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Razer Blade 15 Review

Razer Blade 15 Review

Razer Blade 15 review Razer Blade 15 Advanced review Razer Blade Advanced review 02The Razer Blade 15 has been updated with a new version for 2019, and it remains one of the best-looking laptops on the market. That’s no surprise, though, as Razer has been building eye-catching and expensive systems since 2013 – and, true to form, the model in our review costs £2,449 in the UK and $2,599 in the US. However, the Blade range does sometimes deliver more form than function, so our Razer Blade 15 review will find out if that’s still the case.

Razer Blade 15 Review – Design

The Razer Blade 15 is a truly fantastic-looking machine. The Blade 15 is built entirely from black aluminium, and the physical design is smart and subtle. At the front there’s a shallow ridge that’s used to open the machine up, and at the rear you get a hinge that’s small and discreet.

The machine is entirely without the huge air vents, obnoxious angles and dozens of RGB LEDs that are usually found on more conventional gaming laptops. The screen has slim bezels, the keyboard is sandwiched between subtle speaker vents, and there are no annoying stickers on the wrist-rest.

Razer Blade 15 review Razer Blade 15 Advanced review Razer Blade Advanced review 10The only colour apart from black can be found in the lid’s green Razer logo and in the keyboard backlight – and you can turn that off if you like.

It must be said that, visually at least, very little has changed since last year’s version of the Razer Blade 15. But when a laptop looks this good, it doesn’t necessarily need to change.

The only alterations come in the dimensions department, and the changes are not ruinous. This year’s model of the Razer Blade 15 is 18mm thick – a sliver thicker than the older machine. The 2.1kg weight is a few grams heavier, too.

Those changes won’t make the Razer Blade 15 any more cumbersome to carry. It compares well with the rest of the market, too – the Asus ROG Strix Scar II is an entirely normal gaming notebook, and it weighed 2.4kg and was 26mm thick.

Build quality remains rock-solid, although we’d definitely use a sleeve to avoid scuffs and scratches.

The Razer Blade 15 looks fantastic. However, its design does involve some compromise.

Take connectivity, for instance. You get three USB 3.1 connectors, a Type-C port and both HDMI and mini-DisplayPort outputs. That’s all good, but there’s only one audio jack and no card slot. You don’t get a Gigabit Ethernet port, either, and no USB adapter is included in the box.

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Razer Blade 15 Review – Components

Razer Blade 15 review Razer Blade 15 Advanced review Razer Blade Advanced review 16The Razer Blade 15 has been kitted out with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 graphics core. It’s one of Nvidia’s latest GPUs and it includes the Turing architecture, which means you get to use Ray-Tracing and DLSS.

Battlefield V and Metro Exodus support those technologies right now, and the list will grow.

However, the Blade’s slim design does mean that Razer has opted to use the GPU’s Max-Q variant. This means the core has been downclocked a little in order to deliver solid power while making the chip a little more efficient.

The RTX 2070 runs at 1,410MHz in its standard configuration. However, the Max-Q version runs at 1,080MHz. That means a boost peak of 1,305MHz on the revised chip.

The Core i7-8750H is the most popular CPU for high-end laptops because it balances a solid specification with efficient operations. The chip has six Hyper-Threaded cores, which means twelve threads, no games bottlenecks and no issues when running day-to-day applications, work tools and web browsers. It’s clocked to 2.2GHz and reaches a boost speed of 4.1GHz.

Elsewhere, Razer’s machine has 16GB of 2,666MHz DDR4 memory and a 512GB SSD. Connectivity includes dual-band 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 5.0.

Razer Blade 15 review Razer Blade 15 Advanced review Razer Blade Advanced review 07It’s possible to opt for several different versions of this machine if you don’t want to buy the precise model we’ve reviewed, which costs £2,449 in the UK and $2,599 in the US.

The Razer Blade 15 range is divided into standard and advanced models, with the former machines having lower prices but with smaller batteries, fewer screen options and older graphics cores.

The most affordable standard Razer Blade 15 has a GTX 1060 graphics card, a 60Hz 1080p screen and an 128GB SSD – and it costs £1,479 in the UK and $1,399 in the US.

However, prices accelerate when you add the latest Turing graphics card. A machine with a GeForce RTX 2060 and a Full HD 144Hz screen is £2,200 or $2,299.

Machines with the RTX 2070 start at either £2,299/$2,399 or £2,749/$2,899 – the cheaper one has a Full HD 144Hz screen, while the pricier model has a 4K 60Hz panel. Our version costs £2,449 or $2,599 because we’ve taken the cheaper RTX 2070 laptop and added a larger SSD.

The most expensive Razer Blade 15 Advanced has a Full HD 144Hz screen and an RTX 2080, and it costs £2,849 in the UK and $2,999 in the US. Oddly, though, there’s no option to include a 4K screen with the RTX 2080 instead.

All of these machines come with the same Core i7-8750H processor. Some of their prices can also be tweaked slightly by changing their storage configurations. US customers can also opt for white or black enclosures on certain notebooks.

Click here for all of our in-depth graphics card reviews – including the RTX 2080 Ti, RTX 2080, RTX 2070 and RTX 2060!

