I'm a big fan of Razer hardware. Their peripherals are top notch, especially their outstanding Deathadder mice, while their laptops have surprised me at how solid and well built they are. Razer seems to know what gamers are looking for, and the latest Razer Blade is no exception.
It's a powerful slot machine with Kaby Lake Core i7 and GeForce GTX 1060 graphics that gives you enough grunt for the latest games. But you get this hardware in a beautiful metal unibody case: an expression I wouldn't use to describe many other gaming laptops on the market.
Granted, the Razer Blade is an expensive laptop with over $ 2,000 for a usable configuration, although in many ways you get what you pay for.
The build quality of the Razer Blade is exquisite, making it the most attractive gaming laptop you can buy. Almost every corner of this laptop is made of black aluminum, which is slim, minimalist and sexy. The base is essentially a unibody construction where aluminum curves seamlessly around the edges, although the base plate can be removed to reveal the internals. The matte finish makes this device look expensive and its texture doesn't disappoint either.
One thing I don't like about most PC gaming products is the use of unnecessary “gamer” elements like strange angles and terrible patterns. You won't get any of that with the Razer Blade. The only aspect of this laptop that could possibly even be called a "gamer" is the acid green Razer logo on the laptop lid. That being said, this device looks like a typical everyday laptop, and that's great.
Another advantage of Razer's design is its compactness. The blade weighs 1.95 kg (1.95 kg for the touchscreen model) with a thickness of 17.9 mm, making it one of the thinnest and lightest laptops in its class. Some competing 14-inch laptops from Gigabyte and MSI have tried to achieve the same results. The MSI GS43VR is lighter, but not as slim, and its build quality is a mile behind what Razer offers in the blade.
The blade is cheap compared to the latest generation 15-inch MacBook Pros (1.83 kg and 15.5 mm thick), so that despite its main focus on games, the blade can be easily transported and used as a portable workstation .
In fact, thanks to its GTX 1060 graphics, the blade is a good deal more powerful than the latest MacBook Pros. The combination of performance and portability is why the Razer Blade line is so popular and is currently the standout option in this regard.
You don't have to worry about lugging a massive power stone around with the Razer Blade. The current generation Razer 165W power supply for this laptop is remarkably compact and weighs just over 300 grams. Therefore, it is not a burden like many other gaming laptops.
The blade offers an almost perfect selection of I / O: On the left side there are two USB 3.0 type A ports, supplemented by a third port on the right side. There is an HDMI 2.0 port and a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port on the right, while there is a 3.5mm audio jack on the left. It's a great mix of current and new connectivity technologies, and the full-size display output makes it easy to connect external displays on the go. The main omission here is Ethernet, although this laptop is clearly too thin to accommodate an RJ45 jack.
I was impressed with the speaker system, which is a rarity for any laptop. The Blade isn't loud, although its speakers are of surprisingly good quality, with a depth in the midtones and basses that you don't normally get. Headphones or external speakers still offer a far better audio experience, but the Razer Blade is not bad for occasional videos or songs.
My only major criticism of the blade's design are the massive bezels around the 14-inch display. There's clearly enough room here for a bigger display, something in the 15-inch area, but Razer didn't care. Considering how portable the laptop's case is, it looks even better with a larger screen in the same form factor.
Speaking of display: my test device was equipped with the 14.0-inch IPS LCD non-touch model with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. A 4K model is also available, which includes a touchscreen. Considering that this laptop only contains a GTX 1060, it is worth staying at 1080p for the best gaming experience, although you can easily run the 4K model at 1080p if you wish.
My main problem with the Blade's display is color performance. Before calibration, this display is tinted green, which leads to poor accuracy. A grayscale dE2000 average of 7.6 is particularly bad, as is a saturation average of 4.43 and a ColorChecker average of 5.476. Ideally, you want all three values below 2.0 (or below 1.0 for professionals) to have the best experience.
The good news is that this IPS display produces a decent contrast ratio of 1270: 1 and there is no noticeable backlight on my test device. The brightness was respectable at 320 nits peak, as was the viewing angle. When it was calibrated, the Razer Blade performed well, with a grayscale dE2000 average below 1.0. However, since the display comes back from a fair time, I could not achieve a dE2000 value below 1.0 in the color tests of SpectraCal CALMAN 5.
Razer has a decent keyboard built into the blade, much like most modern ultrabooks. The actuation force required for each key is lower than that of a laptop keyboard, so it is more geared towards games than typing, although the typing experience is still solid due to the relatively sharp response. The buttons are of a reasonable size, especially the important left modifiers, although the up / down arrows on the right are a bit squashed.
Without RGB lighting, this would not be a Razer product. Therefore, of course, the blade has individually adjustable RGB LEDs behind each button. The functionality provided here is identical to the Razer desktop keyboard. The RGB controls are provided by Razer Synapse. The lighting is very customizable and pretty much any color looks fantastic compared to the jet black case. I was disappointed that symbols and secondary button functions are not backlit. Therefore, in a dark room, it can be difficult to find out which buttons are used for brightness, which for punctuation, etc.
The trackpad on the blade is excellent and offers a responsive experience with perfect gesture recognition. The physical buttons at the bottom are smooth and clickable, which improves the usability of the trackpad. Of course, I still expect players to use an external mouse, but the trackpad is perfect for working on the go.