The New Razer Blade Stealth Laptop: Australian Review

The new Razer Blade Stealth is an unusual beast, in a good way. It exists as a product manufactured by a company that proudly states on the cardboard box that it ships in they are “For Gamers, By Gamers” but, like the previous model, it doesn’t really feel like a gaming laptop.

No, the Blade Stealth isn’t a gaming laptop.

But it is one of the best ultrabooks you can buy.

What Is It?

Specifications
  • Display: 13.3in, 3200x1800 pixels (276 PPI)
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-7500U, 2.7-3.5GHz
  • RAM: 16GB LPDDR3-1866
  • GPU: Intel HD 620
  • Storage: 256GB-1TB PCI-E SSD
  • Dimensions: 321x206x13.1mm, 1.33kg

The $2199.95 Razer Blade Stealth is the latest Razer ultrabook and successor to the original Razer Blade Stealth released in 2016. Campbell reviewed that model last year and was a fan of it’s design and display, but lamented its battery life, connectivity and RAM options. This model doesn’t change too many things about the design – it’s still wonderfully sleek and lightweight, features high-end processing power and a fully-customisable RGB-backlit keyboard but some subtle and some not-so-subtle changes position this as one of the best ultrabooks to release this year.

The first of those changes is that the Stealth is now available with a larger 13.3-inch QHD+ display at a resolution of 3200x1800 and 276 pixels per inch. This brings it into line with some of the more recent ultrabooks to release, like the Surface Laptop. You can still find the 12.5-inch model if that’s your thing and the screen comes in at a resolution of 3840x2160 and 352 PPI. Importantly, by reducing the size of the bezels on the display, Razer have been able to include the 13.3-inch screen without compromising the form factor, so the laptop hasn’t increased in size and, impressively, only weighs an extra 40g over its smaller counterpart.

Under the hood, Razer have made the necessary hardware changes to all models to ensure the Stealth maintains its high-end specifications. All models include 16GB LPDDR3 RAM (up from 8GB), integrated Intel HD 620 graphics (up from the Intel HD 520) and Intel’s 7th Gen ‘Kaby Lake’ i7-7500U Processor (up from the i7-6500U) that has a 2.7Ghz base and a 3.5Ghz turbo clock speed.

There are five models to choose from: You can get the 13.3-inch model with 256GB ($2199.95), 512GB ($2499.95) or 1TB ($2999.95) of PCI-E solid-state storage, whereas the 12.5-inch only comes in 512GB ($2399.95) or 1TB ($2999.95)

What's It Good At?

The Blade Stealth is designed so incredibly well that I honestly started to regret rushing out and purchasing a Surface Laptop. Razer have been able to maintain the form factor of the 12.5-inch model while increasing the screen size by decreasing the bezel around the display and maximising the use of available space. It’s a design choice that holds true for the entire unit. The tenkeyless-keyboard is compact and flanked by near-invisible speaker grates while the trackpad basically disappears into the base of the unit yet, tactilely, feels different enough under hand for you to know exactly where it is. Couple that with the CNC aluminium exterior and you get a device that looks immaculate while maintaining a high level of durability.

Even with all those impressive design traits, the Blade Stealth is near weightless at 1.33kg and adds very little weight to a backpack when travelling. I noticed that the Stealth’s form factor isn’t quite as deep as the Surface Laptop I’ve been using and initially worried that would make it harder to use when on the move, in places where I’m propping it up on my knees, lap or in other weird positions I put my body into on a cramped train. The decreased depth was no issue, and the Stealth seemed to rest well in whatever unusual spot I held it in. Portability is a major plus for me, where I’m constantly moving from desk to table to couch to bed and so on, and in this department the Blade Stealth is exceptional.

The QHD+ IGZO touch display was immediately impressive to me. Though it isn’t quite 4K resolution, colour reproduction and accuracy is excellent, providing images that are crisp, vibrant and have excellent contrast. I would have preferred streaming Netflix through the Blade Stealth as opposed to my Surface Laptop, except for the fact that the speakers on the Stealth aren’t quite as good as Microsoft’s competitor. I still don't get excited by the idea of a touch screen in ultrabooks like this, but because of the small form factor, I consciously caught myself reaching out and moving things around, on occasion.

While the refreshed model is still using LPDDR3 RAM, Razer has bumped it up to 16GB and coupled with the Kaby Lake i7-7500U this is a powerful machine for basically any day-to-day applications you may be using. I routinely work with 50 or more tabs open, word documents and specialty apps and it didn’t even bat an eyelid. Moreover, even without a top-line GPU it handled Photoshop and Premiere Pro exceptionally well and it can run a raft of PC titles such as Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds and Overwatch at acceptable framerates, I just wouldn’t be using this thing as a gaming laptop.

What's It Okay At?

I hesitated talking about its connectivity and RGB-backlighting in both the ‘Good’ and ‘Not Good’ section and resolved to put it in a completely new section of my own choosing (sorry to Gizmodo editor Campbell for blowing up the style guide).

Connectivity options are similar to most ultrabooks in this price range and the Razer features a single Thunderbolt 3 port (USB C 3.1), two USB 3.0 ports, audio port and a HDMI port. I think if you’re going to judge the Blade Stealth as a gaming laptop then you likely put this in the Not Good category, whereas if you’re judging it against similar ultrabooks, it gets a pass mark. You also get Bluetooth 4.1 and Killer Wireless AC.

