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The Gigabyte Aero 15 4K AMOLED: A Portable Editing Beast

Lewis McGregor

For all you editors on-the-go, you need to read this in-depth discussion on the Gigabyte Aero 15—the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

I’ve just spent a few minutes chuckling to myself because I think this is going to be the third article in a row where I reference an Instagram Reel that I caught last night. Could I be slightly addicted to endlessly scrolling through the abyss of poorly-filmed comedy skits? I think so, but it reminds me of Vine. I miss Vine.

Anyway, to the point, the Instagram Reel‘s initial shot was of a student at his desk on his laptop, which read, “When I try to edit 4K footage on my laptop.” The shot then cuts to the hallway, where we see a bright flash and a loud bang from the student’s room, insinuating that his laptop blew up. And, of course, we can all relate to this sentiment.

As a gamer, I’ve always been a desktop guy, as my workstation can double for both high processing editing and ultra-graphical gameplay. With that, I’ve never put too much thought into editing on laptops. And, when I have used them in the past, I’ve had extremely choppy performance when editing 4K.

Although, in the defense of those machines, they were somewhat consumer-friendly laptops. I’d wager that their RRP was around $700-$800—nearly half the price of my desktop GPU. So, I shouldn’t expect the performance of a desktop inside of a laptop.

However, that ideology has somewhat changed recently, as I’ve had my hands on the Gigabyte Aero 15 4K AMOLED, and the model that houses a NVIDIA 3070.

By standard accounts, this will not be a direct review of the featured laptop. At least, not in the typical sense. We’re not going to run the laptop through stress tests or run over the specifications as expected in a Linus Tech Tips review video.

Instead, I want to talk about the practicality of using a powerful laptop as a mobile DIT—but without the cart. A discussion you could say.


The Solo Filmmaker

In a previous video of mine, I talked about the practicality of creating narrative content by yourself, and one incredibly beneficial element is that of modern camera technology.

Having a unit of technology that automates several features that would usually require either additional tools or an additional set of hands is a must. I use the C300 Mk III—every operation is available at the click of a labeled button. The dual-pixel autofocus is insane. The in-body stabilization also allows me to go handheld more than I usually would. And, with automated audio levels, I don’t have to pre-set the DB, and can record without worrying about clipping.

C300 Mk III
The C300 Mk III. I love this camera! Image via Canon.

However, I think as a collective whole we get so caught up in the technicalities of the camera that we rarely stop to think about the power needed to process the footage we use. The Canon C300 Mk III, for example, has a variable RAW data rate between 160Mbps and 1Gbps. When you couple that with a low-performing PC and a mild set of effects with some color grading, things get choppy.

At home, my workstation has an NVIDIA 3080 GPU, 64GB of RAM, i7-11700K—more than sufficient to process the C300 files or 6K without lowering the playback resolution (although, that’s something I’d recommend for proficient editing).


Portable Editing for High Data Rate Footage

However, what if you’re filming away from home and want to make a preliminary edit at the hotel? Often, consumer laptops, and even some of the Apple range, aren’t capable of handling the media coming off the latest cameras. In fact, my old machine with a 2080 struggled with the native 6K footage from the Panasonic S1H.

Or, perhaps, like the professionals, you want to make a mini video village where you can review the footage on a 4K monitor, or create a somewhat DIT cart where you can quickly grade the footage to make sure all the colors are working correctly.

Video Village
Simplify your workflow by utilizing a cart. Image via Cory Woodruff.

As sometimes, playing back your shot on the small 3.5 to 5-inch monitors that come with the camera doesn’t allow you to spot visual mistakes. Therefore, having a device that can both display footage at its highest resolution and edit said footage on location is an enormous plus when out in the field.

However, I’ve never really been in a position where, as a solo filmmaker, I had a portable machine that worked those wonders.

With the 3000 series from NVIDIA, the recent line of laptops are packing some serious firepower to rival their desktop counterparts.

There are several variations of the Gigabyte Aero 15, but for the laptop I’ve been using, the specs are:

  • Screen size: 15.6″
  • Screen type: AMOLED
  • Touchscreen: No
  • Resolution: 3840×2160 (Ultra HD)
  • Refresh rate: 60Hz
  • CPU type: Intel Core i7 10870H
  • CPU cores: 8 core
  • CPU threads: 16
  • CPU speed: 2.2 GHz
  • CPU boost: 5.0 GHz
  • Memory: 32GB (2x16GB)
  • Memory type: DDR4
  • Memory speed: DDR4 – 2666
  • Maximum memory supported: 64GB (2x32GB)
  • Graphics chipset: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU
  • Graphics memory: 8GB
  • Graphics memory type: GDDR6
  • GPU cores/streams/execution units: 5120
  • Graphics core clock: 780 MHz
  • Graphics boost clock: 1290 MHz

Now, admittedly, when I received this laptop, I did the face of the woman in the GIF (below) with numbers and math equations.

And, this is because I’m not a laptop guy, and the last time I did use one was an Alienware laptop in like 2009. So, I remember gaming laptops being chunky and heavy.

