Razer Blade Review

Razer Blade Review

Manufacturer: Razer
UK price:
£1,749.99 – £2,649.99 (inc VAT); as reviewed: £2,649.99 (inc VAT)
US price: $1,799.99 – $2,699.99 (ex Tax); as reviewed: $2,699.99 (ex Tax)

The Razer Blade family of notebooks was finally made available to European customers a few months back. We’ve already looked at the Blade Stealth, the ultrabook that has no gaming grunt of its own but can be paired with Razer’s external GPU dock, the Core. We’re now turning our attention to the Blade, a 14in notebook that attempts to offer solid gaming performance while retaining portability. The final member of the family, the Blade Pro, is set to hit shelves later this year and is billed more as a desktop replacement than something you’ll want to lug around every day.

Like its smaller sibling, the Blade is available in a range of configurations – six to be precise – based on what screen and SSD you opt for. Also like the Blade Stealth, the Blade is not for those shopping on a budget: The base configuration with a 256GB SSD and a 1080p matt display already fetches £1,750. The storage can then be upgraded to 512GB (£1,950) or 1TB (£2,350), or you can upgrade the screen to a 3,200 x 1,800 (QHD+) touch-enabled panel for a total cost of £2,050. The 512GB and 1TB options are available here too, setting you back £2,250 or £2,650 respectively. Our main review sample, and the one from which the raw performance numbers are taken, is the top-end one with the QHD+ screen and 1TB drive but we also managed to briefly obtain the model with a 1080p panel so we could compare the two displays. Besides that, performance numbers should be the same across the range as the base specifications remain unchanged.

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review
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Those base specifications include Intel’s Core i7-6700HQ running on the HM170 chipset and paired with 16GB of dual-channel DDR4 running at 2,133MHz. This CPU is pretty much the de facto choice among gaming notebooks, offering four Skylake cores and the ability to process eight threads in parallel thanks to Hyper-Threading. It still runs slower and is more power-limited than desktop chips, naturally, but it’s got plenty of power and we can’ begrudge its inclusion here.

The CPU does sport onboard graphics, but Razer of course uses a dedicated GPU for gaming tasks. Specifically it’s using Nvidia’s GTX 1060 6GB, again a popular choice thanks to its balance of power and performance – we’ve seen it used ourselves in both the MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro and PC Specialist Defiance III (both had the same CPU too). The GTX 1060 is powerful enough to be considered VR-capable, but we’ll let our benchmarks do the real talking.

Razer Blade Review
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Using the very latest Intel and Nvidia parts (quad-core Kaby Lake CPUs aren’t yet available) means maximum efficiency, and this plus some cunning design work allows Razer to offer the Blade in a decidedly portable form factor – just under 2kg and 17.9mm thick. It’s not an ultrabook, but equally it’s of a size and weight that we’d be happy carrying around most of the time. It’s also considerably thinner than the MSI and PC Specialist laptops just mentioned despite having a higher capacity battery (70Wh) than both. The 165W power supply is also rather portable so you don’t have to worry about adding a brick to your rucksack.

The chassis is not just portable, it’s exceptionally well built as well. It’s a CNC aluminium unibody that looks and feels lovely, although it does pick up and show fingerprints rather easily. Still, with that material, the smooth lid action and the glowing snake logo, Razer has nailed it design wise and the Blade competes well with the likes of Apple in this department.

Razer Blade Review
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As mentioned, our main unit uses a 3,200 x 1,800 panel, which is touch-sensitive and glossy, but we also got to play briefly with the 1080p model. A QHD+ resolution in a 14in display nets you 262 pixels per inch and razor-sharp clarity, although most folks will probably need to scale icons and text to be bigger. The touch functionality may also be a boon to some, but honestly we’d probably stick to the 1080p panel: It saves you £300, is still fairly sharp and is much more in line with the GTX 1060’s capabilities. The main reason, however, would be for the matt finish, as the glossiness here we found to be distracting during most tasks. The extra pixels of the QHD+ screen may benefit photographers, for example, but the glossiness detracts heavily from the advantages here. Sadly, neither panel has G-Sync capabilities, although we’re not aware of any 14in panels that do.

