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Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro (2021) review: Sleek and capable

Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro (2021) review: Sleek and capable

One of the best slim gaming notebooks in recent years — the Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro — is getting a refresh. The new version boasts the latest hardware, notably Intel's 11th-gen processor, Nvidia's RTX 30 Series graphics, and a crisp 15.6-inch 165Hz QHD display. More importantly, the new Vapor 15 Pro, like its 2019 predecessor, comes with a very competitive price tag. Prices start from S$2,275 with an RTX 3060 and S$2,904 with an RTX 3070.

Quick specs

  • 15.6-inch QHD display (165Hz)
  • 11th-gen Intel Core i7-11800H chip with Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics
  • 3x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, SD card reader, 2.5G Ethernet port, Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6E chipset
  • 1.94kg

Dubbed as a collaboration with chip giant Intel, the Vapor 15 Pro is based on the Intel NUC X15 laptop kit. Compared with most Aftershock notebooks, the customisation options are more limited. You can customise the amount of memory (up to 32GB RAM) and storage (supports up to two 2TB SSDs). However, you cannot change the eight-core Intel Core i7-11800H processor and you can only choose between the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 and the 3070 graphics chip. I doubt anyone will quibble with these specs. The actual notebook hardware, too, is impressive. The Vapor 15 Pro's magnesium alloy chassis is solid without any flex on the palm rest or keyboard. I also liked how I could open the laptop lid with one hand — up to 180 degrees flat. Its 2.5G Ethernet port (at the rear) and a Wi-Fi 6E-compatible chipset also means you're getting the most advanced connectivity options available.

Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro
Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

With narrow bezels on three sides, the Vapor 15 Pro's QHD (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) IPS display looks modern. The top bezel also holds a handy Windows Hello infrared camera for facial recognition. The display itself is not as bright or as eye-catching as the OLED screens on premium ultrabooks. But more pertinently for gamers, the Vapor's display has a fast 165Hz refresh rate. The laptop's optical-mechanical keyboard is clicky and tactile with per-key RGB backlighting. However, it's not an island-style keyboard, so it takes some getting used to. The keyboard backlight and the light bar at the laptop lip can be customised with the Intel NUC Software Studio app. This app lets you tweak key settings, such as the power modes or disabling the Windows logo key, all from one handy location. Note that the app is not pre-installed, you have to download it from the Microsoft Store.

Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro
Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

My RTX 3060-equipped review set lives up to expectations. Set to Performance Mode, the Vapor 15 Pro managed 52fps in Watch Dogs Legion at Ultra setting at 1080p. This is similar to the Aftershock Forge 15X, which also has an RTX 3060. But the Vapor was slightly faster in Metro Exodus at 59fps (1080p, Ultra). I also tried online shooter Apex Legends at QHD resolution — it ran at 100fps and more. In short, the Vapor 15 Pro will handle the latest games with most of the eye candy turned on. But depending on the game, you may have to tweak the settings if 60fps at 1,440p is your target. As for the heat and noise output, the cooling fans do get pretty noisy in Performance Mode (around 5,000rpm). But the noise is tolerable as the fans actually sound like rain at high speed.

As for its thermals, the Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro, like most gaming notebooks, gets fairly warm in games, especially the base and the back. Nothing to be alarmed — the keyboard and palm rest are warm, but not uncomfortable to touch. Battery life is also predictably short despite its huge 94 watt-hour battery. The Vapor 15 Pro lasted 3hr 12min in our video-loop battery test with the screen at its brightest. My review set, which has 32GB RAM and a Samsung SSD costs S$2,729, but a typical configuration (16GB RAM and 512GB SSD) is around S$2,500. Get it now from Aftershock PC.

See Also
Logitech G Pro X2 Wireless Gaming Headset

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.

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Compact, capable and cost-friendly.

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