Razer Blade Stealth Assessment – Catrachadas

After testing nearly a dozen Razer laptops in the past few years, and this is our fifth Blade Stealth, it's always a pleasure to discover what's new and what's been improved with newer iterations.

The new Razer Blade Stealth uses a new design with new hardware. All models are equipped with an Intel Core i7-8565U processor and a 13.3-inch 1080p display. The basic model does not contain discrete graphics, but a 256 GB SATA SSD and 8 GB RAM. The graphics model, the version we received for review, has discrete GeForce MX150 graphics, a 256 GB PCIe SSD and 16 GB RAM. Both variants come with 53 Wh batteries, while in some regions there is an even faster model with a 4K display and a 512 GB SSD.

After looking at Intel Whiskey Lake's CPU performance, now is the time to properly review the laptop that we used for these benchmarks. Note that this laptop was released in late 2018. It is therefore immediately available and an impressive piece of hardware that is worth taking a closer look at.

In price, we see $ 1,400 for the base model, $ 1,600 for the MX150, and $ 1,900 for the 4K touch display. As is the case with Razer laptops, it is quite expensive.

The previous Blade Stealth looked pretty decent in many ways and improved the chunky older designs, but this newer design takes things one step further. It has a similar design to the 15-inch Razer Blade because it has a more angular design with slimmer bezels around the display. It is now at the point where the display, like many modern ultraportables, dominates the lid area. We're not in a crazy screen-to-body ratio yet, but the new Blade Stealth doesn't feel like space is wasted around the screen.

The build quality has always been a killer aspect for Razers notebooks, and that's still the case here.

The main housing is a unibody made of solid aluminum with a black anodized surface. It is simple, feels very sturdy and looks fantastic. It's a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but that's the case with most black metal laptops.

Although the total area is smaller than before thanks to the narrower bezels, it is ~ 1 mm thicker than the previous models, which makes little difference. The main area of ​​interest is weight, which varies between 2.8 and 3.0 lbs depending on the model. It's not particularly easy for an ultraportable in 2019, but it's not difficult either.

If you look at the connections and functions, this is standard for this machine. There is a Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB-C 3.1 port and two USB 3.1 Type-A ports and a headphone jack. While this laptop has more USB ports than its predecessor, this is at the expense of the disappointing full-size HDMI port. You probably need an HDMI or DisplayPort adapter to connect a monitor.

The Blade Stealth also has a simple 720p webcam above the display with Windows Hello support. There are speakers on either side of the keyboard that are fairly average, as is the case with virtually every laptop these days. The trackpad is expansive, accurate, and responsive, just like the other Razer trackpads. And the keyboard has a great tactile response, nice and clicking for a laptop keyboard, which I like to see. It's also not cramped, and includes full-sized arrow keys, as well as a number of convenient functions associated with the F keys.

It wouldn't be a Razer product without some form of Chroma RGB lighting, but the new Blade Stealth contains it in a fairly limited form.

Instead of using RGB keyboard backlighting per key, as with previous Razer laptops, the Blade Stealth has only a single backlight zone that spans the entire keyboard. This limits the effects available, but I don't think RGB per key is all that is required for an ultraportable, and I'm sure that this new single-zone design will save both space and battery.

The display, at least for the basic and graphic models, is a 13.3-inch 1080p IPS with 60 Hz. Nothing special, just a typical laptop-quality display. An important feature is that Razer calibrates each display individually from the factory and has a 100% sRGB coverage. This is good news for those who want color accuracy and decent colors for content creation.

This panel is one of the better ones I've seen on laptops. It offers a contrast ratio of 1300: 1 and a brightness of up to 400 nits, which is above average in both points. The color accuracy is also immediately ready for use. The white point is perfect at 6500K and although it drops a little over the grayscale range, no color tone is recognizable.

Grayscale deltaEs of 2.04 are only slightly higher than what we rate as "very good", while a saturation deltaE of 1.25 and a ColorChecker DeltaE average of 1.55 are fantastic results. This accuracy is well above average for a laptop and makes it a great ad for content creators.

performance

Let's talk about performance. We'll focus on the Blade Stealth with discrete graphics and workloads that specifically use the GPU to see how the MX150 works. We already covered the performance of the Core i7-8565U in a separate test. So if you're interested in how workloads work with CPU only or how the base model works in general, check out our Whiskey Lake CPU review.

As a refresh, the Blade Stealth uses the Quad-Core i7-8565U, the new high-end Whiskey Lake CPU from Intel, which is based on 14 nm ++. Typically, this CPU is configured to use a 15 W TDP. However, Razer opted for the cTDP up status of 25 W, which allows the chip to operate at higher sustained clock speeds.

The nominal clock speeds for the 8565U are 1.8 GHz base with a 4.6 GHz single-core turbo and a 4.1 GHz all-core turbo, but normally the 25 W version of the chip hovers when the non-persistence -AVX workloads around 3.1 GHz.

In CPU-heavy benchmarks, the 25W 8565U is up to 33 percent faster than the 15W 8565U. This should be considered when comparing the Razer Blade Stealth with other 8565U laptops with the standard 15W configuration. You won't see 33% growth in every app, short workloads remain largely unaffected, and the performance of a single thread is 4 to 7 percent higher. This is a significant difference for long coding tasks.

The 25W 8565U is also about 15% faster than the 25W Core i7-8550U, Intel's earlier Kaby Lake Refresh CPU. And this margin increases to 20% on average compared to the 15W 8550U, with some workloads increasing by up to 38%.

That could definitely warrant an upgrade over the 8550U, depending on the system you had before. And if you come from a dual-core system like a Core i7-7500U or older, you naturally expect growth of an average of 62%.

