Notebookcheck

Review Razer Blade 14 Notebook

Dennis Ziesecke (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 12/08/2013

A wolf in sheep's clothing. Gaming notebooks do not necessarily have to be big, bulky and heavy. Razer shows that you can also put a lot of performance into a thin case.

For the original German review, see here.

Blade is the name for two very different notebook series from the US manufacturer Razer. The larger Pro devices (17-inch) stand out from the competition of gaming notebooks with a touch panel next to the keyboard. The smaller Blades with 14-inch displays are supposed to combine ultrabook specifications like low weight, a thin case and good battery runtimes with (almost) full gaming capabilities.  

Is it possible to equip a thin 14-inch notebook with components that are powerful enough for titles like Metro: Last Light without temperature problems? The competitor Alienware also offers a 14-inch gaming notebook but it has a big and bulky case to provide the necessary cooling performance. Razer on the other hand offers a very thin notebook with the height of a MacBook Air - but the price of $1,800 for the smallest configuration (128 GB SSD) is also pretty high.

Case

The Razer Blade is a showcase of what is currently possible: Cooling hardware with an energy consumption of more than 100 Watts in a comparatively small case is actually more complicated than you might think. The user will therefore have to make some sacrifices, especially in terms of upgradeability. Razer does however offer a notebook with an excellent build quality in return.  

Razer uses dark aluminum for the case and puts a tribal-like logo on the display cover. The surprisingly thin case reminds us of an Apple MacBook on steroids. Excellent: Even the thin display is very pressure resistant, and there are no visible reactions when we apply pressure on the back of the cover. Despite the sturdy construction, it is still a very light device thanks to the materials. The Blade only weighs around 1,900 grams (~4.2 pounds) and therefore much less than similarly powerful 15-inch notebooks.

We already mentioned one drawback of this construction - the limited upgradeability. Tablets and smartphones, which are also products with limited space for powerful components, act as a role model: Soldered memory, non-removable battery and the lack of conventional hard drives to improve the mobility. You can remove the bottom cover of the Blade (Torx screws) - but there is not much you could replace.

However, the inside of the Blade is rather fascinating at a second look. The layout is exemplary and sophisticated; every component is in the perfect position. There are not many cables and they are also flat, but there is just no room for conventional memory slots.

The color scheme in matte black leaves a premium impression and the two fans (one for the CPU and GPU each) are also high-quality components. Even though Razer is just a comparatively small manufacturer, they still show that the chassis is more of a masterpiece than a mass-produced product from Asia.

Gaming performance in an ultrabook case
Gaming performance in an ultrabook case
Impressive: Not thicker than a Blu-ray cover
Impressive: Not thicker than a Blu-ray cover

Connectivity

Razer did not want to or just could not offer many ports in the thin case. All ports are fortunately at the back of the sides, cables and attached peripherals should therefore not be a problem when you use a mouse. There is also no optical drive that could occupy any space. 

A total of three USB 3.0 ports are located at the right and left side of the case and they have a striking green color. You also get a Kensington Lock, an HDMI port and a power connector. Razer waives the Ethernet port - most likely because of the height of the port. This would be a perfect scenario for a USB/LAN-adaptor, but Razer does not provide one. 

No ports at the front
No ports at the front
Left side: Power, 2x USB 3.0, 3.5 mm stereo jack
Left side: Power, 2x USB 3.0, 3.5 mm stereo jack
Right side: USB 3.0, HDMI, Kensington
Right side: USB 3.0, HDMI, Kensington
No ports at the back
No ports at the back

Communication

There is no Ethernet port, so you will have to use the WLAN module for all network connections. Razer equips the Blade with a gamer-oriented module from Qualcomm-Atheros. The Killer Wireless-N 1202 is supposed to reduce the latency during online gaming and favor games against other network data, but there is no subjective advantage compared to other adaptors.  

The wireless module supports transfer rates up to 300 Mbps in 2.4 and 5 GHz networks. We had no problems with the signal quality in our 2.4 GHz network and the range was convincing. We could easily stream an HD movie via FritzBox over two floors. Online gaming is no problem either, even when the position of the router is not perfect. Besides wireless networks, the Killer module also supports Bluetooth 4.0.

Security 

The smaller the notebook, the easier it can be stolen. But you can secure the Blade via the Kensington Lock to avoid this. 

Accessories

Razer is not very generous in terms of useful accessories, despite the high retail price. Besides warranty information and manuals, the stylish box only contains the power supply unit. 

