Razer Blade Review

The new version of Razer's Blade gaming laptop is thinner, more powerful, and more reasonably priced than ever.

The latest refresh of Razer's Blade laptop is its best yet, and despite the significant upgrade in performance, the new Blade is thinner than ever. Razer accomplished this by removing the Switchblade touch panel and reducing the screen size to 14 inches, but the clunky gimmicks and screen real estate are hardly missed in light of the incredibly thin chassis and lower MSRP, with the 128GB model starting at $1,800. Given its bump in hardware specs, the new Blade remains commendably quiet, but there's a downside to the Blade's quietness: much of the heat dissipates throughout the aluminum casing, making it extremely hot to the touch in certain spots. That issue aside, it's an extremely sleek and capable laptop that's had its fat trimmed away for the better, and where portability and performance are concerned, Razer's at the top of its game.

The two key components in the Blade are the latest CPU from Intel and GPU from Nvidia. Intel has designed its Haswell CPU around its new 22nm transistor manufacturing process to balance low power consumption with performance. It's a combination best suited for portable computing, where battery life is king. In keeping with this train of thought, Intel has also boosted the integrated graphics component of the CPU with the introduction of the HD 4600. While it’s no match for its nearby Nvidia cousin, the HD 4600 is a decent alternative for gaming that can significantly extend the life of a single charge.

Conservative gaming aside, the new Blade packs Nvidia's GTX 765M GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 for maximum performance. Among Nvidia's available mobile GPUs, the GTX 765M sits below average in CUDA (shader) cores and memory bandwidth due to the modest 128-bit interface, but it employs faster core and memory clocks to help get the most out of the bandwidth that is available. Given that it's powering games for a 14-inch screen at a resolution of 1600x900, the GTX 765M does its job quite well. You may not be able to crank up your favorite game to ultra, but that's hardly an issue when gaming on a screen this small. On the other hand, the HD 4600 leaves much to be desired, but it can be a viable alternative in a pinch.

NVIDIA GTX765M
Low: 49.00 Average FPS
High: 33.00 Average FPS
Intel HD 4600
Low: 19.85 Average FPS

Metro may be the most demanding PC game around, so it comes as no surprise that it won't properly run on the HD 4600. That said, it's impressive to see the GTX 765M push above 30 frames per second on average with high settings. You shouldn't feel bad if you want to lower the settings for better frame rates, though; Metro: Last Light still manages to look great on the 14-inch screen.

NVIDIA GTX765M
Low: 66.19 Average FPS
High: 63.68 Average FPS
Ultra+DOF: 41.63 Average FPS
Intel HD 4600
Very Low: 48.52 Average FPS
Low: 33.62 Average FPS
Medium: 26.34 Average FPS

BioShock Infinite won't tax your hardware quite like Metro: Last Light, but it's a great-looking game that takes advantage of DirectX 11's advanced features. The good news: the Blade's GTX 765M is capable of running Infinite with the game's highest settings enabled. The better news: the HD 4600 can handle it on low or very low, which is sufficient for gaming on the go.

NVIDIA GTX765M
Very High Preset: 61.56 FPS (Average)
Intel HD 4600
Low Preset: 61.33 FPS (Average)

Total War: Shogun 2 may be a two-year-old game, but the historical war simulator still pushes GPUs while calculating and rendering dense troop formations and extended draw distances. Intel's HD 4600 will run Shogun 2 at an impressive clip using the game's low preset, though other presets and advanced options are grayed out for the integrated GPU. The GTX 765M, on the other hand, pushes above 60 frames per second on the very high preset, leaving room for more-advanced flourishes such as tessellation, high dynamic range lighting, and ambient occlusion.

Though it's not a heavy hitter where gaming is concerned, the Intel HD 4600 proves its worth in other ways, working in conjunction with Nvidia's Optimus software, which automatically disables the GTX 765M during less-intensive tasks and passes them off to the integrated GPU. Activities that benefit from GPU acceleration, such as decoding HD Flash video streams, can benefit from the added hardware acceleration from the HD 4600. In turn, this affords better battery life during typical non-gaming usage; you can expect to get seven to eight hours of Web browsing over Wi-Fi.The power brick is impressively tiny, like the laptop; the custom-built brick is less than 6 inches long, about 2 inches wide, and .75 inches thick.

