Tech Review: Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″ Gaming Laptop is a beautiful nexus of form and function

Razer have made a real name for themselves in the gaming hardware industry. Their aggressive look combined with a brand that courts the hardcore gamer has seen them rocket to stratospheric success within the industry. It didn’t come as much of a surprise when the company moved from peripherals to actual gaming hardware, specifically ultra high powered gaming laptops. The Razer Blade has been the company’s go-to model for a few years now. With the 2018 model, dubbed the Razer Blade Stealth, Razer has gone over their workhorse laptop for much-needed refresh inside and out.

I absolutely cannot fault the 2018 Razer Blade’s form factor. It’s slim and light, it somehow manages to hold onto its aggressive styling while also rounding off its edges and the whole thing feels very comfortably sized. I also can’t fault the spec that Razer have packed into this beast. It’s outrageous for a gaming laptop to have this much horsepower. If you kit this thing out yourself, you can have a Quad-Core 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U running at up to 4.0 GHz, 16GB of dual channel RAM, and up to a 1TB PCIe solid state drive. It uses an integrated graphics chip, the Intel HD Graphics 620.

Some of you just rolled your eyes and went to close the tab, but hear me out. Just because its running an integrated graphics chip doesn’t mean it can’t stand up to some punishment. To put this chip in perspective, what you’re getting out of it in terms of performance is equivalent to an Nvidia GeForce 920m mobile graphics card, or GeForce 730 for a desktop comparison. The AMD equivalent would be a Radeon R7 M360 or Radeon R7 240 if you prefer AMD. That’s a pretty crazy amount of power for a gaming laptop and, the thing is, if that’s not enough for you then you can always modulate it using the Razer Core X external graphics card cage. I’ll be doing a separate review on that shortly so keep an eye out.

To give you an idea, I was able to run Doom (2016) and Prey on this machine on ultra without a hassle, provided it was plugged in. Minimal performance loss. It is still a gaming laptop, some concessions have to be made when it comes to the visuals, but Razer seem bent on making sure you sacrifice as little as possible. And even when I was giving the machine a hard shove and turning the visuals up to 11, the laptop remained surprisingly cool. It did start to warm up eventually, but the new heatsink matrix that Razer have installed in the undercarriage appears to be working wonders.

The display on my review laptop featured Razer’s QHD+IGZO 3200 x 1800 touch screen. This meant the screen was reflective, which is a bit of a downside for a gaming lappy — most punters would be happy to swap it out for a touch-less matte screen — but on the other hand the touch was very responsive and didn’t set the computer back at all. That one’s gonna be up to you.

If there’s one area that always hurts gaming laptops, its their price and the Razer Blade Stealth is no exception. If you want to go all the way up to the top end Quad Core 1TB version, you’re going to be looking at $3,200 AUD for that version of the laptop. Smaller hard drive sizes in the Dual Core variant bring the price down substantially (as low as $1,849 AUD at the time of writing, though this appears to be a sale price and may have reverted to the RRP of $2,199 by the time you read this). For many, the high price tag may be a bridge too far, especially with an integrated graphics chip over a dedicated card. As good as that chip is, I think Razer might have a hard time convincing PC elitists.

All told, this is a bloody strong gaming laptop. It excels in just about every area it puts mind to. It’s a robust gaming machine with spec to match, a solid battery life provided you’re not doing much on it and its light and portable enough to be a great work machine too. Razer really hit it out of the park on this one.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Highlights: Gorgeous design; Beefy spec; Great performance
Lowlights: Pricey; reflective touch screen may be a bugbear for some
Manufacturer: Razer
Price: $2,199 – $3,199 AUD
Website: Razer.com

Review conducted on a loaned Razer Blade Stealth 13.3″ laptop provided by the manufacturer.

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David Smith

David Smith is the games and technology editor at The AU Review. He has previously worked as a freelance games journalist and critic, appearing on PC World Australia. He tweets at @RhunWords and plays the odd game at twitch.tv/RhunWords when the internet works.

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