The 2017 Razer Stealth Blade Is The MacBook Pro Clone I've Always Wanted

All images: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

For more than a decade, Razer has peddled aggressive, brightly coloured peripherals and PCs to people who cared more about frame rates and kill death ratios than mainstream appeal.

When Razer launched its first ultraportable laptop last year, it was a very different, relatively game-free story.

Now, the Stealth is back with an even more refined design and a slightly bigger screen, but it still isn't any good at playing games -- and there isn't even a speck of neon green paint on it. That's very not Razer.

Our $2099 gunmetal grey review unit doesn't even feature the coloured RGB backlighting that Razer shoehorns into practically everything it makes (including its motherfucking coffee mugs).

But you know what? That's just fine, because the Blade Stealth is the MacBook Pro clone with Windows I've always wanted.

Now, before you get all upset about someone calling yet another aluminium-bodied laptop a MacBook clone, come on. Just look at it, from it hinge to its speaker placement and even the indent on the front of the system, the similarities are unmistakable.

Even the colours are pretty much the same; gunmetal is what people used to call space grey before Jony Ive Apple-fied it.

However Razer has made some subtle, but important deviations from Apple's formula, like the inclusion of both types of USB ports, which is a nice way to bridge the gap between legacy tech and new peripherals.

You even get a full-size HDMI port, so you don't have to carry around a stupid dongle in case you want to connect the Stealth to an external display. And while the Stealth's touchpad is significantly smaller than the one on the MacBook Pro, there's still plenty of room to get things done.

The only way to get that sweet RGB keyboard lighting is to go for the black model. All you get on the gunmetal model is white.

Then there's the Stealth's keyboard, which is way better than the super shallow setups you get on modern Macbook Pros, and there isn't any of that Touch Bar nonsense to deal with, either. You can actually type on it for prolonged periods of time without clubbing your fingers into mangled sausage-shaped messes.

However, I think not including Razer's fancy Chroma backlighting on the gunmetal model is a big mistake. To get that multi-coloured sparkle back, you'll have to opt for a black Stealth. If Razer had gone full RGB with this keyboard, there's nothing stopping people from making all the backlights white when they want to hide their power level.

Then, when you get home and want to relax, you could always turn the rainbow back on and relax to the pulsing, blinking, or breathing of a thousand different colours.

I'm not gonna lie, the Stealth is pretty handsome.

Inside, the Stealth has the kind of specs you'd expect on a $2099-plus ultraportable notebook, including an Intel Core i7-7500U CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. The 13-inch 3200x1800pixel screen has a nice feather in its cap thank to its included multi-touch support, which is still something you can't get on any MacBook.

You even get 802.11ac Killer Wi-Fi that could help prioritise your gaming internet traffic, assuming you were actually trying to game on it, which you shouldn't.

That's a pretty nice selection of ports for a 33cm laptop, and that's just the left side of the Stealth.

That's because the Stealth relies on integrated Intel HD Graphics 620, which puts out anemic graphics performance at best. Editing a photo or video or two is fine, but when I tried to play Civilization VI at 1920 x 1080 (not even its full native resolution) and minimum settings, the Stealth struggled to even hit 11 fps.

That basically means you're limited to 2D games like Hotline Miami (which everyone should go out and play) or Stardew Valley. The only way to improve the experience is with an external graphic set up like the Razer Core graphics amp or one of those ones Apple plans to push now for use with its own laptops. But currently options are severely limited.

Being able to avoid carrying dongles around is a big plus.

Speaking of options, there really aren't any, which is kind of a bummer. It would be nice if you could opt for a Core i5 CPU or 8GB of RAM while knocking the price down closer to $1500. But the only real choices you have are colours (black or grey), and how big of an SSD you want.

Thankfully, the standard 56Wh battery is decent, as it lasted 8 hours and 49 minutes on our battery rundown test. That ain't bad, but it is slightly shorter than times from systems like the 14-inch LG Gram (9:44) and last year's Dell XPS 13 (9:47).

But for someone like me who has never been able to truly get down with Apple's Leopards, Mountain Lions, or High Sierras, the Razer Blade Stealth is the 13-inch laptop I always hoped someone would make.

It's got the kind of sleek design and rock solid build quality I've already appreciated about Apple's MacBooks, with an OS I'm more comfortable with and a number of tweaks that make this Windows machine much nicer to live with.

With the Stealth, it feels like Razer finally is growing up a bit -- I just hope it doesn't go all the way into the no-fun zone so I can get my RGB lighting back.

README

  • This thing isn't really meant for gaming.
  • Slick, more mature design (for Razer).

  • Battery life is fine, but not great.

  • Gunmetal model doesn't come with RGB Chroma backlighting on the keyboard.

  • Priced comparably to other premium ultraportable laptops, but there aren't a lot of configuration options.

Comments

    The thing that keeps me using Apple products is the operating system though (and the synergy of relatively fixed hardware and custom tailored software). For me, not having to worry about viruses and things breaking on a driver level is worth the price of admission alone. I don't want to have to think about whether or not my computer is going to work or not, I just want it to work. This isn't really up for debate, it's a individual consumer decision, just like building your own PC is.

    Not to mention from a design perspective the only thing that's come close to the restraint and maturity of Apple has been Surface Studio. Even this laptop (designed to ape at the macbook's design, as the article states) still comes across as a clumsy copy.

      The problem with the mantra that you don't have to worry about viruses and driver problems with Apple systems is it lulls people into a false sense of security. It's true that there's more malware for PC than Mac, but both systems are vulnerable and people should be security-conscious on both systems. I maintained a hardware testing lab at one of my previous jobs, we had as many driver issues with the Macs as we did with Windows - both infrequent, but both greater than 'none'.

      Apple systems are obviously the right choice for you and I fully support that, I just think people should be careful not to buy in to some of the myths that surround both systems, or old adages from decades ago that no longer apply.

        Yeah I mean, viruses are on both sure, but as you said, the market share and, from my limited understanding, the way the OS deals with permissions and security, means that they're not the ever looming threat that they are on Windows.

        Just going from my personal buying experience, every PC i've owned has eventually stopped working entirely (and by eventually, I mean sometimes within 18 months), whereas every mac i've owned has simply been left behind by ever increasing hardware requirements from software like browsers, adobe products and the operating system. Anecdotal, sure, but I'm happy there's an option for people like me who care about the work that's done on the computer more than the computer itself.

        All that aside, Apple is definitely a worse company after the death of Steve Jobs. They're pulling away from the features and focuses that made their computers the right fit for creative professionals like myself. Not sure how i'm going to feel in the next 5 or 10 years.

    if it doesn't / can't run OSX. then it's not a real Macbook Pro clone, just *another laptop* that has a aluminium body. I'll stick with my 2010 Macbook Pro with OSX thanks !

    THIS might have been a decent article if not for the pointless profanity. I grant you it appears just once, but it makes you - the author and the publication - look neither hip, nor cool or smart. It makes you look stupid. Particularly offensive on a site potentially viewed by minors. Meh.

      Re. the moderation: I've only just gotten to this comment now. It's the weekend, and I'm not on the site 24/7. Figured this answers the question you had, and your second comment was the same gist as this one anyway.

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