Aorus X3 Plus V3

Aorus X3 Plus V3More is always better, right? The X3 Plus V3 is all about more. More pixels (5.76 million), more VRAM (6GB), more heat and more fan noise. There’s a bit less of one thing though, the three SSDs we’d assumed the X3 series was named after have been pruned back to two: 256GB mSATA models in a RAID 0 (striped) configuration.
Aorus, owned by Gigabyte, has designed a slab of black aluminium with vents on the back that make it look like a stealthy Cobra Mk III from Elite: Dangerous. The keyboard is the usual fare, backlit to look like a birthday cake, but without much in the way of key travel and marred by a strangely crunchy [F8] key. Plus the slippery puddle it calls a trackpad hides a lack of responsiveness beneath its good looks.The power button is hidden around the side, marked only by a symbol etched into the case. This led to an amusing hunt when the X3 was first unboxed, but means there’s no extra button on top to blight its fearful rectangular symmetry. The case is slim but it’s a heavy beast compared to ultraportables of similar size, its weight being in the same league as gaming machines from Razer and Alienware.As for the screen, the ridiculous number of pixels sit high up on the lid with a large black bar underneath them. This has the odd effect of making it feel as if you’re using a screen taller than a 16:9 ratio usually is. We’re sure there are reasons for using a 3200 x 1800 display, rather than splashing out on a UHD-1 screen, but going over 1080p on a 14-inch gaming laptop seems a step in the wrong direction. Current mobile GPUs just aren’t up to pushing that many pixels at any sort of reasonable rate.Aorus X3 Plus V3 insideDropping down to 1080p will double your frame rate and, happily, the screen will display this resolution beautifully. Windows 8.1’s hi-res screen support means the interface doesn’t become tiny when you’re doing something other than gaming. Just occasionally, however, the Steam window became so small it was impossible to read. Restarting the app fixed it. Feed the X3 a 4K movie, however, and it’s in its element.The back vents are for cooling. Trying to run Metro: Last Light at the screen’s native res sends the fans spinning into a rage and leads to the keyboard and base becoming uncomfortably hot. You’ll definitely want to use this on a table. Front openings on the sides are speakers, but don’t go expecting much. A decent headset is a necessity.With three USB3 ports, a card reader, HDMI, 4K-friendly Mini DisplayPort and Ethernet, the X3 is well-equipped. Built-in SD readers are nice, but we question their usefulness. While the X3 will run Lightroom like the wind, and the hi-res screen makes photos look wonderful, the lack of internal storage means an external drive is needed for anyone hoping to edit on the run.The X3’s blisteringly fast RAID storage stands out, cutting loading times that SSDs had already slashed, but the rest of the package is a solid mix of components that, if you can stand the heat, will do justice to today’s demanding games. Ian EvendenCPU Intel Core i7-4710HQ 2.5GHzChipset Mobile Intel HM87 ExpressStorage 512GB SSD (2x 256 in RAID 0)

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