Razer has always been a big name to gamers as they cater directly to the core players and is a sponsor for major gaming tournaments. They were always ahead of the others when it comes to gaming laptop, but nowadays other laptop makers are quickly catching up. And that’s why Razer was in a hurry and released the Razer Blade 2015 quite early. Yes, the Blade is back, to take the crown of the best gaming laptop.
Unlike with the 2014 Blade, Razer hasn’t changed up much other than swapping out the internals with more memory, a faster processor, and the NVIDIA’s lauded mobile graphics chip. Along with new classy exterior, the blade 2015 sports an Intel Core i7-4720HQ, 16GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GTX 970M with 3GB of VRAM for graphics, paired up with a 3,200 x 1,800 multi-touch display. Now, if you were wondering about the price, it is just $2199!
Good keyboard and touchpad
Amazing QHD+ display
Decent battery life for a gaming laptop
Unnecessarily big resolution
Gets very hot
Model: Blade 14 (2015)
Processor: Intel Core i7-4720HQ
Chipset: Intel HM87
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5
Memory: 16GB DDR3L-1600
SSD: 256 GB
Optical Drive: none
Display Type: Sharp Multi-touch screen with LED Backlight
Screen Size: 14 inch
Screen Resolution: QHD+ (3200×1800)
Audio: Realtek ALC269 HD audio with Stereo speakers
Keyboard: Island style Anti-Ghosting keyboard with backlit
Navigation: 4.2 x 2.5inches touchpad
Camera: 2.0 MP webcam
Video Ports: HDMI 1.4a
Audio Ports: Combo headphone jack
Total USB Ports: 2
USB 2.0 Ports: 0
USB 3.0 Ports: 2
Media Ports: SD reader
Wi-Fi: Intel Wireless-AC 7260HMW
Ethernet: Dual Band 2×2:2 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Battery: 70Wh Lithium-Ion Polymer
Battery Life: 6 hours
Width: 13.6 inches
Depth: 9.3 inches
Height: 1.1 inches
Weight: 4.18 pounds / 1.9 kg
Operating System: Windows 8.1 / Windows 10
Warranty: 1 Year Limited
Base Price: $2199
Price of the reviewed model: $2399
Build and Design
The Razer Blade is an elegant machine that clearly takes inspiration from Apple’s striking MacBook line. It’s easy to look at the Blade and wonder whether Apple released a 14-inch Retina MacBook Pro in black. Both of them are that similar. There are plenty of elements that are clearly MacBook-inspired, from the rounded edges to the wide, sturdy hinge.
But of course, there are some original touches, including the spun metal power button along with the two small ridges on the back of the screen lid. It’s also impossible to miss that neon, and the snake logo on the lid. The matte black finish of the Blade feels great, except it attracts smudges and fingerprints. Luckily, whatever material coats the exterior also causes those blemishes to fade with a few minutes of ceasing to touch the system. So, it’s all good here.
Anyway, with 17.9 mm thickness and 2 Kg weight, the Blade can be considered as a heavy Ultrabook, but as a gaming laptop, it’s really lightweight.
The backlit island style keyboard offers the basic keys with no extra keys. Typing is accurate with good feedback from individual keys. Perhaps more important for gaming, the keys feel quick and reliable and can recognize simultaneous presses. However, travel is shallow and certainly not as satisfying as on larger gaming laptops or desktop keyboards. So, if you are planning for hardcore gaming, you might have to get an external one.
The 4.2 x 2.5-inch Synaptic touchpad is large compared to the palm rest. The matte surface provides a smooth glide with no special Texturing. The touchpad supports all kinds of Windows 8.1 gestures; including multi touch commands such as pinch-zoom, two-finger rotate and three-finger press, or flick. So far, the only drawback of the touchpad is the dedicated key. They are very narrow and surprisingly quiet with a much shallower travel compared to most other laptops.
Though the Blade doesn’t have a rich collection of ports, it has just enough to connect essential peripherals.
There are two USB 3.0 ports on the left along with the 3.5 mm combo audio ports and the AC adapter input.
