our unit’s 32GB of RAM may have enhanced our results here, but until Nvidia eventually release the inevitable mobile versions of its new GTX 1080 and 1070 desktop cards, the GTX 980M is still one of the best laptop graphics chips money can buy.

For example, in Metro: Last Light Redux at 1,920x1,080 on Very High with SSAO turned on, it produced an incredible average of 48fps. Turn SSAO off and the frame rate practically doubles, allowing you to get a perfect 60fps. 4K gaming is also an option, albeit on older games and not the graphically intensive Metro. In Dirt: Showdown, for example, running with all graphics settings turned up to full at 4K, I managed a highly respectable 42fps.

That said, cramming the powerful GTX 980M into a 22.9mm case does come at a cost, as the loud fans kick into full gear at over 53dBA under load, and the whole laptop becomes incredibly hot during intense processing tasks. Using our digital temperature gun, I recorded temperatures up to 60 degrees in places, the worst area being just above the keyboard in the top left corner.

While it’s unlikely you’ll be taking your fingers off the WASD keys, that’s still enough to cause third-degree burns if placed against your skin for more than a couple of seconds. As a result, it doesn’t take much to see there’s a serious cooling issue here, and it will probably limit your gaming sessions to short bursts rather than long, extended marathons, particularly if you’re playing at 4K resolutions.

Thankfully, there’s some consolation to be found in Aorus’ appropriately-named Command Control Centre software, which, while basic, lets you adapt the fan speed to help combat its noise and temperature issues. There are three preset settings available - Quiet (the slowest), Normal and Gaming (the fastest) - but you can also use the Custom setting to place it somewhere in between. However, setting it to Gaming is an absolute must if you’re doing anything other than basic web browsing or doing a bit of word processing. All of our benchmark results were achieved using this setting as well, as setting it to Quiet saw a severe drop in overall performance.

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