Razer was kind enough to send me a sample of their 2019 Razer Blade Stealth – a pink one in fact!  I’ve seen other reviews on this one already, but I figured I’d put my two cents in as well.

Overall, I found it to be a worthwhile ultraportable that has it in the places that count: great screen, decent keyboard (with a huge flaw keeping it from being great) and good build quality.  Add in some fair hardware specs and you have a pretty solid machine.

But with all the competition out there, is it worth the price?  Well…  yes and no.  Allow me to go into more detail and you can decide for yourself.

The specs sheet as reviewed

Razer Blade Stealth 13 – Quartz Pink edition
Screen 13.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS equivalent, 60 Hz, matte
Processor Intel 8th Gen Whiskey Lake i7-8565U CPU, quad-core 1.8 GHz (4.6 GHz boost)
Video Intel HD 620 and NVIDIA GeForce MX150 with 4GB GDDR5 VRAM
Memory 16 GB DDR4 2133Mhz (2×8 GB DIMMs)
Storage 256 GB M.2 NVMe (Samsung PM981 MZVLB256HAHQ)
Connectivity Intel Wireless AC 9560, Bluetooth 5.0
Ports 2x USB-A 3.1 gen2, 1x USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, 1x USB-C 3.1 Power port, headphone/mic
Battery 53.1 Wh, 65 W charger
Size 304.6 mm or 11.99” (w) x 210 mm or 8.27” (d) x 14.8 mm or .58” (h)
Weight 1.3 kg (2.89 lbs)
Extras individually lit RGB keyboard, large clickpad, HD Windows hello webcam, stereo speakers

Design and exterior

When I first opened the box and pulled out the laptop, my first reaction was “Wow, this is well built”.  Well, actually no, it was “Wow, this is pink!”  But my second reaction was how well it’s built, for sure.

The Razer Blade Stealth has the same sturdy robust design of pretty much all its predecessors.  It’s made of an anodized aluminum unibody with a matte finish.  It has a similar shape to most of the other Razer Blades, which I used to think emulated a Macbook, but now I consider to be their own.

The body is .58” thick, which is actually a little bit thicker than the previous models (likely because of the GPU).  The weight is still under 3 lbs though, which is perfect in my opinion as it balances the difference between being too heavy and too flimsy.

The lid is pretty much flat, with a Razer logo embosses on the lid.  I’m really excited to see that Razer has finally pulled the trigger on removing that glowing logo.  This is much more subtle and I find that I would be totally ok with leaving the lid as is, instead of hiding it with a skin like I do on my Razer Blade 15.

Lifting the lid is a one finger action and the lip of the lid is large enough for my finger to get a grip.  The lid is surprisingly sturdy on the hinge.  This is especially important for the touch version.

The laptop is very rigid, even with the lid open.  Holding it with one hand is a treat in any position and there’s almost no flex anywhere.  There was some minor flex on the keyboard, but it’s trivial at best.

Connectivity is very limited on this machine.  On both sides you get a single USB-A and USB-C and that’s it.  It’s clean and uniform, which is great, but if you need to connect to a monitor, you’ll likely need to bring a dongle along unless you happen to have one of the few Thunderbolt 3 monitors out there.

Both USB-Cs act as charging ports, which is a huge plus as well.  But only the right side USB-C supports Thunderbolt 3, so if you’re using a dock or monitor, plan on connecting from the right side only.

The front and back of the laptop are clean of any additional connectivity.  Once you flip it on its underside, you’ll see the two large vents for the fans, two long foot rests and a longer exhaust vent on the back edge.  The bottom cover is held on by multiple torx screws.

All in all, it’s a great design and I appreciate the attention to detail with the build quality.  I’m not the biggest pink fan, but if pink is your color you will like this machine, as it’s incredibly unique (there is also a black option available).  One really nice advantage to the color is the lack of fingerprints, unlike on the regular black version.

Keyboard and trackpad

The Razer Blade Stealth has an interesting keyboard, to say the least.  In some ways I really like it, but there’s a couple of things I just absolutely hate about it.

Let’s start with the good.  The key feedback is pretty decent, considering the short travel.  I’ve been used to typing on the Razer Blade 15, so it was pretty easy for me to adapt.  I also appreciate that the symbols are backlit on this keyboard as well, something previous models neglected to do.

