Razer Blade 15 Hands-on: Bigger and a Lot Better
We're at the end of an era. After 5 years, the 14-inch Razer Blade is being retired, meaning it's time to say goodbye to what has been one of the lightest, slimmest gaming laptops available. In its place, gamers can say hello to the new 15.6-inch Blade, which Razer is calling the smallest gaming system in its class. Starting at $1,899, the new notebook has lots of goodies crammed into its larger, but still relatively slim chassis.
Razer's been making some bold moves with its designs as of late. It started with the 13-inch Blade Stealth being made available in black and Gunmetal Gray. The new Blade is still made from black CNC aluminum, but Razer got rid of the rounded curves of the previous laptops for a more boxy shape. The company also ditched the pair of lines flanking the glowing green Razer emblem (that's still there).
Measuring 14 x 9.3 x 0.68-inches and weighing 4.6 pounds, the Blade is notably larger than its predecessor (4.2 pounds and 13.6 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches). But it's also slimmer and lighter than a lot of its current competition, including the Asus Zephyrus ROG M GM501 (5.5 pounds, 15.1 x 10.3 x 0.7~0.8 inches), HP Omen 15 (5.7 pounds, 15.3 x 10.9 x 1 inches) and Alienware 15 R3 (7.4 pounds, 15.3 x 12 x 1 inches).
Razer Blade 15 Specs
From the looks of its spec list, the Blade is going to be a lean, mean gaming and multitasking machine. The $1,899 base model will ship with a six-core, 8th Gen 2.2-GHz Intel Core i7-8750H processor, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe SSD, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q GPU with 6GB of VRAM and a 1920 x 1080 (60Hz) display.
If you have deep pockets, you might want to consider the $2,899 model, which bumps the storage, GPU, VRAM and display up to a 512GB PCIe SSD, GTX 1070 GTX Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM and a 4K touchscreen, respectively.
Honestly, I would prefer a full GPU option along with the Max-Q selection, but in the pursuit of slimness, I can be happy with what Razer's offering.
The 14-inch variant of the Blade is gone and with it goes those unsightly thick bezels. Razer has shaved the bezels down to 0.19 inches along the sides, allowing the company to squeeze a 15.6-inch panel into a 14-inch chassis. And despite the near bezel-less design, Razer managed to fit a webcam in the top bezel, something competitors should note.
The Blade is available with several screen variants and refresh rates: Full HD with 60Hz, Full HD with 144Hz and a 4K touch panel with 60Hz. The 144Hz, 1080p screen and 4K panels will be individually color calibrated before they leave the factory. The 4K display on the demo version of the Blade seemed both bright and vivid, but I'm going to reserve judgement until I can test it with our own colorimeter and light meter.
Keyboard and Touchpad
This just wouldn't be a Blade without the island-style Chroma keyboard glittering at every keystroke. And just like any other Razer product, you can customize the colors, effects and brightness in the Razer Synapse control panel. And in case you have to spam in multiple attacks, the anti-ghosting keyboard will register all of your keystrokes.
And in another sign of change, Razer is swapping out the two discrete mouse buttons in favor of a massive precision touchpad. The new touchpad should deliver more accurate gestures and swipes.
A bigger chassis translates into a bigger battery -- 80Wh to be exact. Razer didn't share estimated battery life, but the company did mention that it is adding a couple of new power management options to its Synapse control panel. Stay tuned for the full review to see how the Blade survives our battery test.
The 14-inch Razer Blade had a great run. When it debuted back in 2013, it totally changed what we thought a gaming laptop should be. A company that was known for making mice and keyboards was suddenly the trendsetters when it came to gaming laptops that were impossibly slim and powerful. But all good things come to an end and now it's time for Razer to explore a bigger challenge. And from what I've seen so far, the 15-inch Blade is a great new start and a welcome addition to the Blade family.
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