Razer has been at the forefront of laptop design for years with its slim blade devices. The Razer Blade 14 is the company's first 14-inch notebook and the first blade to feature an AMD processor. The use of a Ryzen CPU shouldn't come as a surprise these days, it was long overdue. This blade locks and charges the Ryzen 9 5900HX, which is one of the best laptop processors out there.

Our test device combined the 5900HX with GeForce RTX 3060 graphics and a 1080p display with a refresh rate of 144 Hz. It'll cost you $ 1,799 and is the cheapest of the three new blades. The mid-range model keeps the 5900HX and is upgraded to an RTX 3070 and a 165 Hz display with a resolution of 1440p for $ 2,199. While the most expensive model uses an RTX 3080 and costs $ 2,799.

Features and design

The 14-inch screen size may be new to Razer, but this device looks familiar elsewhere – and that's not a bad thing. The Blade 14 uses the same CNC machined aluminum construction we've come to expect from other Razer machines, while maintaining the clean lines, black finish, and sleek shape of the rest of the series.

The Blade looks more like a black MacBook than a gaming laptop. The only RGB LEDs are under the keyboard and the only logo is the backlit Razer motif on the lid.

The Razer looks fantastic – and, as always, is well made. The metal base hardly moves, the display only bends slightly and there are no desktop distortions. It's easily strong enough to be slipped in a pocket, though you'll need a sleeve to keep the exterior from getting scuffed or scratched.

This Razer weighs 3.92 pounds, so it's relatively light, although the stout power brick adds 1.4 pounds to that number. The body of the blade is 320mm wide by 220mm deep and only 16.8mm thick, although the latter figure is elongated to 21mm thanks to the blade's rubber feet.

That's impressive numbers given the hardware on offer, but don't make it the thinnest or lightest 14-inch gaming laptop you can buy right now. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is wider and deeper than the Razer, but it weighs a little less and its power supply only adds another pound. These numbers are in no way a deal breaker, especially for a lightweight gaming notebook.

The right edge of the Razer has individual USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C ports. Both have a bandwidth of 10 Gbps, and the latter also provides power and compatibility with DisplayPort 1.4. Here, too, there is an HDMI 2.1 connection that supports 8K / 120 Hz outputs – a practical piece of future security, even if only modest games and less demanding esports titles can be played in this resolution with the RTX 3060.

The left edge has the same USB Type-A and Type-C configuration alongside an audio jack and the machine's power connector.

Inside there is dual-band 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, and the functionality of the Razer is rounded off by a Kensington lock slot, TPM 2.0 security and a 720p webcam with integrated Windows Hello. The quality of the camera isn't great, but it's fine for video calling, and signing in with your face is a welcome blessing.

It's a solid set of features, but it lacks things too. There is no Gigabit Ethernet and no card or fingerprint readers. And since this is an AMD laptop, there is no Thunderbolt. The main memory cannot be expanded either.

The Zephyrus G14 does not do quite as well in terms of connectivity. Only one of its USB-C ports has DisplayPort and power, and its HDMI 2.0b port isn't as powerful as the Blade's HDMI 2.1 port. Its USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports have half the bandwidth of the blade's ports. The Asus has a fingerprint reader, but no webcam. And while it has dual-band Wi-Fi 6, it doesn't have a future-proof 6E capability.

The blade has a 14-inch IPS panel with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, which corresponds to a density of 157 ppi. That's excellent, and means games are comfortably crisp – though they're significantly sharper on the more expensive versions of this laptop, which use a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 for a density of 210 ppi.

Still, there are plenty of pixels here for gaming, and the rest of the spec is good: AMD FreeSync supports the 144Hz refresh rate so you get smooth gaming in mainstream situations, and the panel has a matte finish.

