The Aftershock Forge 15S is unlikely to raise any eyebrows in a work setting. Its nondescript appearance does not hint at its gaming potential, and its chassis is relatively slim and lightweight, like a mainstream notebook. But the entry-level gaming hardware inside this 15-inch laptop — 11th-gen Intel Core i5 processor and mainstream Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 graphics — is sufficient to run most games smoothly at medium setting and 1080p resolution. Coupled with Aftershock's no-frills approach, the Forge 15S is easily one of the most affordable gaming notebooks in the market.
- 15.6-inch Full-HD display (144Hz)
- 11th-gen Intel Core i5 chip with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 graphics
- Single-zone backlit keyboard (15 colours, 2mm key depth)
One thing that I liked about the Forge 15S is the lack of exhaust vents on the right side. This means you don't have to worry about warm air from the laptop innards blowing on your mouse hand. It's not the case for the left side, so left-handers get the short end of the stick as usual. But it's not all bad. Like the Aftershock Forge 15X, the vents on the left are located further up so the exhaust does not hit your hand directly. At around 1.9kg and measuring 22mm thick, the Forge 15S is not as sleek as an ultrabook, but it's handy enough. Special mention, too, for the laptop's power brick, which is compact and portable. The palm rest flexes slightly when I press down on it, but the chassis generally feels solid enough.
Like most gaming notebooks, the Forge 15S has a high refresh rate (144Hz) display. It's matte, which is good for reducing reflections and bezels are relatively slim. It is decently bright and viewing angles are good, as expected of an IPS display. The keyboard feels similar to the Acer Nitro 5 gaming notebook that I recently tested. It has decent travel and a slight bounce. However, the cheaper Forge 15S only has a single LED backlight zone compared to the four zones on the Nitro 5. There's no lack of ports, including three USB Type-A, a USB Type-C (10Gbps), Ethernet and even mini-DisplayPort. Audio, though, is merely adequate. Understandably, the speakers lack bass and sound thin. I recommend using headphones, which would also help if you're plan to run the Forge 15S in high performance mode. Because the fans do get rather noisy in this no-holds-barred mode.
You'll soon realise the need for fast-spinning fans. There's only a thin layer of plastic between your lap and the insides of the Forge 15S. This baseplate has plenty of vents and holes — you can glimpse the laptop's heatpipes and dual fans. Even with the fans set to High, the bottom of the Forge 15S, like a typical gaming laptop, gets too warm for comfort. It's worth the heat and noise, though, as the Forge 15S managed 54fps in Watch Dogs: Legion at High. This was surprisingly higher than the 31fps produced by the Asus TUF Dash 15. However, the Asus, which is better on paper with its Core i7 and RTX 3050 Ti, was faster in Metro Exodus with 40fps at Ultra compared with 30fps for the Forge 15S.
The Aftershock Forge 15S can be configured up to an Intel Core i7 and RTX 3050 Ti. My Core i5 and RTX 3050 review set, which costs S$1,639, is one of the cheaper options. You can lower the price to S$1,505 by opting for an unactivated copy of Windows 10. When left inactivated, there will be some restrictions, but no expiry date and you'll still get all the updates. Or go even lower by reducing the RAM from 16GB to 8GB, which brings the price down to S$1,420. No matter the configuration, the Forge 15S should have no problems running popular, less-demanding esports games. As for more graphically-intensive titles, you'll probably have to opt for more modest settings. Have fun configuring the Aftershock Forge 15S with your preferred options on its website.
Note: Review unit provided by Aftershock PC. The review is strictly editorial and not paid for by Aftershock PC. However, Aftershock PC is promoting the content.
Any purchase you make through our links may generate a commission. It supports our work, but does not dictate our editorial reviews. See our FAQ here.
Buy it from Aftershock PC