At first sight, it may appear the guys at Razer have made a black Macbook Pro Retina. Design and comparisons aside, the 2013 edition of the Razer Blade is much more than that. This 14-inch laptop combines the weight and size of a small, affordable laptop, with the power required for mid/high-end games.
Sacrificing performance – especially graphical- over size is one of the most common issues among laptops. And while it’s true that the latest generation of graphics cards featured with the new Intel Haswell processors have greatly improved in this regard, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
The Razer Blade is the middle ground between size and performance. Smaller and lighter than its 17-inch predecessor; this model is a great choice for those looking for something powerful (Intel Hasswell Core Processor i7-4702HQ at 2.2 GHz) without having to carry around something too big or heavy. Here at Gizmodo US, we had the chance to test the new Razer Blade and these are our conclusions.
Its body -made from anodized aluminum in black and with round corners-, makes the Razer Blade 2013 really look like Macbook Pro Retina. Its 1.67-centimeter thickness and 1.8-kilogram weight makes it easy and nice to carry around.
It’s very elegant-looking, but also prone to get easily dirty and filled with finger prints. At the sides, three USB 3.0 ports can be found, green instead of blue-colored, which fits with the brand. Along with the USB ports, we can find an HDMI, charging and y 3.5-millimeter ports, the latter for microphone and earphones combined. The brand’s logo is backlit in green, just like the keyboard. Above the screen, a 1.3- megapixel webcam capable of recording 720p video can be found.
Although a laptop’s keyboard is never comfortable for gaming, the Razer Blade’s is actually not that bad. The auxiliary buttons and the customizable touchpad present in the 17-inch version are gone. Instead, we have a central touchpad under the keyboard, with two mechanical buttons at the lower part.
The touchpad, unfortunately, is far from adequate for a high-end laptop like this one. The buttons are too small and uncomfortable. In our opinion, a touchpad with full touch technology would have been much better for the Razer Blade 2013.
Screen and graphics
With its 14-inch screen, the model supports a 1600 x 900 pixel resolution, but the lack of a 1080p resolution is unacceptable, especially considering this resolution can already be found in smaller screens and models. The backlit mate LED screen is anti-reflective. Even so, it still doesn’t offer a performance as good as it should. There is no touch support either, a step backwards for systems with Windows 8.
The graphics card featured in the Razer Blade is a Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M with 2GB GDDR5 memory. Not the best available, but gets the job done with good results and a decent frames per second performance. Games like Bioshock Infinite, for example, run at 60FPS. Skyrim runs without an issue at 40FPS, and Dishonored does the same at 50FPS with a few adjustments. The most crowded areas in WoW run at 25-30FPS. Not an exceptional performance, but sufficient especially considering the size of the laptop.
Although it belongs to the Hasswell generation, the Razer Blade is too power-consuming to offer a battery life similar to that of the other models of this category. On paper, Razer claims a 6-hour battery life, which is true as long as we only play videos and listen to music. When we start a program that needs the graphics card, the battery life can be dramatically reduced. With a mixed use, the battery lasted for two hours and 45 minutes (one hour of Skyrim, one hour browsing the internet and 45 minutes of Bioshock Infinite). With Team Fortress II on max, the battery barely lasts two hours. Still, this is an improvement if we consider the Razer Blade Pro lasted only one hour.
The temperature of the Razer Blade remains stable with a normal use, without a high increase if we start gaming. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean the improvement of our games or the frames per second will suffer; it simply remains cool. Most of heat concentrates at the base, which means our legs are not exactly the most appropriate place to set the laptop on. The temperatures of the zones where our hands normally go don’t get too hot, at least. And the fans aren’t too noisy except for a few specific moments.
Memory and storage devices
The basic version of the model features a 128GB SSD. We think this is too little for an 1800 dollar laptop. Upgrade its capacity to 256GB cost an extra 200 USD. If we want to get to the highest we can, a 512GB SSD, the price rises to 2300 USD. According to Razer, the HDDs can be changed and, in fact, there’s a slot for an additional unit. Doing this, however, will void the warranty. The 8 GB RAM cannot be increased and there aren’t any slots for any kind of card. WTF, Razer?
Also, the Razer Blade features no optical drive of any kind, which makes sense in the age of digital games via services like Steam, but can still be a little bothersome.
Sound and connectivity
The sound of the Razer Blade comes from two speakers at the sides of the keyboard, which emulate Dolby Surround. The bass is not very powerful, but the sound is still good and adequate, as long as we don’t intend to watch a movie or play a game with friends and rely solely on the speakers.
In regards to connectivity, the Razer Blade features the usual ones, like WiFi n and 4. Those who hate lag with a passion may find the lack of an Ethernet connection disappointing.
Should I buy it?
It depends. It can almost be said that Razer has developed a laptop for gaming enthusiasts to attract people who aren’t that much into gaming. In other words, if you’re an authentic fan of video games, then probably the best thing for you is a gaming laptop that’s not afraid of sacrificing size and portability in favor of a great performance. The Lenovo ideaPad Y510p (3.58-cm thick and 2.69 kilograms of weight) is probably the best choice for performance. If you don’t mind about greater weights, the Alienware M14x, Asus ROG G750 or Gigabyte P25W are excellent choices for you.
The Razer Blade lacks many things to be a great gaming laptop (the 1080p screen, a better touchpad, more options in regards to the storage and other external devices), which could be added without a significant increase in price. However, the style and design of this laptop are truly great, and it’s impeccably made. If you’re not a hardcore gamer and are more worried about size tan performance, and have some money to spend, then the Razer Blade probably is the thing for you.