A GREAT ALL-ROUND NOTEBOOK, BUT ITS BULKIER AND MORE EXPENSIVE THAN RIVALS
We’re big fans of the latest generation of notebooks which aim to excel at office work, gaming and portability... all at once. This new Blade is Razer’s latest foray into that field and first impressions are good.
We’ve always liked the classy, matte finish of Razer notebooks. While there may be debate regarding how the company’s funky green logo will fit into a conservative, corporate office, there’s no doubt that the move from rounded corners to sharper edges makes for sharper looks. The monolithic black chassis is sophisticated and cool irrespective of your favoured aesthetic plus it’s only 17mm thick.
The lid is stiff and offers minimal flex while the milled, aluminium chassis is strong and has the bombproof quality that we’ve come to expect from Razer. The bezel surrounding the screen is only 5mm thick at the sides but it’s slightly thicker at the top due to the HD webcam. The screen itself offers a 144Hz refresh rate for smooth gameplay and the colours are vibrant. If you want more, you can upgrade the Full HD display to a 4K Touchscreen unit, but this comes at the expense of the fast refresh rate, some battery life and several hundred dollars.
The keyboard is average size – squashed between speakers at either end of the chassis – and we were happy to see full-sized arrow keys. It’s generally very comfortable to type on thanks to well-weighted, low-travel keys and the large trackpad is responsive and comfortable too. Each key has individual RGB lighting and Razer’s Synapse software lets you choose between multiple, cool, customisable effects. It all adds up to a slicklooking package that’s a joy to interact with.
The speakers aren’t as powerful as the chassis-mounted grilles suggest but there’s still reasonable bass and treble response for a laptop this size and volume is acceptable.
The insides are powerful thanks to a 2.2GHz hexa-core Core i7-8750H processor, 16GB of 2666GHz RAM and 512GB NVMe hard drive. It flew to a PCMark 10 score of 4,880 which puts it in powerful, desktop rig territory. The Nvidia 1070 graphics helped it score an impressive 6,701 in 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme meaning will easily handle the latest games on its Full HD screen.
In terms of battery, it ran PCMark’s test for four hours 20 minutes and did so at an impressive 86 per cent of its full-powered, plugged-in score. It also played our Full HD movie for an impressive five hours 53 minutes.
While many laptops can get very hot when running at top speed, Razer’s models tend to stay cool. The new Blade’s chassis means that cooling space is limited but it still does a decent job of fending off overheating-related performance drops. Nonetheless, the keyboard and wrist rest can get a little warm when running at full pelt. We ran cryptomining software to max-out performance and saw the CPU graze 800C while the GPU remained at a decent 760C. However, the small, downward-facing fans do spin up quickly and produce a constant, high-pitched whine. It’s not too distracting but It’s not the quietest.
Ultimately, it’s a fantastic laptop that does everything well. Its big competitor is MSI’s Stealth Thin. We prefer MSI’s larger keyboard (which stays cooler) and the gold dragon, printed logo is arguably more office-friendly than Razer’s. But the Blade is just over 200g heavier and, with its 700g power brick, is almost half a kilo heavier than the MSI package making it noticeably less portable. However, Razer’s chassis is significantly more substantial, less creaky and will appeal to some. Ultimately, the MSI feels like a track-day version of the Blade with its lighter weight and slightly-better handling.
While the physical difference between the machines is largely subjective, the real decider comes down to the price. At $3,999 the Blade is a full $600 dearer. As such the MSI wins while the Blade offers more substance for a more substantial pricetag.
2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU • 16GB DDR4-2666 SDRAM • Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU • 512GB M.2 SSD • 15.6in 1,920 x 1,080 144Hz display • HD webcam • Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1 Type-C • 3 x USB 3.1 Type-A • HDMI 2 • DP 1.4 • Gigabit Ethernet • 3.5mm audio jack • 2.1KG • 1yr RTB warranty
$3,999 • www.razer.com
We do like the little touches like the green USB port