Editor's choice Razer Blade (2015)

Razer Blade (2015) Review

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“The king of gaming laptops”

Ever since Razer started producing laptops, the Blade has been one of the best portable gaming devices you can get. The 2014 edition of the Razer Blade was a well-crafted and powerful machine, and was pretty much as good as it gets. So, where do they go with the 2015 version? Not very far, it seems – and that’s a good thing.

The Razer Blade (2015) looks almost exactly like the 2014 version – it has the same chassis and the same 14-inch qHD+ display. But the innards have changed. The new Blade has a faster processor, more RAM and one of NVidia’s best mobile GPUs – the GTX 970M.

With prices starting at $1,999 (for the non-touch 1080p screen), the Blade has all the makings of an exceptionally powerful machine. But, unlike last year when Razer was way ahead of the competition, this year sees well-equipped and good-looking models like the Origin EVO15-S and Digital Storm Triton. Suffice to say, the Razer Blade is not as far ahead of the competition as it used to be.

Design

The brand new Blade is almost similar to the 2014 edition when it comes to design, even has the same dimensions and weighs just over 2kg. This isn’t a bad thing since anodized aluminum chassis looks great and the Blade continues to be one of the best designed and slimmest (0.7 inches) gaming laptops around. However, if you ignore the logo, it is easy to confuse it with a black MacBook Pro (thankfully, Apple doesn’t make black colored laptops). There are plenty of Apple-inspired features like the hinge and the rounded edges.

There are a few original design elements as well such as two tiny ridges behind the lid and a metal power button. The neon snake logo on the lid makes it obvious that it is a Razer product.

Display

Just like its predecessor, it packs a 14-inch qHD+ display which has a resolution of 3200×1800. It is bright and looks good from most angles. Colors are vibrant, and photos and videos look brilliant. Even at minimum brightness, the screen was easy to see in sunlight but, the glossy surface does produce reflections.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The system has one if the best notebook keyboards you will use. Keys are well-designed, well-placed, responsive and have just enough travel. However, even though you can type quickly, some people may prefer a bit more travel. Even the font looks cool and the green color really comes alive in the dark with the backlight on. Keys are easy to reach and I didn’t experience any problems when using multi-button combos.

Compared to the 2014 edition, Razer has improved the trackpad and made the click buttons a bit sturdier. The Synaptic touchpad registered gestured effortlessly. Touchpad performance can be adjusted in the settings, which includes a palm-check option. Turning this setting up went a long way towards preventing jumpy cursors when typing. Even though the touchpad works well, you won’t be using it much for gaming.

Performance

Our review unit has a 2.6GHz (up to 3.6GHz) Intel Core i7-4720HQ processor, NVidia GTX 970M GPU, 16GB RAM and a 256GB PCIe SSD. Suffice to say, it performs exceptionally well. It handled everything we threw at it – video editing, 4K streaming, etc. – with aplomb. Synthetic benchmark scores were really high as well. But, obviously, gaming performance is more important than anything else with this laptop.

While the qHD+ screen is beautiful, it can be a negative when it comes to gaming – many modern games aren’t made for such a high resolution. Performance, therefore, differs depending on the game you are playing. Games like Cities: Skylines and Ori and The Blind Forest returned frame rates of around 10fps at maximum resolution, even with graphics turned down. Metal Gear: Ground Zeroes refused to even run. While these games worked perfectly with the resolution turned down, visuals looked blown up. Not a good thing.

The high resolution even interfered with UI-s. Blizzard’s BattleNet and EA’s Origin clients looked incredibly tiny – even YouTube wasn’t spared. But, the games which did run – such as Bioshock: Infinite, Grid Autosport and DMC: Devil May Cry – looked brilliant and managed good framerates.

Battery Life

The incredible sharpness of the display also affects battery life. In the PC Mark 8 battery life test, it managed to last 2h 31m. The Blade rarely lasted for more than 4 hours even when used casually. Considering that it’s a gaming machine and it expected to be hooked up to an outlet, the low battery life shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, it is better than the 2h 2m runtime managed by the Origin EVO15-S.

Final Thoughts

PROS:
  • Modern design
  • Brilliant 3K display
  • Responsive touchpad and keyboard
  • Excellent performance
CONS:
  • Some games can’t handle the screen resolution
  • Can get really warm under heavy load

The Razer Blade (2015) provides the best combination of style and performance in the high-performance gaming laptop category. It houses powerful components and has a brilliant 3K display. Even though some games can’t handle the qHD+ display yet, things should improve in the future. Overall, the Blade is a solid machine which turns your everyday laptop into a gaming behemoth.

9 Total Score
Excellent!

Design
9.5
Display
10
Preformance
10
Battery Life
8.5
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