Laptop Mag Verdict
The Gunnar ESL Blade may seem like a slick pair of glasses from afar, but they’re flimsy, uncomfortable and expensive.
Frame is flimsy and uncomfortable
Nose pads are awkward
Temples don’t curve with your ear
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I want to believe in Gunnar glasses, but between the Gunnar ESL Blade, and my recent review of the Gunnar 6-Siege Ash Edition, I'm finding it difficult to advocate for this spectacle brand.
The Gunnar ESL Blade gets the lenses mostly right, and they sport a clean design, but those qualities only get these glasses so far. They are uncomfortable, flimsy and expensive. For a $79 product ($229 with prescription), the ESL Blade isn't worth the eye-ache.
I can’t recommend purchasing the Gunnar ESL Blade. When it comes to glasses, comfort is king, and if they fail in that regard, they simply are not worth wearing.
Gunnar ESL Blade price and configuration options
The Gunnar ESL Blade gaming glasses start at $79 and are outfitted with an Onyx frame and Amber GBLF 65-tinted lenses (the GBLF scale measures lens protection for the eye against artificial blue light -- the higher the better).
I received the prescription version, which starts at $229. Unfortunately, they come with only one color frame (Onyx) frame. You can choose the tint at checkout — I went with clear. There’s Clear GBLF 35, Amber GBLF 65, Amber Max GBLF 98, Clear-Transitions GBLF 35/90 and Amber-Transitions GBLF 65/90.
Gunnar ESL Blade design
I like the way the Gunnar ESL Blade glasses look thanks to their clean, subtle design, and it suits my face rather well.
These glasses feature a thinly rimmed frame, so my vision isn’t obstructed by massive bezels. There is a small Gunnar logo in the top-left corner of the left lens, but it's not noticeable while wearing them. Between the lens is a thin enough nose bridge with two chunky oblong-shaped adjustable nose pads protruding from the base.
The temples are straight and get slightly thicker further away from the lenses. On the outside, it’s all black apart from the white ESL Blade logo, and the interior of the temple tips features a green and white camo design. Unfortunately, the temple tips feel cheap, and despite the metal bits on the rest of the glasses, I feel like these would break easily.
Concerning the actual size, the lens width is 57 millimeters, and the frame and temple width are 130mm. These also weigh 25.6 grams. The set comes with a microfiber cleaning cloth and pouch.
Gunnar ESL Blade comfort
My complaint when I reviewed the Gunnar 6-Siege Ash Edition stands for the ESL Blade-- a pair of glasses that are advertised for gamers and costs over $200 need to be comfortable.
On the Blades, the temples are straight and don’t contour to the ears whatsoever. They also curve inward instead of maintaining a straight path, which makes them an odd fit. It’s not as bad as the Gunnar 6-Siege Ash Edition in terms of comfort, but I didn’t want to wear these for longer than an hour.
Moreover, there’s no support for my ears, and the pads don’t adjust well to my nose. They are large rubber pads without those joints for movement. It’s like putting your head against a decorative pillow -- uncomfortable.
Gunnar ESL Blade lenses
The Gunnar ESL Blade glasses are not very ergonomic, but like the lenses are decent.
These glasses are the prescription version of the Clear GBLF 35 lenses, which are effectively the same as my glasses except with a slight tint. The tint isn't very strong, adding just a little more yellow in the world.
I played Hollow Knight, and dashed through the Green Path without experiencing a stark color difference. It was the equivalent of setting your monitor to the Warm setting. I didn't notice much of a difference concerning eyestrain while playing games, but it’s definitely helpful when staring at white pages in Google Docs.
One issue I noticed involved staring at or being in the presence of harsh lighting. The lenses are very reflective so I can see lens flares when bright lights are around me.
Put plain and simply, if glasses fail in comfort, they fail in everything else. Yes, the Gunnar ESL Blade are stylish and have a nice pair of lenses, but they aren't worth the price if I can't wear them for more than an hour without feeling discomfort.
You could put the ugliest pair of spectacles in front of me, but if they are comfortable, I would choose them over something stylish and painful. If you want some Blue Light glasses, the Gunnar ESL Blade is not the choice to go with.
Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.