On the other hand, with the GTX 765M enabled, you can expect to get around three hours of gaming from the Blade's battery. It's not a game-changing figure, but considering the physical size of the battery, it's borderline exceptional.

The only unavoidable downside to the Blade's new build is its inability to dissipate heat as well as previous models. Razer opted for small, low-rpm fans that adequately maintain the laptop's internals, but ultimately fail to keep the casing--especially toward the rear half--reasonably cool. Fan noise is easier to cope with than heat, so it's disappointing that the fans are only designed with the Blade's internals in mind. However, if the fans were larger or spun faster, the Blade wouldn't be as thin and quiet as it is. This is the Blade's biggest blemish, but it seems like it's almost a necessary evil.

With three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI out, and a combo headphone/microphone port, there's the sort of connectivity available on the Blade that you'd expect, but without Ethernet, not necessarily everything you'd hope for. Ethernet connectivity is preferred during competitive multiplayer sessions, but given the new Blade's thin profile, it's not surprising to see it omitted. That said, an Ethernet to USB adapter could suffice, although Razer doesn't provide one.

Razer has done an amazing job of trimming away superfluous features, increasing performance, and decreasing bulk for its new Blade. There's nary a capable Windows gaming notebook that's this portable and good looking, and it's largely due to Razer's affinity for custom parts. At $1,800 for the 128GB model, you're getting a high-quality product that surpasses the competition in many ways. For the first time, the Blade feels worth its asking price. The 128GB model might be too tight on hard drive space for the average user, but even at $2,000 for the 256GB variant, you’re paying a fair price for a current and capable gaming laptop, and a good looking one, at that.

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Discussion

479 comments
goggles123456
goggles123456

Overpriced for someone like me.  I would rather invest in something that isn't going to depreciate in value very rapidly.  You buy this thing today and it's not worth the same $ value tomorrow.  Of course, it would be insanely fun to play games on this little thing, and it is a tempting offer.  At some point in the future, I plan on treating myself to one of these crazy laptops, but I would go for a 17 or 18 inch display, with more bells and whistles.  If I'm going to spend that much money on a laptop, I would want something with a bigger screen.

tionmedon
tionmedon

for the cost of my desk top i could buy 2 plus a whole lot of extra`s so what`s your beef Willis....lol

constantin
constantin

way overpriced; even HP sells an EliteBook with all the same specs and an Nvidia Quadro for $300 less.

jerusaelem
jerusaelem

Ahh Razer. This generations Alienware, and the computer hardware equivalent to a $200 pair of Nike's. $74 for the shoes, aaaaand $126 for the pretty label. Unlike shoes, however, I could easily put together my OWN computer for considerable less money, and it will be vastly superior in every single regard. But, you know...it won't have that nifty triple snake logo. 

True fact though: Razer products, oddly enough, WILL make you dunk on bitches like Michael Jordan. 

cuddlyfuzzle
cuddlyfuzzle

Most people who shop for a laptops do so for the portability aspect. Just throwing that out there.

Agent-M
Agent-M

I was gonna buy something like this, until I realized I could get a gaming PC 2-5 times more powerful and at a much cheaper price.

jhonel83
jhonel83

I never knew there even was such a thing as a "gaming laptop". The only reason why you would ever buy a laptop over a desktop PC is portability. A laptop usually costs double the money for half the horse power. Not to mention you won't be able to upgrade over time.With 1800$ you can buy a monster PC today. And if you want portability and gaming, you don't pay a ridiculous sum for that, you just buy a tablet or a console. Please feel free to tell me where am I wrong

petez34
petez34

The writer should not have called this a review. You neglect way too much. Next time name your piece - "First Impressions" or "Razer wrote this for me to publish".

