The Razer Blade 2019 is remarkably similar to the 2018 model, but has enough spec updates that make the price increase worth it.
Razer Blade news
The biggest change the Razer Blade 2019 boasts is the new Nvidia Turing graphics inside, and these are definitely much more powerful than the Pascal predecessors. This gaming laptop also has dramatically increased battery life as well as an infrared camera, finally allowing for Windows Hello login.
The new Razer Blade is the most improved Razer laptop to date, but expect those improvements to come at a (high) cost. If you can afford it, however, know that Razer has at last made good on a truly well-rounded gaming laptop package.
Here is the 2019 Razer Blade configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H (hexa-core, 9MB cache, up to 4.10GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 (8GB GDDR6; MaxQ); Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,667MHz)
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD matte (1,920 x 1,080, 144Hz, IPS, 100% sRGB)
Storage: 512GB SSD (NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4)
Ports: 1 x Thunderbolt 3; 3 x USB 3.1; 1 x mini DisplayPort 1.4; 1 x HDMI 2.0; headphone jack
Connectivity: Intel Wireless-AC 9560 (802.11ac); Bluetooth 5.0
Camera: HD webcam with Windows Hello (1MP, 720p)
Weight: 4.63 pounds (2.10kg)
Size: 13.98 x 9.25 x 0.70 inches (355 x 235 x 17.8mm; W x D x H)
Price and availability
For a 15-inch Razer Blade with Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics inside, Razer wants a whopping US$2,349 (£2,199, AU$3,549) to start. That price gets you a model rocking RTX 2060 graphics that drive a 144Hz 1080p display and is paired with 512GB of SSD space. Though if you want something cheaper, you can opt for one with a GTX 1060 Max-Q, which should slash a few hundred bucks or quid off the price tag at US$1,599 (£1,399, AU$2,499)
You can also upgrade to an RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics chip paired with just a 256GB SSD for $2,299 (£2,219, AU$4,099) or with a 512GB SSD for $2,399 (£2,289, AU$4,399) – both with the same 144Hz Full HD display.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics option (our review configuration) comes with 512GB of SSD storage for $2,999 (£2,849, AU$5,099) and drives the very same 1080p display. Models with a 4K display are also available for the RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 configurations in the US and the UK for more money, of course. However, this display is not available in Australia at the time of writing.
No matter which version of the Razer Blade 15 you go with, you’ll get 16GB of RAM – which can be expanded up to 64GB, though you do have your pick of an Intel Core i7-8750H or an i7-9750H. So, basically, the Razer Blade is once again one of the priciest gaming laptops you’ll find right now, especially taking the actual specs into consideration.
For instance, the Razer Blade model with RTX 2070 graphics and a 1080p display costs only $100 cheaper than as a similarly-configured 15.6-inch Gigabyte Aero 15, which Gigabyte has very recently upgraded. However, Gigabyte’s laptop offers a far larger 512GB SSD and larger battery capacity – not to mention, is newer.
You also have the option of an Asus ROG Zephyrus GX701 with the same graphics card, but a larger 17.3-inch 1080p display, 1TB SSD and 9th-generation Intel Core i7.
Considering that you can get a similar gaming laptop with RTX 2060 graphics from MSI or Asus for literally half the price that Razer is asking for a laptop with an RTX 2080 (knowing it wouldn’t be nearly as premium a build), you really need to think about how important those beefier graphics are to you before clicking that ‘Buy’ button.
Clad in the same all-black, unibody aluminum shell, the Razer Blade keeps the exact same angular shape for 2019 that we saw in last year’s model, only trimmed with the more subtle RGB lighting from last year – down to just the keyboard and Razer logo on the lid.
At 0.70 inches (17.8mm) thin, this year’s Razer Blade is marginally thicker than before, only just as heavy at 4.63 pounds (2.10kg). This, too, is a laptop just 14 inches wide with a 15-inch display, thanks to those thinner screen bezels.
Par for the course, the Razer Blade keeps the webcam in its proper position above the screen while utilizing narrow bezels. However, at just 720p, it produces an awfully grainy picture. At least, it’s serviceable for video calls – just don’t try to broadcast yourself while gaming with this webcam.
Luckily, the new keyboard still feels comfortable and pleasant to use, and it continues to offer quite forceful feedback for an island-style keyboard. The Razer Blade’s keyboard layout issue has been inherited unfortunately, with the ‘up’ arrow key sitting between the ‘Shift’ and ‘?’ keys. This makes typing out questions a bit of a pain, accidentally pressing the up arrow and adding a question mark to the line above where we are typing – all the time. We would definitely take smaller arrow keys if it meant a more sensible layout.
As for Razer’s trackpad, it feels similarly excellent to use. But, much like the keyboard, it’s still wracked by one tiny flaw. In this case, the tracking surface is a little too close to the laptop’s edge, causing mild palm rejection issues when navigating the operating system. We haven’t noticed this issue while typing specifically on this year’s model, which is a plus, but for this much cash, the experience should be flawless.
Lastly, we’re happy to see Razer finally bring Windows Hello facial recognition to its Blade webcam array. It’s not the fastest or most elegant implementation of the feature, being a little sluggish than other flagship laptops we’ve tested and blasting a garish red light in our faces while scanning, but it’s still a convenient feature to have, even if it needs just a little tweaking.
Razer nailed it all over again with the Razer Blade’s display… well, primarily because it’s the same display as last year, which is a good thing. With a matte coating that’s surprisingly effective at deflecting glare, this screen may only be 1080p, but it’s certainly making the most of it.
Much of this beauty comes through the screen’s 144Hz refresh rate, which smooths out the animations and motion by outpacing the frame rates that the GPU inside is capable of. This is the best scenario for Nvidia’s new ray tracing and deep learning supersampling (DLSS) techniques for rendering lighting in games, with dips in frame rate due to these intense features somewhat being buoyed by this refresh rate.
Again, the 100% sRGB color gamut makes for quite a wide variety of colors supported at impressive accuracy and vibrancy. The screen calibration done by Razer on the assembly line helps a lot as well.
First reviewed March 2019
Images Credit: TechRadar