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Razer Blade Stealth 13 review: A sublime ultraportable laptop with dedicated graphics

Tom Bruce
19 Mar 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,500

The latest Razer Blade Stealth is a luxury ultraportable laptop with impressive gaming credentials and a near-perfect design

Pros 
Vivid, high-quality display
Dedicated graphics
Svetle design
Cons 
Poor battery life
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Whenever Razer releases a premium laptop, lesser portables cower in fear. Well, with the arrival of the Razer Blade Stealth 13, it’s time for those inferior laptops to hide behind the sofa once again. Building on the previous Razer Blade Stealth in almost every way, this latest iteration is the gaming ultrabook to own in 2019.

If you weren’t sold on the previous Razer Blade Stealth due to a lack of gaming power, you might just be now. Instead of relying on an integrated Intel GPU, the Stealth 13 now has dedicated Nvidia GeForce graphics. For an ultraportable, that’s quite something.

READ NEXT: Best Windows, Apple and ChromeOS laptops you can buy

Razer Blade Stealth 13 review: What you need to know

Razer has outdone itself with its latest Blade Stealth laptop: it’s thinner, faster and more desirable than ever. Until now, the line represented a well-priced, well-made and stylish ultrabook option – but without dedicated graphics, it wasn’t the full package. With the addition of a Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU, the Stealth 13 has it all.

Also inside the svelte chassis of the Razer Blade Stealth 13 is an 8th-Gen Intel Core i7-8565U, 16GB of DDR4 RAM (plus 4GB of GDDR5 for the GPU) and a 256GB PCIe SSD. The 13.3in Full HD display is a particular highlight, with superb levels of colour accuracy and brightness. If all that tech sounds expensive to you, you’d be right. But maybe it’s worth it?

Razer Blade Stealth 13 review: Price and competition

There are three versions of the new Razer Blade 13: a base spec model, a graphics model and a 4K graphics model. I was sent the £1,500 medium spec laptop, for which I’m thankful because I’ve no interest in the £1,800 4K touchscreen configuration. Refresh rates on 4K laptop panels are limited to 60Hz, which isn’t ideal for gaming, while the hardware will struggle to push games at that resolution to frame rates that even approach that. Meanwhile, the base model, which has only 8GB of RAM and no Nvidia graphics, costs £1,300. All models run Windows 10 Home.

To fully experience the new and improved Razer Blade Stealth 13, the dedicated graphics model is definitely the one to go for – and at only £200 above the base spec, you’d have to be mad not to. There are other similarly priced options out there, but first, you should decide exactly what you’re looking for.

Is your main aim to game? If so, this probably isn’t the laptop for you – without higher-end Nvidia GTX graphics or expandable RAM, it’s definitely more of an ultrabook that happens to have decent gaming capabilities. But, if that above description fits your needs exactly, the Razer Blade 13 is hard to beat in terms of power and design.

Its two key ultrabook competitors are the Dell XPS 13 and the Huawei Matebook X Pro, which are both fantastic performers with similar specifications – and similar price tags. I may throw in a wildcard option, too – the latest 13in Apple MacBook Pro, which is available from £1,250 and runs up to a staggering £3,559 for the top model.

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Razer Blade Stealth 13 review: Design

Of all the ultrabooks I’ve come across, the Razer Blade Stealth 13 has got to be the most attractive. Colleagues have gone out of their way to get a closer look at this sleek beauty, and the luckiest ones have even been allowed to hold it. The matte black finish has been bonded at a “submolecular level” to the CNC aluminium chassis in a bid to prevent paint scratches. The surface does pick up a good deal of grease, though, and will require regular cleaning.

It’s about as light as laptops come, weighing just 1.3kg, and it measures 14.8 x 304.6 x 210mm (HWD), meaning it’s super compact. Despite the unchanged display size of 13.3in, the new Stealth Blade has a smaller overall profile than the 2018 model. The side bezels have been drastically reduced and are now about a third of the width. There is a tradeoff, though, because the Blade Stealth 13 is a smidge taller than its predecessor when it's open.

Connection options are standard for a slimline laptop like this – which is to say they're acceptable but not impressive. On the right-hand side, you’ll find a USB 3 port along with a USB Type-C socket with Thunderbolt 3 that also serves as the power input. The left edge houses another USB Type-C/power port, another USB 3 port and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Razer’s entwined-serpents symbol is embossed on the back of the lid. The Singaporean tech firm undeniably has one of the coolest logos around, but normally it tends to be overstated with a bright glowing green backlight. The Stealth 13’s logo has been applied with a smidgeon more subtlety, and you wouldn't look out of place bringing it into the boardroom.