Razer Blade 15 Review – Ergonomics

Razer Blade 15 review Razer Blade 15 Advanced review Razer Blade Advanced review 12The keyboard is another area where the Razer Blade 15’s slim, stylish design has involved some inevitable compromise.

You don’t get a numberpad on this machine – something that’s usually included on 15.6in gaming laptops. You also don’t get macro keys or media buttons, although these certainly aren’t included on every mid-sized gaming notebook on the market.

Hands-on time reveals some problems. The keys are extremely shallow – even shallower than the buttons that you’ll find on the vast majority of gaming notebooks. They’re very light, too.

The shallow, light key design means that the keys hardly feel like they’re moving when they’re being used. If you want to flit across the keyboard and use its light touch to type, that’s fine. It’s acceptable for slower and more casual games, too.

But if you take your gaming seriously, there’s just not enough strength and feedback on this unit to allow for frantic action during FPS, MOBA and esports titles.

Razer Blade 15 review Razer Blade 15 Advanced review Razer Blade Advanced review 01Every more conventional gaming notebook for this sort of money will have a keyboard with more travel and a firmer, more defined typing action. Almost all of them will have numberpads, too. And, if you look hard enough, you’ll be able to find machines like the CyberPower Tracer III 15 GTX – which has a mechanical keyboard.

The trackpad is large, smooth and precise – all good attributes. However, it’s very close to the sharp front edge of the laptop, which can be uncomfortable. The buttons aren’t particularly quick, either. Instead, they’re spongy and push down too far. If you want precision and speed for gaming, you’ll have to plug in a USB mouse.

The Razer Synapse app controls the keyboard’s backlight. This software can be used to switch between the usual lighting effects and patterns, and it also allows individual keys to be customised. You can opt for a static backlight too, alter the brightness levels, and even turn it off.

Elsewhere in the Synapse app you can record macros, tweak fan speeds and save profiles to use with different games.

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Razer Blade 15 Review – Gaming Performance

Razer Blade 15 review Razer Blade 15 Advanced review 1080p gamingThe RTX 2070 Max-Q may have cut-down clock speeds, but it’s still a rapid gaming chip.

Its weakest minimum when playing at 1080p came in Crysis 3, where it still returned a score of 71fps. Its average framerates varied from a low score of 88fps in Fallout 4 to peak of 139fps in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor.

It performed reasonably well in a couple of more challenging games, too. It averaged 64fps in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at Ultra settings, and played Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon at 52fps with every setting dialled up.

We can draw firm conclusions from these figures. It’s clear, for starters, that the Razer Blade 15 and its cut-back RTX 2070 can play any current game at a playable framerate – from the most demanding single-player titles to nippy esports games. It’ll also output to VR headsets.

That’s good, but the framerates do also indicate that some games won’t run at the speeds required to properly use the 144Hz screen – unless you’re willing to tone down the graphics settings to hurry things along.

The Razer has some Ray-Tracing ability, too. Without Ray-Tracing activated the Blade handled Battlefield V at 70fps. With Nvidia’s new feature turned on, the Blade ran at a still-playable 40fps. In Metro Exodus it ran at 101fps without Ray-Tracing and at 77fps with Ray-Tracing and DLSS activated.

The RTX 2070 Max-Q was a little quicker than the desktop and mobile full-fat RTX 2060 in many of our gaming benchmarks, and it beat the GTX 1070. However, and understandably, it’s not able to get anywhere near the RTX 2080 in benchmarks.

A look at theoretical benchmarks quickly shows the difference. In the 3D Mark Fire Strike test the Razer Blade 15 scored 15,365 points – around 1,000 points slower than a desktop machine with the RTX 2060, but around 1,000 points ahead of a machine with a GTX 1070.

A laptop with the RTX 2080, the Asus ROG G703GX, scored 22,598 points.

Want to know more about AMD Ryzen processors? Check out our in-depth guide right here.

Razer Blade 15 Review – Application Performance

Razer Blade 15 review Razer Blade 15 Advanced review applicationsThe six-core i7-8750H in our Razer Blade 15 review won’t cause any issues. Its Geekbench single-core result of 4,783 is level with the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X – a formidable desktop chip – and it’s hardly much slower than Intel’s desktop hardware.

However, in the Geekbench multi-core test the i7-8750H scored 16,78 points. That’s a solid result, but it’s around 8,000 points behind the most popular desktop parts on the market today.

Other tests further established the pattern. PC Mark 8 uses day-to-day applications, and the Razer’s score of 3,955 is around 1,000 points behind more powerful desktop and mobile hardware. And, in Cinebench it continued to lag behind – and that’s another test where multi-core ability comes to the fore.

The Blade’s CPU returned reasonable scores, and the Core i7’s pace does mean that it won’t ever bottleneck games. It’ll handle day-to-day office applications easily, and browsing the web will never be a problem. It’ll run video editing tools, too.

However, it’s also worth noting that its Geekbench multi-core and Cinebench results are around 1,500 and 200 points behind other laptops that use the same Core i7-8750H CPU – so what’s happened?

