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Gigabyte fits a gaming powerhouse inside an inch-thick laptop

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Gallery Photo: Aorus X7 gaming laptop hands-on
Gallery Photo: Aorus X7 gaming laptop hands-on

For most people, gaming laptops are the modern equivalent of the old beige box. You might have or want one, but it's not something you'd bring up in polite conversation. Portability has always played a secondary role to fitting the most power inside that laptop's dimensions, which together with some garish design choices has made the entire category unpalatable for the mainstream consumer. Gigabyte, purveyor of desktop motherboards, graphics cards, and other gaming gear, is challenging that preconception with its new sister brand, Aorus, which is launching a flagship machine dubbed the X7.

An enormous 17.3-inch matte display is driven by not one but two GeForce GTX 765M graphics chips, making this the first GTX SLI laptop this thin. The 1080p resolution feels almost inadequate by modern standards for pixel density, but it doesn't really degrade the gaming experience. Gigabyte has chosen to spend more of its time and money on the construction, as the X7's shell is built entirely out of aluminum and measures only 0.9 inches (22.9mm) when closed. The weight of 6.4 pounds (2.9kg) is significant, though still minimal when judged against the typical gaming machine.

There are five heatpipes channeling heat away from those dual GPUs and the Intel Haswell CPU, with two fans and four vents assisting the process. Two subwoofers, two tweeters, two HDMI outputs, two USB 3.0 ports — the X7 is dressed up in a lot of pairs, and it'll even let you spec out multiple SSD and HDD options for storage. If you max it out, the price will be a lofty $2,799, though the starting cost is a more reasonable $2,099.

Two graphics cards, two subwoofers, two SSDs, two HDMI ports...

Gigabyte promises to have the Aorus X7 available in the US at the end of February, through Newegg and other online resellers. Aorus aims to become a comprehensive gaming brand that serves all your needs without compromising and the X7 is a suitably ambitious debut for it. It still doesn't solve the major problem with portable gaming machines — the battery isn't expected to last beyond two hours of 3D gaming — but it brings us a lot closer to the ideal combination of size, weight, and performance.