When it comes to gaming, few brands are more hardcore than Aorus. The brand might not be in the mainstream consciousness yet (I say give it a year or so) but Aorus has consistently produced awesome gaming laptops, for the hardcore and for the masses. The latest? The Aorus 7 SA.
Over the years, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of having to review the company’s notebooks. Some of them are lightweight beasts, others hulking monstrocities with the hardware to destroy any game on the highest setting.
So…where does the Aorus 7 SA fit in?
Read on and find out.
What is the Aorus 7 SA?
The Aorus 7 SA is a 17-inch mainstream gaming notebook. It’s priced for the regular gamer who wants to play the latest games on 1080p but is on a strict budget.
As such, the Aorus 7 SA comes packed with decent, if not spectacular hardware. It’s sporting an Intel Core i7-9750H (2.6Ghz), an LG 1080p IPS display (144hz), an NVIDIA GeForce 1660 Ti (6GB), 16GB RAM (with a 64GB limit) and a 512GB SSD for storage.
For the ports, it comes with 2 USB 3.1 ports, a USB 2.0 port, USB Type-C port, and an SD card slot. Display output options are a HDMI 2.0 port and a miniDisplay 1.2 port. There’s also a built-in ethernet port, plus audio jacks. All in, the Aorus 7 SA weighs in at 2.6KG and has a retail price of SG$1,899.
Finally, the battery on the Aorus 7 SA is removable. That’s damn awesome since more and more laptops are removing this feature. With a removable battery, you can take it out if you’re at home plugged it, saving battery life. Also, if the battery dies, you can just get a new one! I can’t stress how much I love this simple feature and I really wish more notebooks went this route.
On the visual side, the IPS display is a pretty good one. It’s nowhere near the quality of the Gigabyte Aero 15’s OLED monitor, but it’s got good color reproduction and a fast refresh rate and decent response time to make gaming enjoyable.
I love that the USB ports are all spread out three sides of the machine. While the USB Type-C port can be problematic to access (since it’s behind the display), the other USB ports are nicely spread between the left and right side of the notebook. Best of all, the notebook comes with an SD card slot, something of a rarity for most notebooks nowadays.
The HDMI, AC adapter and Ethernet ports are all at the back, which gets another nod from me since there are no wires tangling up the sides of the notebook unnecessarily.
The plastic casing (meant to resemble brushed aluminium at a glance) is reminiscent of other Aorus offerings, with the standard RGB keyboard (decent travel as always and very tactile to use) and a two-buttoned trackpad.
You’re going to want to get a mouse right away though, as the trackpad’s responsiveness is somewhere between porridge and slush. It’s mushy and I don’t recommend it for anything other than the most basic of tasks.
One thing the Aorus 7 SA isn’t, is a looker.
Compared to other premium notebooks, the Aorus 7 SA’s plain jane looks won’t impress.
There’s no fancy lighting or glowing outlines and the keyboard doesn’t have any noteworthy features (like macros or custom shortcuts) to impress. It’s a bit disappointing but it may also be a blessing in disguise if you’re planning on using it in public or at work. It also comes with a numpad, which is handy if you’re regularly entering numbers for work or some other purpose.
As usual, I ran the machine through our range of tests. PCmark to see how it performs as a work machine, 3Dmark for its gaming capabilities. I also benchmarked the Aorus 7 SA on Final Fantasy XV, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Three Kingdoms.
Here’s how the Aorus 7 SA fared with PCmark.
It’s a pretty good score, with good performance in all the categories. It’s definitely overkill for simple work apps like Microsoft Office and the like but hey, nobody said the Aorus 7 SA couldn’t be used for normal stuff.
Similarly, the machine performed adequately for TimeSpy, a 3Dmark benchmark geared for gaming machines. It slipped a bit for TimeSpy Extreme, a more intensive version of TimeSpy (meant for hardcore gaming rigs) but that’s to be expected. The NVIDIA GeForce 1660 Ti isn’t a top tier GPU, but rather one in the mid-tier.
The benchmarks hold out for the gaming tests as well.
Here’s Final Fantasy XV’s scores, both on 1080p and 4K.
It’s 4K scores are pretty bad, unless you’re willing to play on the lowest setting the game has to offer. However, on 1080p, the game manages to deliver great performance on even Custom settings, where nearly everything was turned on their highest settings. Not an easy feat at all.
For Shadow of the Tomb Raider, performance is similar to Final Fantasy XV’s.
I didn’t do 4K benchmarks considering how much of a hardware hog Tomb Raider is. We already know that the GPU won’t be performing well, so what’s the point? Instead, 1080p’s the focus and in that regard, the machine does deliver.
The Custom setting is still above 30FPS, with the High and Medium settings giving you a nearly solid 60FPS lock. Again not a bad performance on a game that make even the new RTX cards shudder.
Finally we come to Three Kingdoms. It’s not a visual tour de force, but it can still impress with its massive battles featuring a huge number of clashing warriors. Again, I only benchmarked the game on 1080p.
Interestingly, even the highest setting produced a decent framerate.
It barely squeezes past the 30FPS bar to deliver a decent performance. Since it’s an RTS, a 30FPS performance isn’t that detrimental to gameplay.
You don’t need split-second response times (unlike in FPS or action titles), so if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of fluidity for some visual goodness, this is the way to go.
Battery life is pretty decent as well. I did our usual Youtube test (50% sound and brightness, Youtube video on loop) and it lasted 4 hours and 42 minutes. Of course, your mileage may vary depending on your load and settings.
The Bottom Line.
With its decent 1080p performance on the highest settings in the games tested, the Aorus 7 SA certainly delivers on its promise of being a decent mainstream gaming notebook with a decent price point.
It won’t win any awards for being incredibly powerful, beautiful to look at or lightweight but you can certainly do a ton of 1080p gaming at enjoyable framerates for pretty much every modern title for the next year or so.
Pretty good 1080p performance at a decent price.
- Decent performance.
- Tactile keyboard with decent travel.
- Lots of ports and a SD card slot.
- Removable battery.
- Trackpad is crap.
- Looks boring.