ULTRABOOK LAPTOP Razer Blade Stealth
Razer calls it the ‘Ultimate Ultrabook’, and it certainly looks like an Ultrabook, with a depth of just 18mm and featherlight 1.28kg weight. The well-built and stylish chassis is made from dark aluminium that tapers to a slim edge, and sports smartly implemented RGB LEDs and an illuminated Razer logo on the lid.
Of course, you sacrifice computing power to get such a svelte machine. The low-power dualcore Kaby Lake i7-7500U CPU runs at just 2.7GHz. It only has 4MB of L3 cache, and you only get Intel’s HD Graphics 620 for graphics too. Likewise, the 16GB of DDR3L RAM in this machine runs at just 1866MHz. On the plus side, the 256GB Samsung SM951 NVMe SSD is faster than a SATA drive, but it doesn’t have much storage space.
Also, while Razer has installed Killer 802.11ac Wi-Fi, connections are otherwise meagre. There’s no Gigabit Ethernet – you only get individual audio and HDMI ports alongside two USB 3 ports and Thunderbolt support. That means no DisplayPort, SD card slot or USB 3.1 Type-C.
You also compromise on the keyboard. The shallow buttons have even less travel than most other gaming laptop keyboards. It’s consistent and the aluminium build gives you a solid base, but it isn’t brilliant for gaming. It looks good though – each key has individual RGB LEDs, and the Synapse software can customise colours, record macros and alter the system elsewhere. The touchpad is fine though – the large surface clicks satisfyingly, and the buttons are fast and light.
What the Stealth does have is a fantastic touch-screen. Its 2,560 x 1,440 native resolution and 12.5in diagonal mean it has a sharp pixel density, and it’s an IGZO display too, which means smaller transistors inside the screen and therefore smaller pixels. IGZO screens are slimmer and more powerfrugal than IPS screens, although they’re also more expensive. They’re usually found in smartphones and tablets, rather than laptops. A version of the Blade Stealth with a 4K IGZO screen is available with a 512GB SSD, but you’ll have to pay £1,760 for that system.
Ultrabooks aren’t generally used for gaming, but Razer has at rick up its sleeve here with the optional Thunder boltconnected Core graphics dock. It can accommodate almost any modern desktop graphics card, and effectively turns the extremely portable Blade Stealth into a fast gaming machine when you get home.
It’s one of the best laptop screens we’ve ever used
Not surprisingly, the Blade Stealth’s low-power CPU isn’t quick. Its CPC RealBench system score of 52,637 is underwhelming, with the dual-core CPU particularly
struggling in our heavily multi-threaded Handbrake test. These results are slow compared with top-end gaming laptops, but they’re great for Ultrabooks. There’s certainly enough power to handle web browsing, office applications and photo editing.
The low-power CPU also means the battery lasted for 3.5 hours in our application test, and almost nine hours in a low-power test with the screen at 25 per cent brightness. Thermal results are solid too. The CPU and GPU delta Ts never went beyond 68°C, while the exterior remained cool and quiet. The CPU occasionally throttled to 1.5GHz in stress tests, but the Blade stayed responsive – and you’re unlikely to push an Ultrabook to peak load on the move anyway.
Meanwhile, the IGZO screen’s brightness of 342cd/m2 is fantastic, and it’s backed up by a black level of 0.29cd/m2 and contrast of 1,179:1 – a great result that outpaces most IPS screens. Likewise, the delta E of 2.25 is great, and the panel renders a solid 93.3 per cent of the sRGB gamut. Viewing angles are superb, and brightness variation is minimal. The colour temperature of 7,586K is a little cool, but that’s our only issue. It’s one of the best laptop screens we’ve ever used. The stereo speakers offer surprisingly balanced audio as well – the high end is clear, the mid-range is punchy and there’s even a little bass.
Razer’s Blade Stealth is a high-quality affair. Its design is spot on, the screen is stunning and the low-power Kaby Lake CPU provides enough grunt without killing battery life – it’s a stylish, well-built machine that’s designed for life on the move.
Of course, you sacrifice keyboard depth, connection options and processing power, but on the plus side, the Core effectively turns Blade Stealth into a games machine, complete with an Ethernet connection and more USB connections. This smart add-on isn’t cheap, but it allows the Blade to deliver near-desktop performance on the laptop or on an external screen.
The Razer Blade Stealth costs £1,350 and the Core costs £500 inc VAT, so they’re hardly cheap, but together, they provide a more versatile setup than some gaming laptops. It’s a niche setup, but it fills that niche exceptionally well.