We reviewed the Razer Blade 15 not too long ago and boldly called it "the best laptop we've ever had the pleasure of reviewing" and you can read the review right here. Razer has come a long way over the past few years, and when you deliver strong products in rapid succession, the consumer's expectations are also increased. Now the Razer Blade Stealth, the little ultrabook version with the same design, is being updated, and although it should be a slam dunk offering slightly lower performance, it's rather a mild disappointment.
First, however, let us start off by stating that the Razer Blade Stealth is among the most beautiful ultrabooks on the market. Razer hit the spot last year with their new Blade design. A design that turned from a very MacBook-inspired look to something a bit edgier. The result is a more angular, anonymous gaming laptop and it's magnificent. While the Razer Blade 15 still rocks the light green Razer symbol with RGB illumination, the Blade Stealth has a stamped symbol on the chassis that almost merges with the dark metal. At the same time, this and the Blade 15, are probably the laptops with the best build quality on the market. There is no bend or flex in their aluminium casing and one can feel, no matter what task one throws at both models, that they are truly fantastic in terms of build quality.
The usability is also top-notch, as it should be when talking ultrabooks. The keyboard has got a slight overhaul and has more resistance in its keys than the softer Blade 15. The touchpad is massive, which we found to be a good thing, and it's certainly among the most responsive and functional touchpads we've tried in a laptop. That being said, however, one could have wished that the chassis had been just a little longer, making for more room to rest your wrists on. It's worth noting though, that despite us wanting a bigger surface to work from, Razer has included two USB-C ports and two USB 3.0. Yes, you will miss a dedicated HDMI input, but when comparing ports this is among the better ultrabooks on the market and puts even the Microsoft Surface 2 to shame.
So far, so good, but unfortunately the praise has to stop there for now. The processor is an 8th generation Intel i7 with a 1.9Ghz base and a 4.6Ghz turbo, which is quite excellent, but if you buy either the Graphics model or the Graphics Model 4K, Razer has put a Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card into the little machine. It offers additional opportunities to play or do some mild editing work, but it's not quite a full step in the right direction. See, Blade Stealth is not a performance machine. The original model was not very graphically dedicated and it's still not here. If it's to be transformed into something that can handle more demanding editing tasks and gaming, you still need to use a Core, and it just happens that Razer is very keen on selling you one of those. So why is more horsepower such a problem? It goes beyond the battery life, as in that a "real" GPU reduces the laptop's battery life by several hours of general use. We tested the 2017 model and compared the two and the older model lasted longer. That shouldn't be the case.
Fortunately, you can just choose the Base Model which also comes with integrated graphics (Intel UHD 620), and which solves the primary problem of the new Blade Stealth. However, if you order the Base Model it comes without the touch functionality, although this is not a crucial feature, at least not for us. The display is quite good with a peak brightness of 257 NITS, which is on the low end. Furthermore, it's difficult to wrap one's head around the fact that Razer doesn't offer a 120Hz option over any of the three models. You can get the laptop with a 4K monitor or with a MX150, but not one with 120Hz, which would improve the overall experience for most people, no matter what they're planning on using it for. Unfortunately, we're not finished with the negatives either. As time has passed, several bigger manufacturers have realised that giving the customer more screen space in a familiar chassis is one effective way to stand out. We were particularly impressed with this in the Huawei MateBook Pro X as well as the new Microsoft Surface 2. Compared to these, the big "chin" and the huge bezel at the bottom of the Stealth looks extremely old-fashioned. It takes up so much unnecessary space, which is a shame.
Most of the things we've mentioned sound pretty negative and we weren't exactly impressed, but to be quite honest, the Blade Stealth (in its basic edition form, it's worth noting) remains among the smartest choices on the ultrabook market, especially if you're looking for good build quality. This, however, brings us to the laptop's biggest setback: the big brother Blade 15. See, we would argue that, if you're interested in getting a Blade Stealth (which in its two more powerful versions has a less-than-stellar battery life), and you're interested in editing, playing games and nice design - why wouldn't you buy a Blade 15? You'd be getting a 144Hz display, more screen space and all the design benefits that the Stealth offers. Yes, it's more expensive, but not by much. On Razer's website, the Blade Stealth is on sale for $1399 whereas the Blade 15 starts at $1599. Yes, prices tend to vary by country, but we're talking a $200 price gap between the two and the difference is huge. If you're looking for a real GPU, then the Blade 15 base version comes with a GTX 1060 Max-Q.
If you've already made up your mind about the Stealth, we wouldn't say buying one would be a mistake. On the contrary, you would have spent money on a solid ultrabook that's better than 90% of the other competing models, but Razer has recently made a great laptop in the form of the Blade 15 that virtually eliminates the need for a Razer Blade Stealth in its current form.
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