I decided to make a decision. Someone had stock of a Gigabyte AERO 17 HD machine. A bit on the pricy side but they had a $500 off the sticker which helped the decision.
I am still not a huge fan of the looks but the machine works well. I should not call this a laptop really. Your lap will end up getting quite roasty with this thing working on it. Also, first impressions of it did not go so well.
I installed my software on it and for the most part it worked well. Then I tried to install Wacom software and drivers for my small Intuos S tablet. The software says it worked well but when the tablet was plugged in, it didn’t do anything. No software updates or newer drivers did anything. At one point I managed to lose my mouse and trackpad completely and I could not get them back. Windows is probably the easiest OS to navigate with just the keyboard but even certain things start to get pretty painful if you do not have access to a mouse or similar. It was not the only thing that did not quite work well.
The keyboard backlighting is nice and all and all I want it to do is just remain a solid color and on. However every time the machine rebooted it would revert to the “wave” which is a left to right color cycling mode for the backlit keys. When doing work, I find that too distracting to I set the Gigabyte software to set it to a solid color. The software remembers the setting but on reboot, just does not keep. Bring up the software again and look at my saved profile and it temporarily indicates “wave” but when I switch profiles to something else and return, it will show the setting that I saved. So something is clearly wrong with the software here. But by this time I lost the mouse and could not really hunt for what was really going on here.
Had to go nuclear. A fresh install of the OS later and now everything is working as it should. I still haven’t installed the Gigabyte Control Center software because I am a little leary about having the above issue again. Also, I found the current state of the Gigabyte website is pretty pathetic. Half of the drivers listed on that site for my computer are links to nowhere. The support page also did not work quite well. I thought it might be a browser issue (Chrome) so I tried Edge instead. Did not make a lick of difference.
So far Gigabyte’s reputation is not quite as high as I had it. Would I recommend the machine? I find it hard to say unequivocally that this is a good machine to buy. Getting drivers from the manufacturer is suspect. Initial install of the OS on the SSD that came with the machine is suspect. Other than that though, the hardware seems pretty good. Love the UHD screen. Love the number of ports on the machine, no need for dongles yet. The keyboard is ok. I am still making typing mistakes but that is more to the style of the keyboard. There is a reason why normal desktop keyboard keys are tapered in, laptop keys are not, accidentally hitting a neighbouring key is much higher on the laptop.
All in all, this should be a good desktop replacement for when I am away from home. At 17″ it is a bit on the large size so portability is a bit questionable but I am getting older. The larger screen makes a huge difference.