Razer Blade vs. MacBook Pro: Face-Off

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At first glance, the MacBook Pro 15-inch and the Razer Blade don't seem like rivals. After all, one is for creative pros, and the other is for gamers. But both of these big-screen notebooks pack a serious punch in a portable design. We pitted these powerhouses against each other in an eight-round battle to name a winner. So, which is it — the svelte, silver workhorse or the ebony, gaming badass?

Design

I've got to hand it to both Apple and Razer; they both know how to make a beautiful, iconic piece of machinery. On one hand, you have the MacBook Pro, whose silvery profile with rounded edges and backlit, half-eaten fruit emblem has launched a cadre of pale imitations.

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If not for its sable CNC-aluminum chassis and a couple of deliberate-but-subtle design choices, the Razer Blade would also fall into this clone trap. Outside of the color, the gentle ridges and captivating three-snake symbol on the lid do just enough to help the Blade stand on its own.

Macbook-Pro-vs-Razer-DESIGN_2

In terms of weight and dimensions, the Blade pulls out a slim win, at 4.25 pounds and 13.6 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches, compared with the MacBook Pro's 4.49-pound, 14.1 x 9.7 x 0.71-inch chassis.

Winner: Razer Blade. Razer's inky-black aluminum chassis just does it for me more than the minimalist, silvery vision that I've seen copied year after year. It also doesn't hurt that the Blade is slightly thinner and lighter than the MacBook Pro.

Ports

The MacBook Pro has a solid array of ports that can support a small army of peripherals, including a couple of 4K monitors if you're so inclined. The laptop features two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, a SDXC card slot and a pair of Thunderbolt 2 ports, the latter of which allow you to perform superfast file transfers and connect to high-resolution external displays.

Macbook-Pro-vs-Razer-PORTS_1

The Blade certainly doesn't lack ports and could support a modest gaming battle station. There are three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port and a USB Type-C port, which will allow gamers to hook the system up to Razer's new graphics amplifier, the Core, effectively transforming the lithe laptop into a formidable gaming desktop. However, the Razer lacks an SD card reader, which could turn off some people.

Winner: Razer Blade. Despite the conspicuously missing SD card, the Blade offers more ports than its Apple counterpart. Even better, the Razer's USB Type-C port can support all manner of gadgets, including Razer's own graphics amplifier.

Display

Apple's 15-inch Retina display (2560 x 1600) has become synonymous with bright colors and sharp detail — at least until it's placed next to the Blade. Boasting a beautiful 14-inch QHD+ (3200 x 1800) touch-screen panel, the Blade is a font of gorgeous color and elaborate detail. 

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When I watched the 4K "Tears of Steel" trailer, the reflective glare on one of the character's glasses was clear enough on the Blade that I could read a few words on the console he was watching. The neon green and magenta accents adorning various parts of the spaceship were much more vivid on the Blade than on the MacBook Pro.

Macbook-Pro-vs-Razer-DISPLAY

When we tested the two machines' color reproduction capabilities, the Blade's panel was off the charts, hitting 120 percent of the sRGB color gamut and topping the MacBook Pro's 86 percent. The Blade's display also exhibited strong color accuracy, scoring 0.95 on the Delta-E test (0 is ideal), compared with the MacBook Pro's inaccurate 2.1. The Blade continued its winning ways during the brightness test, averaging a dazzling 338 nits, compared with the MacBook Pro's 303 nits.

Winner: Razer Blade. The Blade's QHD+ panel is a trifecta of wins.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The MacBook Pro has the edge in typing comfort, offering more travel at 1.3 millimeters, compared with 1.1 mm on the Razer Blade.

However, the Blade's Chroma keyboard is simply a thing of beauty. The backlit keyboard not only supports 16.8 million colors, but it also can be augmented with one of six lighting effects. Thanks to the cloud-based Synapse software, gamers can record and map macros to any key on the keyboard as well as track their keystrokes to create a visual representation.

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The MacBook Pro features the Force Touch trackpad. The pad uses force sensors and haptic feedback to create a Force Click, which performs special functions depending on how hard or quickly you press, instead of relying on the usual left and right clicks. It's a fun way to interact with your laptop, but it's kind of gimmicky.

Winner: Razer Blade. The Blade's Chroma keyboard wins here. You can customize the Blade's keyboard not only for aesthetics but useful functions for gaming and productivity.

Performance

The MacBook Pro is a lean, mean productivity machine.

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Despite being outfitted with a 4th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM, the laptop scored 14,423 on the synthetic Geekbench performance test. The Blade and its 6th-gen Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB managed only 13,268.