rhymesmatter
rhymesmatter

Many things here are too wrong for my taste...The fact that Razer has been bedding Nvidia is one of them. Of course hoping for a Taihiti based GPU is just for perfectionists/enthusiasts who want absolutely the best FPS (even if it doesn't really matter past 60) Having that said...Even if i do have 1800$ to spare i most certainly wouldn't do so for Blade. As a mate said somewhere around here it's like overpaying Apple for a getting a product that could do FAR better with that amount of dough.Only paying for the Chassis and 3 snakes entangled with eachother (or a bitten apple for that fact) is considered , at least in my eyes, a total ripoff ! If somebody wants to argue about aesthetics be my guest but even the most HARDcore Razer fans should realize that you can do BETTER with less money, still staying in the Gaming Laptop division

argotto
argotto

The same desktop could be custom built for 700-800 dollars if you wanted a good monitor.  Hard for me to be amazed over a powerful laptop when it is obvious now days that it doesn't cost anywhere near that amount to put it together. 

Feedbackula
Feedbackula

I think I found my new laptop for college. huehuehuehuehueh

fredwv
fredwv

I stopped at $1,800

DITHRICH
DITHRICH

i bought a way cheaper laptop for like 600$, i run everything on it and on good terms (fps wise)...

Gaming-Planet
Gaming-Planet

Lenovo has better gaming notebokes imo for half the price of this, and it has SLI with the ultrabay.

Scarshi
Scarshi

Better off with an Alienware laptop. The Blade just doesn't "cut" it.

ken_athomos
ken_athomos

some people comparing this thing to a desktop computer. maybe the weirdest comparison I've seen today. if you don't like it, don't buy it, and then stick to your current rig or console. not everyone will agree with me on this one, but some people DO WANT a gaming laptop. can't blame them if they want to.

xXl_z3r0_lXx
xXl_z3r0_lXx

No, I was agreeing with you that it's just another macbook, but saying that the razer blade is more for saying "look I have lots of money" than it is for gaming. Both are over priced and neither are particularly good at doing what their companies said they're for.

SoulSnare
SoulSnare

what the hell? 120 GB? i rather get another gaming laptop

TohouAsura
TohouAsura

"The 128GB model might be too tight on hard drive space for the average user, but even at $2,000 for the 256GB variant, you’re paying a fair price for a current and capable gaming laptop, and a good looking one, at that."


.... What. You think a 200$ price increase for 128GB is worth it? Are you sane or even value your own money?

My PC cost me half the price of the Razer, has twice the performance and 15x the HDD space + a 120GB SSD.


You're goddamn mental if you think this price is reasonable, this bullshit is what creates the stigmas for PC gaming.

zpluffy
zpluffy

120GB! 

What! that's just my boot drive

Aleksandre3182
Aleksandre3182

I personally prefer Alienware 14x, much better performance for 1500

Sorrow_Echo
Sorrow_Echo

So how much money they pay to GS for this crappy article? My 3 years old Samsung Q430 is much better than this crap, bought it for $900, and yes i can play metro LL in mid quality not high, so what? i bet i can install Metro 25x times in it. and play which ever i want to.

Slade968
Slade968

This is pretty reasonable for how small it is. I don't see why everyone is reacting so negatively towards it. It is perfect for a professional who has to travel for work. 

Dark3sta
Dark3sta

You can get a good 17' ASUS Republic of gamers laptop with that kinda money.
Also it will have at least 500GB HDD which is better than this ridiculous 128Gb.

mike300zxt
mike300zxt

@SoulSnare It's a gaming laptop, not a media server.  And they offer a 256GB model. And you can probably stick any size SSD you want in there.  And you can connect your USB 1/2/3/4TB external drive.

I swear, 99% of the comments on this article are from people who will never own a laptop, let alone a gaming laptop.

mike300zxt
mike300zxt

@TohouAsura you're comparing a PC to a laptop?  lol, ok, obviously two totally different things, with two totally different costs.  High-performance laptops have cost 2-3X more than PCs for the last 20 years, and they are never as fast.  Gaming laptops fill a need in the market, just as gaming PCs, consoles and mobile games do.

There is nothing "mental" about a high-end gaming laptop for a reasonable price.  It's nice to have the choices.  If you don't need or can't afford a high-end gaming laptop, then obviously this product isn't for you, so why comment, or compare it to a product that is in no way similar (as your PC is not even a laptop at all)?  Sorry, but that's utter nonsense.