The keys are properly spaced apart and the layout is almost normal.  There are a couple of things that really bother me, though: the up arrow and the right shift key.  First off, they put the right arrow between the ? and shift keys.  Almost every other keyboard doesn’t have this issue, as the arrow keys are usually located elsewhere. So typing can be challenging at times, as you might accidentally hit the up arrow instead of the ?, when typing documents.  I’ll admit that I’ve had a lot of practice at this since I’ve been using the RB15 for so long, but the Stealth also has a monkey wrench that makes typing even harder.

Making the right shift key the size of a letter key is arguably one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever seen with a laptop keyboard.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve missed the shift key and hit up instead.  Sometimes I would miss it altogether and hit nothing.

Regardless, my typical typing test was riddled with errors.  I scored 47 wpm (my norm being 60) with about 6 errors.  I took the same test again two weeks later, and only got a marginal improvement – fewer errors, but the same speed.

With time, I suppose I could probably get used to it.  But to be honest, I’d have a tough time justifying paying this much money and having a difficult time just trying to type.  I would rather have seen them combine the up and down arrow key or just shift them downwards.  I really hope they fix this in the next models.

One other interesting change in the keyboard is the lack of individually lit keys.  Instead, Razer chose zone backlighting, reportedly for battery concerns.  The lighting still looks nice and can be controlled by Synapse.  The only thing that’s a little inferior is you can see some light bleed when compared to the Chroma models.

The trackpad on this laptop is top notch.  The glass is completely smooth and multi-touch gestures are very responsive and delicate.  Finger tracking was also very precise.  The trackpad is plenty large enough to do even 4 finger gestures.

It’s a clickpad style trackpad, so the left and right click buttons are integrated into the lower half of the pad.  Clicking works well enough, but I found the travel a bit shallow and unsatisfying.

Like the on Razer Blade 15, the implementation uses Windows precision drivers and is able to be customized in Windows settings.  I really like this integration, as it makes the experience consistent with the growing community of laptops also adopting this feature.

Screen

The 2019 Razer Blade Stealth has a matte 13.3-inch IPS panel with FHD resolution and 60 Hz refresh rate. It’s made by Sharp, with part number LQ133M1JW41.  Overall, it’s a great panel, with sharp images even at steep viewing angles.

The max brightness I was able to achieve was 394 nits, which is bright and great for even outdoor use.  The contrast ratio was also very good at maximum brightness, at about 820:1.  To top things off, I also didn’t have any backlight bleed, so looking at the panel in a dark room is quite a treat.

I took some measurements on my Spyder4Pro sensor and here’s what I got:

  • Panel HardwareID: Sharp SHP14B8 – LQ133M1JW41;
  • Coverage: 99% sRGB, 70% NTSC, 75% AdobeRGB;
  • Measured gamma: 2.2;
  • Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 394 cd/m2 on power;
  • Contrast at max brightness: 820:1
  • Native white point: 6400 K;
  • Black on max brightness: 0.48 cd/m2.
  • PWM: yes, 22 KHz at <25% brightness;
  • Response time: 34 ms BTW.

As you can see, the brightness distribution is brighter in the center than everywhere else, but this is pretty typical with most laptops.  Either way, it looks even to the naked eye.

I calibrated the screen and got almost no difference in the colors, following the calibration.  So, if you’re interested in doing some color sensitive work on this panel, rest assured that it’s probably been calibrated by the factory.

This laptop uses Optimus, so GSYNC is disabled.  It’s for the best though, because the advantage of using Gysnc with this GPU is minimal and it’s having decent battery life makes more sense.

All in all, there’s really nothing to hate about this screen. Accurate colors, high brightness, excellent contrast and small bezels pretty much check off most of the boxes for me.  The only thing missing is a faster refresh rate and faster response time, but it’s totally understandable to omit it considering the GPU couldn’t really push any game that far.

Hardware and performance

The Razer Blade Stealth comes equipped with a quad core Whiskey Lake Core i7-8565U processor and 16GB of RAM.  This is plenty fast for most productivity applications and even games.  Unfortunately, the RAM is soldered, so you’re stuck with what you get.