Therefore, to see this slimline light laptop housing RTX 3070, an i7 11800H, and 32GB DDR4, with everything else expected, left me feeling confused.

If you haven’t seen the RTX line of GPUs, they’re pretty big. I mean, my 3080 is longer than the width of this laptop.

NVIDIA 3080
NVIDIA’s RTX 3080. Image via NVIDIA.

However, NVIDIA Studio works directly with laptop manufacturers to design products fit for a creative professional. And, as a solo filmmaker venturing up mountains and out into the wilderness, having all that processing power in a laptop—that can easily fit into my gear bag and not weigh me down—is a huge advantage.

Aero 15
The Gigabyte Aero 15 4K laptop.

When we think of larger desktop GPUs, the core component is the large fans because they produce more heat, resulting from power. However, one thing to note with laptop GPUs, they are run with lower core and memory clock speeds, therefore use less power—producing less heat.

So, we can expect a dampening in the performance in comparison to the desktop counterpart. But still, it’s a two-and-a-half grand laptop with a 3070 GPU, so how proficient is it?


GPU Acceleration

The Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED is one of the most powerful laptops for creative tasks. It has an Intel Core i7 processor and one of NVIDIA’s best GPUs. As some of you know, I’m also a certified DaVinci Resolve editing trainer, and one of the best things about Resolve is the incorporation of GPU acceleration.

When we throw that at editing, especially in Resolve, it works wonders while on the go. And, it’s even more proficient when you’re using it with the likes of the RTX 3000 line of GPUs.

Gigabyte Aero 15
Working on-the-go.

When using GPU acceleration, combined with a powerful RTX 3000 series, and the NVIDIA Studio driver, it’s going to enable editors to use high-quality post-processing and advanced effects in their video production pipeline, without compromising on video resolution, quality, or playback smoothness.

For example, the embedded video looks at a project filmed with Canon’s RAW light, a beefy codec to process. On the Aero 15, using the 3070, we’re getting 24fps playback on most clips.

There’s an initial form of buffering that occurs upon the selection of each clip, and on some clips, the media dips from 9-18fps. However, on a 4K timeline, we’re still getting normalized playback. I haven’t optimized the clips nor decreased the timeline resolution. (It should be noted that I usually lower the timeline resolution or playback resolution when I’m trying to organize my footage for the practicality of efficient editing.) 

FPS
This clip lingers at 9fps before jolting to 24fps.

When I do drop the timeline down to 1080p, everything is buttery smooth. So, I can still be out in the field, and review, edit, and apply effects as I would at home.

Look, it’s not a gigantic 3080. It’s not going to have the same performance, where I can press play on a 4K timeline and there’s no cache processing at all, but it does a pretty amazing job. Especially when working with the GPU accelerated plugins and the new resolve features that are AI-based.

Now, why AI-based? Well, NVIDIA’s RTX GPUs include integrated tensor cores designed to accelerate AI inferencing functions. Essentially, this means the NVIDIA Tensor Cores automate mundane and repetitive tasks by reducing the time needed to use advanced process effects.

I think we can all agree that there’s nothing worse than being in a rhythm, applying a simple effect, and waiting several minutes for it to complete. This helps in that regard.

In my video, I cover a feature that we once published a tutorial on—the Face Refinement tool.

In my video, I have a twenty-second shot. My friend hadn’t had a lot of sleep and personally asked me to glam him up.

Upon hitting analyze, and using the GPU acceleration, it processed within fifteen seconds. Now, I can run through the easily identifiable parameters, and adjust where needed, such as smoothing out the skin, removing eye bags, and adding a bit of light to the shot.

And, we can see that even with advanced AI tracking and effect implementation, we can still scrub through the clip and playback typically with neither buffering nor performance drops. As noted in the review video, the clip was analyzed within 7.5 seconds on my desktop. While not a scientific measurement, I do feel as though the Aero 15 performs at a 50% reduction than my home workstation. And, by no means is that a negative considering the power of my desktop.

Now, two detriments to note—perhaps this is more of a laptop issue itself—is that when you’re working with beefy 4K or 6K footage, the fans are somewhat noisy, not PS4 noisy, but they’re pretty audible. I guess that’s to be expected when you have a 3070 inside of this. But, it doesn’t make for fun editing in the back of the car if you don’t have headphones.

Aero 15
Note: The fans can be a bit noisy.

Likewise, with so much processing power and being displayed on a 15.6-inch 4K OLED screen, the battery life also isn’t optimal. You’re not going to get a full day of work from a 100% charged battery. Instead you’ll have maybe around 4-5 hours of straight editing.

However, if you’re looking for a portable device that you can take with you on-the-go, the RTX 3070 will tackle any graphical work task. And, using the NVIDIA Studio drivers that provide optimizations will only accelerate your editing. This GPU is also significantly better than the graphics options available in the Apple machines.

The Gigabyte Aero 15 retails for around $2,199.99 to $4,202.25, depending on the model you select.


For more hardware overviews, check out these articles:

Cover image via Gigabyte.