The financial barrier between consumers and Razer’s products is not easily overcome. It’s a scenario Apple fans are quite used to: is a beautifully designed laptop, such as the MacBook, worthy of it’s price tag? For gamers that prefer Windows but want a premium laptop, they may not be aware they have an option. The Razer Blade is the only truly premium Windows-powered gaming laptop to consider. It’s not just thin and light. Many manufacturers have laptops that are just as small and light, if not more so than the Razer Blade. It’s the premium edge, interior and exterior quality that makes Razer’s laptops the only option to consider. Every year, Razer’s laptop line has gotten smaller, lighter and faster. These are the 3 attributes I typically have valued greatest while consuming laptops. I always had the opinion that gaming laptops had to be big, heavy and desktop-like. Those exist still, but Razer doesn’t play that game. Earlier this year they launched the Razer Blade with a GTX 970m GPU. It had the right amount of heat dissipation for a thin laptop and performed well against those heavier laptops (that are priced lower). Just last month they launched a refresh of the Blade with Nvidia’s new GTX 1060 GPU. And it’s amazing. For me, it’s perfect. I can’t see myself leaving the Razer Cult. However, I’m open to the challenge. Alienware, MSI and OriginPC all make higher performing laptops than the Blade. Allow me to be clear: the Razer Blade 2016 starts at $1799 and it’s for gamers that are willing to pay $200-$300 more for the engineering talent at Razer that shoved an i7-6700HQ and GTX 1060 into a small, light and cool laptop. Oh, and it’s cool factor is 11…out of 10.
The Razer Blade is the only truly premium Windows-powered gaming laptop to consider.
The Razer Blade’s chassis is stunning. Without knowing what’s inside, one glance at the Blade tells you the laptop is for people who can afford it. It’s a Mercedes Benz - stunning, chic, and a strong performer. There are laptops with desktop-like power that are lucky to be under 10 lbs. That’s not Razer’s mission. The Blade is the best combination of portability, power and sexiness that I’ve had the opportunity to try out. It’s exactly what I’m after, and that’s why I bought one. At 4.16 lbs and 0.7 inches thick with a black, aluminium chassis, I just want to hold it and stare at it. After a couple days of admiring it, I ran it through a few standard tests. There is a conspicuous post on Razer’s support page that suggests an EC update if you score below 9000 on the 3D Mark Fire Strike test. Even after installing the update and being on the latest GPU drivers (non-beta), I can’t get a score higher than 8888. Even still, this is a remarkable score for such a small laptop. Laptop Mag ran a more comprehensive test that you can read here. My conclusion from reading the results is the Blade is an above-average performer among the competition, with better battery life. Battery life is a key attribute to consider. I use the standard Windows battery-saver settings to pull in about 5.5 hours of browsing and general work tasks (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). It’s good for a trip to the cafe’ or taking it from one room to another for meetings. You don’t have to haul the power brick along, which is actually small in comparison to other gaming laptops I’ve used, such as the lovely Lenovo Y700.
The Chroma keyboard, however, is the real eye-catcher for most people. A lot has been said about it, and the important thing to note is that it has a ton of color changing options and reactions to how you type. What’s important to me is key-travel and feel. I wouldn’t mind if the keyboard required a slightly stronger press to activate each key. Even still, it’s a joy to type on. That typing experience, combined with the portability, strong aluminum unibody construction of the chassis, and a good FHD 1080p screen make the Blade irrisistable to use. I constantly find myself looking for reasons to use it. The last time I felt this way was when I was 16 and got my first truck. “Mom, you need milk? Ok I’m going to the store!” I can use it all day for gaming, work, and general fun. Some may slam the screen since it has a matte finish. But it’s fine. It’s bright and sharp at 1080p, which is a good match for the GTX 1060.
- Display: 14″ IPS Full HD Matt, 16:9 Ratio, 1920×1080, with LED backlight
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 VRAM)
- Processor: Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core with Hyper-Threading 2.6GHz / 3.5 GHz
- Storage: 256GB SSD PCIe M.2 (up to 1TB)
- Memory: 16GB DUal-channel DDR4, 2133MHz
- Approximate Size: 0.7″ / 17.9mm (H) x 13.6″ / 345mm (W) x 9.3″ / 235mm (D)
- Approximate Weight: 4.16 lbs / 1.89Kg
Getting In and Out
While Apple is being slammed for their
forwarding thinking lack of ports, Razer has provided several more. Along the right side you’ll find a USB 3.0 port, a Kensington Lock, HDMI out and USB-C Lighting port. The latter allows you to connect Razer’s external GPU dock, the Core, for seemingly future-proof gaming. More on this in the next section. It does lack an SD card slot, which may miff some content creators. This doesn’t effect me. The content I create is typed or video produced with a webcam and screen capture. While the 16GB of RAM are soldered onto the motherboard, the PCIe M.2 SSD is user replaceable. Samsung, Intel and others are pushing the SSD space and I plan to double the storage soon.
Gaming laptops are powerhouses and can be used in a docked environment for output to an external keyboard, mouse and monitor. The GTX 1060 is capable of more than the limits of a 1080p display. At home I tend to spend my mornings undocked, and the afternoons I’m docked to a ASUS 27″ IPS 1440p display. The 1060 can handle games at medium to high settings at 1440p, thanks to the 6GB of VRAM for handling larger textures.
Why I Love the Blade
At GWW we are fortunate to receive free gear from time to time. That is not the case with the Blade. While Razer does provide us with keyboards and other accessories, I personally purchased the Blade with my own funds. I’m a consumer, in this case, but with the eye of a critic. My goal was to consolidate devices between my desktop and laptop. While the Blade can do the job, it’s just not complete without it’s companion device, the Razer Core external graphics dock. If you plan to use one or more G-Sync external monitors, an Ethernet connection, and you need USB ports for a wired mouse and keyboard, then you need the Core. At $499 ($399 if purchased with the Blade), it’s just too expensive. Although, there aren’t other real options out there that give you so much. CEO Min-Liang Tan recently wrote about the Core’s price and effectively stated they could have made a larger, heavier and less attractive device if they were to drop the price. Regardless, I’m not ready for the Core so I’m keeping my desktop PC where it’s at.
TLDR: the Razer Blade 14 (late 2016) is the laptop I’ve always wanted. It’s sleek, svelte, and powerful and it is fitting into my life perfectly.