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review
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A pair of USB 3.0 ports on the left are joined by a mobile 3.5mm audio jack and the power input, while the right side has a third USB 3.0 port, a HDMI output and a Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps connection in the shape of a USB Type-C port. Like the Blade Stealth, the Blade supports the Razer Core external GPU dock via the Thunderbolt 3 connection, although we don’t reckon there’s much of a market for this. We also no longer have our Core, so we can’t test the two together. There is no Ethernet port – networking is all wireless and comes courtesy of a Killer networking card that meets the latest Bluetooth and Wi-Fi standards. There’s also no card reader, which is a shame.

Razer Blade Review
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The laptop is pleasant to type and game on with the keys feeling responsive and having a decent enough action. The main feature, of course, and one that sets it apart from its rivals, is the Chroma RGB lighting integration and Synapse software support, which together allows you to control the lighting of every single key, and remap nearly all of them to custom functions including your own macros. Lighting effects can reach very complex levels should you wish, and there are separate on- and off-battery brightness levels. The area to the sides of the keyboard is given over to some stereo, user-facing speakers with passable sound quality, and the trackpad is also great – it feels very solid and we also like the separated left and right clicks.

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review
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On the underside, two rubber pads give the laptop the clearance needed for cooling to work effectively. There’s a pair of small ventilated sections, each sitting right next to an intake fan.

Razer Blade Review
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Opening the laptop up, we find a neatly designed interior and you get easy access to the M.2 SSD. Razer is using Samsung’s PM961 1TB M.2 NVMe PCI-E 3.0 x4 SSD, which is capable of some serious speed.

Razer Blade Review
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Cooling is given over to a total of four heat pipes – two dedicated to the GPU, one for the CPU and one shared between them. The fans push air over these and a couple of small heatsinks, exhausting it directly out the back.

Razer Blade Review
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Accessing the basic BIOS is easy enough, although despite being able to alter a few standard settings we couldn’t find much reason to do so. Once in Windows, we were happy to see that bloatware is pretty much non-existent – you get Synapse and one or two other Razer apps but that’s it.

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review
Click to enlarge – The DDR4 (left) is embedded; the M.2 SSD (right) is easily removable
The Blade comes with a one-year warranty. Also designed to sweeten the deal at the moment is the inclusion of a FL Studio 12 Producer Edition license, which is currently £130 on Amazon – attractive to some but not, we suspect, the majority of Razer’s customers.

Specifications (as reviewed)

  • CPU Intel Core i7-6700HQ (2.6GHz base, 3.5GHz Turbo)
  • CPU threads Eight (quad-core with Hyper-Threading)
  • Memory 16GB (2 x 8GB) 2,133MHz DDR4 (onboard)
  • Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
  • Storage 1 x 1TB Samsung PM961 M.2 PCI-E SSD
  • Screen 14in IGZO touch-screen, 3,200 x 1,800
  • Dimensions (mm) 345 x 235 x 17.9 (W x D x H)
  • Networking Killer 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
  • Audio 8-channel Realtek Audio, microphone, headphone, 2 x speakers
  • Keyboard backlighting Yes (Razer Chroma RGB)
  • Battery Li-Po 70Wh
  • Webcam 2.0MP
  • Weight 1.95kg (with battery)
  • Operating system Windows 10 64-bit
  • Ports 1 x Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C, 3 x USB 3.0, HDMI 2.0a, headphone/microphone combined jack
  • Warranty One year

Battlefield 1

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Gaming and VR Performance Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Gaming and VR Performance
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We use the DirectX 12 API and the games ‘Ultra’ preset. We benchmark a section of the single-player campaign as this is the most repeatable and reliable means, though we’ve chosen a part that we found to be representative of the more demanding areas. Specifically, it’s a manual, 30-second run through the start of the mission ‘The Runner’.

Battlefield 1

1,920 x 1,080, DX12, ‘Ultra’ settings

  • Intel Core i7-6700K with EVGA GTX 1080 FTW
  • Razer Blade Stealth with Razer Core (EVGA GTX 1080 FTW)
  • Razer Blade (GTX 1060)
    • 110

    • 123

    • 47

    • 59

    • 37

    • 51

0

25

50

75

100

125

Frames Per Second

  • Minimum
  • Average

Battlefield 1

3,200 x 1,800, DX12, ‘Ultra’ settings

  • Razer Blade (GTX 1060)
    • 29

    • 31

0

5

10

15

20

25

30

35

Frames Per Second

  • Minimum
  • Average

Fallout 4

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Gaming and VR Performance
Our Fallout 4 benchmark is a 30-second FRAPS recording of a manual playthrough, where our character runs forward through a woodland area just outside the Corvega Automation Plant. The scene is very challenging relative to the rest of the game, with massive draw distances and complex volumetric lighting. This means the results below are not representative of typical gameplay, but rather of the most challenging points in the game. We test at the game’s ‘Ultra’ preset, the highest available, and v-sync is disabled in the game’s .ini file.

