Thin, powerful, and insane battery life!
Razer is getting ever-so-close to building the ideal gaming laptop. One that’s as powerful as it is portable, without compromising on any features or specifications. For 2018 Razer is rolling out an all-new Razer Blade 15 (See it on Amazon) that on-paper sounds like the ultimate gaming laptop. This all-new 15″ model is the result of years of engineering work, and Razer has changed pretty much everything. Highlights of the new Blade include a bigger display with narrower bezels, an all-new chassis, a lightning fast 144Hz panel option, and naturally Razer has thrown in Intel’s newest six-core processor as well. The raft of changes are the biggest update to the Blade in years, so let’s examine the fruits of Razer’s labor, shall we?
Here are the specifications of the Razer Blade I am evaluating:
- Model: RZ09-02386
- Display: 15.6-inch FHD (1920×1080) 144Hz IPS
- Processor: Intel Core i7-8750H at 2.2GHz (9MB Cache, up to 4.10 GHz)
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 1070 with Max-Q design (8GB GDDR5)
- Memory: 16GB LPDDR4
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- OS Drive: 512GB PCIe SSD
- Webcam: 720p
- Ports: 1 x 3.5 mm audio jack, 3 x USB 3.1 port, 1 x HDMI, 1 x mini Display Port, 1 x USB Type C with Thunderbolt support
- Connectivity: Intel Wireless-AC 9260 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac) and Bluetooth 5
- Dimensions: 13.98 x 9.25 x 0.68-inches (WxDxH)
- Weight: 4.56 pounds
- Price: $2,599
Razer Blade 15 – Design and Features
Razer’s latest Blade is covered in a subdued matte black finish, just like all the previous models, with the lone point of light being the Razer logo on the back of the lid. There are two large speakers; one on each side the RGB backlit keyboard. Razer seems to have taken pains to clean up the design, as it moved the power button from the top-center over to inside the right speaker grille to avoid breaking up the sleek aesthetics of the interior. In fact, the first time I opened the Blade 15, it took me at least 45 seconds to find that darn button.
A large touchpad extends nearly to the bottom of the laptop’s housing, where an angled edge makes it easy to open the lid that houses a 15.6-inch IPS FHD 1,920 x 1080 144Hz display. Razer also offers a touch-screen model and a 4K panel for those who want those features. The touchpad is large, and looks similar to the one on the newest version of the Apple MacBook Pro. It responds to taps, presses, and gestures without any fuss or issues. It’s as good as an Apple touchpad, without a doubt.
The all-black chassis goes well with the lime green USB 3.1 ports on the perimeter and the illuminated logo on the lid. It lets you know it’s gaming system without going overboard, and it’s something I appreciate since the majority of gaming laptops all have the same black and red color scheme that is kind of boring. The Blade is a laptop that can blend in with a conference room full of business laptops, despite its gaming pedigree.
The RGB keyboard boasts individually lit keys and anti-ghosting technology to ensure each keypress is registered. The switches don’t offer the satisfying click of a mechanical keyboard, but they’re plenty responsive and quick enough to register multiple key presses without any misses. At least, I didn’t miss any presses while playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds or Far Cry 5.
The Blade offers a healthy mix of expansion ports despite its trim profile. On the left side is the proprietary power port, two USB 3.1 ports, and a lone 3.5mm audio jack. On the right side you’ll find a USB Type-C Thunderbolt port for external hard drives, eGPU’s or a display, along with another USB 3.1, a full-sized HDMI port, and a Mini Display Port.
The Blade’s design is deceiving in the sense that it weighs more than I would have guessed after picking it up. According to Razer, it weighs in at 4.56-pounds and measures 13.98 x 9.25 x 0.68-inches (WxDxH). Razer is able to squeeze a 15.6-inch display into the body of a laptop that’s 14-inches thanks to bezels that are just 4.9mm. Meaning when you’re looking at the display, there’s not much of a visible border surrounding it — it’s all screen, and a good looking one at that.
As far as components go, the model I tested was equipped with an Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU with Max-Q design, 16GB of LDRR4 memory, and a 512GB PCIe SSD. The lone SSD is perhaps the only real drawback to this slim design, as game collectors could fill that up pretty quickly these days, and there’s no option to add a hard drive for pure data storage. You can upgrade the SSD though. There’s a lone M.2 slot and Razer said it supports SSDs up to 2TB. You can also upgrade or swap out both RAM sticks as well.
