Sleek, thin and light metal body.
Gorgeous look that will turn heads.
Great specs and performance.
Amazing quality display (QHD or 4K).
Great stereo speakers.
Lackluster battery life.
No built-in GPU.
Razer Core and GPU prices can get high.
Gets very hot.
No SD card reader.
I fell in love with the Razer Blade Stealth as soon as I saw it at CES 2016. And I am not alone; the computer got plenty of awards and was one of the hottest gaming products at the show. I was on the search for my next computer and knew this was it. Now it’s my day-to-day machine – but was it all that I expected?
Let’s give you a bit of a spoiler: it is a great computer with plenty of power and stunning aesthetics, but like any other tech gadget out there, it comes with some shortcomings.
This is unlike most reviews you will see online, because this is not a machine I picked up a week or two and then wrote a review about. It is (and will continue to be) my main laptop, and I can offer a real user’s experience. I have now been using it for a few months now and am ready to tell you all about it. Shall we get started?
Design & build quality
Razer promises gaming mobility with the Blade Stealth, but not like we are used to seeing in other clunky laptops. This computer falls in another category, as it is more of a gaming Ultrabook. It is meant to take care of both work and play, something that became very obvious when looking at the design.
The Blade Stealth is thin and portable, with a very close resemblance to some Apple machines. Yet it sticks with design elements that have become iconic in Razer products. It sports a full aluminum body colored matte black. On the other side of the screen you will find Razer’s imposing logo, which lights up green when the computer is on.
The laptop looks gorgeous and only measures 13.1 mm in thickness. The other dimensions are 12.6 x 8.1 inches, while the overall weight comes in at 2.75 pounds. It is a very good-looking and portable computer, thanks to its relatively small 12.5-inch screen.
If you are a fan of Apple’s build quality, you will love this computer’s design. It is very similar, but with much more intense colors.
Of course, the computer comes with a series of ports around the edges. These include a USB Type-C port that is also used for charging, a couple USB 3.0 ports, a full-sized HDMI out port and a 3.5mm audio jack.
They are pretty straight forward and offer what you would need in a laptop. One thing I do wish the computer had is an SD card reader. It’s very annoying to be using a USB adapter all the time, especially if you work with a lot of file transfers (like me).
Keyboard & trackpad
These input methods are very important, as they are what you operate computers with. Let’s start with the keyboard. It looks amazing; it has individually-lit keys that will create minimal bleeding and look gorgeous. Not to mention the fact that you can use the Razer Synapse software to customize how your keyboard looks and changes color. Ah, yes… the keyboard can be lit in a plethora of colors (16.8 million, to be exact), which makes for very cool effects to show off to your friends.
But great looks are not everything, and let me be the first to tell you this keyboard leaves a lot to be desired. The layout is well spaced and organized, but the keys don’t offer much displacement or feedback. Of course, this is because the computer is designed to be slim, meaning Razer had less space to work with. As a result, the keyboard is more flush with the body.
It’s not a deal-breaker, because the keyboard is of good quality, after all. You get used to it after a while, but it’s not of my preference. This is why I usually use my Razer Deathstalker gaming keyboard when home.
As for the trackpad, it has worked perfectly for me. It is large, smooth and very responsive. And it does follow that flat surface design with no button markings (once again, similar to Apple). A mouse is better, but this is a good trackpad.
The display alone can make or break a computer. It is what you look at all the time, so you want to make sure your laptop has a good quality panel. Lucky for you, this is one of the Razer Blade Stealth’s strengths. The manufacturer prides itself in this laptop’s screens. Yes… that’s plural. You can choose between a couple versions when it comes to the display, but both are stunning.
The more affordable screen is actually the one I have, which is the one with QHD (2560×1440) resolution. But the definition is just the amount of pixels; there are other factors that come into making a good display. What Razer is touting here is 70% of Adobe’s RGB color gamut. It does cover 100% of the sRGB color range. As a result you get very accurate colors, as well as crisp writing, great viewing angles and an overall amazing experience.