SythisTaru
SythisTaru

@zpluffy Mine is 90gb (SSD), it is extremely annoying. I literally have to uninstall/move files around DAILY to make room as I'm using things.

5SI-GonePostal
5SI-GonePostal

@Aleksandre3182 Erm i would say its the same or worse performance having the same cpu and a weaker gpu.................funny that

mike300zxt
mike300zxt

@Slade968 Seems like most commenters are people who don't own high-end gaming laptops, or even any laptop at all.  Total lack of knowledge in this thread.  It seems like a very reasonable offering to me.  Of course it's expensive, high-performance mobile has always had a big price premium due to the production costs of miniaturization.

mike300zxt
mike300zxt

@Dark3sta Sure, but it will be a slow-ass 5400RPM dinosaur hard drive, not a blazingly fast SSD.

It's a PC laptop people. You can upgrade to whatever size hard drive you want.  You can buy their 256GB model.  You can put in your own SSD.  You can plug in your 1/2/3/4TB USB drive.  It's not rocket science, and it's not a problem for anyone who would buy this gaming laptop.

If your concern is hard drive size (which is easy to upgrade), your obviously not really looking for a gaming laptop, you're being just knit-picking specs without even reading the article that clearly states the 256GB model.

goggles123456
goggles123456

@jhonel83 @ken_athomos Let me tell you!  I"ve been gaming on laptops for years, and it's my preference over PCs.  Mainly because I'm not concerned with having the highest, best possible specs, but something that is more than enough is fine with me.  I'm using an ASUS gaming laptop, and while it's nowhere near the specs of that Blade in the article, it runs Skyrim on nearly ultra on all settings, just the shadows have to be toned down.  Anyway, as I type this I am sitting next to my wife and two pups in bed, which is why I love the portability of this laptop.  For my gaming needs, it's perfect. I even made a nice folding laptop tray that sits close to the bed so I don't have to hunch over when I type.  Loving my laptop!

icebox98
icebox98

@mike300zxt@SoulSnaremy $1,200 macbook pro with win 764bit installed had 16gb ram, core i7 2.8ghz *8 cores* and a radeon HD graphics. though the gpu was less powerfull than the $1800 laptop, i could atleast play Tomb raider 2013 with tress fx and everything on at 25 fps avarage.
we all know that unlike a laptop, u can upgrade a desktop without having to sell the whole system every time a new gpu demanding game comes out, SO PLEASE STOP THE SILLY TALK!

SuperLegends
SuperLegends

@mike300zxt @SoulSnare I own a Valkyrie CZ-17 gaming laptop...750GBs storage...I have 11.4GBs left....games and massive storages of movies/shows/videos etc...

edinko
edinko

@mike300zxt @TohouAsura THe problem  is its not a reasonable price. Never is with razer. You can buy a more powerful laptop for much less money for sure if you look good enough. It may not look so  stylish but will be faster and cheaper

Aleksandre3182
Aleksandre3182

Last time i've checked thay have implanted last gen of GPU...... I might be wrong, anyway i prefare in general to pay less for maybe weaker gpu, but i thinkmit will not change my gaming experiance :-)

jhonel83
jhonel83

@mike300zxt, you don't get to upgrade a laptop. They are meant to be as it is. On-board sound and graph. , fixed keyboard, fixed screen. You can't just use a screwdriver to open and replace what's inside.

edinko
edinko

@icebox98 @edinko @mike300zxt @TohouAsura True. Although I would probably never buy such an overpriced laptop I am on my second overpriced razer mouse. But its different of course. 2000 dollars and a 100 for a good mouse. Iam really happy with the mouse- just the battery could last longer. That's the only negative thing I can say about it

jhonel83
jhonel83

@mike300zxt , for the love of God, that IS NOT an upgrade. And no, even memory is not upgrade-able -you are limited by the number of slots on the motherboard and it's upper limit for that (which is usually pretty low).

mike300zxt
mike300zxt

Sorry bud, but clearly you know nothing about laptops. Laptop memory and hard drives have always been upgradable.