Maintenance

You can easily remove the bottom cover of the Razer Blade with a Torx screwdriver. It reveals a clear layout, but it is not easy to replace or upgrade most of the parts. The thin form factor is the reason that components like the CPU, GPU and RAM are soldered onto the mainboard. It is therefore not possible to replace them and it is tricky to remove the battery. Only the SSD and the WLAN module are easily accessible. 

Warranty

Razer grants a limited hardware warranty of 12 months.

The internal layout is very clear and sophisticated.
The internal layout is very clear and sophisticated.
A few screws secure the bottom cover.
A few screws secure the bottom cover.
The WLAN module can be replaced.
The WLAN module can be replaced.

Input Devices

Keyboard

Razer was able to integrate a standard-sized keyboard because there is no separate numeric keypad. The keyboard has a green background illumination and a compact Enter key, which is typical for US-keyboards.

It takes some time getting used to, but the keyboard is not only convenient for gaming but also for typing. Even longer sessions are no problem thanks to the slightly roughened surface. The spacing of the chiclet keyboard is convenient and flexing is not an issue. 

Touchpad

Razer equips its Blade Pro with an LCD display as a touchpad, but this unusual input device is not available for the smaller version. Instead, you get a 10.5 x 8 cm (~4.1 x 3.1 inches) touchpad from Synaptics.

Contrary to the keyboard, the touchpad surface is completely smooth and has excellent gliding capabilities. Buttons and the touch functions work reliably and there is no annoying delay or lack of precision. You might not want to use the touchpad for shooters, but it is otherwise very convenient for gaming. Strategy and adventure titles work surprisingly well with the pad, and the supported gestures improve everyday tasks.

Typical for US-layouts: small Enter key
Typical for US-layouts: small Enter key
The keyboard provides a convenient typing experience.
The keyboard provides a convenient typing experience.
Very good touchpad
Very good touchpad

Display

Despite the current trend towards Full HD panels, Razer decided to equip the Blade with a 14-inch display and a resolution of 1600x900 pixels. The resulting pixel density of 155 ppi is still sufficient thanks to the small panel and there should be fewer problems with tiny fonts compared to higher resolution displays.

However, the lower GPU load is probably the biggest advantage. Many games run smoothly in the native resolution, while a Full HD panel might be too much for the GTX 765M. Gamers do not have to scale the resolution down, which would affect the picture quality. 

CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Grayscale
CalMAN Color Management
CalMAN Color Management
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN ColorChecker
CalMAN ColorChecker

The resolution is no problem, but Razer could have used a better panel. The manufacturer uses a TN panel with all of its drawbacks: The viewing angle stability is very limited and the color representation is not very good. Especially the small viewing angles can be annoying during gaming. You will have to adjust the display quite often to avoid washed-out colors and contrasts. Spectators from the side will also have to live with inverted colors.

This is especially unfortunate since the average brightness of 337 cd/m² is quite good and the brightness distribution is okay. 

335
cd/m²
334
cd/m²
337
cd/m²
334
cd/m²
361
cd/m²
327
cd/m²
320
cd/m²
357
cd/m²
328
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 361 cd/m²
Average: 337 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 89 %
Center on Battery: 361 cd/m²
Black: 1 cd/m²
Contrast: 361:1
Razer Blade vs. AdobeRGB
Razer Blade vs. AdobeRGB

Considering the price of at least $1,800, we would have expected a better display. Apparently, this component was not very important for the manufacturer. The results are a comparatively low contrast ratio and an unacceptable black value (~1.0 cd/m²). Deep blacks are therefore not a strong suit of the notebook, dark scenes always appear gray. 

The situation is not much better in terms of color representation. Even though there will not be many people who will use this notebook for professional picture editing, the available color spaces could also be better for gaming. We only measured coverage of 38% (AdobeRGB) and the results are muddy colors. Especially red is too pale and there seems to be a gray film all the time. 

Works well outdoors
Works well outdoors

The Razer Blade is well suited for outdoor trips thanks to the bright display and its matte surface. Even windows behind you or light from the side, for example on a train ride, is no problem. 

We already mentioned the poor viewing angle stability. Neither the user nor any interested spectators should deviate from the perfect viewing position or they will be confronted with matte and inverted colors.  

