Razer Blade 2018 Review and Price. The Razer Blade is a thin, light, and powerful gaming laptop, so let’s find out what’s on offer and just how well it performs. Let’s get straight into the specs. For the CPU of the Razer Blade 2018, we’ve got Intel’s i7-8750H 6 core CPU which can turbo up to 4.1GHz in single core workloads or 3.9GHz in all core workloads.
Razer Blade 2018 Review
There’s 16GB of DDR4 memory running at 2,666MHz in dual channel, and all models of the 2018 Razer Blade are advertised with dual channel memory which is great to see. For storage there’s a 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD in the single M.2 slot.
For the graphics there’s an Nvidia 1070 Max-Q in this model, but it’s also available with the 1060 Max-Q as well, and this powers the 15.6” 1080p 144Hz IPS display, we’ll see how this performs soon in the benchmarks. For the network connectivity there’s support for 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth version 5. No ethernet port so you’ll need to use an adapter if you need one.
The blade is made out of a CNC aluminium unibody with a black anodized finish both on the lid and interior. It’s a more blocky shape compared to previous rounder versions, making the edges a little sharp but not too bad, overall it felt really nice and solid.
The dimensions of the laptop are 35.5cm in width, 23.5cm in depth, and just 1.7cm in height, so quite thin considering the specs. Razer list the blade as weighing 2.1kg and my unit was just under this. With the 230 watt power brick and cable for charging the total weight increases to around 2.9kg, so it’s still quite portable. As mentioned the screen is a 15.6 inch 144Hz 1080p IPS panel, it’s also available with a 4K touchscreen, while the 1060 model has a 60Hz option.
The bezels are just 4.9mm thin on the sides as well which is a nice change from previous models, giving us about 85% of visible screen area. The viewing angles were perfect on any angle, still clear with excellent colours.
The screen gets bright enough, I measured it at 328 nits at 100% brightness with a 750 to 1 contrast ratio. The display comes colour calibrated, and I’ve measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 97% of sRGB, 67% of NTSC and 72% of AdobeRGB, pretty good results for something that’s primarily aimed at gamers.
I’ve performed my usual backlight bleed test on the display, which involves having the laptop show a black screen in a dark room to help emphasize any bleeding. I then take a long exposure photo to display any bleed, so this is a worst case scenario test. The bits down the bottom corners were noticeable in this test from certain angles to my eyes, but for the most part it actually wasn’t that bad, and I didn’t notice any bleed during normal use but this will of course vary between laptops.
There was almost no flex at all while moving the display, it felt very sturdy as it’s solid metal and the hinge is essentially most of the length of the screen. It can be opened up easily with one finger, demonstrating a fairly even weight distribution.
Above the display in the center is a 720p camera, it’s good that Razer were able to fit it in here despite the thinner bezels, rather than having it down the bottom. The camera looks alright, a bit better than many other laptops I’ve tested, the microphone is also not bad, but you’ll be able to judge both for yourself.
The keyboard has RGB backlighting which can be controlled at the individual key level through Razer’s Synapse software. There are a number of built in effects available, and I found that in supported games the key lighting would automatically change, for example while playing Overwatch the keys change to reflect the hero in use. There’s no numpad which I personally prefer as I don’t use it, allowing the keyboard to be centered.
The keys felt nice to type with and were quiet, here’s how they sound to try and give you an idea. The keyboard had minimal flex while pushing down fairly hard, overall it was quite solid due to that metal body.
The glass touchpad felt extremely smooth and was nice and large, it uses precision drivers which are my favourite so overall I found it to work very well. Moving onto the I/O on the left there’s the power input, two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, and a 3.5mm audio combo jack. On the right there’s a Type-C Thunderbolt 3 port, third USB 3.1 Type-A port, HDMI 2.0b output, mini DisplayPort 1.4 output, and Kensington lock.
Razer note that up to 3 displays can be run at once using Thunderbolt, mini DisplayPort, and HDMI, and it’s also worth noting that the proprietary power connector is reversible and works either way.
The front just has a green status LED towards the right, while the back has nothing obviously viewable, the air exhausts are just below here. On the black metal lid there’s the Razer logo in the center and it lights up green while powered on.
