The Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC is the latest version of the Taiwanese company’s impressive workstation aimed at digital creatives. It comes with some seriously powerful mobile components, with a 10th generation Intel Core i7 processor, and most excitingly of all, Nvidia’s brand-new GeForce RTX 3070 graphics card (there’s also the more powerful Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR YC, which features a 10th gen Intel Core i9 processor and RTX 3080 8GB graphics card).
The new RTX 3000 series laptop graphics cards from Nvidia are easily some of the best GPUs we’ve seen in laptops, bringing not only extra horsepower for rendering complex 3D scenes, but also extra features such as Resizable BAR and Optimus Technology which could really make a huge impact on the workflows of people who work with high definition and life-like 3D scenes.
If you’re a demanding user who requires the most powerful mobile hardware, then, the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC or YC could be for you. It's definitely up there with the most powerful laptops around.
Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC review: Price
A laptop featuring Nvidia’s latest and greatest mobile graphics, combined with a gorgeous screen and some of Intel’s most powerful processors was never going to be cheap, but with an asking price of £2,699, the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC is going to be a big investment for many people.
The good news is that you’re certainly getting plenty for your money. As we mentioned, the RTX 3070 is one of the best GPUs you’ll find in a laptop at the moment, and the 8-core Intel Core i7 is a processor that will easily handle multiple tasks at once. Add in 32GB of RAM, a 4K 17.3-inch screen and 1TB of speedy SSD storage space, and you have an incredibly powerful mobile creative workstation.
Plus, when you compare it to the 16-inch MacBook Pro (opens in new tab), which comes with an older 8-core Intel processor, half the RAM, and a smaller, more lower resolution, screen, yet costs more at £2,799, the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC suddenly starts to look much better value indeed.
If you’re after even more power, then the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR YC with an RTX 3080 8GB laptop GPU, 64GB of RAM and Intel Core i9 processor will set you back £4,300. For many people this will be complete overkill, so, again, the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC becomes far more appealing.
Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC review: Power and performance
While Nvidia launched its RTX 3000 Ampere graphics cards for desktop PCs to great acclaim late last year, the mobile versions of the GPUs didn’t appear until the beginning of 2021.
Despite the RTX 3070 laptop GPU found inside the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC having the same name as the desktop RTX 3070, it’s actually pared back, with fewer shaders and lower memory bandwidth, along with a lower power demand.
While this may sound a bit disappointing, there’s good reason for this. Because laptops are thinner, and therefore more constrained when it comes to airflow and keeping its components cool, the more modest RTX 3070 laptop GPU doesn’t get as hot as the desktop version, so needs less cooling. This means it’s able to work hard in a slimline chassis. That lower power consumption also helps keep it cool, while also not draining the battery in a flash (desktop GPUs don’t need to worry about battery life).
We should also point out that while the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC and its RTX 3070 laptop GPU don’t reach the performance heights of the RTX 3070 desktop GPU, this is still easily one of the best GPUs you’re going to find in a laptop, and the performance leap it brings over laptops using the older RTX 2000 series mobile GPUs is seriously impressive.
This means the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC performs brilliantly when editing ultra high definition videos, and it’s also excellent at rendering 3D models and animations, adding complex lighting effects like ray tracing, and working on detailed CAD projects, to name a few.
The Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC also comes with an 8-core Intel Core i7-10870H, which along with the 32GB of DDR4 RAM, and it allows the laptop to handle multiple apps, web browser pages, and more at once. For multitasking, this is a great laptop, and can really help speed up your workflow.
Meanwhile, Windows 10 boots up fast and runs smoothly. The 1TB SSD offers plenty of space to store your creative work, and while it’s not the fastest SSD we’ve experienced in a laptop, combined with the RAM and processor, the overall user experience of the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC is excellent.
If you require a laptop that can handle intensive graphical tasks, along with multiple apps running at once, this is well worth considering. It offers a level of performance that you’d usually have to buy a desktop PC for. However, the level of power on offer here will be overkill for a lot of people, so if you don’t need this kind of firepower, you’re better off going for a more affordable laptop.