Macbook-Pro-vs-Razer-HARDDRIVESPEEDThe MacBook Pro's 512GB PCIe-based flash storage kept up the pressure on the File Transfer test, delivering a transfer rate of 636 MBps. That scorches the Blade's 256GB PCIe solid-state drive, which hit 359.2 MBps. However, the Blade overtook the MacBook on the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro test, pairing 20,000 names and addresses in 3 minutes and 55 seconds, compared with 4 minutes and 14 seconds for the MacBook Pro.

Winner: MacBook Pro. Even with its older processor, Apple's notebook won two out of three tests.

Graphics

Just because a notebook has discrete graphics doesn't mean you're going to get a stellar gaming experience. When we ran the World of Warcraft benchmark on the MacBook Pro, its AMD Radeon R9 M370X GPU with 2GB of VRAM notched 40 frames per second at its native resolution of 2880 x 1800 on low. The Blade's Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M with 6GB of VRAM ran circles around that, playing at a steady 163 fps at 3200 x 1800.

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When we dropped the settings to 1080p, the Blade delivered an impressive 217 fps on low, soundly trouncing the MacBook Pro's 66 fps at 1920 x 1200. Once the settings were pushed to ultra, the Blade delivered 150 fps, while the MacBook Pro produced a still-playable 37 fps.

The Blade continued to wreak havoc, delivering a steady 58 fps at 3200 x 1800 on Dirt 3 on high. During the Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege benchmark, the laptop produced 54 fps on low and 32 fps at the maximum setting.

Winner: Razer Blade. The MacBook Pro's AMD graphics run games at playable frame rates, but its output is nowhere near the Blade's.

Battery Life

When it comes to battery life, the MacBook Pro reigns supreme.

Macbook-Pro-vs-Razer-BATTERY

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The laptop lasted a whopping 9 hours and 8 minutes on our battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi). In contrast, the Blade tapped out 5 hours and 42 minutes, which is respectable for a gaming laptop but nowhere near Apple's notebook.

Winner: MacBook Pro. It's no contest.

Value

Both systems have a starting price of $1,999. On the MacBook Pro, that gets you an Intel Core i7 GPU with 16GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe-based flash storage and Intel Iris Pro Graphics. The Blade packs an Intel Core i7 GPU with 16GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe SSD and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 970M with 6GB of VRAM.

The price jumps significantly when you double the storage to 512GB for both laptops. The Blade's price rises to $2,199, while the MacBook's price leaps to $2,499. However, in the case of the MacBook Pro, you'll make the jump to discrete graphics with an AMD Radeon R9 M370X with 2GB of VRAM.

Winner: Razer Blade. Getting discrete graphics in the starting configuration made all the difference.

Overall Winner: Razer Blade

The Razer Blade wins this contest six rounds to two, making it the best overall choice, but the MacBook Pro 15-inch is no slouch.

Macbook-Pro-vs-Razer-CHART

When it comes to offering the best combo of productivity and endurance, the MacBook Pro is hard to beat. The notebook offers over 9 hours of battery life, a powerful processor, a lovely Retina display and the innovative (though maybe not totally necessary) Force Touch trackpad in Apple's often-imitated-but-never-duplicated design. However, having to shell out $2,499 for a discrete graphics card is a bit much to ask, especially when gamers and creative professionals can get the Razer Blade for $1,999.

With the Blade, you get a stunning QHD+ display, a highly customizable keyboard and solid performance with wicked graphics. Plus, you can transform the Blade into an even more powerful system with the optional Razer Core and a desktop graphics card. As a gamer and a responsible working adult, I want the Razer Blade so I can transition from work to play without batting an eye.

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21 comments
  • Alanis Says:

    Macbook's design is better hands down. Blade wins the rest! Even the 1080P blade screen looks better than the Retina Pro i have. Deeper blacks, sharper and it's a matte screen.

  • P@trickbai!3 Says:

    I sometimes find this review a bit subjective. for example the touchpad is NOT a gimmick: It is very useful to click all over the board instead of using the blade's excruciatingly thin slabs of discrete touch buttons. I have tested both laptops side by side, and I know that typing comfort reigns supreme for the macbook pro 15. If i were to write this review, I would give the keyboard and touchpad section win to the MBP 15

  • M@tthew Says:

    I own both, and use them daily. Let's go through the review.

    A.) Designwise, the Blade is an absolute fingerprint magnet. When gaming, the wrist rest gets warm, and if you get sweaty palms you'll leave blotchy sweat stains all over it. It is thinner, and not by much, and lighter. The Pro has thinner bezels, if that's your thing.

    B.) Portswise, an SD card reader has no bearing for me, but it might be more important for some. The Blade's third USB 3.1 is really a fantastic advantage that's quite noticeable. It is absolutely unforgivable for a laptop that has limited first party docking solutions and very few third party ones available to include only 2 USB ports on a PRO notebook.

