The Razer Blade 15 Advanced Is the MacBook Pro of Gaming Laptops

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

For years I’ve considered the Razer Blade 15 to be the closest thing you can get to a MacBook Pro for gamers. Sure, it doesn’t run macOS, but no other non-Apple computer does either, at least not legally. Like a MacBook Pro, the Razer Blade 15 has an understated, minimalist design and excellent build quality, but it also comes with some tasteful gamery additions like per-key RGB lighting and a bevy of ports. And now for 2020, the updated Razer Blade boasts even better performance thanks to a refreshed range of CPUs and GPUs, more sophisticated cooling options, and displays that go up to 300Hz. So while it ain’t cheap, the Razer Blade is one of the most well-built and well-equipped gaming laptops you can get right now.

How expensive are we really talking? Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. A Razer Blade 15 Base edition starts at $3,399 for a 10th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, Nvidia GTX 1660 GPU, and a 15.6-inch 144Hz LCD screen. But if you upgrade to the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, you’re looking at a minimum of $5,299, with our $6,099 review unit including features such as a 300Hz screen, RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU, and few other bonus features like a built-in SD card reader, better cooling, and more.

Razer Blade 15 Advanced Review

WHAT IS IT?

A premium 15-inch gaming laptop

PRICE

Starts at $3,399 ($6,099 as tested)

LIKE

Outstanding build quality; great performance; tons of ports; per key RGB backlighting; variety of display options

DON'T LIKE

Expensive, especially the Advanced model; can run a bit hot; proprietary power cable, no AMD CPU/GPU options

Look, there’s no mincing words, that’s a helluva lot of money for a laptop, but if you want something that is just so choice, the Blade 15 is an exceedingly good general purpose and gaming machine. Similar to a MacBook, the Blade 15 sports an all-aluminium chassis with clean lines, a large touchpad, and tons of ports. The whole thing feels incredibly sturdy. Some sections of laptops tend to be flimsy and flexible on lesser devices, but when you press on sections like the frame of its keyboard the Blade 15 barely has any give.

Along the side of the laptop, Razer includes enough ports that you’ll practically never need to carry a dongle around. On the left, there are two USB 3.2 Type-A ports, one USB 3.2 Type-C port, and a headphone jack, while on the right you get HDMI, another USB 3.2 Type-A port, one Thunderbolt 3 port, and even a full-size SD card reader. This gives you plenty of connectivity, and as someone who spends a lot of time transferring data between my camera and PC, I really appreciate that Razer included a built-in card reader.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

As for the keyboard, that’s one thing I’m glad Razer hasn’t messed with because it didn’t need fixing. On the Advanced model, you get full per-key RGB backlighting, with keys offering a fair bit of travel and a light, but bouncy feel.

The real upgrades come on the inside, with our review unit featuring an Intel Core i7-10875H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and an Nvidia 2080 Super Max-Q GPU. Aside from potentially trying to shoehorn a Core i9 chip in here as MSI did with the GS66 Stealth, this is essentially as fast as you can make a thin-and-light gaming PC, which is what you’re going to need if you want to take full advantage of that 300Hz display.

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the highest graphics setting at 1920 x 1080, the Blade 15 Advanced delivered an average framerate of 102 frames per second, which is higher than the 99 FPS we got from GS66 Stealth (98 FPS), but short of the 300Hz display’s full capabilities. It’s a similar situation in Far Cry 5 at 1920 x 1080 and max settings, where the Blade 15 hit 100 average fps, once again slightly beating out the GS66 (96 FPS).

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Click through for more close up pics of the Blade 15's chassis and design.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

However, when you play a less demanding esport-focused game like Overwatch, where getting all those frames might make a difference, the Blade 15 shined delivering 275 FPS at 1920 x 1080 on high. And after a few minor settings tweaks, I was able to get a quite stable 300 FPS, which is what you want if you’re truly trying to gain that extra little competitive advantage.

As for the screen itself, the Blade 15’s 300Hz display features a matte coating to help cut down on glare and reflections, while a colour gamut that covers 100% of the sRGB spectrum looks fine, though it definitely doesn’t deliver the more vivid colours you’d get from Razer’s optional OLED panel. The one small con about the Blade 15’s screen is a max brightness that topped out at just 333 nits, which is fine, but a bit short of the 400 nits or more you’d like to see on a system this expensive.

The Blade 15’s other small concern is that even with the special vapour chamber cooling system that comes on the Advanced model, because of the placement of its fans, the bottom of the laptop can still get a bit toasty under full load. It kind of goes without saying that you probably shouldn’t settle in for a long gaming session with a laptop resting on your legs and groin. I wouldn’t say its truly painful, but actually gaming on your lap isn’t very comfortable either. If your deadset on gaming like that, you’ll probably want to go with a less demanding or more casual title.

When it comes to battery life, with a time of 5 hours and 58 minutes our own video rundown test, the Blade Advanced performed quite well for a system this powerful. The GS66 finished with a very similar time of 5:53 and compared to gaming laptops from a few years ago that struggled to go more than four hours unplugged, it’s nice to see battery lives on gaming laptops going in the right direction.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

When I was younger, the Blade 15 Advanced is exactly the kind of laptop I dreamed about. It’s got a beautiful build, massive specs, and the kind of silly gamer features, like RGB lighting and a neon green logo, that make it more fun than something like more vanilla, like the XPS 15. But there is that price to consider. Heck, $6,099 is way more than I spent building my desktop PC, which isn’t nearly as good looking but does have better performance. So while I’m not sure I’d want to drop this much on a laptop — even one as good as the Blade 15 Advance — as I (and Ferris) said before, if you’ve got the means, it is so choice.

README

  • The Razer Blade 15 supports Windows Hello face login, but it doesn’t have fingerprint reader.
  • Razer’s matte black finish is lovely, but it’s also a goddam fingerprint magnet.
  • The rear port on the Blade 15 might look like an extra USB-C port, but it’s actually a proprietary power jack.
  • On the Blade Advanced, Razer offers the choice of the 300Hz screen reviewed here, or a brighter and more colourful 4K OLED display that tops out at 60Hz.