Update: In the days following our review, Razer contacted us and claimed that the fan noise and the performance issues might be related to a problem with the unit we received. According to the company, their “PR samples come out before production units and as such are more at risk for small defects like this one. The first unit we sent was a production sample.” We received an unused Razer Blade Stealth with the same 12″ 4K display a few days later and immediately noticed how the fan didn’t go off all the time, made less noise, and how there wasn’t the slight delay when opening applications and games. Due to this we have decided to update our review to reflect that the fan isn’t as loud and that there isn’t any lag when opening applications. Additionally, we have updated the score of the Performance section from a 7 to an 8. While it’s still not a powerhouse, it’s definitely a smooth experience which anyone using the device will prefer. This change brings the final score up to an 8.3, one of our highest because it’s a great machine for mobile professionals.
Since its inception, Razer has been known for its incredible gaming hardware. Not only that, but the attention to detail they give to every product rivals Apple and the new Microsoft. If you look at any accessory, even their Xbox One controllers, the build quality is phenomenal and even surpasses Microsoft’s entry-level implements. Their gaming laptops are on another level though. The metal is smooth and feels sturdy to the touch. The green logo stands out beautifully in a dimly lit room. The keyboard changes color in a seamless way which mesmerizes the user. Razer’s machines are a work of art. However, the company has had limited appeal in the past due to their fixation on gaming machines. With the Razer Blade Stealth though, that stereotype has been shattered because this is the perfect device for any mobile professional.
Razer Blade Stealth is designed for mobile professionals
For the past month, I’ve had the privilege of testing out the Razer Blade Stealth and can say that it has truly blown me away. From its sleek design to its great performance, the ultrabook should appeal to a wide range of consumers outside of gaming. As stated earlier—despite a few quirks—the laptop should appeal to the modern mobile professional who requires a sturdy, light, powerful and reliable device during travel. I myself have done a lot of traveling over the past month and have taken it to places like Maine and New York. Never did I miss my desktop at home and even found the touchscreen to be more useful than a traditional trackpad.
The Razer Blade Stealth is impossibly thin and light. It’s only around 0.5” tall, a little under 13” across and 8” deep. This is one of the most portable devices I’ve ever tested and it makes traveling with it a breeze. I was able to carry it in my messenger bag across the United States and didn’t even notice. Given the fact that it weighs a little over 1 kg, my shoulder was pain-free for the entire journey.
Razer Blade Stealth is the perfect weight and easily portable
The laptop is made out of aluminum and feels smooth to the touch. If you’re ever felt Apple devices, you’ll know that they prefer a rougher finish which is prone to scratches and other issues. Well, you’ll be happy to know that the Razer Blade Stealth’s smooth finish also gives it a somewhat scratch-resistant property. I wouldn’t advise putting your keys in the same bag as the Razer Blade Stealth, but you don’t need to constantly worry about putting it in a case as accidentally hitting it against the corner of your table will give it a noticeable gash. Unlike Apple’s laptops, this device won’t scratch unless you purposely take a sharp metal object to it. This is a surprising blessing for someone like me who hardly has the time to constantly protect their devices.
The Razer Blade Stealth comes in a few configurations but the main difference between each is the screen. You can either choose a 12.5” 4K display or a larger 13.3” QHD+ screen. Between the two, I personally prefer the higher resolution 12.5” model because it’s simply stunning. Cramming over 8 million pixels into such a small area results in the clearest picture you’ll ever see on a laptop. Images and web sites look absolutely incredible. While the 13.3” QHD+ display is also great, it lacks millions of pixels so when you compare them side by side, text, and icons appear a little muddy. Viewed on its own you probably couldn’t tell the difference but the 12.5” model is definitely a looker. The only issue I have with the display pertains to the software. The Razer Blade Stealth tries to automatically adjust the gamma alongside the brightness depending on ambient light and in many cases, it fails miserably. You have to wait a few seconds to let it adjust. The transition is jarring, to say the least.
Razer Blade Stealth has wide bezels and brightness-adjusting problems
The other option you can upgrade is the hard drive. The Razer Blade Stealth features a solid state drive which is one of the reasons the performance on the laptop is so good. Applications open in a second and Windows 10 boots up in no time. However, it’s still a little slower than an HP Spectre or Surface Laptop. All of the models currently available on Razer’s website feature 16 GB of RAM but you can buy one with 8 GB through Amazon. I would recommend the 16 GB version because it makes having multiple heavy-duty programs open at the same time a breeze and you can also use the laptop for gaming if you invest in a Razer Core. The Razer Core is an external GPU which connects to the laptop through the Thunderbolt port. Pairing the right GPU with your Razer Blade Stealth can make it an impressive gaming machine. Playing less demanding, smaller games isn’t an issue though and I even managed to get Pillars of Eternity and Tacoma running at over 30 FPS. It can definitely handle the majority of independent titles without a Razer Core.
