Update: In case you missed the announcement at E3, the Razer Blade Stealth is getting a bigger, 13.3-inch screen while retaining all the same dimensions of the current model. Although it’s a little heavier at 2.93 pounds (1.33kg) and doesn’t pack that crisp 4K display that we’ve all grown accustomed to, the 13-inch Razer Blade Stealth comes outfitted in a new and subtle gunmetal gray option and is available to buy right now!
Razer’s first attempt at a creating an Ultrabook was dramatic, but ultimately underwhelming. The Blade Stealth came with hardware and a lower price to rival top Ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13 and the MacBook Air; however, the plucky upstart was held back by short battery life.
Now, in 2016, Razer fixes all the problems of its first 12.5-inch Ultrabook with Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processors, and more importantly a denser, longer lasting battery.
Thanks to these improvements, the Razer Blade Stealth is finally the ultimate Ultrabook – complete with speedy and long-lasting performance, a pixel perfect display and world class inputs.
Year over year, the design of the Razer Blade Stealth has been completely unchanged. In fact, the 12.5-inch laptop features the same 12.6 x 8.1 x 0.52-inch (32.1 x 20.6 x 1.31cm; W x D x H) dimensions – though, the new model is 0.9 pounds heavier at 2.84 pounds.
While we’re always a tiny bit disappointed when laptops aren’t updated with a new design, the Stealth’s chassis is arguably still very fresh going into its second year. Few other laptops makers have emulated Razer’s build quality or made a notebook that’s as powerful while being as thin as this.
That said, it’s easily to draw a parallel from the Stealth to the , given it shares nearly the same design with a few different body lines and a coat of black paint. However, the Blade Stealth’s slimmer dimensions puts it more in line with a MacBook Air and nearly as compact as the Dell XPS 13.
The Blade Stealth is much more stylish than your everyday Ultrabook with Razer’s neon green triskelion snake logo, speaker grills on the sides and a fully customizable keyboard backlight.
The Razer Blade Stealth still has one of the coolest laptop keyboards ever made. Although backlit keyboards have been around for ages the Stealth goes above and beyond with the ability to display 16.8 million colors per key.
Yeah, that’s right. Per. Key. Lighting.
That means each-and-every key can be individually programmed to display a different shade blue, red, apricot, kelly green – whatever your favorite color is. Additionally, you could also program a stream of rainbow colors to continuously flow across the keys.
Razer’s Synapse software also makes it easy to customize the lighting setup and stack effects. Our favorite color scheme combines a static white backlit with a rippling rainbow triggered by each key press.
On top of the personalization you can add with this level of customization, Razer has built in some utility with the keyboard backlight. Hitting the function key, will make it so only the F-keys are lit up – though I wished the backlight on these keys would also illuminate the icons for the settings we’re trying to change in the dark.
As vain as a full RGB keyboard backlight is, it’s a big deal to gamers and, aside from Aorus, no other laptops have a lighting system as customizable as this.
Even without the fancy lighting, the keyboard itself deserves notice, the keys are large and are arranged in a roomy layout despite the 12.5-inch form factor of this laptop. None of the keys feel squished, and nothing is out of place either.
The only critique we have is key travel isn’t that deep, and the keys themselves barely rise two millimeters above the keyboard deck. That said, at least you get an audible click letting you know you’re actually hitting the keys.
Just beneath the keyboard, you’ll also find a sizable trackpad. In fact, it seems like Razer used every bit of available space to make the touch surface as large as possible. Thanks to the glass-lined surface, it feels incredibly smooth while giving you an audible click response too.
Despite the pricey prestige most would associate with Razer, the Blade Stealth is an amazingly affordable Ultrabook when you consider what is on offer. The base configuration might be priced for a considerable $999 or £999 (about AU$ 1,315), but you get an Intel Core i7 processor, QHD+ screen, 128GB SSD and 8GB of RAM.]
For the same price, you would get a MacBook Air with only a 1,440 x 900 display, Core i5 processor and half as much memory. At least the Dell XPS 13 has FHD display and 8GB of RAM at this price point, but again you’ll be bumped down to a lesser Core i5 CPU.
Our own $1,399 or £1,349 (about AU$1,840) configuration sits happily in the middle of the available SKUs and it’s still a steal. A comparable Dell XPS 13 (with a QHD+ screen) and MacBook Pro would cost $1,849 (£1,499, AU$2,999) and $2,199 (£1,729, AU$3,439), respectively.
