From its well-regarded keyboards and mice to its flashy Razer Phone handsets, Razer is a company dedicated entirely to high-performance gaming. The Razer Blade is a continuation of that philosophy. It’s a laptop designed for high-end gaming, so you don’t have to sacrifice quality just because you’re not in front of a desktop—and it looks the part, thanks to its flashy, multicolored keyboard lights.
Granted, portable power isn’t cheap, and even the entry-level 2019 Razer Blade 15 isn’t cheap—with much more expensive upgrade options for those willing to pay a premium for additional perks and/or performance. Despite a few minor flaws, this is a capable notebook that can keep you in the game at any time and from almost anywhere… well, anywhere near a power outlet, at least. I put the Razer Blade 15 through its paces for over 40 hours, playing a variety of games, streaming video, and using it as my primary work computer.
Design: Black outside, flash inside
Gaming laptops come in all shapes and sizes, with many of them retaining the garish, overly-stylized “gamer” aesthetic. The Razer Blade 15 is a hefty black brick of gaming prowess that, thankfully, opts for a more subdued look. The only real indication that you’re holding a gaming laptop is Razer’s trademark light-up twisty green snake logo; otherwise, it’s all matte black.
The Razer Blade 15 is large and powerful, weighing 4.63 pounds and measuring 13.98 x 9.25 x 0.78 inches (HWD). The Razer Blade 15 is billed as the “world’s smallest gaming laptop,” which says more about the competition than it does about the Razer Blade 15. It’s significantly heavier than a MacBook Pro or any other premium, mainstream laptop, but a gaming notebook requires the extra weight to accommodate the discrete graphics card, a large power supply, and a variety of ports. That’s the cost of doing business. At the very least, the unibody aluminum shell feels solid.
When you open the lid, you can see how appealing it is for gamers. The keyboard lighting pulses with a beautiful rainbow of colors on the inside, and you can tweak the color settings and animation cycles using Razer’s included Chroma Studio and Visualizer apps within Razer Synapse. Although it’s billed as single-zone RGB lighting, Visualizer allows you to enable multiple zones of color across the keys. If you want more control over the color effects, the more expensive Razer Blade Advanced model has individual per-key lighting.
While it’s still matte black on the inside, the keyboard lighting pulses with a gorgeous rainbow of colors—and you can even tweak the color settings and animation cycles.
The screen has a thin bezel around it, allowing the large 15.6-inch panel to shine, and the keyboard is flanked on either side by speakers. Although the rectangular power button atop the right speaker appears to be the perfect size and location for a fingerprint sensor, it is simply a button. Similarly, the camera doesn’t support Windows Hello, so the Razer Blade 15’s base model lacks a biometric security option. Given how many other high-end laptops have such a feature today, this is a disappointment.
Aside from lighting up, the keys have a nice springy feel to them, despite the fact that they only travel a short distance. It’s worth noting, however, that the keys are smaller than those found on many laptops, though they’re thankfully not too close together. It took some time to adjust to the shorter, narrower keys found on other laptops. Meanwhile, the touchpad is large and responsive. My only gripe with the laptop’s bottom section is that the black matte finish attracts smudges.
With a trio of full-sized USB 3.1 ports (two on the left, one on the right), a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port on the left, an Ethernet port for wired internet, an HDMI port, a Mini DisplayPort, and a 3.5mm headphone port, the Razer Blade 15 doesn’t skimp on ports. It also has a specialized port on the left for the power adapter, which is a massive 200w charger with a fabric-wrapped cord and what appears to be a full-sized rubber watch strap to help bundle up the cord for travel.
The Razer Blade 15 has a 128GB SSD and a 1TB HDD for storage, which is more than enough for storing a game library. Other options include extra SSD and/or HDD space, as well as an SSD with an empty 2.5-inch SATA slot for a secondary drive of your choice.
Setup Process: Straightforward
With Windows 10 preinstalled, getting the Razer Blade 15 up and running is a breeze. Simply follow the on-screen prompts to choose from a variety of options and log into a Microsoft account, and you’ll be on your way to the desktop in about 15 minutes. If you want, you can fiddle with the keyboard lighting in Razer Synapse from there.
Display: Big, crisp, and slightly dim
The 15.6-inch 1920×1080 LCD panel is large and detailed, providing a clear view into the world or battlefield of your game of choice, as well as plenty of room for documents, media, and whatever else you use the Razer Blade 15 for. The base model has a 60Hz refresh rate, but you can upgrade to a 144Hz model for an extra fee if you prefer the faster refresh rate. While the matte screen is mostly impressive, it is disappointingly dim—I was hoping for something brighter and punchier to match the colorful allure of the keys below.
