Once I reviewed Razer’s debut Blade Stealth ultrabook two years in the past, I believed it will usher in a wave of imitators. Small, smooth, with an all-metal chassis that rivaled Apple’s most interesting MacBooks, it was among the finest laptops I’d ever used.
And now? Properly, not a lot has modified. I’ve been utilizing the Blade Stealth’s most up-to-date revision for a bit now, and whereas there are actually some glorious options, Razer’s machine (available via Amazon) stays close to the highest of the pack. There’s nonetheless room for enchancment—significantly the battery life—however it’s a powerful machine.
Observe: This assessment is a part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for particulars about competing merchandise and the way we examined them.
Appears may be deceiving
It’s tempting to put in writing off the most recent Blade Stealth as an incremental replace. Internally, that’s actually the case—we’ll discuss efficiency later. However even a surface-level look provides the looks that not a lot has modified. It’s nonetheless the identical Blade aesthetic Razer’s used for the final 5 or 6 years now—black aluminum chassis, rounded corners, glowing inexperienced emblem on the again—simply shrunk down a bit.
This newest Blade Stealth is technically bigger than its predecessor, although—or no less than, the display is. The precise laptop computer dimensions are the identical as earlier than, stretching 12.6 x eight.1 inches, and barely a half-inch thick. However the previous 12.5-inch display has been changed by one which’s 13.three inches.
It’s barely a distinction, however I complained that the earlier Blade Stealth had ugly bezels round all 4 sides of the display—a trait that was significantly noticeable positioned subsequent to Dell’s smooth, virtually bezel-free XPS 13 line. These bezels are mercifully smaller on the brand new Blade Stealth, making an already lovely machine look even higher. And but, they’re simply massive sufficient to suit the webcam within the conventional top-center area additionally, which is a rarity on an ultrabook.
The one draw back? There’s no 4K choice. The previous 3840×2160 IGZO touchscreen has been changed by one which’s 3200×1800. Observe: I say “draw back” with a good quantity of sarcasm. Colour copy is top-tier, and with screens this small it’s uncertain you’re going to note the lacking pixels. Nonetheless, a trade-off has been made.
I believe it pertains to battery life. That was the opposite huge grievance with the unique Blade Stealth, which solely lasted 5 hours, 37 minutes in our rundown take a look at.
The state of affairs’s improved barely right here, with our assessments measuring round 6.5 hours. It’s nonetheless not going to take residence any awards, however it’s the obvious rationalization for the dearth of a 4K display choice.
As for the remaining? Okay, sure, the remainder of the Blade Stealth is just about the identical as its predecessor—for higher and worse.
Suffice it to say, I like most facets of the Blade Stealth’s design. The keyboard is engaging and brightly lit. The machine’s light-weight and sturdy and eminently moveable. The trackpad sensitivity has been bumped up significantly out of the field—certainly one of my smaller (and extra simply mounted) complaints final time.
There are points I discussed with the earlier technology which might be nonetheless hanging round, and for that I’m baffled. As an illustration, the F1 to F12 keys are solely half-lit. In the event you maintain down the Perform key to regulate brightness or quantity or no matter, these secondary (and arguably extra vital) roles aren’t illuminated. Have enjoyable attempting to recollect which key the Mute perform is mapped to when a video begins blaring out in public.
USB-C charging stays a dastardly compromise between pace and “Oh hell, this cable goes to interrupt on the slightest breeze.” Thunderbolt three means the Blade Stealth costs extremely shortly, however the rattling port sticks straight out from the aspect. There’s not even a 90-degree angle built-in to assist wrap the cable across the again or alleviate stress on the connection. Each the port and the plug are moderately bolstered, however a pointy push in any route might most likely break one or the opposite. The dearth of a breakaway means I’ve had a couple of shut calls the place the Blade Stealth virtually received yanked off my lap.
Come on. There has to be a greater answer. Razer’s not the one firm with this subject. Given how a lot care and a spotlight’s been paid to the remainder of the Blade Stealth, I’d count on some type of change in its charging cable in two years.
Razer Blade Stealth efficiency: Incremental
Internally? Undoubtedly an incremental improve. Right here, logic pervades.
Razer’s gone forward and up to date the Blade Stealth’s previous to the most recent and biggest. Within the case of our assessment unit, meaning a quad-core Intel i7-8550U processor clocked at 1.8GHz (with 4GHz Turbo), Intel’s inside UHD Graphics 620, 16GB of two,133MHz DDR3 RAM, and a tiny ol’ 256GB m.2 SSD.
It’s an across-the-board improve from the earlier mannequin, which featured a Core i7-6500U, HD 520 graphics, and 8GB of RAM—however an improve within the annualized, “Oh, there’s newer now” sense.