Viewing angles Razer Blade
Viewing angles Razer Blade

Performance

Most thin notebooks and ultrabooks are equipped with a frugal ULV processor and perhaps an entry-level GPU. Alienware is the only manufacturer besides Razer that offers an Intel quad-core and a GTX 765M in the 14-inch Alienware 14. However, this notebook is much heavier at 4 kg (~8.8 pounds) and it is more than twice as thick. 

You will be surprised about the performance of the notebook if you do not know the specifications. The preinstalled Windows 8 is smooth and executes inputs without delays thanks to the mSATA SSD. Even complex applications or video editing are not a big challenge for the Blade. The powerful Haswell quad-core i7-4702HQ is a frugal processor, but it is still very fast and offers a level of performance that some desktop computers can only dream of.

Eight GB DDR3-1600 RAM (soldered onto the mainboard, frugal "L"-version) are also adequate and Nvidia's GeForce GTX 765M with two GB DDR5 RAM handles GPU demanding applications. The notebook can also deactivate the dedicated GeForce GPU (Optimus technology) and use the Intel HD Graphics 4600 for simple tasks instead. 

System information Razer Blade 14

Processor

Similar to the "big" quad-cores from the i7-series, the Core i7-4702HQ has four native CPU cores and can execute up to eight threads simultaneously thanks to Hyperthreading. The architecture is based on the current Haswell generation and the chip is produced in a modern 22 nm manufacturing process.  

Contrary to the 4700MQ of the Alienware 14, the 4702HQ is only clocked at 2.2 instead of 2.4 GHz (Turbo: up to 3.2 vs. 3.4 GHz), but Intel was able to reduce the TDP from 47 to 37 Watts in return. Not an unimportant factor in such a small case. 

Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
4520
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
17525
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
6808
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
5993 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
22228 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
6785 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.39 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
6.32 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
55 fps
Help

System Performance

The performance difference between the popular i7-4700MQ and the i7-4702HQ is negligible in practice, which is also supported by the high benchmark results of the Blade

Compared to ultrabooks with a similar weight and 14-inch display, we can see that the Blade is the undisputed leader. No notebook below 2 kilograms (~4.4 pounds) offers this level of performance. That applies to the raw CPU power as well as the performance of the GPU and the storage drives. 

As expected, PCMark determines very good performance for our review unit. Compared to other and more energy-hungry processors, the i7-4702HQ is often only a few percent behind. The Blade is therefore, aside from the individual (green) color scheme, also well suited as a business machine that has no problems with complex applications.

PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Razer Blade 14 inch
GeForce GTX 765M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
5599 Points ∼85%
Asus G750JW
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
3353 Points ∼51% -40%
Acer Aspire V3-772G-747A321
GeForce GTX 760M, 4702MQ, Toshiba MQ01ABD100
5650 Points ∼85% +1%
6.9
Windows 8 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
7.8
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
7.8
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
6.9
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.9
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
7.3
PC Mark
PCMark Vantage19226 points
PCMark 75599 points
PCMark 8 Home3769 points
PCMark 8 Creative4566 points
PCMark 8 Work4800 points
Help

Storage Solution

Razer does not use a 2.5-inch hard drive for the Blade for obvious reasons. Not only the comparatively low performance of a conventional hard drive, but especially the height would not suit the concept of a thin ultrabook.

Razer follows the trend of many ultrabooks and integrates an mSATA SSD from Samsung. The PM841 SSD offers high reading and reasonable writing speeds, but the capacity is limited to 128 GB. The user can use around 90 GB after the initial setup - not enough for large gaming or movie libraries. Razer also offers configurations of the Blade with more storage, but the additional charge is very high. It makes more sense that you just equip the free mSATA slot with an appropriate SSD. We used a Crucial M500 and were happy about the much needed additional storage. 

We determine high reading speeds of more than 500 MB/s for the provided SSD. The writing performance on the other hand is much lower with 130 MB/s, but you will hardly notice this problem in practice, which is also supported by the good PCMark results (storage test). 

AS SSD Benchmark
AS SSD Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark
CrystalDiskMark
The SSD is hidden behind the battery cables.
The SSD is hidden behind the battery cables.
Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
Sequential Read: 516.6 MB/s
Sequential Write: 131.9 MB/s
512K Read: 452.4 MB/s
512K Write: 130 MB/s
4K Read: 31.3 MB/s
4K Write: 105.4 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 351.1 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 127.1 MB/s

Graphics

We are already familiar with the 28 nm GTX 765M from other gaming notebooks, but it is still unusual to see it in a 14-inch case. Even though the DirectX 11 GPU was also used for the Alienware 14, it is still fascinating that the Blade 14 is not higher than a normal ultrabook despite the TDP of 65 Watts.