    C.) Displaywise, the Blade is more accurate. If you do photo work, use the Blade. Apple killed Aperture a while back, so most photographers have already made the switch from one Apple product to another Apple product for photography. Make the switch to Windows here. The resolution difference is not noticeable between the two. The touch screen on the Blade is one of the features that I rarely use, but when I use the Macbook and feel like reaching over and poking a button on the screen because it feels intuitive, it becomes more apparent that it's lacking.

    D.) Keyboard and touchpad. The MacBook's touchpad is superior, but not by much. The feel is similar, and the Blade's actually offers less resistance to movement, giving a slightly more streamlined experience, however the ability to press down anywhere on the trackpad to click makes the MacBook a little more satisfying in that regard. Also, three finger drag is bae.

    HOWEVER, contrary to what you hear, the Blade's keyboard feels amazing. It's tactile, requiring roughly the same force as the MacBook's keyboard, but it's noticeably less squishy. It's not loud, but it's ever so slightly clicky, giving a subtle bump as the keys bottom out, a vaguely mechanical feel. Chroma integration isn't as simple as giving your keyboard a pretty light show. It's integral to any editing or productivity routine. Every key on the Blade is remappable, and allows for multiple sets of keymaps, each with their own color profiles. Macros, recorded through Synapse, have allowed me to simplify multistep editing procedures by pressing a single button, whereas navigation in software on the Mac, no matter how much you hate it, is still menu-based and clusterfcked.

    E.) Performance. The Blade and the MacBook are on even ground when it comes to processing power on the CPU, trading blows on encoding and synthetic benchmarks.

    F.) The graphics difference, however, is amusing. I could cite a billion statistics about frame rates, and someone would call me "not of the target demographic" or "a gamer" or whatever. This does not excuse that you're paying 2500 dollars for a MacBook, that has simply inexcusable, pathetic GPU performance, and with no superior options for us researchers and the developers that simply need more GPU grunt. macOS continues to grow heavier and heavier on graphics, meaning that older macs perform slower and lose battery life as they are updated to newer OS'es. This is heavily exacerbated by the fact that the MacBook's card is weak and power hungry. I expect this MacBook to have a valid life of another year before I replace it. Windows 10 runs on everything, from the Nvidia GTX 1080 to CPU workstations with 16MB of dedicated video memory. Windows 10 does not cripple the Blade in the slightest with Aero or useless blurry transparency. It is a full-power, unleashed 970m. The Blade's thermal profile is immensely efficient; where the MacBook heats up doing a quarter of the work, the Blade gets lukewarm absolutely shredding framerates at its native 3200x1800, even with a sizable Afterburner overclock on the card.

    G.) Battery life on the Blade is short of the MacBook's, but by no means by the margin that this review implies. I don't know if you Mac users know about this, but Windows has power management settings, something that a CORE i7, DEDICATED GPU LAPTOP SHOULD HAVE. macOS fails miserably with no method of mitigating power usage, especially for a PRO notebook that should be expected to run PROFESSIONAL workloads. If I want to set how much power to allocate, let me, Apple! With the Blade set in Synapse to run on adaptive power mode, I am able to achieve eight and a half hours of battery, compared to nine on the MacBook.

    H.) Value. If you're going for value, you're not looking at either. The Blade is an expensive, pretty not-toy of a laptop that is perhaps the only gaming laptop in existence to offer significant power and battery life in a package that takes a generous nod towards the MacBook. The MacBook is quite simply the most robust laptop in existence, feeling a little more premium than the Blade, but only because of the Blade's ability to smudge easily. If you're looking for a decent workstation, though, I'd recommend Dell's XPS, Razer's Blade and Blade Stealth, and Apple's MacBooks. They're not cheap, but do I sound like someone who cares about cheap?

  • Matheus Assunção Says:

    I think this review is not neutral. First, DESIGN is a matter of taste and in this case, I would say a TIE. The razer is a really more beautyiful (my oppinion), but lets not forget it is a fingerprint magnet and some people that have serious works may not feel comfortable with a piece this fancy. For PORTS, lets not forget macbook has 2 thunderbolts that can be more of a deal for some, but I think razer wins this one. DISPLAY: Razer have more RGB, more brightness, but lets not forget the macbook has a 15,6 16x10 display, meaning nothing less than over 30 percent more area of screen in a similar form factor! There is no mention to that in the review so I think It should at least be considered! KEYBOARD AND TOUCHPAD, man, if you say the razer blade wins on this area, only because it has a fancy backlighting, you have NEVER used a Macbook Pro. The glass trackpad is simply the BEST ever, and this is confirmed in any review of the area! Macbook wins loose in this area. I agree with the author in PERFORMANCE, GRAPHICS AND BATTERY LIFE. These are the only parameters that can be measured and macbook wins 2 out of 3. Value is also subjective and if you consider a person that dont want to play games, maybe the macbook wins, based on bigger display with better productivity, better OS (with the option to use windows as well, without compromise) better trackpad, better design for work, better performance and endurance on battery. It is ok to be a fanboy (apple or razer or whatever), the problem is to wear a shirt of neutrality and say a love letter in a form of a review.