The Razer Blade Stealth packs a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7 processor, up to a 1 TB PCIe M.2 solid state drive, 16 GB LPDDR3 RAM at 1866MHz, and Intel HD Graphics 620. It’s a powerful machine but it could use a slight boost when it comes to certain components like the memory. Going for the LPDDR3 RAM at 2133MHz would speed things up a bit. It’s unclear why there’s a slight delay when opening applications or performing other tasks though.
Razer Blade Stealth’s performance could be better
The keyboard is also one of the best I’ve come across in a long time. The latest MacBook Pros adopted very shallow keys which feel simply terrible to type on. For an ideal experience, you want the keys to have a decent travel. The Razer Blade Stealth definitely has one of the best ones I’ve ever tested because they’re so satisfyingly “clicky”. It’s supremely comfortable and I never felt like there was a compromise.
The battery life is also great. While you get up to 9 hours if you opt for the QHD+ model, the 4K display will still get you around 7 hours. While these numbers aren’t extraordinary, they’re still great especially when you’re traveling on a plane or a bus. You don’t have to charge your laptop often at all and can get work done wherever. Its small design can fit on even the smallest airplane or Megabus table.
Now that I’m done gushing over the design, display and great performance, let’s talk about some of the minor issues. My first complaint would have to be the trackpad. While the trackpad is much better than what we’re used to seeing on normal Windows laptops, it still doesn’t quite reach the smoothness Apple or Microsoft have managed to achieve with their MacBooks and Surface Laptops. I found myself having to rely on the touchscreen often because I didn’t enjoy using the trackpad for gestures. The company definitely needs to improve it in the future. Maybe making it a little wider and more responsive would help. Trackpads have been the bane of Windows machines for years and it’s still surprising how many manufacturers haven’t perfected them. If you’re going to be using the Razer Blade Stealth for prolonged periods of time, you should make it a habit to use the touchscreen or an external mouse.
Razer Blade Stealth overall features amazing design
My next complaint revolves around Windows 10. While Windows 10 is a good operating system, it still isn’t at the level of macOS. It doesn’t look as good or feel as smooth. If you go to the Windows Store, many of the applications aren’t of the highest quality. Plus, even in 2017 Windows 10 comes with bloatware which Microsoft seems to be pushing on consumers. For example, when I booted up the device, Windows 10 automatically installed numerous free-to-play games without even asking me. I know Razer technically isn’t responsible but in order to provide a great experience, they should address this concern to Microsoft. Instead of enjoying the device when I initially received it, I had to comb through the start menu to identify bizarre games and other services which were installed without my consent.
Going back to a comment I made earlier about performance, the Razer Blade Stealth feels a little slower than other devices available on the market. There is definitely a slight delay when opening applications which isn’t found on other machines. If you were to use the laptop on its own you would never notice but I was lucky enough to compare it with other machines. I’m not sure if this is due to the fact that the Razer Blade Stealth struggles to output to the 4K display and just needs slightly beefier internals. Hopefully, Razer will upgrade the RAM and Intel HD Graphics soon.
Razer Blade Stealth has a gorgeous screen but needs stronger graphics capabilities
The last main issue I have with the Razer Blade Stealth is the surprisingly loud fan. It tends to go off at random times and can be quite the distraction. It emits a very loud humming sound which feels like there’s a bee trapped inside the enclosure. I initially thought there was maybe dust or other debris stuck in there so I aggressively clean the product. Unfortunately, it’s the fan’s design. While you get used to it after a few hours, it’s still a little surprising. It’s particularly noticeable when you’re on Skype and the person on the other end constantly complains about the noise. It’s as bad as the fan of the old MacBook Airs. You can even hear the fan over the good speakers even though they’re on the side, it’s that loud.
The laptop also lacks Windows Hello which seems to be a common feature nowadays. While Windows Hello isn’t a necessary feature, it’s more about convenience than anything else. Given the steep price of the newer models, you would expect Razer to include basic features which even HP Spectres have in the package.
Razer Blade Stealth is a testament to efficient engineering
Overall, the Razer Blade Stealth is a great product which has its quirks. The performance could use a slight upgrade but it’s not really a severe flaw. Now, why would someone choose the Razer Blade Stealth over let’s say a Surface Laptop? Well, in my opinion, the main reason would be the design. This laptop is much smaller than Microsoft’s offering and the incredibly sturdy construction with a smooth, scratch-resistant finish makes it ideal for traveling. I wouldn’t be comfortable taking a 13″ MacBook Pro or a Surface Laptop in a messenger bag across the country but with the Razer Blade Stealth, I don’t have to worry about damage to the device through commutes. The comfortable keyboard also makes getting work done a cinch. I was so impressed with the design that I purchased one for my parents who travel the world often for work. This is definitely a product geared towards mobile professionals and anyone who hops around a lot should seriously consider this product. You won’t be disappointed.