While on the other hand the right side has another USB 3.0 port, an HDMI 1.4a port, and the Kensington Lock.
The display of the Blade is just perfect! It is extremely sharp, easily translating any blocky pixels into smooth lines and curves. The panel is also extremely bright. Keeping the laptop screen at just one to two ticks above its minimum brightness was more than enough to easily use it in direct sunlight.
There are some other issues too. The black levels are decent regardless of brightness, and at 98 percent of the sRGB and 73 percent of Adobe RGB, it’s at acceptable levels for higher-end displays. Gamma is a bit off at 1.9, but the biggest problem is color accuracy, comparing it with a good gaming monitor, it was easily noticeable.
The Razer has two front facing stereo speakers. With laptops this thin, there generally is not a lot of room for good sounding speakers. But they placed the speakers in a really good spot. Instead of under the screen or the front edge or around back, the speakers on the Blade flank the keyboard, running the height of the keys facing directly upward. They sound good too, clean and crisp until you turn them all the way up. Over around 70 percent system volume, and there’s a noticeable crackle in the background. So, if you are gaming, headphones will still be necessary, but for watching movies or listening to music, the speakers are more than enough.
The Razer Blade 2015 model came with an Intel Core i7-4720HQ processor. This quad-core chip is found in a lot of gaming laptops, and it’s not hard to see why. Even with a 2.6GHz clock speed, a 3.6GHz Turbo Boost, and Hyper Threading technology, it only consumes a maximum of 47 watts. That means excellent power consumption without compromising performance.
And with 16 GB of ram, this CPU/Memory combination makes for some excellent general-use performance, leading into Photoshop CS6 with 3 minutes 25 seconds, and topping Cinebench with 675 points. In terms of productivity it was ahead of most consumer laptops. And as a gaming laptop, it is also quite good.
The graphics performance of the Blade is also very good, with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M and 3GB of dedicated memory. As I tested, the new CPU and GPU combination bumps up the performance quite substantially, with some of our real world benchmarks around 50% faster than the previous 2014 model. But still, while gaming, you barely will be able to use the 3200×1800 resolution. The GTX 970M certainly is not sufficient enough to run next Gen games at 3200×1800. So, for now, if you want to enjoy high FPS and graphics, you will have to live with 1080p.
Heat and Noise
To be honest, just like the previous models, the Blade 2015 often gets hot. There is a quite powerful CPU and GPU sitting under the keyboard, and they can both generate lots of heat when being pushed to their maximum. So, it was not that unexpected.
On the other hand, Razer tuned the fans to stay as quiet as possible. The laptop is almost dead silent under most light workloads, and then as you begin gaming, the speed will ramp up. Depending on the gaming load, fan speeds may increase for a bit, but they always seem to want to get down to the lowest speed possible to keep system noise down.
Razer offers 4 different versions of the Blade 2015.
The version I reviewed came with a Core i7-4720HQ, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M GPU with 3GB of VRAM, and the QHD+ display. The price of this version is $2399.
There is another version, almost similar to the reviewed one. It costs $2199. If you want to save this $200, all you have to do is sacrifice some SSD space, as this version offers a 128GB SSD.
The most expensive version of the Blade costs $2699, and it only has a bigger SSD storage. A 512GB one!
Moreover, there is an economic version of the Blade with a 1080p non-touch display for $1,999. Even in this version, rests of the specs are same. So, if the screen is not an issue for you, feel free to get this one.
If you want a gaming laptop, and you want one that’s actually portable, you don’t have many choices outside of the Razer Blade. With a powerful Core i7 processor, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M GPU, a QHD+ screen, and the Ultra lightweight, the Blade is just not only a gaming machine, but also a powerful multimedia or business laptop. Regardless the performance, the Blade is a very attractive machine, and has a keyboard and touchpad that reflect its tradition. Overall, the Razer Blade is a perfect choice for those who want an elegant looking lightweight gaming laptop with powerful hardware inside. So, if you want slim gaming, and money is not an issue for you, get the Blade 2015!