The backlight reaches a peak of 323 cd / m2, which is bright enough to handle all indoor and most outdoor scenarios. The black point of 0.17 cd / m2 is also good: better than many other IPS displays and low enough to add depth and nuance – darker colors are absorbed on this panel. The contrast ratio of 1,900: 1 is fantastic and better than most IPS displays. The tremendous contrast helps the panel deliver punchy, vibrant colors – combine that with the black point and you have a display that makes games look bold and immersive.

The colors are decent too. The Delta E of 1.66 ensures accuracy and the gamma of 2.09 is pretty good. The color temperature of the display is a bit cool at 7,348K and too far from the ideal value of 6,500K. But it's not a disaster – the colossal contrast prevents colors from looking washed out.

The Razer's panel renders 93.2% of the sRGB color space at 96.4% volume, so you can get almost every hue that modern mainstream games need. That's a good result – and overall this is an excellent display – but this particular panel cannot handle the Adobe RGB or DCI-P3 color gamut.

The 2560 x 1440-pixel screen found in the more expensive Blade 14 models is noticeably better. We also tested this panel and could appreciate the fact that, in addition to the higher resolution, it has a faster refresh rate of 165 Hz. It reproduces more of the sRGB color space at a higher volume, so that the colors look more powerful. The 1440p display's 1,072: 1 contrast ratio is good, if not as high as that of the 1080p display, so that's one area where the 1080p panel has more depth – but the 1440p panel is in that department not far enough behind make it a worse experience. The resolution, refresh rate, and color ability help make up some ground.

The speakers are reasonable, but not great. They have a surprising amount of bass and enough volume to fill a bedroom, and the top sounds are decent – but the mids are muddy. The Blade's audio kit can handle casual games and media, but a headset offers a far better experience.

Razer's keyboard has customizable RGB LED backlighting per key that is clear and bold. The keyboard has an N-key rollover, and the keys themselves are crisp, quick, and consistent, so you won't have any trouble getting yourself up to speed on games.

However, there are inevitable problems with a small laptop like this one. The keys are fast and crisp, but flat, so they lack the punch and weight that avid gamers often prefer. This writing instrument is suitable for casual and mainstream gaming, but you will no doubt find larger and heavier keys on larger notebooks. The Asus also has a bit more travel, but the keys are a bit softer.

There are also layout tradeoffs. The cursor keys are small, the return key is just high and there is no number pad either. The trackpad is relatively large, responsive, and good for productivity and casual gaming, but a USB mouse is always better for gaming.

As usual, the Razer Synapse app manages this machine. It has modules for adjusting lighting and syncing with other Razer devices, and the laptop can be easily switched between its balanced and boosted performance modes.

power

The RTX 3060 laptop GPU in the Blade has the usual 3,840 stream processors and 6 GB of RAM and runs with a TDP between 90 W and 100 W. That is at the top for this core, and that means an entry-level base speed of 900 MHz and a more impressive boost speed of 1,425 MHz. On paper, this core is more powerful than the RTX 3060 in the Asus, which runs between 60 and 80 watts.

The Ryzen 9 5900HX is enormous on paper, with eight multi-thread cores in addition to base and boost speeds of 3.3 GHz and 4.6 GHz – and the Zen 3 architecture. The rest of the spec is good, but not surprising: the Blade comes with 16 GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory clocked at 3,200 MHz and a 1 TB Samsung PM981a SSD that has solid read and write speeds of 3,544 MB / s and delivered 2,747 MB ​​/ s.

The Razer's RTX 3060 proved to be a capable performer in gaming benchmarks. Two of the most demanding games on our test list are Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and The Blade did well in those titles. We ran Red Dead 2 at high settings and the Razer ran minimum and average frame rates of 35.7 fps and 64.8 fps, and in Valhalla's Very High the Blade ran at 39.4 fps and 55.3 fps. They're easily fast enough to allow smooth single player gaming in the most demanding titles.

The Blade did well in other games as well. It went through the high settings of Shadow of the Tomb Raider at 52.4 fps and 92.9 fps, averaging 58.4 fps with the game at maximum settings. Its minimum exceeded 60 fps in Far Cry: New Dawn at high settings and hit 54.1 fps on Ultra, and it delivered a nice 69.1 fps in Borderlands 3.

