Razer bolsters its mobile gaming lineup with the 2018 Razer Blade, adding a 144Hz display and Nvidia Max-Q graphics
- Top-notch gaming performance
- Long-lasting battery life
- 144Hz screen is lovely
- Rather expensive
Razer’s ultra-skinny gaming laptops have never been a tricky sell. They might cost the earth, but if you’re after an uber-portable laptop that can run almost any modern game without hiccups, well, there’s never been a better choice. The only problem – assuming money is no object – is that the well-established Blade laptop is long overdue a fresh lick of paint.
That’s where the new 15in Razer Blade gaming laptop comes in. With up-to-date internals squeezed inside – including the latest Max-Q Nvidia GPUs – and an all-new design, this new Blade is a mobile gaming beast, with its sights fixed on the hardcore gamer who happens to have a hefty trust fund.
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Razer Blade 15 review: What you need to know
The new Blade 15 is the middle child of Razer’s gaming laptop family. Nestled between the 13in Blade Stealth and the 17in Blade Pro, this 15.6in portable gaming machine is powered by the latest top-end components and fitted with a buttery-smooth 144Hz screen.
Each Blade is equipped with Intel’s six-core, 12-threaded, eighth-generation Core i7-8750H processor, clocked at 2.2GHz and capable of boosted clock speeds up to 4.1GHz, and it’s paired with 16GB of 2,667MHz DDR4 RAM and up to 512GB of speedy M.2 SSD storage. The Blade 15 can also be configured with dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or GTX 1070 graphics chips.
Razer Blade 15 review: Price, configurations and competition
From here, the various different configuration options are rather confusing. The Full HD (60Hz) model is restricted to Nvidia’s GTX 1060 GPU and 256GB of SSD storage and costs £1,700. The Full HD (144Hz) variant can be purchased with a choice of either GTX 1060 graphics and 512GB of storage (£1,980), a GTX 1070 and 256GB of storage (£2,150), or a GTX 1070 with 512GB of storage (£2,330).
The 4K, touch-enabled model – available later this year – is equipped with a 512GB SSD and an Nvidia GTX 1070 and costs a whopping $2,899 – or around £2,200 in UK terms. As that’s lower than the previous model, expect the typical tech tax that comes from living in Britain.
Clearly reserved for bulging wallets, Gigabyte’s Aero 15X is perhaps its most like-for-like competitor – although it isn’t nearly as lovely-looking – coming in at £1,659, while the Acer Predator Triton 700 costs £2,300 and Asus’ ROG Zephyrus will set you back £2,800.
If this feels like fantasy banking, you might want to have a read of our best cheap laptop guide.
Razer Blade 15 review: Design, keyboard and touchpad
Okay, so the overall design is still very Blade-like. Razer’s three-headed green snake logo illuminates the laptop’s lid, and the machine is made up of the same all-black matte aluminium chassis as before.
Equally, the laptop’s RGB-backlit chiclet-style keyboard remains the same. Each key is nicely spaced and it’ll be just as good to use whether you’re pounding the WASD cluster or using it for the less adrenaline-pumping task of writing an email. The glass-topped Windows 10 precision touchpad, meanwhile, has slightly increased in size and is as equally lovely to whizz your finger across.
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Perhaps the most obvious difference, however, is that the Razer Blade’s display has grown in size from 14in to 15.6in across the diagonal, with neither a size (355 x 235 x 17mm) nor weight (2kg) increase. How is this witchcraft possible? Well, just like the XPS 13, Razer has dropped the thickness of the side bezels to a mere 4.9mm. The chassis no longer has rounded corners, either, in a bid to bring the laptop’s design more in line with the sharp-edged Razer Phone from last year.
The new Blade, despite its slim chassis, has more than enough ports to keep you going. On the right side, you’ll find a Thunderbolt 3-powered USB Type-C port, HDMI 2 port, mini-DisplayPort and a full-fat USB 3. The left side houses a further two USB 3 ports, a proprietary three-pin charging connector and the 3.5mm audio jack. As for wireless connectivity, you get 802.11ac wireless and Bluetooth 5.
Razer Blade 15 review: Display
This new Razer laptop can be fitted with a 144Hz, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS screen, allowing for higher frame rates while gaming and scrolling through your Facebook feed. If this doesn’t tickle your fancy, you also have the option of either a Full HD screen or touch-enabled 4K display, both at a standard 60Hz.
I was sent the silky-smooth 1,920 x 1,080 144Hz model to review and, while these high framerate screens are certainly nothing new, the Blade’s display is simply wonderful. The panel is capable of producing 90.3% of the sRGB, with an average delta E of 2.16 and a maximum of just 4.48. The Blade checks in at a maximum brightness of 330cd/m2, though, which is a touch on the low side – sorry to dash your hopes of playing PUBG during the family BBQ.
Razer Blade 15 review: Performance and battery life
The new Blade, rather unsurprisingly, storms through any application you put it against. In our 4K application benchmarks, the Intel Core i7-8750H powered Blade managed an exceptional image test score of 142, which is on par with a pricey desktop system. It also performed well in the video encoding test, scoring 163, and came out with 142 in the multitasking benchmark for a stonking 149 overall. With a score like that, well, this is the fastest ultraportable gaming machine we’ve ever tested.
Speaking of which, given gaming is the Blade’s core purpose, everything’s all above board in that area, too.
Indeed, even being a downclocked Max-Q model, the GTX 1070 makes for some slick gaming performance. At its native Full HD resolution, the Blade produced a silky-smooth 91fps in Dirt: Showdown, and that was with its highest settings; switch down to 720p and this shoots up to over 100fps.
Metro: Last Light Redux, on the other hand, proved more taxing on Very High settings – but still recorded more than playable results. With SSAA switched on and all the other quality settings dialed to full, it managed 55fps. Okay, neither of these are particularly new, but both give most systems a good workout.
The 512GB SSD is good capacity-wise, and is generally very quick. Specifically, I used the AS SSD benchmark to record a sequential read speed of 1,013MB/s and a sequential write speed of 2,099MB/s, the latter of which is substantially higher than any SATA drive could ever dream of reaching.
Battery life is much improved on the original model, too, thanks to the Blade’s more efficient cooling techniques, with a brand-new heat pipe, larger vapour chamber and dual cooling fans. Surviving for 7hrs 7mins in our video rundown test before needing to recharge, the new Blade’s 80Wh battery lasts almost an hour and a half longer than its predecessor under the same conditions. Gaming will drain the battery significantly faster, however, but I found the Blade only lost roughly 22% of its charge following an intense 30min PUBG shootout.
Razer Blade 15 review: Verdict
While you may need to remortgage your home to buy one, the new Razer Blade seemingly achieves the impossible. Successfully treading familiar territory while simultaneously reigniting interest in the range, 2018’s Blade is no joke – it’s quite possibly the most fully-featured laptop this pessimistic journalist has ever laid eyes on.
I doubt I’d recommend eBaying your old model for it, but if you’re already stockpiling 2018’s long list of PC game releases, you’d better make damn sure you have the new 15in Razer Blade by your side.
|Hexa-core 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H
|Memory slots (free)
|355 x 235 x 17.3
|Realtek HD Audio (3.5mm headset port)
|1,920 x 1,080
|Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
|1x HDMI 2, 1x Mini DisplayPort, 1x USB-C
|Optical drive type
|Ports and expansion
|3x USB 3.1, 1x USB-C
|Memory card reader
|Windows 10 Home
|Operating system restore option