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LAS VEGAS — I’ve done a lot of crazy things at CES: partied until 4 am with a 7 am flight; bungee jumped off the Stratosphere hotel; hell, I’ve even eaten at one of those $3.99 all-you-can-eat buffets. But one of my fondest CES memories will be the time I let someone strap a 17.3-inch laptop to my back.
It all started at the Aorus/Gigabyte booth tour. I was getting a rundown of all the new laptops for each brand when I saw him. There was a man holding a toy gun wearing an Oculus Rift VR headset, which was intriguing enough, but when he turned around, I saw he was wearing a harness holding a large laptop. When I discovered that this outlandish configuration was being used to play Star Wars: Battlefront, I knew it was my destiny. But first, I had to learn about the laptop.
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Turns out that the notebook in question was an updated version of the Aorus X7 Pro-Sync, which I reviewed late last year. Dubbed the X7 DT, the system maintained the original model’s good looks along with its 7.2-pound, 16.8 x 12 x 0.9-inch frame. However, the X7 DT is one of the first notebooks to rock a Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 desktop graphics chip, ditching the mobile 980M GPU in the previous edition. That means its one of the few VR-ready gaming laptops on the market.
While it would have been easy to simply hook up an Oculus Rift to the X7 DT, it really wouldn’t have driven the point home about the laptop’s svelte dimension. Instead, I soon found myself donning a harness with a 17.3-inch gaming laptop in preparation to play Star Wars: Battlefront. Once the laptop was secured, I put on the Oculus Rift headset and picked up a controller shaped like an assault rifle and I was ready to go.
As a member of the Empire, I was tasked with helping to root the stubborn Rebels out of their icy foothold on Hoth. The desolate icy-encrusted planet looked lovely in a 360-degree view. Although performing a quick spin produced some motion blur, I didn’t experience image tearing or nausea-inducing stuttering. My only real complaint was that the actual camera speed was set too high, other than that, I was ready to take out some Rebels.
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Using the single analog stick, four face buttons and trigger on the gun controller, I started hunting down the enemy. With the Aorus on my back, it was relatively easy to move through the icy caverns of Hoth. Once I discovered an enemy, it only took a few well-placed shots to dispatch them and I was on to the next one. I established a 14-man kill streak before I was gunned down by a random hostile, who ended my demo suddenly.
Overall, the experience was impressive. Not only was Aorus able to fit a desktop component into a relatively slim gaming laptop, the company used that same device to run a triple-A title in VR. While I wouldn’t recommend running around with a laptop strapped to your back in VR often, it’s an experience that you’ve got to try at least once. Just make sure you have a friend that cares about your overall health and well-being in the immediate vicinity if you do.