The New Razer Blade Stealth 13 Arrives At The Worst Possible Time

1
razer blade stealth 13 review
Image: Razer

Thin and light laptops are so, so close to hitting the sweet spot. And the Razer Blade Stealth 13’s latest revision sounds like it has everything — but it’s also nearly impossible to recommend when you look at what’s on the horizon.

The Razer Blade Stealth 13 is a nice looking unit on paper, although it’s also probably the most expensive thin-and-light laptop available. Starting from $2999 for the 256GB white edition with integrated graphics, the Stealth 13 you really want will cost either $3749 or $4099. The difference between the top two is a 4K, 60Hz touch display or the more gaming-appropriate 1080p, 120Hz screen, while the base Blade Stealth only has a 1080p, 60Hz screen.

Both the expensive models come with a GTX 1650 Ti, a single USB-C port for charging and data, 2x USB-A ports, and a one Thunderbolt 3 USB-C power port. The design means you’ve got a single USB-A and USB-C port on both sides, which is an excellent quality-of-life choice on Razer’s part.

Screens on the 1080p/120Hz and 4K models are factory calibrated with 100% sRGB support, and the base RAM and storage for all models is a useful 512GB/16GB DDR4. Being Intel’s 10th gen i7-1065G7, there’s support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, and the whole unit comes in at either 1.41kg (for the cheaper two models) or 1.48kg for the 4K build.

razer blade stealth 13 review
Image: Razer

The 1.48kg is a bit further away from true thin and light territory, and venturing more into the classic MacBook Pro-levels of weight. But it’s a solid bit lighter than the Asus Zephyrus G14, which was just on the territory of being transportable on the day-to-day, and it shows just how far this class of laptop has come.

If you’ve messed around with the Razer Blade Stealth at any point, the core chassis design hasn’t really changed all that much. The touchpad and keyboard are perfectly fine — not the best and not my favourites, particularly with their glossy sheen that immediately gets smudgey with fingerprints.

The GTX 1650 Ti is a proper, entry-level gaming card, so I put it through its paces with appropriate titles. However, as you’ll see, the GPU isn’t enough to get past the thermal constraints of thin-and-light laptops.

razer blade stealth 13 review razer blade stealth 13 review razer blade stealth 13 review

They’re not the most impressive figures, and that’s largely because the Intel i7-1065G7 is still a quad-core CPU with very minimal cooling. There’s a reason the ASUS Zephyrus G14 is a beefier offering — it’s because you need a vastly better cooling solution to make sure the CPU and GPU don’t end up throttling under intensive scenarios, which is precisely what games do to laptops.

You can still play these games at good frame rates at very low settings. And the power of that 10th gen Intel chip and the GPU make for a great combo in games like Overwatch, Fortnite, and even games like CS:GO. They won’t be playable at 4K — which is why I’d thoroughly recommend the 120Hz / 1080p variant, instead of the more expensive 4K touch screen — but you’ll have a serviceably good time.

The real problem with the Blade Stealth 13 is it just comes at a really, really unfortunate time. The Zephyrus G14 has shown what laptops can do with some proper competition in the CPU space. It’s not as thin, but for $2200 you can get a Ryzen 4800HS with 8 cores/16 threads — double what the i7-1065G7 offers — with the same GPU and storage solution. It’s a couple of hundred grams heavier, but it’s also substantially more powerful, so much so that you have to really question Razer’s price positioning here.

And, to be clear, it’s not like the Stealth 13 is a bad laptop by any means. It’s well designed. If you’re not using the Nvidia GPU, you’ll get about 10 hours of battery life with regular usage. But most people won’t be doing that. I got about six hours of usage doing regular things – Chrome workloads, sound occasionally, and the regular GPU usage that flicks up through various applications. That’s not too bad given the extra capability you’re getting with the GTX 1650 Ti, but if battery life is your biggest concern, you’ll want to take note of it.

The rest of the laptop is sleek, nicely designed and pretty much what you’d expect from the Razer Blade Stealth series. It’s actually a nice laptop to use and hold — it’s just held back by Intel hardware that is getting really, really long in the tooth. And that’s the biggest problem I have recommending it. Why would you buy a quad-core laptop now, when you can either a) get a faster, cheaper and more efficient 8-core AMD laptop with the same GPU, or b) wait four to six months to get new Intel laptops that will have six or eight cores, providing the biggest speed boost Intel laptops have seen in generations?

Intel hardware just doesn’t offer the same value that it used to. If this was a couple of years ago, where you could comfortably bet on next year’s laptops having a minimal 10 percent bump in performance, then recommending the Razer Blade Stealth 13 wouldn’t be a problem.

But that’s not what the industry is facing. We’re talking doubling of core counts, jumps in performance that make everything you do instantly and immediately better. Those laptops are available today. And more of laptops of that ilk, featuring six cores or eight cores and vastly better on-board graphics solutions, are coming real soon.

So it’s really hard to justify paying a minimum of $3000 for a four-core laptop that’s going to age really, really badly over the next two or three years. In general, it’s not a great time to buy a laptop. Competition is coming. And when that competition properly arrives, just about any choice you make — be it Intel or AMD — will almost certainly be better, if not cheaper, than what’s on offer today.

Comments

  • I recommend avoiding the Razer Blade Stealth at all costs. I bought one 2 years ago, had the power supply die within a month, then had the whole system die last year which I had to go through multiple rounds of customer support to get them to repair without charge only to have the fan now make a sound like its rubbing loudly against something inside. In contact with Razer currently and they are so far refusing to repair it without me paying for it which I refuse to do so as I shuold be able to reasonably expect a $2,500 laptop to last longer than 2 years (especially given it was only refurbed 6 months ago).
    If you in any way value reliability, support, or performance, avoid Razer like the plague.

Log in to comment on this story!