The GK106 chip of the GTX765M has 768 shaders and 2 GB DDR5 video memory. This is sufficient, but the memory is only connected via 128-bit interface, which could result in some performance deficits compared to larger Nvidia GPUs. The choice for a HD+ display makes more sense with this information. 

The Blade does not have to hide behind other notebooks with the same GTX 765M GPU: The performance can keep up with competitors like the Asus G750JW, despite the limited room. Kudos to the engineers at Razer!

3DMark (2013) - 1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Score (sort by value)
Razer Blade 14 inch
GeForce GTX 765M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
2249 Points ∼21%
Alienware 14
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700MQ, Liteonit LMT-256M6M
2262 Points ∼21% +1%
Gigabyte P34G
GeForce GTX 760M, 4700HQ, Liteonit LMT-128M6M
2319 Points ∼22% +3%
Asus G750JW
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
2510 Points ∼24% +12%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
Razer Blade 14 inch
GeForce GTX 765M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
3891 Points ∼17%
Alienware 14
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700MQ, Liteonit LMT-256M6M
3834 Points ∼17% -1%
Gigabyte P34G
GeForce GTX 760M, 4700HQ, Liteonit LMT-128M6M
3675 Points ∼16% -6%
Asus G750JW
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
4019 Points ∼18% +3%
3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
18975 points
3DMark Vantage14518 points
3DMark 114028 points
3DMark Ice Storm90024 points
3DMark Cloud Gate11874 points
3DMark Fire Strike2249 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Admittedly, there are faster high-end notebooks like the Alienware 17, for instance. But it is also a lot heavier and bulkier. The Razer Blade offers a stunning level of performance compared to a similarly thin ultrabook, and it does not have to hide behind larger devices, either.  

It also handles our gaming benchmarks very well. In addition to the standard tests in 1366x768, we also ran the gaming benchmarks in the native resolution of 1600x900. It is not surprising that the frame rates take a hit, but the Blade is usually still powerful enough to run current games in the native resolution. 

We determined an average frame rate of 36 fps for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim with high settings and in 1600x900 pixels, and the benchmark run of Bioshock Infinite even resulted in 70 fps with high details. Ultra settings and DX11 results in 30 fpsCall of Duty: Black Ops 2 on the other hand is always smooth with 66 fps, even with the highest details. 

Very demanding games like Metro Last Light will show the limits of the notebook: High details and activated DirectX 11 is only smooth if we deactivate tessellation, otherwise the average frame rate will drop to 25 fps. Considering the size of the notebook, the results are still very impressive.

Metro: Last Light - 1366x768 High (DX11) AF:16x (sort by value)
Razer Blade 14 inch
GeForce GTX 765M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
33 fps ∼25%
Asus G750JW
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
37 fps ∼29% +12%
BioShock Infinite - 1366x768 High Preset (sort by value)
Razer Blade 14 inch
GeForce GTX 765M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
74 fps ∼32%
Asus G750JW
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
76 fps ∼33% +3%
Tomb Raider - 1366x768 High Preset AA:FX AF:8x (sort by value)
Razer Blade 14 inch
GeForce GTX 765M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
69 fps ∼20%
Asus G750JW
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
72 fps ∼20% +4%
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 - 1366x768 High / On, FXAA AA:2xMS (sort by value)
Razer Blade 14 inch
GeForce GTX 765M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
77 fps ∼35%
Asus G750JW
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
81 fps ∼37% +5%
Dishonored - 1366x768 High / On, FOV: 75 AA:FX (sort by value)
Razer Blade 14 inch
GeForce GTX 765M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
120 fps ∼92%
Asus G750JW
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
115 fps ∼88% -4%
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - 1366x768 High Preset AA:8x AF:8x (sort by value)
Razer Blade 14 inch
GeForce GTX 765M, 4702HQ, Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA
54 fps ∼42%
Asus G750JW
GeForce GTX 765M, 4700HQ, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024 HN-M101MBB
62 fps ∼49% +15%
low med.high ultra
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) 7354fps
Dishonored (2012) 127120fps
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012) 12577fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 11069fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 8574fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 5633fps

Emissions

System Noise

The fan noise is obviously very interesting with such a thin device. Small spoiler: The Blade is quieter than many 15- and 17-inch rivals during 3D applications. 

