Razer Blade 2018: The Australian Review

Image: Tegan Jones/Gizmodo Australia

The biggest issues I have with gaming laptops are portability and battery life. Pretty standard, right? Well perhaps not for much longer. The new Razer Blade 15 has come in swinging, proving that good (and powerful) things can come in small packages.


Just The Specs, Please

Image: Tegan Jones/Gizmodo Australia
  • Intel Core i7-8750H CPU
  • 15.6-inch 60Hz/144Hz 1920 x 1080 (or 4K touch if you want to be extra fancy)
  • Nvidia 1060/1070 Max-Q graphics
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • 256GB - 512GB SSD
  • 14 x 9.3 x 0.68-inches, 2.08kg
  • 3 x USB 3.1 ports, HDMI Thunderbolt, headphone jack.

Just The Benchmarks, Please

Image: Tegan Jones/Gizmodo Australia

All benchmarks have been run three times each and we then use the average score.

  • Geekbench 4 CPU Single: 4,848
  • Geekbench 4 CPU Multi: 1,882
  • Geekbench 4 Compute: 155,969
  • 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra: 3,601
  • 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme: 6,875
  • 3DMark Fire Strike: 12,994
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider Very High: 85.15 FPS
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider High: 97.43 FPS
  • Total Warhammer 2 1080p Skaven High: 66.62 FPS
  • Total Warhammer 2 1080p Skaven Medium: 83.4 FPS
  • Total Warhammer 2 1080p Battle High: 78.46 FPS
  • Total Warhammer 2 1080p Battle Medium: 97.83 FPS
  • FF XV 1920x1080 4K: 2,803
  • FF XV 1080p High: 5,967
  • FF XV 1080p Standard: 7,796

What's Good About It?

Image: Tegan Jones/Gizmodo Australia

Battery Life

This has the best battery life in a gaming laptop that I have come across this year. In the battery rundown test it came in at 5 hours and 8 minutes while streaming Netflix at 50% brightness and with Chroma on. Our counterparts in the US got 7 hours and 21 minutes while running their unit down with YouTube streaming. Some simple tweaking will help you get the most out of it.

And while you'll get less if you're gaming — it's still going to fare a lot better than some of its competitors in market. Despite it being a tad slow (we'll get to that) the battery life alone would have me seriously considering this machine if I was in the market for a gaming laptop.

Size And Weight

This may seem like an odd inclusion, because the Razer Blade 15 is actually slightly larger and heavier than its predecessor. However, it's still an incredibly thin and light gaming laptop that isn't a complete pain in the arse to cart around. And while compromises have to be made when it comes to power and speed, it's kind of worth it.

It did admittedly feel slightly bulky on public transport, but that mainly due to the fact that my daily driver is a 4K Dell XPS 13, which is tiny in comparison. In general, the Razer isn't cumbersome which is refreshing in a gaming laptop.

Keyboard

While it isn't the prettiest laptop keyboard I have used, it was really lovely. While not particularly clicky, the tactile feel of pressing down was obvious and instantaneous — I had a great time using during Overwatch.

I'm a big believer in decent trackpads and keyboards for gaming laptops, rather than the assumption that they don't really matter because of peripherals. So I really appreciated this attention to detail, especially from a company like Razer who could easily go all-in on its external keyboards instead.


What's Not So Good About It?

Image: Tegan Jones/Gizmodo Australia

A Bit Slow

There has to be a downside to portability and battery life, and this is it. You aren't going to get the fastest performance in a laptop of this size.

This was most evidenced by the fact that most of my benchmarking was on older games and they rendered the 144Hz somewhat superfluous. Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015) only got to 85.15 FPS on very high and 97.43 FPS on high. Similarly, the Battle benchmark of Total Warhammer 2 had to be dropped to medium before it would even get near 100 FPS.

Overwatch has also struggled a bit during firefights on high, but the at least never FPS never dropped below 100. Medium settings made it a lot more stable and quite buttery to the eye.

While you could consider paying more for the 1070 GPU, it probably won't make enough difference to be worth it. And honestly, this performance won't be a problem if you're happy to drop your settings down — which I definitely was.

Charging Port

I wasn't a fan of the proprietary charging port at all. It actually blocks one of the USB ports when you have it plugged in a certain way, which was annoying. Opting for a USB-C port probably wasn't an option due to sheer wattage, but I would have preferred a more convenient port. I found myself having to unplug and flip the plug a few times.