Here is the Razer Blade Stealth configuration sent to techradar for review:
- CPU: 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U (dual-core, 4MB cache, 3.5GHz with Turbo Boost)
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620
- RAM: 16GB RAM LDDR3-1,866MHz
- Screen: 12.5-inch, QHD+ (2,560 x 1,440) IGZO LED-backlit touchscreen display
- Storage: 512GB PCIe M.2 SSDPorts: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C (Thunderbolt 3), 1 x HDMI 2.0, headset jack
- Connectivity: Killer Wireless 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
- Camera: 2MP built-in webcam
- Weight: 2.84 pounds
- Size: 12.6 x 8.1 x 0.52 inches (W x D x H)
When it comes to getting stuff done, the Razer Blade Stealth is all aces. The speedy Kaby Lake processor can handle heavy duty image editing images in and like a champ. I was even able to play at a decent 45 to 60 frames-per-second (fps) clip, with the game set to Full HD resolution and high quality settings.
Ultimately, if you really want to unlock the gaming potential of this laptop, you’ll have to plug it into the Razer Core external graphics card dock. On its own, the Stealth isn’t outfitted with discrete graphics.
So, while it’s more than capable for watching media, its graphical prowess isn’t up to the task of rendering the latest games.
- 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 6,401; Sky Diver: 3,966; Fire Strike: 894
- Cinebench CPU: 349 points; Graphics: 41 fps
- GeekBench: 3,604 (single-core); 7,809 (multi-core)
- PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,738 points
- PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 44 minutes
- Battery Life (techradar movie test): 5 hours and 44 minutes
Let’s see how that compares to the 2015 model:
- 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 5,161; Sky Diver: 3,221; Fire Strike: 798
- Cinebench CPU: 309 points; Graphics: 40 fps
- GeekBench: 3,199 (single-core); 6,829 (multi-core)
- PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,255 points
- PCMark 8 Battery Life: 2 hours and 35 minutes
- Battery Life (techradar movie test): 3 hours and 39 minutes
Kaby Lake proves it’s a step over Skylake across the board with every benchmark. The updated Stealth offers noticeably more processing and graphical power, making it that much more capable for everyday tasks and strenuous programs.
That said, this isn’t hands down the most powerful Kaby Lake machine around. Based on benchmark numbers, the HP Spectre x360 is a smidge faster on the CPU end, but the Stealth edges ahead ever so slightly on graphics.
The most astounding improvement Razer’s updated Ultrabook delivers on is battery life. Thanks to the new Kaby Lake processor and a beefier 53.6WHr battery (significantly larger than the 2015 model’s 45WHr battery), the Stealth lasts one to three hours longer.
The Stealth lasted for 5 hours and 44 minutes on our movie benchmark test, which is a great improvement on its predecessor’s 3 hour and 39 minute run. We also managed to squeeze nearly seven hours of regular usage while browsing the web, writing this review and chatting on Slack.
Recharging a fully drained laptop back to 100% is also a quick two-hour practice process. However, we’re not fans of the old-school wire-to-block-to-wire charging adapter, and would prefer a more streamlined charger as we’ve seen with recent HP and Asus laptops.
It’s an impressive improvement over the older model and an outstanding result considering the high-resolution screen and demanding components putting a strain on the low pile battery inside this thin machine. Full day battery life on an Ultrabook such as this is hugely important, and now the Stealth is on equal footing with the Dell XPS 13, and other stars in this category.
Screen and speakers
Like a cherry on top of an ice cream sundae, the QHD+ display is a real treat that makes the Razer Blade Stealth complete. The 2,560 x 1,440 resolution IGZO display offers perfect color accuracy and contrast with a healthy 70hz refresh rate. It’s just as perfect for watching movies and editing photos as it is for playing twitch shooters that demand the highest reaction speed.
A pair of more than booming speakers sit along the sides of the keyboard also help seal the deal on this multimedia machine. They deliver clear and loud sound without the slightest hint of distortion or tininess you would associate with most laptop speakers. However, if you’re looking for full bodied bass from games and action movies, you’re better off plugging in a pair of your favorite headphones.
The Razer Blade Stealth comes at a competitive price that demands attention over other higher priced Ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13 and MacBook Pro. It performs better in a thinner and more affordable package than its competitors.
It offers all the features we’ve come to expect from Ultrabooks, including a premium design, long battery life, an attractive screen and reliable performance. Then it brings unique features, like the fully customizable RGB keyboard and the ability to plug in an external GPU box for serious gaming while already having an IGZO display suitable for fast-paced action.
From the short key travel and the honestly crap power adapter, the Blade is not a perfect device. But, these are only two small annoyances from what is otherwise a stellar Ultrabook. With the greatly improved battery life, Razer has finally delivered on its promise to make a thin, yet powerful and long-lasting laptop that stands among the pantheon of the best Ultrabooks.