Now, if you really want to go all out, there is a 4K (3840×2160) version that actually reaches 100% of the Adobe RGB spectrum. It will be ideal for photographers, videographers and anyone else who needs pristine color accuracy.
No laptop computer really has great sound, but I believe the Razer Blade Stealth is very good at producing audio. Of course… speaking relatively. Those who seek good quality sound will have to use other speakers, but the built-in set will not do too bad when you are not home.
The computer does come with stereo speakers, built into the left and right sides of the keyboard. It very much helps that the sound is pointing upwards, making it more crisp and clear than when the speakers face the sides, or bottom parts of the computer. The volume is pretty good too, but again, don’t expect wonders. This is a thin Ultrabook and Razer did what it could with the space.
This baby carries an Intel Core i7 Skylake processor and 8 GB of RAM. That is enough to have you editing photos (or videos) and taking care of all your other tasks. But hey, this is a gaming laptop, right? It should be able to handle all your high-end titles.
The truth is, it is not an amazing gaming device on its own. It can handle some games, but it’s certainly no “gaming machine” at its… core. Thankfully, Razer has something else that will make this laptop a true gaming laptop. They call it the Razer Core – a box that can house a full desktop GPU… any compatible one.
The Razer Core plugs into the Blade Stealth through the USB Type-C port. It will charge the computer while giving it more graphics power. Furthermore, it features a plug-and-play system. There’s no need to even reboot your system whenever you plug or unplug the Razer Core.
Understand it has support for full-length, double-wide PCIe desktop graphics cards. This takes things to a whole other level, turning it into the ultimate gaming laptop. The only problem is you can’t really game on-the-go. At least not at the same level. It’s also important to note the Razer Core costs $499.99 on its own. You then have to buy a compatible GPU to use with it. The price can get pretty steep after making those purchases.
Sadly, I haven’t gotten a chance to test a Razer Core, but the computer works great on its own. I was able to play Final Fantasy 7 without a single hiccup (of course). I did try Warframe and the computer had more trouble keeping up with that one. That was only when loading between missions, though.
When it comes to regular tasks, I have been able to edit RAW photos in batches without any lag. Browsing, regular programs and multi-tasking also run smoothly (unless I open dozens of tabs at once). RAM can be an issue if you are a heavy multi-tasker, as there are no alternative options for adding more memory. You are stuck with 8 GB. It’s not a bad amount, but we do wish there was at least an option to upgrade to 16 GB.
Storage is another factor that makes the Razer Blade Stealth a snappy computer; it comes with an SSD. This automatically makes the computer much faster (at least compared to machines with HDDs). The thing seriously boots up in about 5 seconds. It takes me longer to input my password.
There are a few variants when it comes to internal storage, and your options will highly depend on the screen you choose. The QHD version has 128 GB and 256 GB choices available. On the other hand, upgrading to the 4K screen will grant you the ability to choose between 256 GB or 512 GB. More on prices later.
Here are some numbers. Just so you know how well the computer runs on its own (without the Razer Core). Just keep in mind there may be differences between the QHD and 4K versions. The higher-end screen may require more resources, affecting performance and battery life.
As you can see, the Razer Blade Stealth performs admirably. The benchmark numbers show comparable performance to similarly equipped devices, and even superior performance to a higher-spec’d device on the list. We’ll call particular attention to the PC Mark 8 Work results, leaving us believe that this is the best performing device we’ve tested for your work or school needs. Just keep in mind there is more to an ultrabook than just a benchmark test, battery life is a good thing to consider.
This may be the best gaming Ultrabook around, but you won’t be able to play for that long when away from a power outlet. The truth is the Razer Blade Stealth doesn’t keep up with most other Ultrabooks when it comes to battery life. While computers like the Dell XPS 13 are known to reach up to 12 hours of battery life, I was never able to get more than 6 hours from the Blade Stealth.
