Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2020) review: substantial gaming on the trek

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The ideal ask about the Blade Stealth 13 isn’t the truth is about the Blade Stealth 13. It’s about the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, the ideal ultraportable gaming notebook computer ever made.

For a whereas, that title belonged to the 2019 Blade Stealth 13. Earlier than final year, it changed into once highly abnormal to glimpse any GPU extra grand than an MX 150 in a thin and light machine. (The reason rhymes with “education.”) That Razer filled an Nvidia GTX 1650 right into a chassis that changed into once correct Three.13 kilos and 12 x Eight.Three x 0.6 inches changed into once unprecedented to glimpse. There changed into once nothing like it on the market.

That’s no longer correct anymore, on account of the Zephyrus, which no longer ideal houses a sturdy GPU (as a lot as an RTX 2060 Max-Q) and CPU (as a lot as AMD’s eight-core Ryzen 9 4900HS) in a chassis that weighs correct over Three.5 kilos, however it completely’s also aggressively priced: the tricked-out mannequin is correct $1,449. After spending time with that tool, it changed into once laborious for me to imagine recommending the rest for gaming on the trek. Razer’s work changed into once decrease out for it.

In a vacuum, the $1,799 Blade Stealth 13 is an progress over final year’s mannequin: the chips are extra grand, there’s a faster show, and Razer made a necessary-requested tweak to the keyboard. But on account of Asus and AMD, this year’s competition is scheme stiffer. The Blade is not any longer the obvious (ideal, the truth is) preference that it historical to be. But there are completely of us for whom the Blade is a nearer preference than the Zephyrus. Whether or no longer you’re one in all them is relying on what you care about the most.

One obvious house the effect the Blade has the Zephyrus beat is the webcam — namely, there is a webcam. (Asus didn’t set one on the Zephyrus.) Some of us will care about this and some received’t. But portion of the appeal of a notebook computer with this salvage element is that it may perchance perchance well simply double as a driver for day-to-day work or for messing around with mates on Zoom. The webcam makes the Blade that necessary extra versatile for non-gaming functions. Plus, it supports House windows Hi there facial recognition, which is handy for posthaste and easy logins.

The Razer Blade Stealth 13 from the facet.

One USB-C, one USB-A, and an audio jack on the left. One USB-C (Thunderbolt Three) and one USB-A on the perfect.

The different element that distinguishes this from the Zephyrus is the salvage. Don’t salvage me depraved: the Zephyrus appears to be like to be stunning. But no longer ideal is the Blade Stealth 13 one in all the ideal-taking a glimpse gaming laptops available; it’s one in all the ideal-taking a glimpse laptops available, length. It’s a global some distance flung from frail gaming notebook computer designs love that of the Dell G5. The chassis is light (Three.11 kilos) and compact (11.ninety nine x Eight.27 x 0.6 inches), which makes it very end to the size of the 13-inch MacBook Pro (11.Ninety seven x Eight.36 x 0.61 inches, Three.1 kilos). This Blade appears to be like to be and feels love a top price ultrabook, and it completely wouldn’t be out of space in a college or office atmosphere. If I didn’t know the rest about laptops, I’d be unnerved to hear that it changed into once designed for gaming.

There is one feature that a itsy-bitsy presents up the game (pun supposed): the shining keyboard. In Razer’s Chroma Studio application, you may perchance well customize each form of effects, colours, and speeds. The keys aren’t in my notion backlit, so that you may perchance well’t salvage as a lot as the rest too like. But I mediate the subdued lighting fixtures the truth is augments the Blade’s expert wonderful. The effect garish RGB setups love that of the Gigabyte Aero 15 evoke a disco club, this keyboard has the vibe of a fashionable bar.

Razer has made just a few important upgrades to final year’s Blade Stealth 13 mannequin. The foremost feature to take dangle of about is the reward. That you would be in a position to now configure the Blade with a 120Hz panel, which is the very ideal refresh price 13-inch show you may perchance well salvage. (There’s also a 4K touchscreen option. Obviously, you received’t need that one for the ideal gaming outcomes.) I measured brightness at as a lot as 357 nits, overlaying ninety nine % of the sRGB spectrum and seventy four % of Adobe RGB. The show delivers a wonderful mumble, with entertaining colours and animated crucial components. Response times were decent, however I did leer extra ghosting than I’d want to glimpse on a excessive-end gaming notebook computer.

As it did on other Blade devices, Razer has also made a welcome replace to the Stealth’s keyboard. Outdated generations of Blade and Blade Stealth attempted to squeeze an up arrow honest correct between the perfect Shift key and the ask tag key. This made it very easy to by likelihood hit the up arrow when you intended to hit Shift. Now no longer: Razer has prolonged the Shift key and wedged half of-height arrow keys below. As somebody who uses the Shift key bigger than I stammer the up arrow, I necessary desire it this kind. The trackpad is also reasonably correct and intensely aloof, clicking with a wonderful soundless thunk.

