PROS / Its slim ultraportable design brings ultrabook sensibilities to the gaming laptop.
CONS / The compact chassis limits its performance to middle of the road.
VERDICT / The Razer Blade is a striking deviation from the norm with its ultraportable slim chassis, long battery life and gaming chops to play the latest titles.
The Razer Blade is a unique entry in the gaming laptop category, combining an ultraportable design with competent gaming chops. The svelte 14-inch gaming notebook barely resembles the 17-inch beasts that lead the category. Even with its thin and light design, the Razer Blade offers solid gaming performance, VR-ready graphics and impressive battery life. For gaming on the go, there’s no better choice.
The Razer Blade may be slim, but it still boasts some impressive graphics hardware, with a midlevel NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 GPU and 6GB of VRAM. It did reasonably well in general graphics tests, completing 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited with a score of 122,315, which lands it right in the middle of the pack. Gaming performance was also solid, if not category leading. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, it produced 34 frames per second (fps), which is right in the playable range. In Grand Theft Auto V, it ramped up to a smooth 56 fps, and it did notably well in Hitman, pumping out 198 fps on Ultra settings and 1920 x 1080 resolution.
It’s also VR-ready, set for plug-and-play capability with VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. However, it may not offer the best VR performance, as indicated by its Steam VR performance test score of 6, which is on the low end of VR capability.
The slim laptop is outfitted with a 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor with 16GB of RAM, matching some of the top gaming laptops in our review. In general performance tests, it did fairly well, again landing squarely in the middle of the pack with a Geekbench 3 score of 13,262 points and finishing Laptop Mag’s spreadsheet performance test in three minutes and 47 seconds. That median performance level is actually quite impressive considering the Razer Blade is the smallest gaming laptop, both in terms of weight and thickness.
The Blade is equipped with a fast PCIe-connected solid-state drive – the PCIe connection is faster than the SATA ports most SSDs connect through. Still, that speed boost is tempered by a smaller-than-average 256GB capacity.
While the Blade’s performance is strictly middle of the road, it excels in one area: portability. The slim aluminum unibody chassis borrows liberally from the design of Apple’s MacBook line, and as such, it is a high-end gaming laptop with some surprisingly slim dimensions. It measures 13.6 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches, nearly a full inch slimmer than the largest laptop in our review. At just 4.16 pounds, it’s also the best lightweight gaming laptop.
Even more impressive than its ultrabook-style looks is its battery life – it had more than six hours (6:12) of battery life in the Laptop Mag battery life test. Between its slim design and hours of battery life, the Blade is pretty much the only gaming laptop we reviewed that’s actually intended for use on the go.
The design is also fairly striking, with a black aluminum chassis highlighted with brilliant green accents and Razer’s distinctive triskelion of snakes logo. The backlit keyboard has customizable multicolor glow, and there is a smooth 4.1 x 2.5-inch touchpad.
The slim laptop still boasts a decent selection of ports, with three USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI output. Most impressive, it also has a Thunderbolt 3 port to support the Razer Core, an external graphics card offered by Razer to add more graphics muscle to the laptop for desktop use. Since it’s built for portability and slimness, the Blade doesn’t have an Ethernet port, but it is equipped with 802.11ac for Wi-Fi.
The laptop sits between the cramped size of a 13-inch gaming laptop and the less-than-portable size of even the best 15-inch gaming laptops, making room for a 14-inch display while still delivering unparalleled portability. The standard model in our review has a 1920 x 1080 display with a low-glare matte display panel. But don’t think it isn’t a good looking display – in testing, it produced 115 percent on the sRGB color gamut, glowed with 289 nits of brightness and had very good color accuracy with a 1.5 Delta E score.
Razer wasn’t included in Laptop Mag’s tech support rankings, but the laptop is covered with a one-year warranty, and the company offers support via phone and social media. There’s no live chat option on the Razer website, but there are plenty of online support materials to help you through any troubleshooting.
Razer is a newer player in the gaming laptop scene, but the company has been aggressive in its portable designs, reshaping the landscape of the category by essentially introducing the ultraportable gaming laptop. The current version of the Razer Blade is no different, and it’s the best gaming laptop for on-the-go play.