Editors' note, Nov. 26: After due consideration of the competition, we've retroactively awarded the Aero 15 OLED model an Editors' Choice for creative work. Our original review follows.
As reviewers, there are some laptops we want to ditch as soon as we finish with them so we can move on to something better and there are some we never want to let go of. The Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED doesn't quite fall into the latter category for me, but it comes closer than almost any other creative-focused clamshell laptop I've tested so far in 2019: It's got an excellent OLED screen that's calibrated with multiple profiles, ranks pretty fast for both photo editing and gaming and has a satisfying design that fits both work and play.
The Aero's gaming heritage is obvious; for instance, it has RGB lighting for the keyboard, its ControlCenter software has readouts for speeds and temperatures and it's equipped with Killer networking for optimizing network bandwidth and minimizing latency. But unlike other repurposed-for-creatives gaming laptops, this one actually has extra features that make it a little more suited for color-conscious creatives.
While it's not cheap, it's not overpriced given what you get. The OLED version of the Aero -- there are a couple of models with a 1080p 240Hz screen instead -- comes in configurations that run about $1,700 to $4,000 (£1,900 - £3,400 and AU$2,500 - AU$5,900). You have a choice of processor (Core i7-9750H or i9-9980HK); memory (8GB, 16GB, 32GB or 64GB, though there's no 64GB option in the UK); storage (256GB, 512GB or 1TB, though there's no 256GB option in the UK); and graphics processor (Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti, RTX 2060, RTX 2070 or RTX 2080, though there's no 2060 option in Australia).
Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED
|Price as reviewed||$2,499, £2,499.99, AU$3,799|
|Display||15.6-inch 3,840 x 2,160 OLED 60Hz|
|PC CPU||2.6GHz Intel Core i7-9750H|
|PC memory||16GB 2,666Hz DDR4|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q|
|Storage||512GB SSD, SD card reader|
|Ports||1 x USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, 3 x USB-A 3.1, 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x combo audio|
|Networking||Killer Ethernet E2600, Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650, Bluetooth 5|
|Operating system||Microsoft Windows Pro (64-bit)|
|Weight||4.9 lbs/2.2 kg|
I'd avoid the lowest-end configurations, because the combo of 8GB RAM and 256GB storage is quite confining, but for photo editing the i7 and GTX 1660 Ti are fine if you have to make budget trade-offs. For video editing, 3D rendering and AAA gameplay, on the other hand, you'd want to max it out as much as possible.
Our $2,500 test configuration, the XA model with a six-core Intel Core i7-9750H, 16GB RAM and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q, performed relatively well. Its primary competitor is the , a dual-screen OLED laptop that costs the same for a similar configuration but downgrades to an RTX 2060 in favor of a 1TB SSD. The Asus's primary display is a touchscreen, which is one thing I miss in the Gigabyte. But the Asus has some drawbacks relative to the Gigabyte that are hard to overlook: The keyboard is uncomfortable without the wrist rest, it's got mediocre battery life and it's relatively heavy.
Though not as robust as the color management of a mobile workstation, which generally has profiles stored in hardware, it's one of the broader systems I've seen in a prosumer laptop. For example, it comes with asoftware profile for print work, plus four color temperature software-calibration profiles (D5800, D6000, D6500 and D6800), which you can swap among via the ControlCenter rather than using Windows' system. Oddly, the Native profile it loads is sRGB rather than just a full-monitor gamut, which is what "native" usually means in this context.
Since all OLED laptops use the same Samsung panel, the software profiling and supporting hardware are what differentiates them from each other. In this case, it makes it a lot more out-of-the-box flexible than the one-profile-fits-all versions of other OLED laptops I've tested.