Razer Blade 15 – Performance and gaming
With the Razer Blade being the second laptop equipped with Intel’s 8th generation six-core processor I’ve had the chance to test, it’s still clear the games I play and used for benchmarking just don’t see any measurable impact from the two additional cores. This is true of games in general these days, as developers haven’t had any reason to spend time optimizing their games for more than four cores since that’s all we’ve had in consumer CPUs for the past several years.
As you can see from my benchmark tests, the Razer Blade scored right in line with the rest of devices I’ve tested that are equipped with GTX 1070 (with or without Max-Q). When it outpaced the competition it was only by thin margins. I was able to play PUBG with Ultra settings and easily achieve 80 to 90 fps. When I dropped down the quality to High, I rarely saw the frame rate drop under 110.
Frame rates are cool to talk about and all, but the actual gameplay is what makes or breaks a gaming device. Not once during my time with the Blade did I feel like it was underpowered or hampering my gaming at all. From the responsive keyboard with satisfyingly-shaped keys, to the display that kept up with rapid movements I had zero performance issues during my time with the Blade.
My only complaint is the area above the keyboard can get really hot when the GPU is spun up. Really hot. I randomly touched the top portion of the housing on one occasion and found that I couldn’t leave my finger on it for longer than a second or two. Later on, I used a laser thermometer to measure the temperature of the housing, and it read 130°F.
The metal housing above the keyboard gets hot. Really hot.
The rest of the computer itself was under 100°F and cool to the touch. Thankfully, there’s no actual need to touch the top of the housing while gaming. The cooling system did get somewhat loud, at least loud enough to grab my attention, but only after gaming for a while. Otherwise, the internal speakers are more than loud enough for gaming and entertainment. Headphones solve this “issue” quite easily. I also found the display to offer just the right amount of sharpness. Having tested a few different 144Hz displays now, the Razer Blade’s screen is my new favorite.
Razer Blade 15 – Battery life
Not only did the Blaze outlast Razer’s own estimate, but I was legitimately surprised at the performance.
Razer claims the Blade will achieve 6 hours of constant video playback with the display set to 60Hz and 50% brightness (among a couple of other tweaks). I have always set the screen to 50% brightness for all battery benchmarks, however, I left the display set to its default refresh rate. In this case, that means 144Hz.
Shockingly, my battery test returned a result of six hours and three minutes, which is far and away the longest a gaming laptop has ever lasted in this benchmark, by a gigantic margin. That’s more than enough to get through an entire cross country flight, or nearly a full day’s worth of classes or meetings. Not only did the Blaze outlast Razer’s own estimate, but I was legitimately surprised at the performance. Six hours of battery life on a laptop with this much power is simply unheard of, until now. I even reran the test a few times just to make sure my numbers were solid and they indeed were, and I even got seven hours of it in one test, if you can believe that.
Razer Blade 15 – Software
The Blade’s only pre-installed software is the Razer Synapse program, which is one of its highlighted features, a.k.a “no bloatware.” It’s something you expect on a premium device really, but most gaming laptops ship with some sort of annoying antivirus software, or a suite of useless utilities, allowing Razer to stand out in this field with such a clean software footprint.
Synapse requires you to create an account, which is annoying, but once that’s done you can sync lighting profiles between devices such as a keyboard and mouse, create new keyboard/mouse profiles, enable gaming mode on a keyboard, and create macros. The 2018 Blade has the latest version of the Synapse program, and it’s also the most confusing.
It wasn’t until the end of my time testing the Blade that I figured out where to go to change the keyboard’s lighting from an RGB Wave to a static color. There are two sections, one for Chroma and another for the Blade itself. I figured I should head over to the section labeled “Chroma,” to change the lighting, but I was wrong. There’s a lightning subsection within the Razer Blade section that controls the lighting of the Blade’s keyboard.
Outside of the confusing interface, which I suppose one could learn over time, the software has useful features, but for a laptop I didn’t need any of them aside from the lighting tab. It seems like Razer designed this software to be useful for people with multiple Razer accessories, and the design is not intuitive because of it. Overall, in my use the Synapse software was a blemish on an otherwise fantastic machine.
The Razer Blade 15 was just released, so it’s not going to be on sale anywhere. Prices vary according to the configuration. You can get one with a GTX 1060 GPU, 256GB SSD, 4k panel, etc. The one we tested has a GTX 1070, 144hz panel, and 512GB SSD, and it’s available on Amazon as are several other configs: