Razer Blade 15 (2018)

Price: £1,699 inc VAT from fave.co/2Ok­mo5q

Tech Advisor - - Contents -

Razer is back with a new Blade and a bold claim, de­scrib­ing the 2018 model as the “world’s small­est 15.6in gam­ing lap­top”. It comes with an im­proved de­sign, 8th-gen In­tel chip and Nvidia Max-Q GPU. There’s much more to it than this though, with a num­ber of up­grades and re­fine­ments through­out.

De­sign

There’s no big de­par­ture here from Razer’s de­sign that over the years has be­come iconic in the gam­ing mar­ket. As you can see, the Blade 15 of­fers the sleek black and green styling that many adore. The head­line de­sign el­e­ment here is that the lap­top of­fers a full-size 15.6in

dis­play in­side a chas­sis that ap­pears to be no big­ger than well-known 14in Razer Blade. In fact, in some ways, the new model is smaller.

The Blade 15 is 355mm wide, which is a small in­crease from the 345mm you might be used to. Fit­ting that larger screen in is largely down to it be­ing ‘edge-to-edge’ with tiny 4.9mm bezels. And when it comes to thick­ness, the Blade 15 is ac­tu­ally thin­ner than its pre­de­ces­sor. Depend­ing on what graph­ics card you get, it’s 17.3- or 16.8mm – down from 17.99mm – so it’s the thinnest GTX lap­top around.

This doesn’t af­fect its con­nec­tiv­ity though, as you still get full-size USB and HDMI.

Over­all, the de­sign is more squared off and mir­rors the lines of the Razer Phone. This in­cludes front-fac­ing speak­ers on ei­ther side of the key­board, just like on the smart­phone. The power but­ton is now on the right rather than cen­tral; it looks like it might have a fin­ger­print scan­ner built in, but it sadly does not. The idea is porta­bil­ity and the lap­top is very much that at 2.07- to 2.15kg, depend­ing on which model you buy.

The fi­nal thing to men­tion is the Blade 15 has a new cool­ing sys­tem that in­cludes dual fans and a large vapour cham­ber. It looks nice on the un­der­side, but we’ll talk about how hot the lap­top gets in the per­for­mance sec­tion be­low.

Key­board and track­pad

You get the same Chroma-en­abled Key­board, so you can mess around with light­ing to your heart’s con­tent us­ing the Sy­napse soft­ware. There’s more to say here, though. With the speak­ers ei­ther side, there’s

no num­ber­pad (although that means a more cen­tral po­si­tion) and there are no macro but­tons ei­ther, which many gamers will miss. The re­main­ing keys pro­vide a nice ex­pe­ri­ence, with a crisp ac­tion and a sat­is­fy­ing soft click each time a key is pressed.

There’s also a game mode to avoid press­ing com­mon Win­dows short­cuts and in­ter­rupt­ing your game. We didn’t ex­pe­ri­ence any is­sues when test­ing, but some will find it more akin to an Ul­tra­book than a gam­ing key­board.

The glass track­pad is new and it’s huge. You will want to con­nect a mouse for any se­ri­ous gam­ing, but for gen­eral use the track­pad is bril­liant. It’s smooth, re­spon­sive and in­cludes click but­tons. Razer has added sup­port for Mi­crosoft’s Pre­ci­sion Mouse.

Dis­play

As men­tioned ear­lier, the new Razer Blade 15 for 2018 of­fers a 15.6in screen and we love the new small bezels that run around the edge, mak­ing the lap­top look great and keep the size of the chas­sis down.

At the bot­tom end, the Razer has a Full HD dis­play with a 60Hz re­fresh rate. This model only has the GTX 1060 GPU and 256GB of stor­age, so bear this in mind. At the top end is a 4K dis­play, also at 60Hz – it’s the only model with a touch­screen. This comes with a GTX 1070 graph­ics card and 512GB stor­age.

We tested the Full HD model with a 144Hz re­fresh rate, which comes with a choice of graph­ics card and hard drive. This will be the best op­tion for most if your bud­get stretches. It will be worth it for the ex­tra smooth­ness that the in­creased re­fresh rate pro­vides.

We like the matte fin­ish on the Full HD options but the dis­play isn’t the bright­est we’ve seen at 275cd/m2, so we al­most al­ways had it at full bright­ness.

The colour­ful dis­play of­fers 99 per­cent of sRBG, but the 76 per­cent of Adobe RGB, the gamut favoured by de­sign­ers, isn’t so great. This is a gam­ing lap­top though, so this is only an is­sue if you’re look­ing for one that can be used for both work and play – in which case the Gi­ga­byte Aero 15X will suit you bet­ter.

Core specs and per­for­mance

Re­gard­less of which model you choose, you’re go­ing to an 8th-gen­er­a­tion In­tel pro­ces­sor. As you’d ex­pect from a high-end gam­ing lap­top, it’s a Core i7-8750H – a 6-core, 12-thread, 9MB cache chip with a 2.2GHz base speed and up to 4.1GHz with Max Turbo. That’s the same as the Asus ROG Ze­phyrus GX501.

Ev­ery Blade 15 comes with 16GB of DDR4 2667MHz RAM, though you can up­grade it to 32GB. Win­dows 10 comes pre-in­stalled, of course. Stor­age goes up to 512GB in the form of an M.2 SSD, but it de­pends what com­bi­na­tion of things you want.