Paired with the CPU is a 25W Nvidia MX150 GPU, the 1D10 version, and not the lower power 1D12 variant used in most other mobile devices.  It’s a good thing, as it’s a significant improvement over the lower wattage versions of the same GPU.  More on the actual performance later.

The NVMe drive is the only thing on the laptop that’s upgradeable (well, except for the Wifi module).  It currently has a Samsung PM981, which is a pretty fast drive.  See my Crystal disk mark benchmark for the speeds.  There’s only one slot though, so if you need more space, you’ll have to settle for replacing the current drive.

Upgrading the drive is very easy.  The bottom cover is held in by Torx screws and is easily removed.  Once opened, you have easy access to both M.2 slot and the Wifi module.

As far as performance goes, this laptop is excellent.  Pretty much everything I did was snappy and I did a lot.  I even installed CAD and messed around with some 3D modeling.  The GPU was adequate enough for what I was doing and I’d be happy to use this for that kind of stuff, albeit a bit small of a screen for that kind of work.

The whole point of the laptop is to work and it does so just fine.  I’d be ok with doing moderate work, but if you’re video editing, I think this GPU is probably not enough.  As far as playing games goes, it’s probably not going to be something a dedicated gamer will want to use, but for many casual gamers, it’s probably good enough.

Truth is, Razer expects the gamers to use this with their Razer Core dock, which can house a full sized desktop graphics card of your choice. By connecting just a single Thunderbolt 3 cable, this laptop can transform into a gaming setup. Unfortunately, I no longer have my Razer Core, so I couldn’t test this out for you guys.  I’m confident the experience is good though, especially considering it worked fine for the original Razer Blade Stealth I tested.

If you’re interested in synthetic benchmarks, I took a number of them.  For these tests, I left the fan profile in Auto and the power in Gaming mode.  Here were my results:

  • 3DMark 11:5169 (Graphics – 4941, Physics – 8004);
  • 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike:3342 (Graphics – 3660, Physics – 11554);
  • 3DMark 13 – Time Spy:1255 (Graphics – 1125, CPU – 3646);
  • Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme:485;
  • PCMark 10: 3894;
  • GeekBench 4.3.3 64-bit:Single-Core: 5101, Multi-core: 14302;
  • CineBench R20: CPU 1495 cb, CPU Single Core 467 cb;

These benchmarks are pretty much in line with the competition for the most part.  The graphics scores were actually higher than any of the other MX150’s I’ve seen out there.  I’m pretty pleased with the results.

I also ran some testing on games.  All gaming tests were done on Auto fan profile and Gaming mode.

FHD Standard FHD Tweaked
Skyrim (Default High settings, 1080p) 35-40 fps 112 fps
Skyrim (Default High settings, 720p) 50-60 fps 62 fps
Doom (High, OpenGL 4.5, 1080p) 28-35 fps 135 fps
Doom (High, OpenGL 4.5, 720p) 55-60 fps 102 fps
No Mans Sky (Medium, 1080p) 24-28 fps 88 fps
No Mans Sky (Medium, 720p) 29-35 fps 96 fps

Like I said before, by itself this isn’t a great gaming laptop.  I do expect that most people who buy laptops this small will find its abilities good enough  There are a few other similarly sized laptops that might have a better GPU, but none are this light and probably won’t stay as cool under load.

Emissions (noise, heat), Connectivity and speakers

The thermal system on the Razer Blade Stealth does a good job at keeping temperatures in check.  It uses a dual fan system and a reasonably sized heat sink on both the GPU and CPU.  Each heat sink has a dedicated heat pipe, as well as a shared one between the two.

Under normal loads, I barely heard the fan operate.  While gaming though, the fans ramp up to about 40dB and is definitely noticeable.   Overall, I’m very pleased with the system they put in place for this laptop.

The peak CPU temperature I measured while gaming was 78C.  Not too bad considering how small this is.  Consider undervolting if you want to stabilize those CPU temps more though.  The GPU usually hovered in the low 70s, so no complaints there.