It is interesting that the Stealth tries to hold onto its gaming laptop roots by providing a fully customisable RGB-backlit keyboard. It’s a feature that appeals to the gaming crowd, sure, but when you start to position your laptop more for users looking for mobility and productivity, particularly from a specifications point of view, it feels a little out of place. That’s not to say it’s bad – Razer’s Synapse software which is used to customise the keyboard is user-friendly-enough and highly functional – it’s just a point of difference between similar ultrabooks that doesn’t improve the Stealth’s standing and actually hurts its battery life.

What's It Not Good At?

A gaming laptop this is not and if you’re looking for a portable gaming beast, the Blade Stealth isn’t right for you. You can get respectable frame rates and performance from a range of titles, but as it’s only packing integrated Intel HD Graphics 620. Razer Core, which turns your laptop into a desktop by providing an external GPU, still remains a powerful asset if you want to use your laptop as a gaming device and it’s exceptionally easy to connect – you just use the Thunderbolt 3 port – but the trade off is that you lose the mobility and of course, you’ll be spending extra money which defeats the purpose of buying the Stealth in the first place.

The Stealth packs so many high-energy features into the unit, there is definitely a compromise on battery life. The battery is larger than its predecessor, up from 45Wh to 53.6Wh, and Razer claims this gives will give you around 9 hours of life. If you crank the RGB backlighting on the keys, the battery life decreases even more, so I turned them off to see how long I could go on with a single charge. I was able to get through just under 5 hours of constant use doing basic word processing, intermittent YouTube and web browsing. For a device that’s aimed squarely at productivity and mobility, the battery life is still a sore point even as Razer have brought it more into line with some of its closest competition.

Should You Buy It?

Razer Blade Stealth
90

Price: from $2199.95

Like
  • Great form factor and design.
  • Impressive QHD+ touch display.
  • Beefy power/great portability.
Don't Like
  • Not a gaming laptop.
  • Average battery life.

The 13.3-inch $2199.95 Razer Blade Stealth seems like an unusual beast at first glance, caught between wanting to appeal to the gaming crowd but, in reality, positioning itself as an ultrabook. Is it an in-between? I wouldn’t say so, but if you look at the Blade Stealth in the same category as MacBook Airs, Dell XPS’ and Microsoft Surface Laptops, you begin to understand that this is an impeccably-designed device that rivals the best of them. Though the price has increased from the lower-end models released last year, the specifications are significantly improved and though I wouldn't call it a value buy, it certainly is worth its price tag.

The real key for me is that Razer listened to some of the complaints about the previous Blade Stealth, because they went and doubled the RAM on offer and also improved the battery life without compromising on quality whatsoever. For an all-day, on-the-go experience, the battery life still isn’t quite there and I’d love to see this improve even more in future iterations, but because the Blade Stealth is such a powerful, well-built device, I can’t do anything but recommend it.


Comments

    Is this the same model as the 2016 version? Because that version had a lot of problems. First up, every one had an issue with their capacitors on the upper left side, they make a loud scratching noise that drives you crazy in a quiet room. Does this model still have it? (check YouTube for videos/audio of the noise). The hard drive was the slowest drive I've ever seen in a laptop, it made windows hick-up. Does this model still do it? Also, the normal rez screen has horrible flyscreening, the worst I've ever seen on a laptop. Luckily Razor Australia gave me a full refund, but it would be nice if reviewers actually "reviewed" products, and not just re-write a press release and play with the free product for a few days before returning it. Some people have to spend hard earned money and depend on reviews to give guidance (don't be afraid for calling a bad product out). If you need an actual Technology Officer or Network Engineer to do your reviews (not just a tech "personality" like the million on youtube) hit me up. I'd happily provide reviews from some that's day job has been using and fixing these things for the past 20years.

      Yeah this laptop sucks

      Constantly freezes
      Some keys get jammed on the keyboard
      CPU was always throttling
      Fingerprint magnet

      Got the Dell XPS
      such a better machine

      Is this the same model as the 2016 version?

      "The $2199.95 Razer Blade Stealth is the latest Razer ultrabook and successor to the original Razer Blade Stealth released in 2016. "

    I wish they made this in a bit less dinky size. 13" is too small for me for a laptop, but 17" is too big and I find 15" is the sweet spot, but Razer have always gone 13-14" and 17".

    There's also one issue with the Razer Core for anyone considering it - it noticeably hampers the speed of the card (and the cage won't fit every card). For higher end cards like the 1070 you'll actually be throttling it quite a bit. Anything else you plug into the Core will slow it down even more. Incidentally, the Alienware solution is superior - although it is a proprietary connection, it's a direct 4x PCI bridge which has less of a performance hit.

    I choose one of these over a surface pro. $1000 cheaper and comes with a keyboard.
    3 weeks in and so far no problems
    I don't game anymore i think the last game i played was Mass Effect 3 so the Core doesn't interest me
    Agree with the battery life but considering my past laptops have been 17inch monsters that can't last 2 hours away from the plug this is great

    I had the 13'3" stealth for a week before returning it for a full refund.

    FYI: it never froze, it was solid as a rock (always format your hardware when you get it, solves 90% of the issues if there are any)

    my problem was the QHD+ screen, a nearly 4K screen crammed into 13.3 inches.

    native resolution the icons are smaller than the mouse, so windows by default sets scaling to 250% which in turn makes apps like steam or some websites look blurry or pixelated.

    not really razers fault, and microsofts solution on their website was "just use WPF apps"

    I think 1080p to 1440p should be more than enough for a sub 14" laptop, i wouldnt notice the difference and it would probably improve peformance of the hardware/battery etc.

    finally the screen is 60hz, i know thats not a problem for most but i have had a 144hz monitor for 3 years now and it has ruined monitors less than 100hz for me.

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