The Razer Blade Stealth Review: Razer Takes On The Ultrabookby Brett Howse on March 29, 2016 8:00 AM EST
- Posted in
- Razer Blade Stealth
- Razer Core
Razer has traditionally been a company focused on gaming. In fact, their tagline is “For Gamers. By Gamers.” So when Razer announced at CES that they were building an Ultrabook – a product category whose size and power limitations are typically the antithesis of gaming – it was a bit surprising. Razer decided it was time to branch out into more of the mainstream of PC hardware, but of course with the Razer twists they are known for. The Razer Blade Stealth is not your typical Ultrabook, and one of the biggest twists of all is that it can be docked to a desktop GPU to actually enable gaming.
The Razer Blade Stealth is a stand-alone product, so we can’t assume everyone that buys it will purchase the first Thunderbolt 3 external graphics dock which Razer developed for it, but the Razer Core is certainly an interesting addition to the notebook. We’ll take a closer look at that in the future, but for now the Razer Blade Stealth must be a capable device on its own merits.
When you talk about value, it doesn’t mean low cost. The Razer Blade Stealth is not an inexpensive notebook, but when you look at what kind of technology is inside, the value proposition starts to have some merit. Razer, has traditionally offered the high quality Razer Blade 14, but it was never as inexpensive as the competition. With the Razer Blade Stealth, as well as the new pricing on the Razer Blade 14, the company appears to want to reach a much wider audience.
The 12.5-inch Razer Blade Stealth (which for the sake of brevity I'll refer to as simply the Stealth) starts at $999, which makes it one of the most inexpensive Ultrabooks available with a Core i7 processor. There are not different models with Core i3/i5/i7, but instead every Stealth ships with a Core i7-6500U. The Dell XPS 13, as an example, only offers the i7 on the most expensive models, which are over $600 more expensive. Instead of processor based models, Razer is segmenting their models by offering two different displays: a base offering with a sRGB QHD 2560x1440 panel, and a higher-end model with an Adobe RGB UHD 3840x2160 panel. There are also three storage offerings, with 128 GB and 256 GB available on the QHD model, and 256 GB and 512 GB on the UHD version. All storage is provided by Samsung’s PM951, which is a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe drive with TLC NAND.
|Razer Blade Stealth|
|QHD||UHD (As Tested)|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-6500U
Dual-Core with Hyperthreading
2.5-3.1 GHz, 4MB Cache, 15W TDP
|GPU||Intel HD 520
300-1050MHz, 24 Eus
|Memory||8GB LPDDR3-1866 Dual-channel|
2560x1440 sRGB with touch
3840x2160 Adobe RGB with touch
|Storage||128-256GB PCIe NVMe
|256-512GB PCIe NVMe
|I/O||USB 3.1 Type-C x 1 with Thunderbolt 3
USB 3.0 Type-A x 2
|Dimensions||321 x 206 x 13.1 mm
12.6 x 8.1 x 0.52 inches
|Weight||1.25 kg / 2.75 lbs|
|Battery||45 Wh, 45 W AC Adapter (USB-C)|
|Keyboard||Chroma anti-ghosting keyboard with individually backlit keys|
|Wireless||Killer 1535 802.11ac
2x2:2 with Bluetooth 4.1
Looking at the rest of the product, we can see that Razer has decided to move to Killer’s networking solution, which fits in more with their gaming aspect, but the latest Killer products have been reliable in my experience too, so I think this is not a bad move. Razer offers a single Thunderbolt 3 port over USB-C, which doubles as the charging port for the laptop. When docked to the Razer Core, this is a single cable docking solution which does the external graphics and I/O as well as laptop charging. In addition, there are two USB 3.0 ports on the laptop, along with an HDMI port, but there is no SD card reader.
The 8 GB of memory is really the minimum that would be acceptable in a 2016 Ultrabook, and there’s no option for more memory which is unfortunate. But other than that, Razer offers quite a bit of notebook for the $999 starting price. Though personally I suspect that $1199 is going to be the sweet spot, as it offers 256 GB of storage and the QHD display.
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ImSpartacus - Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - linkThe battery life is disappointing, but at least seems to be alright otherwise.
The keyboard appears like overkill, but at least you can presumably switch to a clean white light.
Keao - Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - linkIt is overkill if you just want an ordinary ultrabook indeed. Needs to see if the glowing razer logo on the back can be deactivated too. (You can switch to plain white for sure given it works like the blackwidow chroma that I have)
Battery life is really not great but is OK for the kind of processor they have isn't it? What's putting me a lil' off is the fact that to make it a gaming machine you do need to shell out at least some 750 additional bucks. Sure the external case will be re-used supposedly but I'm unsure about the future of this solution (Can evolve quite fast with a new Thunderbolt version and/or replacement of the PCI-e interface?)
zeroqw - Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - link"Battery life is really not great but is OK for the kind of processor they have isn't it?" nope.. there are quite similar ultrabooks with at least 50% more battery life.
Razer put a small battery in the laptop and if you add the backlit keyboard+glowing razer logo to the equation it just makes it even worse. Too bad because I love the design but the battery life is a deal breaker for me.
Duraz0rz - Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - linkYou can turn off the logo LED thru Synapse.
TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - linkWont fix the battery being too small.
DanNeely - Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - linkThe battery size isn't the main problem; it's in the same general class as other 13" ultrabooks. The problem is that the laptop's efficiency is bad; if they were able to match their competitions efficiency they'd pick up an extra hour or two bringing the QHD model up to the average for a laptop of its size; and leaving the 4k one with only the penalty related to its ultra high res display (both more GPU work to drive it, and more transistors in the panel blocking a larger amount of the backlight).
ImSpartacus - Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - linkI think Razer is struggling with both the pixel race and needing to justify the existence of Core.
Honestly, a 768p display would be perfect for a 12.5" laptop (maybe 900p for a buy-up). But then you could say that Razer should've made the Core a smidge thicker and put a modest dGPU in there for gaming.
Spunjji - Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - linkCouldn't disagree more about the display. The sooner we get rid of low-DPI panels and the software ecosystem is forced to accept their existence, the better. The problem here isn't the display, it's a lack of engineering experience regarding power efficiency at Razer.
BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - linkI disagree with that. Higher resolution displays, while nice looking, offer little to no added functionality after reaching the point where it becomes necessary to scale the interface in order to retain visibility of objects displayed in it. At this point, they're part of the specifications for the sake of specifications war that's vital for product differentiation and marketing, but that's where it ends. Sacrificing capability as in the case of battery life to achieve a pointlessly high resolution shows particularly poor engineering. An Intel GPU in a 12.5 inch laptop display that is unable to drive games at much lower resolutions should be paired with a 1366x768 panel of decent quality with good viewing angles. Anything more than that won't benefit the end user regardless of how much they think they need more pixels.
JoeyJoJo123 - Wednesday, March 30, 2016 - link>should be paired with a 1366x768 panel of decent quality with good viewing angles.
Except that's the thing. In the year 2016 there is no such thing as a 1366x768 panel of anything remotely decent quality. Panels of this size are just churned out by the factory for extremely low cost/low margin devices such as $300 laptops at Walmart.
If you're paying ~$1500 for a premium laptop, you should expect an arguably premium display. If you can't play the game at 2560x1440, then run the game at reduced settings, and if that's not enough, begin lowering the resolution, too.
Paying ~$1500 for a premium laptop also comes with the inherent notion you're paying for premium battery life, but you're not getting that here, either.
Replacing a good screen on a laptop with a bad battery leaves you with a laptop with bad screen and bad battery and now you have an even worse value proposition than before.