Now let's examine what the MX150 brings to the table …

It is important to note that this is not the "1D12" version of the GeForce MX150, but the full version. Razer states that it is a 25W MX150. A look at GPU-Z confirms that it is a regular 1D10 model. So that's good news, though I hope Nvidia isn't that confusing with its GPU names.

The MX150 is used in all areas where the GPU is accelerated, including popular applications such as Adobe Premiere. Here the MX150 has a noticeable influence on the rendering times, both with and without Lumetri color processing effects.

With Lumetri effects, the render times are more than halved, and you can also find that this full MX150 is a few minutes faster than the 1D12 version. Even without Lumetri effects, our render benchmark was 30% faster thanks to the discrete GPU.

Photoshop's Smart Sharpen filter also benefits significantly from GPU acceleration, which shortens processing times by more than half. The GPU integrated into the 15 W processors from Intel is extremely weak, the MX150 is slightly more than twice as powerful, and this happens in this scenario.

CompuBench is an excellent benchmark for testing the computing power of these GPUs in a number of synthetic tests. Viewing one of these optical flow results again shows the MX150's performance.

It is around 2.6 times faster than the integrated UHD 620 GPU and is 23% ahead of the Vega 8 GPU in the AMD Ryzen 5 2500U. However, I expect the Vega 10 GPU in the Ryzen 7 2700U to offer similar performance to the MX150, but with a lower CPU performance than the 8565U.

In 3DMark, we also see huge gains when we compare the MX150 to the regular Intel iGPU. It is typical that performance is more than doubled, especially with graphic scores where the MX150 is three times faster in Time Spy, for example.

In terms of games, this doesn't exactly make an ultraportable a gaming powerhouse, but it certainly makes entry-level games playable where they weren't before. The Intel UHD 620 is only suitable for 2D games and other simple things, while the MX150 can play Fortnite, for example. You can expect 1080p, 60 FPS games in Fortnite with low settings.

A few other things worth mentioning in terms of performance …

The Razer Blade Stealth has two performance modes: Balance and Low Power. In this test, we used balanced mode. When the energy saving mode is activated, the CPU is limited to a TDP of approx. 8 W, so that the performance is considerably reduced. However, this could come in handy to extend battery life.

The cooler is always a controversial issue with Razer laptops because they run hot and loud. However, this is hardly the case with the Blade Stealth. The CPU temperatures were relatively good and hovered around the 75 ° C mark, which is not that hot for a laptop. However, the cooler can be heard under heavy loads.

My recommendation would be to use manual fan speed control to lower the fan speed to around 3000 RPM, although it depends on the conditions. I saw a 7 ° C increase in temperature, but the laptop was much quieter and overall, in my opinion, it was a better experience. I think Razer's standard fan curve is too aggressive and could annoy people who buy this laptop and do not know that there is a manual fan slide.

The model equipped with GeForce has a 256 GB Liteon CA3 PCIe NVMe SSD, which performs particularly well with random workloads. It doesn't have the fastest sequential performance I've ever seen, but this is still a fast drive and should offer a noticeable performance boost compared to the base model SATA drive.

Another important area for laptops is battery life. However, since we haven't compared many ultraportables lately, we don't have a good selection of battery data to compare the Blade Stealth with. If you want detailed information on battery life, we recommend reading other reviews. From what I tested, I would describe battery life as above average for what it's worth.

For whom is that?

The new Razer Blade Stealth offers an impressive overall package. The design is excellent, but this time it has been complemented by first-class hardware for what is possible in this type of ultra-portable chassis design. We get the 25W version of the Core i7-8565U, which outperforms most other laptops that use the 15W configuration or get stuck on Kaby Lake Refresh.

We also get a full discrete MX150 GPU, so Razer has combined a powerful CPU with a powerful GPU for this form factor. Previous models left the GPU a bit behind, and Razer introduced its external Core V2 GPU solution for those who want to play something. This new model isn't a gaming powerhouse, but it's now suitable for Fortnite or Overwatch games without external boxes.

The display is also impressive and immediately delivers excellent color accuracy, making it suitable for creative applications. You'll also get full-size Thunderbolt 3 plus USB, a great trackpad, and an apparently decent battery life. Overall, it's a really neat package.

Most of the concerns I have with the hardware package are minor. The fan is too aggressive by default, but this can be adjusted. Full size HDMI has been removed. For models without a 4K display, you only get a 256 GB SSD. However, since it is an M.2 drive, it should be updatable.

The other concern for some buyers will be the price. $ 1,400 for the base model without discrete graphics is a huge bonus. Yes, you get the 25W Core i7-8565U, but there is only 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SATA SSD. Asus offers the 15W 8565U plus 16 GB RAM and a 512 GB SSD for $ 1,200 in the ZenBook 14 UX433FA. So you really have to want the extra CPU power to justify higher expenses while sacrificing RAM and storage capacity. Memory in particular affects the blade's chances of asserting itself against valuable competitors.

Then there is the $ 1,600 graphic model that we checked. In a way, I can see that this price is justified. Not many systems offer a 25W quad core plus a full MX150 GPU in this type of form factor. And you get 16 GB of RAM. When you consider that many laptops advertised for an i7-8565U and an MX150 have the 15W CPU configuration and the slower 1D12 MX150, I think it makes sense to spend more money on the best performance .

If you need less power, you can of course be completely satisfied with the MX150 1D12 and even a previous generation i7-8550U. This combination is 20 to 30 percent slower than the Blade Stealth, but you can find similar form factor laptops with this combination that are more than 30 percent cheaper.

It's not uncommon for top-end products with the fastest hardware to offer less than the best value for money. There is always a bonus attached to getting the fastest or best products. The question is whether you are willing to pay extra or whether you are satisfied with the variety of other options on the market.

The Razer Blade Stealth delivers again as a premium ultrabook.

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