I took some readings on the outside of the casing, top and bottom, while under normal loads and also while gaming.  Here’s what I got:

*Daily Use – streaming Netflix on Edge for 30 minutes, fans on Auto
*Load Use – playing Doom for 30 minutes,  Gaming profile, fans on Auto (~40 dB)

Again, considering the thinness, these aren’t terrible readings.  It was a little hot on my lap, but less so than other laptops with more intensive GPUs installed.

For connectivity, the Intel AC 9560 module gives us an excellent connection to Wifi and Bluetooth 5.0.  My internet connection was maxed out at 480Mbps even while 30 feet away from my router.  I didn’t experience a single drop in connection the entire time I used it.

As for the audio, there’s a pair of speakers on each side of the keyboard.  They aren’t the loudest, but at least they face upward.  The speakers hit a max amplitude of 70dB on my sound meter.  I also was able to record bass as low as 70Hz.  These are pretty decent speakers for this class of laptop.

There’s a really small HD webcam located above the screen.  I’m guessing it’s the same one that’s on the Razer Blade 15 because the image is just average at best – nothing special.  It is Windows Hello enabled though, so you do get to enjoy using face login when getting into Windows.

I’ve been using the Windows Hello feature on my Razer Blade 15 for many months now, and I have to say that I’m very pleased that they finally added it.  The only complaint I have though is it’s not the greatest Windows Hello webcam I’ve ever used – in fact it’s probably one of the worst.

The fact is, the IR blaster is either too small or the webcam just isn’t good enough to render our face while in low light situations.  I’ve used over a dozen laptops and tablets now with the Windows Hello feature, and all of them unlock the laptop, even in a dark room.  With the Razer Blade 15 and Stealth, it’s hit or miss – leaning more towards miss.

All this said, it’s better than not having it!  It works in lit rooms and that’s certainly a plus.  In future models though, I hope Razer addresses this issue.

Battery life

This Razer Blade Stealth has a 53 Wh battery, a little bigger than last year, but still kind of small. On HWinfo, it detects 0% wear right out of the box.

I did some testing to see how long the battery would last in certain scenarios.

  • 4.0 W (~13 h 15 min of use)– idle, Best Battery Mode, screen at 0%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 6.3 W (~8 h 25 min of use)– text editing in Google Drive, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 7.0 W (~7 h 34 min of use)– 1080p Youtube fullscreen in Chrome, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 9.1 W (~5 h 49 min of use)– 1080p Netflix fullscreen video in Chrome, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 6.1 W (~8 h 41 min of use)– 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 13.2 W (~4 h 1 min of use)– browsing in Chrome, Better Performance Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 31.2 W (~1 h 42 min of use)– Gaming – Witcher 3, Maximum Performance Mode, 60fps, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON.

As you can clearly see, even with the small battery, the efficiency of this laptop is pretty darn good.  I was perfectly confident bringing it out for the day without the charger.

Even if I had to bring the charger, it’s so small and light that it wouldn’t matter.  The power supply is 65W and the cord is much bulkier than the power supply itself.  It’s USB-C and it works in both slots, which is nice to have the choice when trying to use it on your lap.

Price and availability

The Razer Blade Stealth is available at many retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy and Newegg.  It’s also available directly through Razer’s website. This is especially so for the pink version, as I couldn’t find it for sale anywhere but from Razer.

There are two models available with the FHD screen, one black and the other pink (our review unit), with prices at $1599.  There’s also a 4k touch model that has a 512GB SSD for $1899.  Lastly, if cost is an issue, $1299 can get you a model that’s limited to integrated graphics only and 8GB of RAM with a 256GB SSD.

At the time of this review, Razer is offering a couple sales on some of these models, discounting the prices by up to $200.  I have no idea how long these will last – hopefully for a while.

That kind of leads me into the biggest issue I have with the Razer Blade Stealth: the cost.  Even discounted, it’s still a very expensive ultrabook.  At $1599, I’d be hard pressed to shell out that kind of money for a laptop that doesn’t have a better dedicated GPU.  More on this in my final thoughts.

Final thoughts

From a big picture perspective, the Blade Stealth 2019 is a pretty high-quality 13-inch laptop.  It’s portable, has great build quality and has a really nice looking screen.