Fallout 4

1,920 x 1,080, DX11, ‘Ultra’ settings

  • Intel Core i7-6700K with EVGA GTX 1080 FTW
  • Razer Blade Stealth with Razer Core (EVGA GTX 1080 FTW)
  • PC Spcecialist Defiance III (GTX 1060)
  • Razer Blade (GTX 1060)
    • 97

    • 119

    • 70

    • 81

    • 48

    • 60

    • 47

    • 57

0

25

50

75

100

125

Frames Per Second

  • Minimum
  • Average

Fallout 4

3,200 x 1,800, DX11, ‘Ultra’ settings

  • Razer Blade (GTX 1060)
    • 19

    • 25

0

5

10

15

20

25

Frames Per Second

  • Minimum
  • Average

3DMark

Publisher: Futuremark

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Gaming and VR Performance
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3DMark is arguably the most popular synthetic benchmark around today. The DirectX 11 portion, Fire Strike, comes in three flavours: Fire Strike, Fire Strike Extreme and Fire Strike Ultra, which run at 1080p, 1440p and 4K respectively. All cards are tested in Fire Strike using the default settings, as anyone can download and run this exact benchmark for free so you can easily compare your own system’s score with those you see below. More powerful cards are tested in Fire Strike Extreme and Fire Strike Ultra as appropriate, but you’ll need to pay to unlock these benchmarks yourself.

3DMark also recently added Time Spy, a DirectX 12 benchmark that runs at 1440p. It is designed to properly utilise the advantages of the DirectX 12 API. The benchmark is available for free but you’ll need to pay to change any of the settings, including the resolution. Nonetheless, it still serves as a useful at-a-glance comparison of performance in this increasingly important API.

3DMark Fire Strike

1,920 x 1,080, DX11, default settings

  • Intel Core i7-6700K with EVGA GTX 1080 FTW
  • Razer Blade Stealth with Razer Core (EVGA GTX 1080 FTW)
  • Razer Blade (GTX 1060)
    • 18316

    • 9425

    • 9194

0

5000

10000

15000

20000

Score

  • Score

3DMark Fire Strike Extreme

2,560 x 1,440, DX11, default settings

  • Intel Core i7-6700K with EVGA GTX 1080 FTW
  • Razer Blade Stealth with Razer Core (EVGA GTX 1080 FTW)
  • Razer Blade (GTX 1060)
    • 10069

    • 7010

    • 4991

0

2500

5000

7500

10000

Score

  • Score

3DMark Time Spy

2,560 x 1,440, DX12, default settings

  • Intel Core i7-6700K with EVGA GTX 1080 FTW
  • Razer Blade Stealth with Razer Core (EVGA GTX 1080 FTW)
  • Razer Blade (GTX 1060)
    • 7228

    • 4839

    • 3538

0

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

6000

7000

8000

Score

  • Score

VRMark

Publisher: Futuremark

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Gaming and VR Performance
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VRMark is another synthetic GPU benchmark from Futuremark, this time specifically designed to assess a system’s ability to handle VR gaming, although no VR headset is required. The Orange Room test assesses whether a system is capable of meeting the current minimum requirements for an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive VR headset. We run it at default settings so users can easily compare scores here to the free version of this benchmark where settings cannot be changed.

VRMark – The Orange Room

2,264 x 1,348, default settings

  • Intel Core i7-6700K with EVGA GTX 1080 FTW
  • Razer Blade (GTX 1060)
  • Razer Blade Stealth with Razer Core (EVGA GTX 1080 FTW)
    • 10816

    • 5606

    • 5443

0

2500

5000

7500

10000

Score

  • Score

PCMark 8 Video Editing

Video Editing V2 Part 2 (Creative 3.0 test suite)

This workload uses FFmpeg to apply video enhancement filters to a high bitrate H.264 video and then encode it to a format suitable for distribution. The FFmpeg binary used is custom-built by Futuremark using a development version of the source available from the project’s code repository. The test applies a deshaking filter to a source video at 3,840 x 2160 (4K UHD) before scaling down and outputting at 1,920 x 1,080 (1080p).