  • Daytona Says:

    There's no competition, of course the Razer Blade blows the Macbook out of the water. The Macbook is aimed at people who want to look cute browsing the web at starbucks. The only reason it wins in battery is because the Razer is powering a QHD+ touchscreen and is running a much more powerful CPU and discrete GPU and the performance is because Windows is a heavier, more complex operating system than Mac. I don't hate Apple (I use an iPhone 6), but comparing it to a beast gaming machine like the Blade is ridiculous. Save the Macs for the technologically challenged. It's barely even a competition, the Razer Blade rips that thing to shreds.

  • IceMyth Says:

    Will, if you want to compare 2 laptops with 2 different OS's then you should use something would work on both and some software for bench-marking rather your opinion which is completely biased. Clearly who wrote this is Razer fanboy and wouldn't even consider this post in any future purchases!

  • PCMasterRace Says:

    Lol at all these Mac sheep getting mad at this review. "A Mac is used for productivity", no buddy, it's not. That ridiculous glowy apple on the back of your craptop doesn't make it more productive. Higher graphics + better performance on a more open OS offers more opportunities for creativity. Most of you are even completely unaware that Microsoft develops a lot of software for Apple, anything Mac OS has Windows has the equivalent for a much cheaper price. Let me sit here a laugh while playing Rise of The Tomb Raider on Ultra with ease while your 4000$ paper weight will overheat and melt trying to just launch the game in the first place. Oh wait, no it wouldn't because Mac doesn't even get tomb raider...or a lot of games for that matter. You're just slaves to commercialism and all those Macbooks that you see on TV and movies has you brainwashed. Microsoft doesn't need forced obnoxious ad placement because 90% computer users own PCs. RIP Steve Jobs the "innovator" that never invented a single thing.

  • LinuxMasterRace Says:

    Ignoring the first 4 heavily biased criteria, the macbook is used for productivity, not gaming, and you valued gaming much more in your summary. And can someone confirm tht macbook gets 40 fps on wow?

  • ParkourSwift Says:

    I would have given the "Ports" and "Keyboard and Trackpad" to the MacBook Pro. Reasons: The MacBook Pro loses a USB in favor of an SD slot AND an additional Thunderbolt 2 port, the latter of which can support a Thunderbolt dock etc without losing your only high-speed port (The Blade has a single, albeit faster Thunderbolt 3). As for the keyboard and trackpad, the customizable backlight on the Blade does not outweigh the better-quality keyboard and far superior trackpad on the MacBook. However the Blade evens things out by including a touchscreen. All-in-all I agree that the Blade is a better consumer machine, but you can't beat a MacBook for creative pros.

  • ootooteenaakoo Says:

    razer was beaten in performance and battery life, these two category is the most important in office computing. if want to play go for razer but if you want to work and contribute to the economy go for MAC. make sense???

  • Lina Basile Says:

    Give me my Dell XPS anytime!Beautiful, fast, and brilliant technical support.

  • Guest Says:

    Under the keyboard / trackpad category, I get that chroma is a plus, but why is that decisive against what is characterized in this article as the superior functionality of the Macbook's keyboard and trackpad?

  • klaushell Says:

    Biased review.... "... the Macbook is better but the Razer wins..." really???? This is supposed to be a real review??? Reviewers have a responsibility towards their readers and future buyers... You shouldn't be doing this... Have some dignity!!!!

  • Ryan Z Says:

    LOL when the keyboard on the Blade wins because it's prettier... even though it says the Macbook's is better for typing. Maybe we should consider how well it types, you know, since a keyboard's main purpose is... typing...?

  • Carsten Nilsson Says:

    Design and Keyboard/Trackpad is better? LMAO

  • George Says:

    The macbook and the razerblade are in the same class machines, how is a consumer grade hardware considered a workstation, the macbook's GPU and razers are consumer range not pro like Quadros and Firepros. Both of them can be used with the same applications e.g Adobe,Autodesk, etc,the razer just wins in performance to value.

  • Jack Neil Says:

    Which scene, I got 4k source file for Tears of Steel, and I don't see the reflective console words off the glasses. Unless you are talking about the red shirt guy with the holovisor.

  • Hime N. Says:

    The 14in Razer Blade does NOT have a 4k screen! Why do you keep saying this? It is 3200x1800, not 3840x2160.

  • foobar Says:

    A 2015 MacBook Pro comparison two weeks before the new model release? I guess you must have gotten one on closeout.

  • Tomtheebomb Says:

    I find it funny that you are comparing a laptop used for more gaming applications with a laptop that is used for just pure productivity and ease. As the two laptops have different expected functions, what is the point of comparing?

  • Charlie Says:

    Tell me again why we are comparing these?

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