At this point, I must also mention the fabulous hinge on the Stealth Blade 13, which rotates with remarkable smoothness while causing no wobble or movement to the laptop whatsoever. Like the Microsoft Surface Laptop 2, you can easily raise the lid from fully closed to fully open using a single finger. Flip the laptop over, meanwhile, and you can get a nice look at the Razer Blade Stealth 13’s compact dual-fan cooling system.

The laptop’s speaker grilles sandwich the keyboard on either side, but I found the volume and clarity of audio output to be lacking. When blasting out some classic Slayer, the speakers produced a weird scratching noise during the fastest moments of the track, as if they just couldn’t keep up with the guitars. In general, sounds are tinny and there’s a distinct lack of bass, so you'll certainly want a decent gaming headset to use with this laptop.

Razer Blade Stealth 13 review: Keyboard and touchpad

For all the benefits of owning a portable machine, there have to be some compromises and the keyboard is a prime example. The keys are practically flush to the laptop chassis and, therefore, have minimal travel, which steals away some of the satisfaction of the typing process. What’s more, the key layout is packed in as tightly as possible, which causes typos to occur more frequently than usual.

Some of the keys have also been reduced in size to fit the compact keyboard area, most notably the enter and backspace keys, which are only marginally bigger than the standard letter keys. In spite of these niggles, I still found the keyboard comfortable to type on because the generous spaces either side of the touchpad make for perfect wrist rests.

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The RGB lighting beneath the keys is easy on the eyes, helping to illuminate the keyboard in darker conditions, while brightness can easily be adjusted using the F10 and F11 keys. Full keyboard lighting customisation is not currently available, however, because the Razer Blade Stealth 13 is not yet on the list of supported devices for Razer’s Synapse software. This serves as the common control panel for all Razer’s hardware optimisation.

I’ve no complaints about the touchpad: it’s large, responsive, smooth to the touch and has decent palm-rejection. What’s more, Razer has made it even bigger than last year’s and there are no buttons. Instead, the lower two-thirds of the pad push down to serve as the right and left clicker. For gaming purposes, a mouse would still be preferable. Razer suggests pairing it with the minuscule Razer Atheris, which I have tried, but it’s so small that it’s only really suited for travel. Failing that, we have our own hand-picked list of the best gaming mice that you may want to browse.

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Razer Blade Stealth 13 review: Display

And now onto the Razer Blade Stealth 13’s crowning glory: the 13.3in, Full HD display. The IPS panel has a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 and a matte finish that reduces light reflection, which also improves the range of viewing angles.

On top of that, a dazzling maximum brightness of 432cd/m² means you can use this laptop in any light conditions, indoors or out, and still enjoy every detail on the display. The clarity and vibrancy of the panel is backed up by the numbers and they’re even more impressive than they were with the last Razer Blade Stealth we reviewed.

^Comparison of Razer Blade Stealth 13 bezel (left) and Razer Blade Stealth 2018 bezel (right)

Our display calibration tests revealed that the Razer Blade Stealth 13 has a near-perfect sRGB gamut coverage of 92.6%, an average Delta E score of 1.15 and a contrast ratio of 1305:1. Basically, it can reproduce a wide array of colours with fantastic accuracy, and the contrast between dark and light colours is especially striking. With a display of this quality, gaming, video streaming and photo or video editing are a joy.

Razer Blade Stealth 13 review: Performance and battery life

As I mentioned earlier in the review, the Razer Blade Stealth 13 is a formidable machine, especially given its compact dimensions. In our 4K benchmarking test, which measures the video editing, image editing and multi-tasking abilities of the system, the Stealth 13 and its i7-8565U achieved an overall score of 115.

That’s a phenomenal result – over double that of the 2016 Blade Stealth – and one that smashes the results from the Dell XPS 13 and Huawei MateBook X Pro, which both run on an Intel Core i7-8550U. Such impressive CPU speeds firmly cement the Razer Blade Stealth 13 as a best-in-class machine – it’s one one of the fastest ultraportables we’ve ever tested.