I really enjoyed using it for the past couple weeks, as it closely emulates the experience I have with my daily driver, the Razer Blade 15.  I do appreciate the ergonomics of the laptop, as it’s very easy to carry around and open – more so than my Blade 15.

One of my biggest concerns remains with the keyboard though.  The small key travel is something that I have adapted to, but the keyboard layout puts it over the edge of inconvenient.  And considering it’s something that is used pretty much every time you use the laptop, I don’t think it’s fair to expect all customers to get used to it. Is it useable, though?  Of course.  My point is at this price point, I would expect the keyboard to be close to perfect.  I hate to say it, but I would have preferred downward facing speakers had I known they would have been the reason for such small keys on the right-handed side.  That right shift key is just unacceptable.

Now, more on my second pain point: the price.  $1600 is just too much in my opinion, as there are better-valued options out there.  So, if you’re planning on buying this, you really need to ask yourself some questions.

First: are you a gamer or a content editor?  If the answer is yes, then this probably isn’t the right choice for you.  Yes, it has the higher wattage MX150, but it’s still not a really good graphics card for gaming or video editing.  At the $1600 price, you’d be better off getting the base model Razer Blade 15, which has 2x storage devices a faster CPU and a GTX 1060.  There are also other options like the GS65, which are even cheaper. Yes, both are a bit larger and heavier, but not by that much.

The second question is: are you looking for a Macbook-like size and build quality?  If not, there are still even more options out there that have decent build quality and almost the same features, at a fraction of the cost.  The Acer Swift 3 and Asus Zenbook 14 both have MX150’s in them, with similar specs, but cost hundreds less.  Yup, they’re the lower wattage MX150, but still… if you’re not gaming, who really cares about the minor bump in performance?

That all said, even if you are looking for a Macbook-like experience, even the Macbook and base Macbook Pros are cheaper than this laptop.  Yes, with a Macbook, you’re certainly sacrificing on much of the specs.  Same goes for the Macbook Pro, but to far less of an extent.  You certainly don’t have the MX150 in those laptops, but many might find that they don’t need it and would choose a Mac instead.

I guess there’s a third question and that’s whether or not you want a pink laptop.  There’s currently no other such pink laptops out there, so if that’s you and you want to be unique, the pink Razer Blade Stealth is perfect.

So to conclude, this laptop is the right one for you if you’re looking for a very portable and lightweight machine with excellent build quality, a great screen and the ability to play older/casual PC titles on medium to low graphics settings.  The idea is that should you need more graphics power, you can just hook up an external GPU.  To me, that’s a very small niche of customers.

But then again, this isn’t that surprising considering that’s the group that Razer has typically targeted in the past.  I just wish they had just dropped the MX150 all together and kept the price reasonable.  Yes, there’s a base model out there that’s $1400, but it only has 8GB of soldered RAM, so even docked, it’s limited.

I guess the root of my issues is that I’m comparing this laptop to the original Razer Blade Stealth I had a few years back.  That model was only $999, which I thought was a bargain.  But if you look at the specs on that entry model, you really start to see what I’m talking about.  And let’s compare base models to be fair.

The screen went from a 12.5” QHD touchscreen to a 13.3” FHD non-touchscreen – a step down in my opinion, but at least the bezels are smaller and you now have Windows Hello.  The RAM is the same.  The SSD went from 128GB to 256GB – good.  But the individually lit key feature gets removed(and the larger shift key).  There’s no more HDMI port.  The newer model is also 1.7mm thicker than the original.  But do all these differences mean the laptop should cost $400 more?

I think I’ve made my point.

So this is probably the longest “final thoughts” I’ve ever had.  But don’t take me wrong – I’m not saying I don’t like the laptop.  I like it (with some reservations), I just don’t like the price.  So unless you find yourself part of the niche like I described above, or if Razer has a tremendous sale price, I’d put my money elsewhere.

That wraps up my review.  I hope it was thorough enough and if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.

In addition to being a tech enthusiast, Derek has a career as a biomedical engineer. He enjoys taking things apart, figuring out how they work and finding ways to make them better. His other hobbies include spending time with his family, “Do it yourself” projects such as home automation and running.



READ SOURCE

ALSO READ  Best laptops 2018: Reviews and buying advice

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here