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - PCMark 8 Video and Photo Editing

PCMark 8 4K Video Editing

Part 2 test

  • Intel Core i7-6700K (4GHz/4.8GHz)
  • Intel Core i7-6950X (3GHz/4.4GHz)
  • Aorus X3 PLUS V5 (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • Aorus X7 Pro Sync (Core i7-5850HQ)
  • Razer Blade Stealth (Core i7-7500U)
  • Aorus X7 Pro V5 (Core i7-6820HK)
  • MSI GS70 2QE Stealth Pro (Core i7-4720HQ)
  • Razer Blade (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • PC Spcecialist Defiance III (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • AMD FX-8350 (4GHz/4.6GHz)
    • 112

    • 98

    • 125

    • 109

    • 132

    • 0

    • 132

    • 0

    • 138

    • 0

    • 142

    • 134

    • 142

    • 0

    • 143

    • 0

    • 149

    • 0

    • 149

    • 0

    • 542

    • 472

0

100

200

300

400

500

600

Seconds (Lower Is Better)

  • Stock
  • Overclocked

PCMark 8 Photo Editing V2

This workload involves making a series of adjustments to a set of photographs using ImageMagik – an open-source image processing library to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and gamma. When a favourable balance is found, the changes are then applied to the rest of the images in the set. TIFF files up to 67MB in size are used.

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - PCMark 8 Video and Photo Editing

PCMark 8 Photo Editing V2

Load image matrix + adjusting times

  • Intel Core i7-6700K (4GHz/4.8GHz)
  • Aorus X7 Pro V5 (Core i7-6820HK)
  • Intel Core i7-6950X (3GHz/4.4GHz)
  • PC Spcecialist Defiance III (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • Aorus X3 PLUS V5 (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • Aorus X7 Pro Sync (Core i7-5850HQ)
  • MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • MSI GS70 2QE Stealth Pro (Core i7-4720HQ)
  • Razer Blade (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • Razer Blade Stealth (Core i7-7500U)
  • AMD FX-8350 (4GHz/4.6GHz)
    • 31

    • 30

    • 32

    • 30

    • 33

    • 31

    • 33

    • 0

    • 33

    • 0

    • 33

    • 0

    • 35

    • 0

    • 36

    • 0

    • 41

    • 0

    • 47

    • 0

    • 64

    • 53

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

Seconds (Lower Is Better)

  • Stock
  • Overclocked

Terragen 3

Website:Terragen 3

Planetside Software’s Terragen 3 is a highly realistic landscape generator used to create background images in films and games such as Star Trek: Nemesis, Stealth and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Our script renders a single frame of a snowy mountain scene at 640 x 480 on all the available CPU execution units.

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Terragen 3, Cinebench R15 and Battery Life

Terragen 3

Snowy scene render

  • Intel Core i7-6950X (3GHz/4.4GHz)
  • Intel Core i7-6700K (4GHz/4.8GHz)
  • Aorus X7 Pro V5 (Core i7-6820HK )
  • Razer Blade (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • Aorus X3 PLUS V5 (Core-i7-6700HQ)
  • Aorus X7 Pro Sync (Core-i7-5850HQ)
  • PC Spcecialist Defiance III (Core-i7-6700HQ)
  • MSI GS70 2QE Stealth Pro (Core i7-4720HQ)
  • MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • AMD FX-8350 (4GHz/4.6GHz)
  • Razer Blade Stealth (Core i7-7500U)
    • 248

    • 236

    • 370

    • 332

    • 497

    • 0

    • 512

    • 0

    • 516

    • 0

    • 518

    • 0

    • 525

    • 0

    • 561

    • 0

    • 573

    • 0

    • 641

    • 541

    • 805

    • 0

0

100

200

300

400

500

600

700

800

Seconds (Lower Is Better)

  • Stock Speed
  • Overclocked

Cinebench R15 64-bit

Website: www.maxon.net

Cinebench uses Maxon’s Cinema 4D engine to render a photo-realistic scene of some shiny balls and weird things (we miss the motorbike). The scene is highly complex, with reflections, ambient occlusion and procedural shaders so it gives a CPU a tough workout.

As Cinema 4D is a real-world application – used on films such as Spider-Man and Star Wars – Cinebench can be viewed as a real-world benchmark.