There's enough power here to play any of today's top single-player titles smoothly – you won't struggle to get past 60 fps at 1080p. And in Rainbow Six Siege, the Razer ran at 191.2 fps and 182.6 fps, respectively, on Medium and Ultra, so this machine can easily handle esports games at the speeds required to saturate the 144 Hz display.

It's a good performance, and the Blade's more powerful RTX 3060 is likely to outperform the same chip in the Asus. However, it's not necessarily the fastest RTX 3060 we've seen. In our extensive GPU test, we tested versions of the chip that ran between 80 W and 95 W alongside an Intel Core i7-10875H and between 115 W and 130 W alongside an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H. In most of our benchmarks, these other RTX 3060 machines were faster than the Blade, although larger gaps were seen in tests with the minimum frame rate.

New Dawn 1080p ultra 54.1 / 77.2 GTA V 1080p max 4xMSAA 65.2 / 97.4 Shadow of the Tomb Raider 1080p High SMAATx2 52.4 / 92.9 Red Dead 2 1080p High, no AA, AF16x 35, 7 / 64.8 Valhalla 1080p Very High 39.4 / 55.3 Borderlands 3 1080p Ultra, DX11, Fog / SSR medium 49.4 / 69.1

1080p Ultra settings
(min. / average FPS)
Graphics settings
Far Cry New Dawn 54 / 77 fps Ultra preset
GTA V 65 / 97 fps Max. Preset, 4xMSAA
Shadow of the Tomb Raider 52 / 92 fps High preset, SMAATx2
Red Dead Redemption 2 35 / 64 fps High, no AA, AF16x
Assassin & # 39; s Creed Valhalla 39 / 55 fps Very high preset
Borderland 3 49 / 69 fps Ultra, DX11, fog / SSR medium

Other machines are faster, but it's not a breakthrough distinction. A closer look at the GPU reveals that it operates at a peak power of 90W in its traditional operating modes and only reaches 100W when the boost options are enabled. And while Boost mode improved the blade's performance by a few frames, especially in the minimum frame rate tests, it still wasn't enough to help this laptop outperform the RTX 3060 cores we've seen elsewhere to have.

The processor is impressive, although this is another area where the silicon is not reaching its full potential. The Ryzen 9 5900HX delivered single and multi-threaded scores of 560 and 4240 in Cinebench R20. The former is around 20 points behind the performance of our extensive CPU test, the latter is around 700 points below. In the single-threaded test, the 5900HX is on par with the Ryzen 7 5800H and slightly behind the newer Intel Core i7-11800H; in the multi-threaded benchmark it is on par with Intel and slower than the Ryzen 7 CPU.

This pattern is visible elsewhere. The 5900HX needed ten minutes and ten seconds for the Blender test – behind the Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 chips tested elsewhere and just ahead of the Core i7. Its result of 1.55 in the Matlab R2020 test is slower than any other CPU mentioned here and falls behind the other CPUs in the Excel and PCMark 10 tests.

As with the graphics core, the blade's CPU has a boost mode to provide additional speed. And it delivers additional performance: its Cinebench R20 Multi-Threaded result rose to 4,720, and the Blender result improved by one minute. That helps, but that boost mode isn't perfect – the revised Cinebench multithreaded score outperformed the Ryzen 7 and Core i7 chips but still couldn't get the best speed we've seen from the 5900HX and the same applied to the reinforced the blender test.

The boost mode also had no effect on the single-thread performance: The blade's performance in the relevant Cinebench and Excel benchmarks did not change.

As always, an examination of the clock frequency shows what is going on. On paper, the Ryzen 9 5900HX can achieve single and all-core boost speeds of 4.6 GHz and 4.2 GHz. However, in normal performance mode, the Razer was only able to achieve single and all-core boost speeds of 4.5 GHz and 3.5 GHz. With the Boost option, the single-core speed stayed at 4.5GHz and the multi-core speed was upgraded to 3.9GHz, but that particular 5900HX still lags a bit.

