Razer Blade review: With both Intel’s Haswell and Nvidia’s new 700M-series components shrinking and sipping less power, the super-portable, 14-inch, gaming laptop revolution is about to begin. Leading the charge is Razer with its ultra-sleek new Razer Blade gaming notebook, which is a smaller take on the 17-inch version (since rebranded as Razer Blade Pro) we reviewed last year.
The Razer Blade laptop may be the sexiest laptop we've ever seen (for more pictures, scroll down to the gallery at the bottom of the review).
And it certainly looks the part with as it carries the same alluring green LED backlit keyboard and black matte aluminum chassis. Though the Switchblade’s LCD trackpad has been replaced by a more traditional trackpad centered under the keyboard.
Arguably, the biggest selling point of the new Blade is that it’s ridiculously svelte with a chassis measuring 13.6x9.3x.66-inches. Razer claims it’s the world’s thinnest gaming laptop and it’s certainly the slimmest we’ve tested. With the lid closed, the laptop is thinner than a standing dime. It’s light too, weighing in at four pounds, 3.3 oz. The Razer Blade is clearly one highly portable gaming laptop, though some inputs were sacrificed, as it only has three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, and an analog 1/8-inch audio jack.
Another gripe we had is its matte TN panel instead of an IPS monitor which offers better viewing angles and more accurate color reproduction. We would have also preferred a 1080P resolution monitor, but 1600x900 is pretty par for 14-inch screens. We had no problems with the speakers, which were crisp and surprisingly loud for such a small laptop.
The trackpad is more of a mixed bag. Although it’s highly responsive, supports multi-touch gestures, and has dedicated buttons, rather than integrated into the trackpad, the buttons on both it and the keyboard feel very fragile, like they could pop off after a few thousand clicks.
This is by far the thinnest gaming notebook we've ever tested (for more pics of the Razer Blade, check out our gallery at the bottom of the article).
Beneath the keyboard, the Razer Blade is equipped with a quad-core Haswell Core i7-4702HQ, GeForce GTX 765M, and 8GB of DDR3. Disappointingly, the Blade’s only means of storage is a 256GB mSATA SSD, but one can opt for the 512GB SSD configuration instead for an additional $300. With game installs eating up 25GB and more these days, that 256GB will go pretty quickly.
Regardless, the Razer Blade was able to manhandle our much bulkier MSI GT60 zero point in our benchmarks. The gains weren’t massive in our CPU tests, with the Blade stalemating our ZP’s 2.3GHz Ivy Bridge part in ProShow and only being single digit percentages faster in Stitch and x264, but it is worth noting that the Blade’s Haswell part is a lower 37-watt CPU compared to our ZP’s 45-watt equivalent. The real advantage showed itself in our battery test where the Blade lasted nearly 30 percent longer.
Graphics-side, Nvidia’s 765M GPU allowed the laptop to really hit its stride performing at least 30 percent better in 3DMark 11 and running 60 percent faster in STALKER: CoP. In our experiential tests, we were able to play the graphically-demanding Far Cry 3 on high settings with average framerates in the mid 40s which is ridiculously good for such a small notebook. The laptop was also quick to boot, launching to Windows in under 14 seconds.
The Razer Blade isn’t without its flaws, but the fact that it’s half the size of many gaming laptops while offering much more power, all in a super sexy form factor, is crazy. It may not be cheap at $2,000, but Razer’s new philosophy of squeezing the most power per cubic-inch is noble and should be applauded.
Razer Blade Benchmarks
Our zero-point notebook is an MSI GT60 with a 2.3GHz IntelCorei7-3610QM, 12GB DDR3/1600, two 500GB Seagate 7,200rpm hard drives, a GeForce GTX 670M, and Windows 8 64-bit.STALKER: CoP tested at 1920x1080 with Ultra settings, Tessellation, and contact hardening