It is almost inaudible during idle at 29.4 up to 29.9 dB(A) and medium workloads only result in a slight increase to 31.4 dB(A).

Our impractical stress test (FurMark + Prime95) leads to 49.6 dB(A) and the fans are clearly perceptible at this speed. However, the cooling solution creates an almost pleasant noise; the Blade does not produce an annoying fan noise. 

This is also the absolute maximum, and you should not reach that in practice. The cooling does not become obtrusive, even after a few hours of gaming with titles like Skyrim or Metro Last Light. The system noise under real conditions tends towards the 3DMark 06 scenario: Up to 42 dB(A) are certainly audible, but far away from annoying

Noise Level

Idle 29.4 / 29.5 / 29.6 dB(A)
Load 31.4 / 49.6 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

High temperatures during the stress test but no throttling.
High temperatures during the stress test but no throttling.

The combination of a compact construction and powerful hardware results in high temperatures under load. The palm rest gets quite warm during gaming but it is never inconvenient. 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 °F) around the touchpad are definitely perceptible and it could even be too much if you are sensitive against heat. 

The temperatures are higher at the back. Both the CPU and the GPU are located in this area and heat pipes transport the heat out of the case. We can measure up to 52.9 degrees Celsius (127.2 °F) at the back under maximum load.

It is also quite warm inside the case. The processor reaches up to 96 degrees Celsius (204.8 °F) during our stress test with FurMark and Prime95. This does not result in throttling, but the CPU is not able to maintain its Turbo clocks and only runs with the nominal clock of 2.2 GHz. The situation is slightly better during normal 3D applications, where we can determine between 2.9 and 3.2 GHz depending on the number of active cores, while the GPU reaches a maximum clock of 902 MHz (according to GPU-Z).

We can see the benefits of the frugal Haswell CPU and the Optimus technology during idle: The maximum surface temperature does not exceed 25 °C (77 °F) at any spot with an ambient temperature of 22 °C (71.6 °F) - an exemplary result. 

Max. Load
 51 °C52.9 °C50 °C 
 47.5 °C52.1 °C43.6 °C 
 36.6 °C37.8 °C37.3 °C 
Maximum: 52.9 °C
Average: 45.4 °C
48.4 °C51.5 °C48.8 °C
41.8 °C44.7 °C42.1 °C
35.3 °C37.1 °C36.7 °C
Maximum: 51.5 °C
Average: 42.9 °C
Power Supply (max.)  49.4 °C | Room Temperature 22 °C | Voltcraft IR-550

Speakers

One advantage of bulky notebooks is that they can use a part of their case as a sound box. However, this does not apply for the Razer Blade. It is therefore not surprising that the integrated stereo speakers cannot compete with their counterparts in large gaming notebooks. Especially the bass is not very powerful

At least the rest of the frequency spectrum works well. Music and games do not sound as rich as they should, but medium and high tones are very clear in return. You should use headphones or external speakers for huge explosions on the battlefield. 

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Razer intentionally uses a CPU/GPU combination with a maximum energy consumption of 100 Watts to stay within the thermal restrictions of the cooling solution. Our measurements support that: The Blade consumes up to 117.4 Watts (with WLAN and keyboard illumination) during our stress test with FurMark and Prime95. This is however the exception; 3DMark 06 only resulted in 63-78 Watts. 

Without the energy-hungry Nvidia GPU we can measure up to 16.1 Watts (High-Performance energy profile) during idle. Deactivated WLAN resulted in 11.2 Watts, and the notebook only consumed 6.9 Watts with minimum display brightness and activated energy-saving features. 

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.2 Watt
Idle 6.9 / 11.2 / 16.1 Watt
Load 68.3 / 117.4 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

We can see two sides of the Blade during our runtime tests: The wild and untamed gaming notebook with full performance and a frugal Haswell device with long battery runtimes

The (not very realistic) Battery Eater Reader's Test, for instance, determines a runtime of little more than 5 hours. It is however not very likely that anyone uses the Blade with deactivated WLAN and minimum display brightness. The WLAN scenario is much more interesting in practice. We determine the runtime with a script that refreshes a website every 40 seconds (some websites with Flash videos). The Blade manages a reasonable 3 hours and 48 minutes in this test.

We also checked the runtimes during HD movie playback (video from the SSD). Big Buck Bunny is available in 1080p and we were able to run a loop of this video for more than 3 hours; the Nvidia GPU was not active in this scenario.

