I’ll be presenting on 3D CAD and how we use SOLIDWORKS at TRAKKA, at the Caravan Industry of Australia National conference , in the next couple of days. I actually have a couple of presentation, along with my own, we are assisting with Markforged Masterclass on 3D scanning, CAD and 3D printing.

This did raise a small issue for me! (maybe more than small) My HP Spectre, which has served me well, is adequate for simple SOLIDWORKS presentation and home projects (you can read more about it’s SOLIDWORKS ability here) but when it comes to my work, it was never going to cut it.

I am fortunate that I have a good contact, when it comes to computers and now works at Com1 International. So I reach out and ask could I borrow something for the event. They know what I do, so I didn’t request anything in directly but looking through the range of product I was hoping for one in particular! Well they must have read my mind when they said they were sending me the new 2023 model Gigabyte AERO 16 OLED Laptop. In their own words Gigabyte is promoting the laptop as – “The AERO 16 OLED creator laptop is designed for professionals, designers, and creators.” and shows that it has done compatibility testing for creative & design software including SOLIDWORKS.

The specification of the laptop that they sent are:

Model: AERO 16 OLED – BSF-73AU994SH

Processor: i7-13700H – 13th generation Intel Core i7 – 14 Core (6 – Performance, 8 – Efficient) 20thread, 2.4GHz – Max Turbo Boast – 5.0 GHz

RAM: 16.0 GB DDR5 (Double Data Rate 5)

Graphics: Intel® Iris Xe Graphics,
NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4070 Laptop GPU 8GB GDDR6

Display: 16.0″ Thin Bezel 4K UHD+ 3840 x 2400 OLED 16:10 Display

Storage: Gigabyte AG470S – 1TB-SI B10

I was excited by the prospect of the arrival of the AERO 16, but nothing prepared me for what a beautiful, wonderfully designed & engineered computer it is. Add to that, are a number of small details that appeals to my personality.

The AERO 16 is a CNC milled, anodised aluminum chassis, with a look and finish equal to anything out there on the market. Gigabyte provide nice detailed descriptions of the computer on the product page of their website , along with this beautifully produced marketing video.

One of the reasons that I brought the HP Spectre, (apart from wanting to try touch screen with SOLIDWORKS) was that it could be a pain lugging around a 15/17″ laptop workstation. Utilising a machined aluminum chassis keeps the AERO 16 to 1.9kg (4.2lb). Dimensional it measures Width 354mm (13.9″) x Depth 255mm (10.1″) and quite remarkable only a thickness of 18-22mm (0.71-0.87″)

The AERO 16 has a 16:10 ratio (compared to the more “standard” 15.4″/ 17″ 19:9 ratio laptops) this give the AERO a more squared look. That is helped by the 6mm (1/4″) radius corners compared to the more common 12mm – 16mm (1/2″ – 5/8″) on most other laptop computers.

It’s a look that I like and is further enhanced by the display being 4k OLED – 3840 x 2400, inserted into a physical black bezel with measures 4mm (5/32″) to the sides, 6mm (1/4″) to the top, which incorporate the camera and microphone and 10mm (3/8″) at the bottom. It’s easy to see why Gigabyte are marketing the AERO as a “Creator” range with the OLED display having X-Rite™ colour calibration and Pantone® validation.

One of the first details that caught my eye is the AERO logo machined into the opening cover. It illuminates when powered up, but that’s not it’s real trick!

What catches your eye is when the AERO logo is not illuminated, and when viewed in certain light at different angles it displays a changing range of iridescent colours.

At first I thought it was just one of those accidental by-products of a processed used, but no, in Gigabyte words “by mixed platinum color with aluminum and nanoimprint Lithography (NIL) technology optical lamination, the material refracts light differently at different angles”
Whilst it may do nothing for the performance or function of the computer it does go into the thought process behind the design of the AERO 16. It that attention to detail which separates it from other products. That detail also extend to the packaging carton, which gives you a preview of what is to come, with a similar (but a more simple effect) with the AERO logo.

There are a couple of other clever trick of the light details that the AERO 16 uses. One is on the touch pad. When viewed sitting directly in front of it, it has the same metallic silver tone as the rest of the computer. But when viewed at the right angle with the right lighting it displays a laser etched AERO logo.

In the same vein, as the display of the other logos, is the laser engraving detail seen on the end of the hinge pins. If you had none of these beautiful details it wouldn’t greatly effect the look of the computer, but it is these details that takes the Gigabyte AERO 16 to a another level.

The detail doesn’t just stop with the branding of this laptop.
Although the keyboard is listed as white in colour, there are so many times, especially under lower light it blends to similar grey tones as the rest of the face of the laptop.

There is so much to like about the keyboard. When the white does stand out, you realise it is that fingerprint resistant, low lustre which has a sensory feel to the keys, which themselves have just the right amount of resistance to them, when typing.

There is some clever and very subtle detail with the keyboard. It embraces the narrower style of font, which gives the keyboard a smaller appearance than it really is. One interesting aspect of the keys which isn’t directly apparent, is that not all the keys are named. Whilst the Ctrl (Control) & Caps (Capital Lock) keys are, the Shift, Tab, Enter & Backspace are not. Because of the familiarity of the key layout it does take a little while to realise that is the case.

