12/20/2017 by priceytech with 0 comments

Razer Blade Stealth


The Razer Blade Stealth quickly became one of our favorite all-time Ultrabooks, and it’s only getting better with age. In the middle of 2017, the formally 12.5-inch laptop moved up to a larger, 13.3-inch display, putting it on equal footing with other notebooks in its category. Recently, Razer upgraded its Ultrabook with Intel’s latest, 8th-generation Kaby Lake Refresh processors.

Thanks to these new improvements, the Razer Blade Stealth has never looked better, with slimmer screen bezels and the best performance numbers it has ever produced. Aside from offering a slightly shorter battery life than its predecessors, this 13-inch laptop should be top of mind right alongside the MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 13.

Price and availability

Starting at $1,449 (about £1,454, AU$2,329), the Razer Blade Stealth is more expensive than it has been in years past, but that’s partially thanks to its elevated specs. At the bare minimum, each of these Ultrabooks comes rocking a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with integrated Intel UHD graphics, QHD+ (3,200 x 1,800) resolution display, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

The Razer Blade still comes at a bargain compared to an equally well-equipped Dell XPS 13 and 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, which retail for $1,749 and $2,299 (£2,199, AU$3,499), respectively. Outside of the US, the Dell XPS 13 only comes with 8GB of memory when going with Intel Core i7/256GB SKU priced at £1,349 or AU$2,499.

If you elect to double your storage capacity as our review unit offers, the Blade Stealth only further hones its more affordable edge over its competitors. The configuration you see to the right rings up for $1,599 (£1,609, AU$2,559), whereas Dell charges $1,899 (£1,449, AU$2,999) for its competing Ultrabook when specced accordingly. Apple is by far the most expensive option, with the Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro asking for a baffling $2,499 (£2,399, AU$3,799).

Design

Despite the bump up in screen size, this 13.3-inch Razer Blade is no larger than its 12.5-inch predecessor. It maintains most of its original dimensions, measuring in at 12.6 x 8.1 x 0.54 inches (32.1 x 20.6 x 1.38cm). That make is 0.02-inches (0.7cm) thicker than last generation models, but it’s still thin enough to give the 0.59-inch (1.49) thick MacBook Pro a run for its money while still offering full-sized USB 3.0 ports to boot.

Unfortunately, the latest Kaby Lake Refresh update also bumps up the weight to 2.98 pounds (1.35kg), making it the heaviest version of the Stealth Razer has ever released. Comparatively, the Kaby Lake-powered, 13-inch refresh tips the scales at 2.93 pounds (1.33kg), and the 12.5-inch Razer Blade Stealth weighs in at 2.84 pounds (1.29kg).

These fractions of a pound and kilogram increases are likely due to additional cooling needed for the Stealth’s new quad-core processors. While it isn’t dramatically heavier, this Ultrabook is getting dangerously close to weighing more than three pounds.

Aside from the screen bezels, the biggest aesthetic change Razer introduced is the new gunmetal version of its Ultrabook. Synonymous with its name, the Stealth has always been the company’s most understated laptop, and the new color helps it better blend in with everyday life.

Gone are the RGB keyboard and light-up lid logo. Instead, the gunmetal version features a simpler white backlight on the keys. Meanwhile, the ‘tone-on-tone’ printed triskelion symbol is actually hard to miss unless you’re turning the laptop from side to side, like one of those old holographic prints.

The result is a professional-looking Razer Ultrabook design. However, its off-gray paint job still sets itself apart from the pack of black rectangles in the room. Of course, if you’d rather have all the RGB lighting and the jet-black look, the regular version of the Stealth is still available.

Bigger and brighter than ever

It’s remarkable that Razer squeezed in a bigger display without making the laptop any larger. The company did this by simply reducing the size of the bezels on all sides by 50%. Whereas the black bars around the display once measured nearly an inch-wide, they look barely larger than a single centimeter now.

On top of the added screen real estate, the Razer Blade Stealth features a sharper 3,200 x 1,800-resolution panel that’s sits above the previous, default 2,560 x 1,440 display. Unfortunately, there’s no option of getting a 4K display on this Ultrabook other than going with the older, 12.5-inch model.

By our eye, the QHD+ screen on the latest Razer Blade Stealth resolves plenty of detail as is, and we don’t really miss having an Ultra-HD resolution on a screen this small. That said, if you absolutely must have 4K on an Ultrabook, there are the Lenovo Yoga 920 and HP Spectre x360.

According to Razer, the new display also boasts 100% sRGB color coverage and up to 400 nits of brightness. We can attest the screen is much brighter now, outshining even rays of sunlight streaking through our office windows. Razer’s IGZO displays have never lacked in color rendition, and the added color depth helps the screen resolve more distinct shades of hue.

