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AORUS 17 – A Mechanical Keyboard On A Gaming Notebook!

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Hello good people, I’m with Dmitri here in Japan. I have an awesome opportunity to come witness the entire manufacturing and production process behind mechanical switches. And before I get into those, this is the AORUS 17, a next generation gaming notebook that incorporates a lot of car design, a lot of gamer aesthetic, and a lot of hardware improvements. However, what makes this notebook so special is the new Omron mechanical switch, the B3KL. We have done a full in-depth video on how those switches are made, which is super interesting so make sure the checkout that video, but now let’s talk about the AORUS 17. Huge thanks to Gigabyte and Omron for sponsoring this trip and this video.

Design

The exterior design is quite interesting, pretty much like a lot of other gaming notebooks, and Gigabyte says that it is inspired by the lines of fighter jets. Of course, there is RGB illumination vents on the back, which sort of look like car brake lights, and also some illumination areas in the front too. I especially like this part because it reflects some of that light onto the surface that the notebook is placed, which gives you a little bit of visual variety. Also we have a kind of cool pattern right below the webcam and below the screen.

Specs & Price

So let’s talk about pricing as the entire AORUS lineup is very significantly based on the hardware. The entry-level model comes with the i7-9750H, GTX 1660 Ti, 16GB of dual-channel memory, 512GB NVMe SSD, and a 120Hz IPS calibrated display certified by X-Rite Pantone, which is super cool. That model is going to run you about $1,800 USD, which is pretty competitive for a 17-inch notebook. Of course given the size of the notebook you can go all the way up to full desktop replacement hardware with i9-9980HK, a desktop-class RTX 2080, 32GB of dual-channel memory, 1TB NVMe SSD, 2TB hard drive, and a 240Hz display. As you might imagine that configuration is pretty expensive: $3700 USD.

Moving away from the price, a lot of gamers and creators have been asking for an internal MUX inside a notebook in order to allow switching off the discrete graphics card so you can just only work off the CPU’s integrated graphics and improve battery life. That is definitely something that I would definitely take advantage of when I don’t need the power of the GeForce RTX or the GTX cards. Gigabyte is also including an ESS Sabre DAC inside, which would allow the AORUS 17 to power high-end and high impedance headphones like the Sennheiser HD6XX. This notebook also has 2W stereo speakers and a built-in 3W subwoofer, and yeah this thing is loud and the bass is good.

Custom Cooling

The exclusive WindForce Infinity cooling system under the hood is interesting too. It uses a really large vapor chamber, a ton of vents, and thick fans that are supposed to act together to cut down on the noise. It also increases thermal efficiency by about 37% over the previous design. And while those fans need a lot of vertical space, as you can see, AORUS used that to give the design a slope shape that actually provides a bit more comfortable and ergonomic typing and gaming position.

A Great Mechanical Keyboard

Speaking of typing, let’s get to this wonderful keyboard. This unique keyboard uses the Omron B3KL low-profile mechanical switches and they are the real star of the show. The switches are clicky, so blue type instead of linear reds or tactile browns, and even though we have the beautiful clicking sensation the switches are actually surprisingly quiet. Even though these switches are only six millimeters high, they have 2.5 millimeters of key travel and 1.6 millimeter actuation points, which is nice. There’s a good amount of key travel for a notebook keyboard, and they are rated for 15 million clicks. These switches have been used on AORUS 17 right now because of their low-profile nature, but in the future they could be added to thinner low-profile notebooks from AORUS and Gigabyte too. One of the main challenges when it comes to low-profile switches has been stabilization, preventing the actual key from wobbling, which has been present in many low-profile switches in the past. Omron has eliminated that by adding butterfly stabilizers on the side that completely eliminates the wobble and ultimately they feel quite nice.

My opinion is that the switches have a really nice travel distance, which is something that I was not expecting even though this is not a low-profile notebook itself. I feel like the keyboard design and the keyboard shell itself is quite thin, and could be easily integrated into thinner profiles that will give you so much more travel distance than you would normally find other thin notebooks. As for the click itself, I’m impressed at the sensation that you have while typing. It’s quite distinct and they’re not loud at all, the sound profile is both quiet and also quite satisfactory. In fact, the buttons on my travel mouse are louder than these clicky switches on this gaming notebook, impressive. They de-bounce quite fast so you don’t have to worry about leaving a finger on there and it getting stuck, like happens on other blue mechanical switches like MX blues for example. That doesn’t happen with the B3KL’s because their travel distance is quite short at 1.6 millimeters. This means that you could very well game on this thing and perform really fast actuations like you would on a linear switch, but while having that audible and clicky sensation. I think many people who enjoy brown switches would appreciate this and people who love blues will love this one too.

Another cool fact is the B3KL switch is using a center mounted RGB LED with this concentric diffusion panel on the button itself. As a result, the lighting is very even and bright on each key, even when there’s characters that are not centered. Gigabyte also added a metal plate under the keyboards so that it doesn’t flex if you type aggressively. The key caps on this notebook are injected molded ABS with a soft-touch finish and laser engraving. The key material is especially made and designed to diffuse that light even further.

Conclusion

I’m really excited to get this AORUS 17 notebook in-hand. I’m personally using the Razor Blade 17 right now, and I just love the large form factor even though it’s not very user-friendly to travel with. The screen real estate and the faster refresh are awesome. Oh by the way, the trackpad on the AORUS 17 is the best one I’ve tried from AORUS so far. It’s like MacBook-level and Razor Blade 15-level quality, really awesome. I’m just really excited to test out the performance of the hardware given the new vapor chamber cooling design, so make sure to stay tuned for that.

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