There is also a wonderful homage paid to the early mechanical keyboards with the Enter/ Return Key. At a glance it looks to be a inverted L (English ISO) style key but it is just a very clever deception, using two individual keys, Enter & Backslash, that are shaped and has minimal distance between the two keys.

A couple of other interesting items with the keyboard. It’s been a long time since I can recall seeing the left & right position Alt keys labeled as more than just Alt. So it is interesting to see the right Alt key labeled as Alt Gr. As my only real use of the Alt Key is normally to toggle through open programs using Tab+Alt, I don’t have a great knowledge on the Alt key but I understand it that the Alt Gr key can be used with the creation of symbols.
The keyboard can also be backlit. Most backlighting keyboard are normally just a toggle on or off function. With the AERO 16 you have three levels of brightness with a clever function to toggle through the range, which I haven’t seen before. This is done by using the Fn (Function) key + Space bar. There is a symbol on the Space bar to prompt this. The backlighting also automatically turns off when there is no keyboard use for 5minutes. It reactivates with the touch to any of the keys.

I’m a big fan of a power connection that connect at the back of a laptop. It just seems to make more sense allowing the lead to head off in either direction. For the same reasoning I like the HDMI2.1 output for a monitor connection there as well. Along with those connections there is a USB3.2 (Type A) which is convenient, for the Logitech wireless receiver I use with my wireless Logitech MX Ergo Trackball .

On the left-hand side from back to front is a USB 3.3 (TypeC), a microSD Card Reader (a clever feature which would appeal to the photographers) and a 3.5mm audio input. Whilst on the right-hand side are a pair of Thunderport 4.0 connections

Most prominent, on both sides (exhaust) and underneath (intake) but more subtle around the face are the air intake and exhaust ports. Despite how nice this machine looks, it has been designed for hard hot work. Gigabyte expects the CPU to be working at 100% with all cores engaged and has designed the cooling system to counteract that heat.

I’m so impressed, in such a short time with the look and feel of the AERO 16, but that’s just one side of this machine. Lets see if it can do the work!

The first thing I always do with SOLIDWORKS on a new computer is to run the SOLIDWORKS Performance Test application. I like to run it a few times to get a good average. I have SOLIDWORKS 2023 SP2.1 installed running on Window 11 Home 10.022621.
This was the best of the four runs. Graphics: 9.3sec, Processor 20.5sec, I/O 19.3sec = Overall 49.1 seconds. Rendering 6.6sec RealView Performance 5.7sec. The processor & I/0 results are near identical figures across the four runs. The Graphic, Rendering and RealView Performance did vary quite a bit but I think this is a fair indication of the performance

Out of interest this is the result from one of our work’s custom built desktop computers, running a liquid cooled overclocked Intel i9-9900KS 4.9Ghz & NIVDIA Quadro P2200. Graphics: 21.1sec, Processor 25.3sec, I/O 20.3sec = Overall 66.6 seconds. Rendering 8.8sec RealView Performance 18.2sec. Whilst this shouldn’t be taken as a direct comparison, after all it is three year older and running SOLIDWORKS 2022 SP5 on Windows 10.0.19045

However it does highlight the performance of the Gigabyte AERO 16 with better number across all tests and indicates this is a very impressive workstation.

Whilst the SOLIDWORKS Performance test is a good start, I have a couple models that I like to use to provide real world testing.
I like to run a rebuild tests with this little filter. It is only a small part – 6.38MB in size but the Linear Patterns, Mirroring of Patterns and then applying Fillets to those features are always taxing on rebuild times!
The AERO 16 rebuilds the filer in 159.09seconds, where the desktop takes 246.34 seconds. Some of that may be down to the performance improvements between SOLIDWORKS 2022 & 2023 but either way that is a massive improvement.

I also like to use this “Speaker for Render Benchmark” by Rob Rodriguez – Axis Cad Solutions to see the rendering performance. It’s a clever little render, with a nice mix of appearances and use of field of vision. The AERO 16 renders it in 3min 30.2sec in comparison to the desktop of 4min 8sec, highlighting the advantage of 14 cores-20threads of the i7-13700H over the i9-9900KS 8cores-16thread

It’s hard not to be impressed with the AERO 16! If I was using it as my work computer the only thing I would change would be to up the RAM to 32 if not 64GB as my models take 16GB to it’s limits. Along with that I would upgrade to Windows 11 Professional!

SOLIDWORKS on 4k can be a little tricky to set up! I have set the Icons to Medium in SOLIDWORKS and the scale of the text set to 250% (recommended) in the Windows display settings.

It is interesting that the text scaling isn’t universal within SOLIDWORKS. Not that it is a big issue, it doesn’t affect, drop-down menu and the FeatureTree, more so text within the menu of the feature.

Whilst I’ve only had the AERO16 for a few week and I haven’t had the opportunity to do a lot of modeling or rendering within SOLIDWORKS, I would be more than pleased to use the the Gigabyte AERO 16 in my everyday design work. There is so much that I like about it, the engineering, the clever details, the look & feel to go with the performance.

It’s going to be hard to have to return it!

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