Fingerprints show up quite easily, but as a smooth surface they’re easy to clean. Underneath there’s some rubber feet which do a good job of preventing the laptop from sliding around while in use, as well as some air intake vents towards the back.
The two speakers are found on either side of the keyboard, they sound alright but for the amount of space they’re using I expected a little more, still clear but a bit tinny at high volumes with minimal bass. The laptop can be opened up easily with a Torx screwdriver. After removing the panel we get easy access to the single M.2 slot, two memory slots, and the WiFi card.
Powering the laptop is a 80 Watt hour battery, and with a full charge and just watching YouTube videos with the screen on half brightness, keyboard lighting off and background apps disabled, I was able to use it for 6 hours and 27 minutes, making it one of the best laptops I’ve tested.
The Intel integrated graphics were in use during this test thanks to Nvidia Optimus. While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 1 hour and 38 minutes and was able to sustain 30 FPS the entire time, many others I’ve tested aren’t able to do that and drop frame rate. Overall the battery life was really impressive here, especially when you factor in just how thin and light the blade is, and that it’s running fairly powerful hardware.
Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 18 degrees celcius, it’s cold here at the moment as it’s winter in Australia, so expect warmer temperatures in a warmer environment. The CPU and GPU are cooled with a vapor chamber, and it wasn’t obvious to me if this is shared between both components or not.
Just before we get into the results I’ll quickly note that in the Razer Synapse software you have the option of using the default balanced mode, or swapping to gaming mode. Gaming mode basically seems to overclock the GPU core clock by 100MHz and memory by 300MHz, and also increase the power limit to the CPU, I’ve tested both modes here under stress test.
At idle the CPU and GPU were on the warmer side, above 50 degrees celsius. While playing PUBG at high settings we can see that the temperatures rose as shown in green. By undervolting the CPU by -0.140v as shown in yellow we can reduce the temperature of the CPU a little.
The graphics were maxed out at 90 degrees regardless of the test. The full load stress tests were run using Aida64 and the Heaven benchmark at the same time, and I’ve tested both the balanced mode and gaming mode here. In balanced mode the CPU gets a lower power limit, so performs less, as we’ll see in the next graph, but temperatures improve a little with the undervolt applied in red.
These are the average clock speeds while running the same tests for the temperatures just shown, it wasn’t possible to reach the full 3.9GHz all core turbo clock speed in any of these tests, which in the case of the stress tests was due to power or thermal limit throttling, granted in PUBG I don’t think the CPU needs to max out as it’s not a bottleneck, which probably explains the lower clock speeds while undervolted in yellow, it just doesn’t really matter, maybe I should be using a different game for this test but these are the speeds I saw with no CPU throttling.
With the gaming mode enabled the TDP increased, so it seems like this affects the power limit provided to the CPU, I wasn’t able to otherwise tweak it in Intel XTU. This explains why the clock speeds rise with gaming mode enabled, giving us more power but also a hotter system as we saw in the last graph. Undervolting in red and dark blue did improve things too, but still not quite enough to fully remove throttling in this particular stress test, but this will of course differ based on the specific workload.
These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load, and even with no GPU load we’re still seeing power limit throttling preventing the full 3.9GHz speed, but gaming mode and undervolting did help raise this.
As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle the body of the laptop is sitting in the mid 30s in the center and getting warmer towards the back. While gaming this increases to the 50s in the center and was a little warm to the touch, although the left and right sides were quite cool in comparison, with very similar results in the full load stress test.
As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle it was still audible, which was expected based on the warmer idle temperatures, and then while gaming and with the fans maxed out it wasn’t too different from many other laptops I’ve tested, still a bit loud though.
Balanced mode was a little quieter than gaming mode, as we saw before it gets hotter in gaming mode. I didn’t test temperatures for both default fans and manually maxing out the fans, as in gaming mode while playing games or under stress test I found the fans to be maxed out the same regardless which would give the same results.
Razer Blade 2018 Benchmarks
Finally let’s take a look at some benchmarks, we’ll first cover some real world gaming benchmarks followed by tests with various benchmarking tools. All testing were completed with the gaming mode enabled through Razer’s Synapse software, which as mentioned earlier overclocks the graphics and increases the CPUs power limit, resulting in increased performance.