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Terragen 3, Cinebench R15 and Battery Life

Cinebench R15

64-bit, CPU test

  • Intel Core i7-6950X (3GHz/4.4GHz)
  • Intel Core i7-6700K (4GHz/4.8GHz)
  • Aorus X7 Pro V5 (Core i7-6820HK )
  • Razer Blade (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • Aorus X3 PLUS V5 (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • PC Spcecialist Defiance III (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • Aorus X7 Pro Sync (Core i7-5850HQ)
  • MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro (Core i7-6700HQ)
  • MSI GS70 2QE Stealth Pro (Core i7-4720HQ)
  • MSI GE62 2QE Apache (Core i7-4720HQ)
  • AMD FX-8350 (4GHz/4.6GHz)
  • Razer Blade Stealth (Core i7-7500U)
    • 2083

    • 2222

    • 904

    • 1007

    • 708

    • 779

    • 675

    • 0

    • 668

    • 0

    • 666

    • 0

    • 666

    • 0

    • 659

    • 0

    • 647

    • 0

    • 647

    • 0

    • 643

    • 0

    • 257

    • 0

0

500

1000

1500

2000

2500

Score (Higher Is Better)

  • Stock Speed
  • Overclocked

Battery Life

We complete two separate tests to assess battery life. Firstly, we run Unigine Valley’s benchmark continuously to simulate a lengthy gaming session. This is performed at half brightness with Wi-Fi enabled and the maximum performance mode enabled in Windows.

The other test uses PCMark 8’s Coventional Battery Test. This simulates using web browsers, spreadsheets and other light non-gaming tasks that should give you an idea of how long the battery will last under typical conditions. For this test, we reduce brightness to minimum and the power setting to Power Saver mode, but leave Wi-Fi enabled.

Battery Life Tests

  • Razer Blade Stealth
  • Razer Blade
  • MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro
  • Aorus X3 PLUS V5
  • PC Spcecialist Defiance III
  • MSI GS70 2QE Stealth Pro
  • Aorus X7 Pro Sync
  • Aorus X7 Pro V5
    • 401

    • 0

    • 324

    • 88

    • 237

    • 61

    • 224

    • 54

    • 212

    • 45

    • 181

    • 51

    • 134

    • 49

    • 131

    • 75

0

100

200

300

400

Minutes (Higher Is Better)

  • PCMark 8 Conventional Battery Test
  • Full Load (Unigine Valley)

CrystalDiskMark Benchmark Results

Website: CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark uses incompressible data files. We report the read and write results of the sequential and 4KB random tests

CrystalDiskMark Sequential

1000MB test

  • Aorus X7 Pro V5
  • MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro
  • Razer Blade
  • Aorus X3 PLUS V5
  • Razer Blade Stealth
  • MSI GS70 2QE Stealth Pro
  • Aorus X7 Pro Sync
  • PC Spcecialist Defiance III
  • PC Specialist Apollo 703
    • 2540

    • 2396

    • 2254

    • 1276

    • 1784

    • 1673

    • 1326

    • 1180

    • 1263

    • 310

    • 980

    • 873

    • 826

    • 837

    • 544

    • 520

    • 514

    • 501

0

500

1000

1500

2000

2500

MB/sec

  • Read
  • Write

CrystalDiskMark 4K Random

1000MB test, single queue depth

  • MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro
  • Aorus X3 PLUS V5
  • Razer Blade
  • Aorus X7 Pro V5
  • Razer Blade Stealth
  • PC Spcecialist Defiance III
  • Aorus X7 Pro Sync
  • MSI GS70 2QE Stealth Pro
    • 53

    • 155

    • 51

    • 137

    • 48

    • 190

    • 47

    • 107

    • 45

    • 180

    • 43

    • 134

    • 30

    • 102

    • 23

    • 80

0

50

100

150

200

MB/sec

  • Read
  • Write

PCMark 8 Storage Traces

Website: Futuremark

We’ve selected two benchmarks from PCMark 8’s array of storage tests – the Battlefield 3 and Photoshop Heavy storage traces. These mimic real-world usage, for instance, loading a game and entering a save game or performing image editing. The final results are given in seconds.