Meanwhile, battery life is rather impressive considering the level of power on offer here, with the laptop lasting over five hours with day to day use in our tests, which involves web browsing, document creation and video calls. That’s not too shabby, though if you’re doing more intensive work, that battery is going to go down faster.
Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC review: Display
While Apple’s MacBooks are still often considered the go-to laptops for creatives, the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC trumps even the mighty 16-inch MacBook Pro in a number of areas – and one of those is the display.
Not only is it larger (17.3-inches versus the MacBook Pro’s 16-inches), but it’s also higher resolution as well, offering a UHD resolution of 3840 x 2160, compared to the 16-inch MacBook Pro’s Retina resolution of 3072x1920.
This results in an image that’s sharper and clearer than the MacBook Pros. The higher resolution means the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC can have a larger screen without a loss of clarity or detail.
This is thanks to the pixel density of the screen. The more pixels per inch (PPI) a screen has, the sharper the image. The 16-inch MacBook Pro has a 226 PPI pixel density screen. The Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC, meanwhile, has a pixel density of 255. That’s quite a leap.
Resolution, screen size and pixel density isn’t the be-all and end-all of image quality, of course, but the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC’s screen has a few extra tricks up its sleeve. First, as the name suggests, the display supports HDR (High Dynamic Range), which can lead to more vibrant and arresting images, as well as more realistic colours in some respects. All high-end TVs have HDR support these days, so if you’re a video editor, this laptop allows you to view your footage with HDR, so you can get an idea of how your videos will look.
The screen also supports 100% of the Adobe RGB colour gamut, which is essential for anyone who requires colour accuracy in their work, and the display has been Pantone calibrated as well, so you know that straight out of the box, the screen of the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC will look its absolute best. And, we have to say, it really does look gorgeous, and is easily one of the best screens we’ve seen in a laptop.
Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC review: Features
Many of the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC’s best features are thanks to the RTX 3070 GPU that’s installed within. Nvidia’s latest graphics cards for laptops offer some serious horsepower, giving you the kind of performance you’d usually associate with a big, bulky desktop PC.
The RTX 3070 supports ray tracing and DLSS technology, and while those are often associated with gaming, they have creative applications as well, especially the advanced lighting effects of ray tracing, which can make 3D rendered scenes look even more impressive and lifelike.
With Nvidia Studio Drivers installed, the GPU in this laptop becomes even more proficient at creative work, and by using some nifty artificial intelligence (AI) features, you can seriously speed up your workflow, with it taking the pain out of repetitive tasks.
When it comes to ports, the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC is pretty well equipped, with three USB 3.2 ports, a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C Port, HDMI 2.1, mini DisplayPort, an Ethernet port for wired internet and an SD card reader. That last addition is particularly useful for photographers in particular, as it means you can slot in a memory card without having to use an adaptor.
The range of ports means you can plug in pretty much any peripheral without trouble. However, the fact that the USB 3.2 ports are Gen1 means that you’re not getting the fastest transfer speeds, which may be a consideration if you often transfer large files to and from external hard drives, for example. The Thunderbolt 3 port is much faster, though again, it’s not the latest version of the interface, as there are now Thunderbolt 4-equipped laptops out there.
Should you buy the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC?
The Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC is certainly an impressive laptop with some cutting edge components and some great features for digital creatives and artists. The screen is brilliant, and the fact that it is Pantone calibrated, and supports Adobe RGB, means this is a laptop you could work on without needing to buy a monitor. It’s easily one of the best we’ve seen in a laptop.
The RTX 3070 laptop GPU also brings plenty of power to the table, and combined with the 10th generation Intel Core i9 or i7 processor, you’ve got an incredibly capable laptop for creative work.
So much so, in fact, that many people may find it overkill for their needs. While the Gigabyte Aero 17 HDR XC is undoubtedly powerful and well built, it’s also very expensive, so you really should consider your needs before you buy. There are more affordable laptops out there – including from Gigabyte – that may be better suited if your needs are more modest.
However, if you want a powerful creative laptop that can handle pretty much anything you throw at it, while displaying your work so that it looks its very best, then this is a laptop that could be well worth the investment.