In terms of graph­ics, there’s an Nvidia GTX 1060 or 1070 (our re­view unit) in the Max-Q form, es­sen­tially ver­sions of the desk­top cards made for thin laptops. If that isn’t enough graph­ics power, then Razer has also launched a new Core X eGPU to house a desk­top card (£259 from fave.co/2uPGE75).

In our Geek­bench 4 multi-core test, the Blade 15 scored 17,956, and in PCMark 10 it man­aged 4962. That’s bet­ter than the Areo 15X but a lit­tle be­hind the ROG Ze­phyrus which has a GTX 1080.

In our gam­ing bench­marks, the Blade 15 recorded im­pres­sive re­sults. Tested at Full HD res­o­lu­tion, it scored 101.5fps on medium set­tings in To­tal Warham­mer and 64.3fps when set to ul­tra. In Tom Clancy’s Ghost Re­con, it reached 79.8fps on medium and 44.6fps. These aren’t far off the Asus ROG with its 1080, so the Blade 15 can of­fer Full HD gam­ing at ul­tra set­tings and more than playable frame rates.

The chas­sis does get quite hot, though. The fans get quite loud and the sec­tions ei­ther side of the track­pad where you’ll rest your palms gets warm. The hottest sec­tion is be­tween the key­board and screen, which we of­ten found too hot to touch. Razer says this is nor­mal with a metal cas­ing and that heat is drawn away from where you make con­tact with the lap­top. It’s worth not­ing that since the air in­take is on the bot­tom, you shouldn’t use the Blade 15 on a cush­ion, bed or sim­i­lar.

Con­nec­tiv­ity and au­dio

There’s a switch to In­tel for Wi-Fi and the Blade 15 of­fers 8021.1ac and Blue­tooth 5.0. Con­nec­tiv­ity is de­cent de­spite the lap­top be­ing thin­ner than be­fore. You get three USB-A 3.1 ports (in green, of course), HDMI 2.0, USB-C Thun­der­bolt 3, a 3.5mm combo jack and, for the first time, a mini Dis­playPort 1.4. This means you can sup­port up to three ex­ter­nal dis­plays.

There’s also a 720p we­b­cam, which is above the screen not be­low it like many new laptops. You’ll also no­tice a pro­pri­etary power con­nec­tor. This comes with an an­gled ca­ble to feed the ca­ble to be­hind the lap­top.

There are speak­ers ei­ther side of the key­board. So while many laptops have speak­ers on the side or even un­derneath, these ones ac­tu­ally point vaguely to­wards your ears. They are no re­place­ment for a head­set, but the qual­ity, for a pretty thin lap­top, is good and there’s a de­cent amount of power should you need to

drown out fan noise. If you’re gam­ing there’s even a bit of stereo sep­a­ra­tion, so you can tell which side an en­emy is com­ing from.

Bat­tery life

It’s no se­cret that gam­ing laptops aren’t made for bat­tery life. The Razer Blade 15 has a 80Wh bat­tery built in, which is a chunk big­ger than Asus’s ROG Ze­phyrus and it shows.

Razer’s de­vice lasted al­most twice as long with a re­sult of two hours and 45 min­utes – that’s play­ing a video on loop at 120cd/m2 (40 per­cent bright­ness in this case). It’s still not great, but it does mean you can play for a lit­tle while with­out need­ing a power socket.

If you need a bit more longevity then the Gi­ga­byte Aero 15X man­aged a more re­spectable three hours and 55 min­utes.

Ver­dict

The Razer Blade 15 is ex­pen­sive, but not more than ri­val gam­ing laptops and you’re get­ting a se­ri­ous com­bi­na­tion of de­sign and specs here. It of­fers a 15.6in ex­pe­ri­ence in a size barely big­ger than be­fore (in fact, it’s thin­ner). Add in 8th-gen Core i7, Nvidia Max-Q GTX graph­ics and lots of other good­ies and we’re look­ing at one of the best portable gam­ing laptops money can buy. It can get a bit hot and noisy at times, but there’s lit­tle to dis­like about this stun­ning de­vice Chris Martin

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 15.6in (1,920x1,080) Full HD, 144Hz matte fin­ish • Win­dows 10 Home 64-bit

2.2GHz In­tel Core i7-8750H (4.1GHz boost) 6 cores, 12 threads Nvidia GTX 1060/1070 Max-Q GPU with 6/8GB RAM 16GB 2,666MHz DDR4 RAM (ex­pand­able to 32GB) 256GB/512TB NVMe SSD In­tel Wire­less-AC 9260 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi Blue­tooth 5.0 1x USB-C 3.1 Thun­der­bolt 3 3x USB 3.1 HDMI Mini Dis­playPort 1.4 Kens­ing­ton Se­cu­rity Slot Stereo speak­ers HD we­b­cam Sin­gle mic 3.5mm head­set jack UK tiled key­board with num­ber­pad Two-but­ton track­pad 80Wh lithium-ion bat­tery 355x235x16.8mm 2.1kg 2-year RTB war­ranty

The Razer’s small bezel’s make the lap­top look great and keep the size of the chas­sis down

The Razer 15’s con­nec­tiv­ity options mean it can sup­port up to three ex­ter­nal dis­plays

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