The situation is much worse with the active GPU, where the notebook only manages around one hour in the Battery Eater Classic Test and during gaming.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
5h 12min
WiFi Surfing
3h 48min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
3h 14min
Gaming
1h 02min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 19min

Verdict

Razer Blade: Gaming notebook in an ultrabook disguise
Razer Blade: Gaming notebook in an ultrabook disguise

If you look at the Razer Blade strictly as a high-end notebook and compare it to similarly priced devices from other manufacturers, it is just a common gaming device with average performance. But the Blade is also pretty small and surprisingly light, and the result is an impressive piece of hardware.

The GTX 765M benefits from the moderate resolution and most current games can be played with high details. Intel's Core i7-4702HQ is also a good choice: The performance is just slightly behind the i7-4700MQ, which can be seen in the comparison with the bulky Alienware 14 (also GTX 765M).

All this is combined with the great build quality: The Razer Blade is one of the best multimedia and gaming notebooks, even some ultrabooks cannot keep up with this performance.

The biggest drawback is certainly the display. Considering the high price, we would have expected a high-quality display, but the viewing angle stability is a bad joke and the color accuracy is not very good, either. It is at least sufficiently bright and has a matte surface, so you can use the Blade outdoors. However, outdoor capabilities or not: A better display and a more comprehensive port variety would have improved the rating of the Blade.

Another small drawback is the availability; the device is currently only available in the United States and Canada. Potential buyers from other parts of the world will have to import the notebook and use an appropriate power adaptor.

Still, we really like the Blade. It offers an almost perfect combination of an ultrabook and a high-end device, obviously apart from the display. A lot of performance, good mobility and high build quality - that is how it should be. But please, use a good display next time.

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In Review: Razer Blade, review unit courtesy of Nvidia Germany
In Review: Razer Blade, review unit courtesy of Nvidia Germany

Specifications

Razer Blade 14 inch

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel HM87 (Lynx Point)
:: Memory
8192 MB, DDR3L, 1600 MHz, soldered onto the mainboard
:: Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M - 2048 MB, Core: 850 MHz, Memory: 1000 MHz, GDDR5, Forceware 311.54, Optimus
:: Display
14.0 inch 16:9, 1600x900 pixel, AU Optronics B140RW01 (AUO103E), TN LED, glossy: no
:: Harddisk
Samsung SSD PM841 MZMTD128HAFV mSATA, 128 GB , 88 GB free
:: Soundcard
Realtek ALC269 @ Intel Lynx Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
3 USB 3.0, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: 1x combined stereo jack,
:: Networking
Qualcomm Atheros Killer Wireless-N 1202 (a b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 17 x 345 x 235
:: Weight
1.904 kg Power Supply: 0.336 kg
:: Battery
71 Wh Lithium-Ion, 6400 mAh, 11.1V, non-removable
:: Price
1700 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 1.3 Megapixels, Speakers: Stereo (Dolby Home Theater v4), Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, Power supply unit: 150 Watts, Razer Synapse 2.0, 12 Months Warranty

 

