One of the most popular gaming laptops on the market is still the Razer Blade. New for 2018, Razer has refined the design and improved the internal hardware to make it even better than before.
With the 2018 Blade, Razer is fully on board with the thin bezel revolution. Earlier models included 14-inch displays with thick bezels, and it was a look that frustrated many people. I mean, why couldn't they just have put a bigger screen in the same case? Given the increasing competition from devices such as the MSI GS65 Stealth Thin and the Gigabyte Aero 15X, the same design as in recent years could not be used this time.
Obviously, Razer's engineers thought the same thing because the new blade has a 15.6-inch display in a case that is essentially the same size. The result? The bezels on both sides of the display are only 5 mm thin and therefore look much better.
Again, there is no nostril camera, which is good news. The bezel at the top of the display is slightly larger than the sides, so that the webcam can be positioned above the display as with the MSI GS65. They don't look quite like the Dell XPS bezel, but they're close enough and still significantly better than Razer's previous design.
The rest of the chassis has been slightly redesigned with a more angular look, unlike the rounded corners of the previous generation blade. This gives it a more modern look and still delivers Razer's characteristic, high-quality all-metal construction. I loved the design of the old blade, but this new look is even better. It's just a touch slimmer.
In addition, the black metal unibody is almost unrivaled in terms of processing quality in the area of gaming laptops. There is more competition these days, but Razer still does it best. If you compare the blade to other laptops in general, you really only get this kind of build from a MacBook Pro. And we know how the latest MacBook professionals sacrifice some performance to keep a thin profile (we'll see how the blade does later).
Razer positions the blade as a dual-purpose laptop that is suitable for both gamers and professionals. Therefore, this laptop has numerous connections. Three USB 3.1 Type-A ports, a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port, full-size HDMI 2.0, Mini-DisplayPort 1.4, a 3.5mm audio jack and a proprietary charging port due to the high-performance charger. That's pretty much all you want for a laptop of this size. Maybe an SD card slot would have been nice, but I'm glad that there are many other full-size connectors.
In terms of thickness, the blade is very impressive at only 16.8 mm thick, although it contains an Intel Coffee Lake processor with six cores and up to GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q graphics. The size of the laptop in relation to its internal hardware is one of the best, if not the best, on the market, although the weight of a touch over 2 kg is not so class leading, although this is due to the solid value of the metal construction.
The minimalist basis of this laptop consists of only three elements: keyboard, trackpad and loudspeaker. There is no number pad on this 15-inch laptop. Razer opts for large speaker grilles on both sides. The speaker output is not as impressive, and certainly not as impressive as the large grids suggest.
However, the keyboard is very good. The travel distance to each key is ultrabook class, but that's not a bad thing as the response to a non-mechanical design is solid and reasonably clickable. Entering some documents and playing on the new blade is a decent experience, and of course you can also enjoy the bright RGB backlighting per key. However, Razer still hasn't managed to illuminate the symbols on the keyboard, which is a bit frustrating for night users.
The trackpad is massive and extremely responsive. The perfect companion for productivity tasks on the go. However, there is no Windows Hello integration on this laptop, so there is no support for fingerprint readers or face recognition. This is a little disappointment considering that several other gaming laptops in this class have started integrating these handy features.
The display is one of the large areas that have been upgraded. Not only is it now larger than the 14-inch panel used in previous blades, but it also has a high update on some models. The main display that most people will buy is a 15.6-inch 1080p IPS LCD with a 144 Hz refresh rate, which is very similar to most other gaming laptops on the market. Companies can only use the panels available to them. So it's great to see that Razer is up to date and currently uses the best display for mobile gaming laptops.
There is also a 60 Hz 1080p option for the entry-level blade and a 4K 60 Hz option for the high-end. I would only recommend the 4K touchscreen if you use this laptop mainly for productivity tasks like video editing. For games, the 1080p 144Hz panel is a much better choice.
Razer calibrates every screen in its Blade 2018 series at the factory. Even if you get the 1080p 144Hz panels, the color accuracy is matched to the sRGB gamut, and the 4K options even support 100% Adobe RGB coverage. In my tests, the Blade 2018 is comparable in terms of color accuracy to the Gigabyte Aero 15X, whereby DeltaEs are exactly at this 2.0 mark in grayscale, saturation and ColorChecker tests. The white balance is also very good, with an average CCT close to 6500K.
It's not a perfect display, but for content creators, the screen is accurate enough from the factory to avoid worrying about further calibrations. However, Razer is still limited by the properties of this panel, so its 285 nits brightness and contrast ratio below 1000: 1 are not fantastic and the uniformity is fine only for this display size. For gamers, however, you'll love the high refresh rate, even if there's no G-Sync support.