PCMark 8 Storage Test – Battlefield 3

Game and save game storage trace

  • Razer Blade Stealth
  • MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro
  • Razer Blade
  • Aorus X3 PLUS V5
  • Aorus X7 Pro Sync
  • PC Spcecialist Defiance III
  • MSI GS70 2QE Stealth Pro
  • Aorus X7 Pro V5
    • 132.7

    • 133.1

    • 133.1

    • 133.3

    • 133.6

    • 133.8

    • 135.0

    • 135.5

0

25

50

75

100

125

150

Seconds (Lower Is Better)

  • Trace time

PCMark 8 Storage Test – Photoshop Heavy

Application storage trace

  • Razer Blade
  • Aorus X7 Pro Sync
  • Aorus X7 Pro V5
  • MSI GS70 2QE Stealth Pro
  • Razer Blade Stealth
  • PC Spcecialist Defiance III
  • MSI GS43VR Phantom Pro
  • Aorus X3 PLUS V5
    • 351.4

    • 354.7

    • 355.0

    • 355.0

    • 370.2

    • 371.0

    • 484.0

    • 486.0

0

100

200

300

400

500

Seconds (Lower Is Better)

  • Trace time

Display Performance

Displays are tested using a Spyder4Elite colorimeter and the accompanying Monitor Quality Analysis (MQA) software.

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (QHD+ Glossy)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (QHD+ Glossy)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (QHD+ Glossy)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (QHD+ Glossy)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (QHD+ Glossy)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (QHD+ Glossy)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (QHD+ Glossy)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (QHD+ Glossy)
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Display Performance

Displays are tested using a Spyder4Elite colorimeter and the accompanying Monitor Quality Analysis (MQA) software.

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (FHD Matt)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (FHD Matt)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (FHD Matt)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (FHD Matt)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (FHD Matt)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (FHD Matt)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (FHD Matt)
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Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Display Performance (FHD Matt)
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Performance Analysis

As far as gaming goes, the Razer Blade is pretty powerful. Even with ultra settings enabled, it pumps out smooth frame rates at 1080p, with minimums of 37fps and 47fps in Battlefield 1 and Fallout 4 respectively. It also justifies Razer’s VR-capable claims by passing the VRMark Orange Room test, signifying that it meets the requirements of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets – this is rather impressive given the Blade’s dimensions and weight. As suspected, 3,200 x 1,800 is beyond this GPU’s capabilities, at least with the settings cranked up.

That said, there’s more to note about the results. The headline story behind Nvidia’s latest iteration of mobile GPUs is that they were essentially as fast as their desktop counterparts – Nvidia even dropped the -M suffix from the naming scheme to signify this. However, a laptop is still a heavily power-limited environment and this does have repercussions. On the GPU, this means less consistent boosting, so don’t expect desktop-matching performance. We haven’t included results from a desktop GTX 1060 card in the charts, but the Fallout 4 average frame rate and all of the 3DMark results are roughly 20 quicker when you have a Founders Edition GTX 1060 in a desktop environment. Honestly, that’s still not a bad thing, and not to Razer’s discredit, but it’s worth noting nonetheless.

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Performance Analysis and Conclusion Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Performance Analysis and Conclusion
Click to enlarge – The Blade with the Full HD matt display (left) and with the QHD+ glossy touch display (right)
The exception to this is Battlefield 1, where the average frame rate is almost 50 percent faster on the desktop equivalent. This suggests a limit beyond the GPU, the obvious candidate being the CPU, especially as this is a DirectX 12 game. Despite its four cores and Hyper-Threading, the Core i7-6700HQ can’t compete with an overclocked Core i7-6700K (understandably). Thankfully, the laptop is still playable at 1080p, and there’s nothing to suggest other GTX 1060-equipped laptops would fare much better – the PC Specialist Defiance III has a very similar result to this one in Fallout 4, for example.

Moving beyond gaming, the Blade is a well-rounded laptop for everyday and even more intensive tasks. The PCMark 8 results weren’t astounding but nor were they cause for concern, and the Hyper-Threaded quad-core CPU makes a really good go of rendering given that it’s a mobile part. The speedy SSD also saw strong performance in synthetic and trace-based workloads – it’ll be responsive and fast regardless of what you throw at it.

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Performance Analysis and Conclusion
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Battery life also proved to be a real strong point – nearly five and a half hours in the light test and nearly 90 minutes in the gaming test. These are great results, and comfortably beyond competing laptops in both instances.