The Blade Stealth has high-end specs, a gorgeous high-definition (QHD or 4K) screen and a backlit keyboard. On top of that, it is a very thin machine – Razer could only fit a 45 Whr battery in there. It makes sense that battery won’t be great. But even with those factors in mind, I was a bit disappointed.
It’s also annoying that it takes a while to charge the laptop completely. From 5% to 100% it usually took me about 3 hours to get a full charge. This may be a sacrifice you have to swallow for adopting USB Type-C.
Taking the heat
Let’s keep in mind this is a thin, metal laptop with high-end specs. It will get hot! Pretty darn hot, to be honest. It is probably the hottest computer I have ever owned. It only gets uncomfortable when gaming or editing video/images, though. I have never seen the fan go off while browsing the web.
By the way, the fan can be loud, but it’s not really noisier than other fans out there. And it’s not really a horrible sound… it’s more like a hum.
Pricing and specs
Convinced? If not, maybe the price will help you jump over the fence. After all, this is not really an expensive laptop, at least when compared to its direct competitors.
Here’s how the pricing is currently set:
|Display||12.5" IGZO QHD (2560 x 1440) display with 70% Adobe RGB||12.5" IGZO QHD (2560 x 1440) display with 70% Adobe RGB||12.5" IGZO 4K (3840 x 2160) display with 100% Adobe RGB||12.5" IGZO 4K (3840 x 2160) display with 100% Adobe RGB|
|OS||Windows 10||Windows 10||Windows 10||Windows 10|
|Processor||Dual-core 2.5GHz / 3.1GHz (Base/Turbo) Intel Core i7-6500U Skylake processor||Dual-core 2.5GHz / 3.1GHz (Base/Turbo) Intel Core i7-6500U Skylake processor||Dual-core 2.5GHz / 3.1GHz (Base/Turbo) Intel Core i7-6500U Skylake processor||Dual-core 2.5GHz / 3.1GHz (Base/Turbo) Intel Core i7-6500U Skylake processor|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 520||Intel HD Graphics 520||Intel HD Graphics 520||Intel HD Graphics 520|
|Memory||8 GB of RAM||8 GB of RAM||8 GB of RAM||8 GB of RAM|
|Storage||128 GB||256 GB||256 GB||512 GB|
The Razer Blade Stealth has treated me very well, but we can’t deny it is not necessarily for everyone. Its attractive design, solid build quality, good overall performance and stunning display make it a great computer for the professional or student who needs performance and portability.
On the other hand, some gamers will be thrown off by the lack of dedicated graphics. The Razer Core is awesome, but the additional costs could make it an expensive toy to have. And even if you have the money for it, do you really want a gaming laptop that can’t be taken full advantage of when away from a desk?
I wouldn’t mind that situation, because I am not a true, hard-core gamer. And even if I was, I don’t really game when away from home. I wouldn’t mind letting my true gaming setup at my desk. But some of you may prefer one of those bigger gaming laptops that already come with a dedicated GPU on board.
With that in mind, I was more enticed by its unique looks, metal design and mysterious aesthetics. The computer is a head-turner. It is gorgeous and not very usual in the wild. I would certainly prefer a better keyboard, better battery life and an SD card reader, but some sacrifices have to be made to achieve this thin form factor.
Furthermore, I am in love with the screen, especially as a photographer. The screen’s color accuracy and overall quality competes with the best of the best out there. Especially if you go for the 4K version, which covers the full Adobe RGB spectrum.
Is the Razer Blade Stealth worth its price? I say it is a great deal for what you get. This machine competes with industry leaders like the Macbook, which starts at $1,299. Apple’s laptop comes with an inferior Intel Core M processor. Furthermore, the 13-inch Macbook Air costs the same as Razer’s laptop, yet comes with a lesser Intel Core i5 processor and only 4 GB of RAM.
Getting this type of design, screen quality and processor is very rare at this price range. This is a very worthy computer. Just keep in mind true gamers will need to spend a lot more cash on the Razer Core and GPU. On its own, this is not really a machine meant for real gamers. It’s for those who work hard and then play hard… at home.