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Nice design with rounded edges
Nice design with rounded edges
Only one sticker at the palm rest
Only one sticker at the palm rest
The display is very thin but still robust.
The display is very thin but still robust.
It is hard to build a thinner screen.
It is hard to build a thinner screen.
Many ultrabooks with worse components are larger than the Blade.
Many ultrabooks with worse components are larger than the Blade.
Just 1.9 kg (~4.2 lbs.) - such a gaming notebook is the perfect companion on the go.
Just 1.9 kg (~4.2 lbs.) - such a gaming notebook is the perfect companion on the go.
Only a few centimeters larger than a DIN-A4 paper.
Only a few centimeters larger than a DIN-A4 paper.
This is the smallest opening angle before the display will close.
This is the smallest opening angle before the display will close.
High build quality
High build quality
You will want to keep it if you had the Razer in your hands.
You will want to keep it if you had the Razer in your hands.
The device is not much thicker than a DVD cover.
The device is not much thicker than a DVD cover.
Several Torx screws have to be loosened before you can remove the bottom cover.
Several Torx screws have to be loosened before you can remove the bottom cover.
That does not work without proper tools.
That does not work without proper tools.
The internal layout is very clear and clean.
The internal layout is very clear and clean.
You can remove the whole bottom cover and access all important components.
You can remove the whole bottom cover and access all important components.
You can definitely see the limited space at the mainboard and it is not easy to upgrade the Blade.
You can definitely see the limited space at the mainboard and it is not easy to upgrade the Blade.
The battery is screwed inside the case and is connected via small ribbon cables.
The battery is screwed inside the case and is connected via small ribbon cables.
Memory, CPU and GPU are soldered onto the mainboard.
Memory, CPU and GPU are soldered onto the mainboard.
All cables are coated and carefully integrated.
All cables are coated and carefully integrated.
Both fans appear small but they are comparatively quiet.
Both fans appear small but they are comparatively quiet.
You should not use the Blade on a blanket.
You should not use the Blade on a blanket.
The heat is dissipated between the display and the hinge.
The heat is dissipated between the display and the hinge.
One free mSATA slot can be equipped with additional storage.
One free mSATA slot can be equipped with additional storage.
We tested a Crucial SSD.
We tested a Crucial SSD.
You can also replace the WLAN module if necessary.
You can also replace the WLAN module if necessary.
The large battery provides good runtimes, but you can only play for one hour on battery power.
The large battery provides good runtimes, but you can only play for one hour on battery power.
Appears fragile: Battery cables of the Razer
Appears fragile: Battery cables of the Razer
Many ports have been removed to enable the chassis.
Many ports have been removed to enable the chassis.
The USB 3.0 ports are striking.
The USB 3.0 ports are striking.
We can find HDMI and USB 3.0 at the right side, but Razer did not integrate an Ethernet port.
We can find HDMI and USB 3.0 at the right side, but Razer did not integrate an Ethernet port.
The display frame accommodates a good webcam and a stereo microphone.
The display frame accommodates a good webcam and a stereo microphone.
The sound from the speakers is a bit tinny and lacks bass because of the thin construction.
The sound from the speakers is a bit tinny and lacks bass because of the thin construction.
But they do not really distort in return.
But they do not really distort in return.
The Blade attracts fingerprints, even though it does not have any glossy surfaces.
The Blade attracts fingerprints, even though it does not have any glossy surfaces.
The keyboard provides a very convenient typing and gaming experience.
The keyboard provides a very convenient typing and gaming experience.
Convenient touchpad with gesture support for Windows 8.
Convenient touchpad with gesture support for Windows 8.
Normal sized keys with green background illumination
Normal sized keys with green background illumination
Gaming sessions in dark environments are therefore no problem.
Gaming sessions in dark environments are therefore no problem.
Contrary to Alienware, Razer does not exaggerate the illumination.
Contrary to Alienware, Razer does not exaggerate the illumination.
The fan exhaust is behind the hinge.
The fan exhaust is behind the hinge.
The performance of a 17-inch notebook in a small case: The manufacturer deserves credit for this accomplishment.
The performance of a 17-inch notebook in a small case: The manufacturer deserves credit for this accomplishment.
If it wasn't for the poor display and the limited connectivity.
If it wasn't for the poor display and the limited connectivity.
Mandatory: Razer tribal logo on the display cover.
Mandatory: Razer tribal logo on the display cover.

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Compare Prices

Pro

+Almost perfect combination of performance and mobility
+High build quality
+Good battery runtimes
+Low weight
+Thin chassis
 

Cons

-Only available in the US and Canada
-Very bad display
-Expensive

Shortcut

What we like

So much power in a light (1.9 kg) and compact device. 

What we miss

Worldwide availability (currently only United States and Canada) and a better display.

What surprises us

How is it possible that such an experienced manufacturer is able to create a technical masterpiece like the Blade and then forgets to integrate an adequate display?

The competition

Except for the Gigabyte P34G, there is no real competition in terms of similar size with comparable performance. Both the Alienware 14 and the One K33-3E offer similar performance and the same display size, but they are also much heavier. 

Rating

Razer Blade 14 inch
03/17/2014 v4
Dennis Ziesecke

Chassis
86 / 98 → 88%
Keyboard
83%
Pointing Device
86%
Connectivity
64 / 91 → 70%
Weight
64 / 66 → 96%
Battery
79%
Display
72%
Games Performance
90%
Application Performance
89%
Temperature
65 / 95 → 68%
Noise
86 / 90 → 96%
Audio
50%
Average
76%
80%
Gaming *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review Razer Blade 14 Notebook
Author: Dennis Ziesecke, 2013-12- 8 (Update: 2013-12-10)