In short: the CPU throttles. During a processor stress-test the six cores never ran at a speed beyond 3.25GHz, and in Cinebench the CPU never topped 2.9GHz. That’s a long way behind the listed six-core Turbo pace of 3.9GHz that the Core i7-8750H should be able to achieve.

It’s not a terminal issue, but it certainly does highlight how the Razer Blade 15’s slim chassis sometimes struggles to cope with its components.

There’s more evidence when you listen to this machine. The fans churned out a low but noticeable rumble even when running low-end games and applications, and the fan noise increased during tougher games and tasks.

Speakers or a headset will drown out the noise, but an obvious fan racket is hardly what we expect from a machine that’s so slim and stylish. Indeed, we expected near-silent operation – but this just sounds like every other gaming laptop on the market.

The metal around the keyboard became hot during gameplay, too. The bottom of the machine also became warm – almost uncomfortably so.

And, despite the Blade’s slick and portable design, don’t expect much from the battery. Its application longevity of five hours is a decent score. However, it only lasted for around 90 minutes during a gaming test. Like other gaming laptops, you’ll still need to plug in if you want a proper gaming session.

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Razer Blade 15 Review – Screen and Sound

The model in our Razer Blade 15 review has a Full HD screen that’s easily sharp enough for gaming. The panel is crisp enough to make top titles look great and provide plenty of detail.

It has a top refresh rate of 144Hz, too, which is another positive attribute. It means that games can run at up to 144fps and really benefit from the extra smoothness that a higher framerate can deliver when those frames are rendered on a screen that can keep up.

Razer Blade 15 review Razer Blade 15 Advanced review Razer Blade Advanced review 08However, the screen doesn’t have Nvidia G-Sync. That technology synchronises the graphics card’s output to the screen’s refresh rate, and delivers the ultimate in smooth gaming – but it’s absent here. So gaming on the Razer’s 144Hz panel will still be very smooth thanks to the high refresh rate – but it could be a little better.

Set that aside, and you’ll find a screen that offers reasonable quality levels. The average Delta E of 1.7 is excellent – good enough that human eyes just won’t detect any variation. The colour temperature of 6,798K is great, too, and it means that colours aren’t too chilly or over-saturated – they’re displayed at just the right tone.

The Blade displayed 89.4% of the sRGB colour gamut. It’s not the best result we’ve seen, but it’s definitely good enough for gaming. The backlight was reasonable, too – it never deviated by more than 10%, which means uniformity will be consistent across the panel.

Razer’s machine returned a peak brightness level of 324cd/m2. That’s a superb figure, but the black level of 0.36cd/m2 is a little too high. Those figures create a contrast ratio of 900:1. It’s an average figure – good enough, but behind most decent gaming laptops.

So, in short, the screen has excellent brightness, strong bright colours and great colour accuracy, especially when handling more vivid environments. However, its slight lack of contrast does leave it lacking a little depth.

The speakers are average. A weak mid-range and muddy bass undermine the decent high-end.

Need more news on the latest kit? Click here to check out the latest headlines.

Razer Blade 15 Review – Conclusion

Razer Blade 15 review Razer Blade 15 Advanced review Razer Blade Advanced review 14The machine in our Razer Blade 15 review looks fantastic – as usual. The latest laptop from Razer is sleek and smart. It’s got better aesthetics and a slimmer, lighter body than all of its rivals.

The downclocked RTX 2070 offers decent speed levels, and the screen isn’t bad at all.

However, Razer’s concentration on form means that the Blade’s function is compromised. The full-fat RTX 2070 would have been quicker, and the CPU throttles – therefore impacting its performance. The keyboard is far too airy for proper gaming. The Blade is also hotter and louder than we expected.

The Razer Blade 15 review shows that this machine certainly looks the part. It’s an ideal purchase if you’ve got loads of money to burn and you want something stylish – and for playing more modest and mid-range games alongside esports titles. However, if you want a truly versatile and well-balanced gaming laptop, you’ll find it elsewhere – in the ranks of more conventional machines that the Razer Blade 15 tries so hard to eclipse.

The machine in our Razer Blade 15 review costs £2,449 in the UK and $2,599 in the US. Discuss our Razer Blade 15 review on our Facebook and Twitter pages. And, if you need some more inspiration after reading our Razer Blade 15 review, check out our guide to our favourite laptops or go deep with our ultimate guide to 4K monitors – covering the technology, the terms and our top recommendations!

The Good

  • Fantastic, stylish design
  • Slimmer and lighter than rivals
  • Reasonable screen quality
  • Decent RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU

The Bad

  • Too hot and too loud
  • Middling battery life
  • Underwhelming keyboard
  • CPU throttling issues

The Specs

CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H
Memory: 16GB 2,666MHz DDR4
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 8GB Max-Q
Screen: 15.6in 1,920 x 1,080 IPS 144Hz
Dimensions: 355 x 235 x 18mm (WxDxH)
Weight: 2.1kg
Connectivity: Dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1
Ports 3 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 x audio jack, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Mini-DisplayPort
Hard disk: 512GB Samsung PM981 M.2 SSD
Warranty: 1yr RTB

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Razer Blade 15

About Author

Mike Jennings

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