Fortnite ran well at any setting level, although medium or low were needed to average around the refresh rate of the panel, but results will of course vary based on what other players are doing in game.
Overwatch was tested playing with the bots, and it was running very well, even at epic settings we’re averaging 144 FPS, with lower settings giving us 1% lows near this level, but again results here will vary based on what’s going on in the game and the map.
PUBG was tested using the replay feature, it ran alright at ultra for the most part but you’ll be better off playing at high settings or below, and like the previous games results will vary based on the map and what other players are doing. CS:GO was running well at all settings, the 1% lows drop down quite a bit with this particular benchmark due to the smokes.
Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and even at ultra settings the average frame rate was very high, with the 1% lows still well above 100 FPS so absolutely no problems here at all. I’ve tested Farcry 5 with the built in benchmark, and the results are pretty good even at ultra settings.
Assassin’s Creed Origins was also tested with the built in benchmark, and again playable at all setting levels. Dota 2 was tested using a fairly intensive replay, so this should be a worst case scenario, realistically you’ll probably get better results than this while actually playing, and even in this intensive test the averages are pretty decent.
Testing Battlefield 1 in the first campaign mission ran well for me even with ultra settings, the 1% lows drop a bit although I personally didn’t really notice any dips while playing. Rise of the tomb raider was tested with the built in benchmark, and the results here are quite good, really high frame rates at the lower setting levels and more than playable with the higher ones.
Watchdogs 2 doesn’t need a high frame rate to play in my opinion, and ran well even at ultra settings with not much variance between ultra, very high and high settings. I’ve got a few more games covered in the dedicated gaming benchmark video if you’re interested.
Razer Blade 2018 Benchmarks
Now onto the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, and VRMark from 3DMark:
The results are pretty good, many of the games tested were able to run with high average frame rates to take advantage of the 144Hz screen, and if you want more power in the future you’ve also got the option of attaching an external GPU enclosure like Razer’s Core X for instance. If you’re thinking this is too much power then you’ve always got the cheaper 1060 Max-Q option instead.
As for overclocking, the 8750H CPU can’t be overclocked, but I was able to increase the GPU core clock of the Max-Q 1070 a little on top of what gaming mode set.
These are the average speeds while running the Heaven benchmark in the default balanced mode, with gaming mode which essentially overclocks the graphics by 100MHz on the core and 300MHz on the memory, and then with my manual overclock we get just a little extra, but not much, gaming modes already doing a pretty good job.
I’ve retested PUBG with both balanced and gaming modes, and then with the gaming mode undervolted and we’re just seeing small differences in performance between them. I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here, and we can see that there’s a fair difference in performance just by going from the balanced to gaming mode, and we can improve this further with the -0.140v undervolt.
Despite this I was still seeing power limit throttling as discussed earlier, the 8750H should be able to pass 1200 in ideal circumstances, but it’s not too far behind here. In Crystal Disk Mark the 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD was performing quite nicely, over 2.4GB/s in sequential reads and around 2.1GB/s in sequential writes.
As a thinner laptop there’s no 2.5 inch drive bay here, so no option to install a hard drive, and no SD slot, you’ve just got the single M.2 slot for internal storage. As for the price here in Australia it’s going for around $4000 AUD at the time of recording. In the US with these exact specs it’s around $3000 USD for my international viewers, but you can find links to updated pricing in the description.
It’s definitely not cheap, you’re always going to pay more for a thin and powerful laptop and there are cheaper alternatives with similar specs available like the MSI GS65 for example, but having tested both overall I think the Razer Blade is a nicer product with better build quality, as to whether or not the extra features are worth the increased price it depends on what you’re looking for.
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So what did you guys think of the new 2018 edition of the Razer Blade gaming laptop? I didn’t personally test the older model, but I like the new design and thin bezels. It’s packing some serious gaming power in a thin package, but as a result under a full load that does result in thermal or power limit throttling, which to be honest was expected in this form factor, but this was less of an issue in actual games, as shown in the benchmarks we’re still getting pretty nice results.
Otherwise the battery life was really excellent, and overall it’s a great, if pricey gaming laptop. Let me know what you guys thought down in the comments, and leave a share to let me know if you found the review useful.