The speediest laptop in this category is still Apple’s 2018 13in MacBook Pro, which houses an Intel Core i7-8559U processor. That CPU’s base clock speed and wattage are higher than that of the Stealth 13’s i7-8656U, although the max turbo clock speeds are similar at 4.6GHz and 4.5GHz for the Stealth 13 and MacBook Pro, respectively. While the MacBook Pro delivered a 4K benchmark result of 150 to the Stealth 13’s 115, it’s important to bear in mind that you’d be paying a minimum of £700 more for a 13in MacBook Pro with the quad-core i7-8559U and comparable specs (16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD) to the Stealth 13’s.

As demonstrated in the chart above, the file throughput speeds of the Razer Blade Stealth 13 are exemplary and right up there with the Huawei MateBook X Pro. In our AS SSD benchmark, the Stealth 13’s 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD read files at 2,471MB/sec (not far off the 13in MacBook’s 2,637MB/sec) and wrote files at 1,023.7MB/sec.

That’s some speedy SSD indeed, and one that will access and load game data very quickly. The only problem here is the lack of storage space – if you’re planning to load and play multiple games on the Razer Blade Stealth 13, 256GB won’t get you very far. Take the game I’m currently playing, Hitman 2. This takes up a massive 60GB – and it’s far from the largest title released this year.

Thanks to the Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU and 2018 Core i7 CPU, the mid-range Razer Blade Stealth 13 will cope with reasonably demanding games at medium detail levels. It ran the GFXBench Manhattan onscreen graphics test at a rate of 59fps, and the off-screen test clocked in at an average of 151fps – double the score of the Dell XPS 13 and a notch in front of the Huawei MateBook X Pro. More impressively, it returned impressive results in Dirt: Showdown at 1080p of 71.5fps and ran the highly demanding Metro: Last Light 1080p benchmark at an average of 39fps.

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That graphical performance is impressive for a laptop of the Razer Blade Stealth 13’s size or price but note that it's not quite a match for a proper gaming laptop like the HP Omen 15 (2018). 

With such impressive benchmark scores there was bound to be an Achilles' heel and it’s the battery life. In our standardised battery rundown test – in which a video is played on a loop while the laptop is in flight mode – the Stealth 13 went from fully charged to empty in only 4hrs 38mins. For an ultraportable that’s going to be carried around with you all day, that’s bad and the comparison chart above reflects that. Battery life when gaming will be markedly shorter.

Even the 2016 Razer Blade Stealth lasted longer, posting 6hrs 29mins in the same battery rundown test. Of course, the Stealth 13’s power brick is absolutely tiny and won’t add any noticeable weight to your bag, but the lack of stamina is not ideal because you’ll always need to plug in a power bank or find a plug socket during the day.

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Razer Blade Stealth 13 review: Verdict

The Razer Blade Stealth 13 is the ultraportable that does it all. It has class-leading CPU and gaming performance, a stunning display, exquisite design and, importantly, a reasonable price tag. I should reiterate that the £1,500 "Graphics Model", which sits in the middle of the base spec and the top spec versions, is definitely the one to go for. Of the lot, it represents the best value for money and at 13.3in you don't really need 4K anyway.

While there are other ultraportable options available, the superior performance of the Stealth 13 speaks for itself and the only negative is battery life. This is a superfast lapotop suited to all your working and entertainment needs and is set to be one of the most desirable laptops of 2019.

Razer Blade Stealth 13 specs
ProcessorIntel Core i7-8565U, 1.8GHz - 2.0GHz, formerly Whiskey Lake
RAM16GB (plus 4GB GDDR5)
Additional memory slots0
Max. memory16GB
Screen size13.3in
Screen resolution1920 x 1080
Pixel density165.6 ppi, 16:9 aspect ratio
Screen typeIPS
TouchscreenNo
Pointing devicesTouchpad
Graphics adapterNvidia GeForce MX150
Graphics outputsUSB-C
Graphics memory4GB GDDR5
Storage256GB PCIe SSD
Optical driveNo
Memory card slotNo
USB ports1 x USB-C, 1 x USBC Thunderbolt 3, 2 x USB 3
Other ports3.5mm audio jack
Web Cam720p with Windows Hello face recognition
Speakers4 x Stereo Speakers, Dolby Atmos compatible
3.5mm headphone jackYes
Wi-FiIntel Wireless-AC 9560 (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac)
BluetoothBluetooth 5.0
NFCNo
Dimensions (HWD)14.8 x 304.6 x 210mm
Weight1.31kg
Operating systemWindows 10 Home
Operating system restore optionWindows restore partition
Battery size53.1Wh

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