Originally reviewed in December 2017

Quad-core Kaby Lake Refresh processors have helped the Razer Blade Stealth make a huge leap in performance. While it’s a given that more cores usually lead to better performance, these benchmark numbers are impressive nonetheless.

For starters, 8th-generation Intel processors have led to an over 75% increase in multi-core performance compared to 7th-gen Kaby Lake. This in turn leads to equally higher performance scores in Cinebench and PCMark 8.

What is most surprising are the graphical enhancements that Intel UHD Graphics brings – going by the 4% to 9% improvement in 3DMark scores at least.

You can fire up Overwatch on the Razer Blade Stealth for a smoother gaming experience with higher frames per second, but you’ll still be relegated to playing the game at awfully low settings. And, that pretty much goes for most games you try to play on this Ultrabook.

Compared to other brand new Kaby Lake Refresh CPU-powered Ultrabooks, the Blade Stealth keeps in step with the Dell XPS 13. Of course, it blows away the MacBook Pro due to it having a 7th generation Intel Kaby Lake chip inside.

That said, the Lenovo Yoga 920 leads the pack by a slight margin with the best overall benchmark scores.

Battery life

While we’re seeing performance improve year-over-year, the Blade Stealth’s battery life has also taken a hit with every iteration. The latest version ran our movie playback battery test for 5 hours and 9 minutes, which was shorter than the 5 hour and 25 minute run we saw on the previous Kaby Lake-powered edition, and that was already down from the longest 5 hours and 44 minutes result we saw from the 12.5-inch 2016 model.

Unfortunately, the culprit behind these battery life decreases are the larger, sharper screen and the new quad-core processor. Going from the 12.5-inch model we tested in 2016 to the 13-inch refresh, the display was not only physically larger, but the screen resolution increased from 2,560 x 1,440 to 3,200 x 1,800. Likewise, the two additional cores on the Kaby Lake Refresh processor can’t inextricably improve performance without also consuming more power.

The Blade Stealth also lags behind its peers in longevity. The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar was able to run the same movie test for 6 hours and 37 minutes. Meanwhile, the Dell XPS 13 lasted for an absurd 10 hours and 29 minutes. Of course, both these Ultrabooks feature lower resolution screens. Had the Blade Stealth come with a Full HD display, it would likely last for seven or more hours.

Five hours of battery life – that we could easily stretch to six hours – isn’t terrible, but it also isn’t great. You’ll have to completely turn off the keyboard backlight and lower your screen brightness to get through a cross-country flight. We also wouldn’t feel comfortable bringing this Ultrabook to work without its charger.

Inputs and outputs

As with previous generations, the Blade Stealth comes with potently powerful speakers and a larger, more tactile keyboard than the MacBook Pro. What has changed this year is Razer upgraded its Ultrabook with a Windows Precision Touchpad.

We didn’t have many complaints with the trackpads on previous models, but the direct-from-Microsoft drivers offer even better tracking and multi-touch gesture recognition. So, we’ll take the improvement on the laptop’s pointing device even if we felt it wasn’t absolutely necessary.

We liked

The Razer Blade Stealth’s smaller, 12.5-inch display and thick bezels always irked us before but, now that it has a full-on, 13-inch screen, it fully levels the playing field with other Ultrabooks. The IGZO display also looks better than ever with an even wider color gamut and higher maximum brightness. But, what’s truly impressive is that this Ultrabook didn’t need to get any bigger to accommodate for the larger screen.

In terms of performance, this is the most powerful Ultrabook Razer has released, keeping perfectly in step with its rivals. All the while, it’s also far more affordable, which should give you plenty of reason to consider it above its contemporaries.

We disliked

The steady decrease in battery life we’ve seen with each successive Blade Stealth is a big disappointment. While we would have considered five hours of battery life as being pretty decent earlier in the year, we’re now seeing other Ultrabooks last for 10 hours or more that completely overshadow it.

This is still an absolutely portable laptop, but you’ll want to mind that battery meter more carefully than some other options in the market.

Final verdict

With the 13-inch screen, the latest 8th-generation Intel processors, the Razer Blade Stealth has matured into the Ultrabook we always wanted. The larger display and the half-sized bezels makes this laptop look all so much more attractive, while the brighter screen and Windows Precision Touchpad fixed our other smaller qualms from last year.

Aside from the middling battery life, the Razer Blade Stealth is completely on par with, if not even better than, other similarly-specced Ultrabooks. At a reasonable price, this Ultrabook comes just as well-equipped and performs equally to the most premium offerings from Dell, Lenovo or HP.

      

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