Image: The worst.

Small Stuff

If I had to split hairs, I think Razer should look at the case for the next generation - because this bad boy is still picking up every single fingerprint, which mars an otherwise lovely aesthetic. I also found the trackpad to be a touch spongey, but that won't matter to those who plan on primarily using a mouse.


Should You Buy It?

Image: Tegan Jones/Gizmodo Australia

At $3,399 for the base model 144Hz with 1060 graphics and 512GB of RAM, you're looking down the barrel of $3,399. Bumping the graphics up to 1070 also puts the price point up to $3,699. If you really want to go for it, the 4K touchscreen model will set you back $3,999.

In short, these are not cheap machines. I can't really comment on the 4K model as I haven't tried it. And while I personally didn't mind the performance of the 1060/144Hz, it may not be enough to justify to price point. That being said, if you're like me, perhaps the battery and portability is enough to get it over the line for you.

If you're after something a little cheaper, and don't mind a further performance drop, it might also be worth considering the entry level 60Hz machine. It still has a GTX 1060 GPU and 256GB HDD.


READ ME

  • Seriously impressive battery life
  • A genuinely portable gaming laptop
  • A little slow on performance
  • Proprietary charging port gets in the way

Comments

    *proprietary charging cable gets in the way.

    I don't think anyone will put the laptop and set the charging cable running towards you when most power points are the back of the laptop, at home or at work, which should be pointing towards the backside.

    When I was last looking at gaming laptops I was very close to getting the Blade, but the 14" size put me off. Just a bit too small to be comfortable for me. Now that it's 15" I'm very interested.

    Biggest catch for me is the keyboard now. I currently have an MSI GS60, which has a full numerical keypad. It's a minor thing but I feel like I'd miss it when it's not there. That said the smaller keyboard on the Razer means they could fit the speakers on the top rather than underneath the system so that's a big plus comparatively.

    How much heat is vented out of the underside of the case, out of interest? Is it going to burn my pubes off if I put it on my lap?

    "While you could consider paying more for the 1070 GPU, it probably won't make enough difference to be worth it. "

    Not sure about this. There's quite a gap between the 1060 and 1070, the 1060 is around 30% less powerful. The main reason I can see for the 1060 is it will run less hot, which means less fan noise and longer battery life. However, personally I rarely use my laptop on battery so battery life is a secondary concern. I mainly need it for when I want to be able to do gaming or programming while not at my home PC, so the higher power is something I'd probably spring for. I could definitely see strong justification for going for the 1060 model and grabbing an external GPU enclosure to whack a 1080 into for when you're using it at home though, if you didn't want a desktop.

      'Is it going to burn my pubes off if I put it on my lap?'

      You should be ok if you're wearing pants.

        I must ensure the purity of the components.

        Also my current one dumps out so much heat through the bottom of the case that wearing pants wouldn't be any protection.

      For a 1080p display it probably doesn't matter, and for a 4k display a 1070 is anaemic anyway.

      Check notebookcheck for a "proper" review. >$3k is very expensive, I'd expect minimum GTX 1070.
      You can get an MSI GS65 (1060 version) for about $2,800 (affordablelaptops).
      Back in my day, a GE60 costed about $1,900

        I'm in the US so not looking down the barrel of a ridiculous markup.

        MSI is cheaper but I haven't been super happy with my GS60. I had to send it back to them after owning it for a month because of creeping hardware failures and it ended up needing a complete replacement. Current one runs very loud, the speaker positioning is terrible and the ELAN Trackpad should be considered a war crime.

    I could definitely see strong justification for going for the 1060 model and grabbing an external GPU enclosure to whack a 1080 into for when you're using it at home though, if you didn't want a desktop.

    That's pretty much exactly what I want to do with this machine.
    Use it with the 1060 as a laptop in front of the couch surfing, streaming, various other bits and pieces.
    Go to my study, plug in the external enclousre and use as my gaming PC.
    Now just to have the money.

    You lost me a 3399$ :O

      Gaming laptops have always been hella expensive, particularly in Australia.

    At $3,399 for the base model 144Hz with 1060 graphics and 512GB of RAM, you're looking down the barrel of $3,399.

    I think it's $3399, boys and girls.

    Yeah, I would also add to the portability, and battery, with low cost, as wants.

    Last edited 26/07/18 5:04 pm

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