Display performance was a bit disappointing on the glossy QHD+ model, especially after the strong results we saw on the Razer Blade Stealth. The screen has a wide brightness range, but the measured contrast ratio was never more than 400:1. To our eyes, it didn’t seem quite that bad, but contrast definitely felt a bit lacking in certain test photos, and it was definitely improved on the matt 1080p panel which measured at between 600:1 and 700:1. Luminance uniformity was good, but honestly your biggest challenge here is going to be ambient light – if you’ve got bright lights behind you they’ll reflect harshly off the glossy surface. While the white point was close to the ideal, the gamma measurement was low, giving some scenes a slightly washed out feel (not extreme, not noticeable), and colour accuracy was only okay too – an average delta E of less than 3 is preferred, but here we see 3.87.

Meanwhile, the 1080p panel fairs well and is the better option overall. Gamut coverage is its main weakness as it only hits 92 percent of the sRGB spectrum, but otherwise the results are strong. We see an ideal gamma value, close to ideal white point and excellent uniformity. Colours are also closer to what they should be with this panel, with an average delta E value of 2.25 being a very strong result. Given this, the QHD+ screen doesn’t make the best case for itself as a £300 upgrade beyond the increased pixel density and touch functionality, though we admit that those things may have a lot of value for some users.

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Performance Analysis and Conclusion Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Performance Analysis and Conclusion
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The laptop’s cooling system proved to be very effective. Applying full load to the CPU, we didn’t observe any throttling and noise levels were well contained. The GPU is more demanding, and while its clock speeds did fluctuate more than we’re used to seeing on desktop cards, it was still boosting to high speeds (over 1,800MHz) with some frequency. Noise output was higher this time around, but still not obnoxious – we probably wouldn’t feel too bad playing on a train, for example, unless we were in the quiet carriage. Both the CPU and GPU were kept below 80°C too.

Conclusion

The physical design of the Blade easily stands out as its most valuable asset. The premium chassis really looks and feels the part and this can go a really long way in this market. The sub-2kg weight and sub-20mm thickness also make it very portable considering the power it houses, and the Chroma RGB keyboard and trackpad both impress too. Even the internals are solid – Razer has left room for a large battery that has a good impact on potential battery life, you get easy access to the M.2 SSD and the cooling system is capable of keeping things cool and unthrottled without being too loud.

Razer sent us the top-spec Blade, but we don’t believe this is its best representation. Firstly, the screen – the high PPI and touch functionality may well be of use to some folk, but Razer’s pitch is traditionally towards gamers, and the GTX 1060 isn’t able to dish out suitable frame rates at the native resolution when using this panel. Also, the professional users more likely to be enamoured by the high resolution screen probably wouldn’t be overly impressed with its performance. We also found the glossiness to be an issue again. As such, the 1080p panel seems like the best choice on most fronts (and it saves you £300) – it’s a shame neither panel has G-Sync, but we don’t think Razer had a choice here. If this QHD+ screen blew us away with quality, we could get behind the upgrade, expensive though it is – this is a premium product after all. However, beyond the exceptional clarity it doesn’t really do this.

Razer Blade Review Razer Blade Review - Performance Analysis and Conclusion
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Then there’s the storage. Having 1TB of ultra-fast NVMe SSD storage is certainly awesome, as that’ll allow you to cram many a game on there without worrying. However, the price Razer has set for this is almost insulting. Moving from the 512GB configuration to the 1TB one will cost you £400 regardless of which panel you choose, or £600 coming from the 256GB one. The SSD Razer uses, the PM961, is readily available for less than £400 – you could buy the 256GB laptop, then buy the PM961 1TB and upgrade the laptop yourself, and have a 256GB M.2 SSD and nearly £250 left over compared to what you’d have paid buying direct from Razer. Sure, not everyone will want to tinker with their laptop’s insides, but the fee for avoiding this is astonishingly high. Companies like Apple and Dell do have similarly extortionate storage upgrade fees, but we’re not sure that’s an excuse.

The overly expensive storage is relatively easy for us to overlook, since we can just suggest you buy the better value, lower capacity models instead. However, the glossy QHD+ screen is a sticking point in just a few too many places for us to recommend this model of the Razer Blade for the price it demands. As such, the award below applies only to the sub-£2,000 1080p models. For those looking for a premium gaming laptop that’s portable, powerful and sexy, these models tick all three boxes without tipping the pricing from expensive to absurd.

SOURCE:http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/laptops/2016/12/09/razer-blade-review/1