The different peripheral that’s price declaring is the speakers. Cherish final year’s Blade, this notebook computer has upward-going by speakers on each facet of the keyboard. The audio they ship is spectacular for a notebook computer of this size, though it lacks stable bass (as notebook computer audio tends to). I felt contented the stammer of the Blade to blast tune by my bedroom and living room with none salvage of exterior speaker. It sounds better than the G14, and is somewhat on par with the 13-inch MacBook Pro, though the Pro does a nearer job with bass.

I tested the Blade mannequin that has an Nvidia’s GTX 1650 Ti with Max Q salvage, as well to a quad-core Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. The GTX 1650 Ti is a itsy-bitsy step up from the final Blade Stealth, which had a GTX 1650. But we wouldn’t inquire it to ship nearly the identical energy because the RTX 2060 that can reach within the Zephyrus G14. That bore out in our making an try out. The Stealth ran Shadow of the Tomb Raider on its very most life like settings at an sensible of 45fps. That’s playable ample, and also you’ll completely hit 60 need to you’re absorbing to diminish the settings. Then once more, it’s a vastly worse physique price than we got from the G14, which ran the identical benchmark on the identical settings at 74fps.

The Blade also did a stunning job on our Premiere Pro check, which involves exporting a 5-minute 4K video. This unit carried out the duty in 5 minutes and 50 seconds. That’s a necessary better outcome than we got from the MacBook Pro 13 (which lacks a discrete graphics card) as neatly because the 13-inch Floor Ebook Three with a GTX 1650 Max Q.

Obviously, on a notebook computer with this show and size, most of us are likely spending overtime on day-to-day productiveness work than on heavy media editing. For traditional office tasks, the Blade does correct stunning. I historical it to leap between 12 to 16 Chrome tabs, Slack, Spotify, and Zoom, as neatly as miscellaneous tasks love downloading files, copying folders, and batch processing photos. Everything changed into once aloof, and I didn’t belief any performance distinction between the Blade and bulkier rigs love the G14.

The Blade’s followers were steadily spinning, however they ideal got annoyingly loud below heavy hundreds of Chrome tabs or other nerve-racking applications (love video games). The backside of the chassis changed into once in total warm on the lap, however by no manner hot ample that I needed to transfer it.

Battery lifestyles changed into once correct, however the profile you choose has a important affect on outcomes. On the House windows Better Battery and Battery Saver profiles as neatly as Razer’s Battery Saver profile, I got (on sensible, from a series of runs) correct over seven hours of stammer. Our battery check involves working the notebook computer by our conventional workday (mine is detailed above) at 200 nits of brightness. On the House windows Better Efficiency profile and Razer’s Balanced atmosphere, I ideal tended to salvage around five and a half of hours. I didn’t leer a vast performance distinction between any of the battery presets (and also you’ll want to mosey in when gaming anyway), so I’d correct stammer it on Battery Saver need to you’d love a day of juice.

That battery lifestyles is somewhat correct as gaming laptops trek. Seven hours is an equivalent to what I got working the XPS 13 by the identical workload and better than what we got for the MacBook Pro 13. They don’t reasonably set the Blade at the tip of its class, though; the Zephyrus lasted Eight hours and 50 minutes on the identical check. I’m reasonably upset that this Blade didn’t dwell for some distance longer than the Zephyrus, given the latter’s extra grand chips, however it completely’s a stable outcome nonetheless.

Razer’s 2020 Blade Stealth 13 is a competent and handsome computer. Nearly all the pieces about it’s miles correct. The difficulty is that once it involves its foremost appeal — gaming — there’s an unprecedented 14-inch rig available that correct shellacks it. Now now not ideal that, however it completely’s just a few hundred bucks more cost effective. From the Zephyrus to the Dell G5 and the Envy x360, most up-to-date AMD programs maintain plod circles around Intel programs within the price-to-performance game. That’s why I can’t, in correct judgment of correct and unsuitable, recommend the Blade because the ideal transportable gaming notebook computer for most of us. Asus and AMD maintain that crown for now.

That stated, there are the the explanation why somebody may perchance well need Razer’s notebook computer as a change. One is the built-in webcam. One other is the sophisticated wonderful, which is a trademark of the Blade Stealth, alongside with the comely shining keyboard. And one other is the salvage element. At the end of the day, the Blade Stealth 13 is restful the most transportable gaming skills you may perchance well acquire. The G14 is reasonably bigger and noticeably heavier. Should you’d desire to sacrifice some gaming performance in replace for a notebook computer that’s unprecedented in these areas, the Blade Stealth 13 is for you.

Photography by Monica Chin / The Verge