The tradeoffs in CPU and GPU performance are no surprise with a thin and light device, but they do affect how you can use the blade on a day-to-day basis and you get better performance when you leave the 14- Inch form factor behind.

If you want to stick with the 14-inch Razer, you can pay more for the RTX 3070 or RTX 3080 versions, but they'll have the same issues: these GPUs are faster, but both are also limited to 100W TDPs. Likewise, the 5900HX will only achieve its potential in a larger laptop that comes with its own tradeoffs. It still delivers a lot of processing power in this device: the slim blade offers more than enough speed for common photo editing and other content creation tasks, and handles as many office apps and browser tabs as you want.

And while the Razer was designed that way because of its sleek, lightweight chassis, the Blade isn't a perfect thermal performer. Let's cover the good things first. Using the blade to get work done in traditional performance mode is going to be a decent time. The CPU never exceeded 82 ° C in single and multi-threaded worktests and the exterior stayed pleasantly cool. In these tests, the noise development reached peak values ​​of 45 dB and 48 dB: not quiet, but also not ruinously loud. A headset or speaker can easily handle the noise, and it's not loud enough to be bothersome.

If you use the performance boost mode of the CPU in single-threading situations, there is no difference in the noise and heat development, but with this setting in a multi-core test, the temperature of the CPU rose to a whopping 100 ° C and the noise level rose to 55db.

The Blade is also a mixed bag when it comes to gaming. In conventional performance mode, the GPU temperature of 69 ° C is okay and the noise level is between 53db and 56db. That's not a catastrophic noise level and you can drown it out with speakers or a headset, but it's not the quietest machine while gaming either. It's not the coolest notebook: the bottom got a bit uncomfortable, and the metal above the keyboard was even hotter. The noise level stayed similar when gaming in turbo mode, but the exterior was even hotter. If you plan to play games on this device, we recommend that you use a desk instead of your lap.

The Blade has a 61.1 Wh battery, which only excels in certain situations. In a gaming test, it lasted just under an hour and a half, which is just average: the Asus G14 from last year lasted two hours, and the latest model will likely have the same lifespan. The best way to play games with the Blade 14 is to keep it plugged in – and best placed by a desk, given the heat outside.

In an everyday work benchmark, the Blade 14 lasted 7 hours and 36 minutes and ran out of juice after a whopping 10 hours and 17 minutes when playing videos. By halving the screen brightness in both tests, these results also increased by about an hour. The Blade might not have the juice to handle a long off-grid gaming session, but this device can handle a full day of office applications and web browsers, especially if you're careful with the backlighting.

For whom is that?

The Razer Blade 14 is a bit of an experiment, but there's a lot to like here. The AMD processor is fast enough for almost any mainstream content creation task, and the 14-inch case looks great, is sturdy, slim, and light – and it offers solid connectivity too.

The RTX 3060 has the pace to handle mainstream single player and esports gaming, and the Blade offers impressive battery life when running non-gaming workloads. The screen is vibrant, nuanced, and has a lot of depth, the keyboard is crisp, and the speakers are reasonable.

However, the slim, lightweight design means that the graphics card and processor do not use their full potential and the blade sometimes gets hot and loud. Gaming battery life is an afterthought, and the small form factor means compromises on keyboard layout.

As expected, the Blade 14 is also expensive. The RTX 3060-based Razer costs $ 1,799, but you can buy an Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 with a nearly identical processor and graphics core for around $ 1,549. And if you don't need a 14-inch display, larger 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch laptops with an even faster GPU can often cost less.

The Razer Blade 14 isn't perfect, but it packs a huge amount of gaming and application performance into a small, stylish, high-quality case. If you're a fan of Razer's sleek design and are looking for a compact gaming notebook, then this is definitely worth buying.

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