Performance: Gaming goodness
Even the base model of the Razer Blade 15 packs a punch, with a 9th-gen hexa-core Intel Core i7-9750H processor and 16GB RAM, as well as an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU with 6GB VRAM. That’s more than enough power for most everyday computing tasks, and it also delivers excellent gaming performance, including support for virtual reality headsets. However, Razer does charge for graphics card upgrades, with the GeForce RTX 2060 available on the Razer Blade 15 and additional options available on the Advanced model.
In PCMark 10 testing, my base model scored 3,465 points, a slight decrease from the MSI Prestige 15’s 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processor (which scored 3,830). The Razer Blade 15 had a higher Cinebench benchmark score of 1,869 compared to 1,508 on the MSI Prestige 15.
On high settings, games like Rocket League and Fortnite ran smoothly, with crisp details and consistent frame rates, while the more demanding Assassin’s Creed Odyssey managed 64 frames per second in the benchmark test on Very High graphical settings. It’s a beast of a laptop that should keep you gaming at high levels for a few more years, as it’s more than capable of handling what’s available today.
It’s a beast of a laptop that should keep you gaming at high levels for a few more years, as it’s more than capable of handling what’s available today.
Audio: Sounds good
The top-firing stereo speakers on the Razer Blade 15 deliver excellent game and media audio, as well as music. They’re clear and, thankfully, stay that way even at high volume levels, which the Razer Blade can achieve. However, the sound quality isn’t as good as it is on some other high-end laptops, such as the latest MacBook Pro models.
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Network: Wired or not?
With both Wi-Fi and wired Ethernet connections available, you can select the connection that best suits your needs. The Razer Blade 15 connects to 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks with ease, and using Speedtest.net, I was able to achieve download speeds of 83Mbps and upload speeds of around 5Mbps, which is within my normal range. Wired internet provides a more stable connection, which is ideal for gaming, and it’s worth it to be tethered to a wall to avoid lag while competing.
Battery: Should be better
One of the Razer Blade 15’s main flaws is its battery life. While the laptop is capable of portable gaming, you won’t be able to play for very long if you aren’t near a power source. After one hour of playing Rocket League at maximum brightness, for example, the 65Wh battery had depleted to 21%. Whether you’re plugged in or not, the Razer Blade gets extremely warm while gaming.
Other computing tasks will yield better results, but the Razer Blade 15 quickly demonstrates why it isn’t a good choice for on-the-go productivity. The Razer Blade typically delivered just over three hours of uptime at full brightness with my normal work routine of typing documents, surfing the web, chatting on Slack, and streaming a bit of music.
Meanwhile, our battery rundown test, which included a movie playing continuously on Netflix at full brightness for 3 hours and 54 minutes before shutting down, lasted 3 hours and 54 minutes. You won’t be able to use the Razer Blade for more than a few hours without plugging it in or drastically reducing the brightness.
You won’t be able to use the Razer Blade for more than a few hours without plugging it in or drastically reducing the brightness.
Software: It’s Windows
Apart from the aforementioned Razer Synapse app, which is a useful way to customize the keyboard lighting and gaming settings for the laptop, Razer thankfully keeps Windows 10 clean here. NVIDIA apps are tied to the GPU and its settings, but you can use the internet to download whatever apps and games you want. Gaming storefronts such as Steam and the Epic Games Store are only a few clicks away, and they provide access to an almost limitless pool of gaming experiences.
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Price: Paying a premium
The Razer Blade 15 is an expensive endeavor, starting at $1,599 and rising significantly with each optional GPU, screen, or storage option. There are less expensive gaming laptops from companies like MSI and Acer that can save you hundreds of dollars, but you won’t get the same mix of quality build and components, or a design and lighting effects. The Razer Blade 15 is a capable gaming machine, but it isn’t cheap.
Razer Blade 15 vs. MSI Prestige 15
The MSI Prestige 15 (view on Amazon) is a good option if you don’t mind a slight drop in graphics performance. It has a newer 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor with a less powerful GTX 1650 (Max-Q) GPU inside, which can handle games like Rocket League and Fortnite with ease, but only managed 46 frames per second in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on Medium settings. However, it has other advantages, such as a lighter build, a longer-lasting battery, and a large 512GB SSD inside. The MSI Prestige starts at $1,399 and is a better all-around device for everyday use, whereas the Razer Blade 15 is primarily a gaming machine.
The Final Word
The Razer Blade 15 impresses as a gaming laptop: it’s powerful, has an attractive design with eye-catching flourishes inside, and has responsive inputs in a durable build. The battery life isn’t great, so you’ll need to bring your charging cable with you, and the screen could be a little brighter. Because of the limited battery life, this isn’t the best laptop for on-the-go productivity. The Razer Blade 15 is still one of your best options today if you need a portable PC primarily for high-end gaming and don’t mind being tethered to a wall for the majority of the time.