The one actual distinction right here is that quad-core processor, the place the earlier mannequin had a dual-core. (Razer’s web site nonetheless lists a less expensive Blade Stealth with the dual-core i7-7500U, however it’s at the moment out of inventory.)
The brand new makes a distinction, albeit a marginal one, after we examine the Razer Blade Stealth to different 13-inch laptops we have reviewed lately with Core 17-8550U CPUs or the lower-powered Core i5-8250U. We additionally threw within the Asus ZenBook 13, which has a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU.
In PCMark eight’s Work Typical take a look at, designed to simulate normal browser and day-to-day utilization, the 2016 Blade Stealth scored a 2,426, whereas the new-and-improved mannequin scored a three,055. “It’s higher,” in different phrases, though each are amply good scores for regular use.
Nonetheless, even the brand new Razer Blade Stealth’s higher rating pales compared to these of most different laptops working the identical Core i7-8550U processor, most likely attributable to thermal throttling.
That speculation proves out within the HandBrake take a look at, whereby we compress a 30GB MKV file right down to Handbrake’s “Android Pill” preset. As a take a look at that takes most computer systems upwards of 45 minutes, it’s good for seeing how a laptop computer handles warmth. Weak cooling means extra throttling, which in flip means an extended encode. Much less warmth additionally means higher long-term efficiency.
Right here we see the Blade Stealth took about eight.5 minutes longer than the Dell XPS 13 9360, with that very same Core i7-8550U processor. It’s price noting the Blade Stealth is middle-of-the-pack right here, not lifeless final. Additionally price noting that the 2018 XPS 13, which options an i5-8250, really outpaces each.
We might run by means of a bunch extra assessments—I actually did. However the sample is fairly related each time. The Blade Stealth places out common scores for an ultrabook in its value tier, principally held again by subpar warmth dispersion and possibly some aggressive throttling on Razer’s half. The Blade Stealth’s followers are whiny, and I believe within the curiosity of holding them off as a lot as attainable Razer closely limits the i7-8550U’s efficiency. It’s a pleasant high quality of life change, however a bit irritating understanding there’s extra energy you merely can’t faucet into.
As an illustration, within the single-threaded Cinebench R15 take a look at the Razer really tops the charts. It’s a fast take a look at, optimum for the bursts of pace you get from that Core i7-8550U half.
However within the multi-core take a look at, you as soon as once more see the Blade Stealth fall to the center of the pack—with the 2018 XPS 13 and its Core i5-8250U half pulling approach out forward.
It appears to contradict all logic, a Core i5 persistently giving higher efficiency, however that’s the fact of those tightly designed programs. The warmth’s received to go someplace, or it’s simply not going to run.
It’s all a little bit of a charade, although. I began with the PCMark eight take a look at as a result of I needed to reiterate: This laptop computer does greater than sufficient for most individuals. All ultrabooks do. You’re most likely shopping for a Blade Stealth to examine your e mail, write a couple of paperwork, churn out a spreadsheet, and possibly do some gentle gaming on the street. It does all of these high quality, and certainly in 3DMark’s Sky Diver take a look at places out a superbly respectable four,249—proper in there with everybody else besides the Asus ZenBook 13 with its discrete GPU.
The Razer Blade Stealth’s pricing downside
So far as critiques go, we’ve got to rank these laptops, say one’s higher than the opposite. The XPS 13 is a persistently higher machine. Will you discover, although? In all probability not.
The one downside: Worth. And it’s a significant issue for Razer this time round, I believe. With the earlier Blade Stealth, the $999 entry-level choice had a less expensive display, however it was additionally…properly, cheaper. Razer had a particular benefit on value, even in comparison with a few of the lower-budget choices from Dell and HP.
Not this time, although. As I mentioned, these dual-core Blade Stealth fashions are offered out, however even when they had been in inventory a listing value of $1,050 doesn’t examine too favorably to different ultrabooks these days. And our mannequin? At $1,350, it’s pricier than the competitors. The aforementioned 2018 XPS 13 is available in at $1,200 with persistently higher efficiency and battery life, and a few HP and Lenovo fashions are available even cheaper.
I like Razer’s aesthetic, and hey, the Blade Stealth nonetheless comes with USB-A ports—that’s one benefit over the XPS 13. However $150 extra? A stretch, possibly.
It’s an amazing machine, although. Peerless, with regards to the precise design itself. It’s an actual pleasure to make use of the Blade Stealth, be it on a airplane or simply at residence lounging on the sofa. Sturdy sufficient to really feel rugged and moveable, however light-weight sufficient to make it price carrying, I actually like it.
A disgrace Razer couldn’t eke just a little extra pace out of the machine although. Plus there’s that bundle of flaws I’d like to see mounted subsequent day trip—a keyboard with illuminated perform keys, and a USB-C charger that doesn’t teeter on the point of destruction. Yeah, that might be good.