Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Razer


Compared to manufacturers like Dell, HP, and ASUS, Razer is a relative newcomer to the notebook market having only shipped their first notebook models in 2013. Starting first with gaming-focused designs like the Razer Blade and Blade Pro, Razer branched out to a more general notebook audience in 2016 with the launch of the Razer Blade Stealth.


Even though Razer is a primarily gamer-centric brand, the Razer Blade Stealth does not feature a discrete GPU for gaming. Instead, Razer advertises using their Razer Core V2 external Thunderbolt 3 enclosure to add your own full-size GPU, giving users the flexibility of a thin-and-light ultrabook, but with the ability to play games when docked.

Compared to my previous daily driver notebook, the "Space Gray" MacBook Pro, the Razer Blade Stealth shares a lot of industrial design similarities, even down to the "Gunmetal" colorway featured on our review unit. The aluminum unibody construction, large touchpad, hinge design, and more all clearly take inspiration from Apple's notebooks over the years. In fact, I've actually mistaken this notebook for a MacBook Pro in a few quick glances around the office in recent weeks.

As someone who is a fan of the industrial design of the MacBook Pro lineup, but not necessarily Apple's recent hardware choices, these design cues are a good thing. In some ways, the Razer Blade Stealth feels like Apple had continued with their previous Retina MacBook Pro designs instead of moving into the current Touch Bar-sporting iteration.

Razer Blade Stealth (Early 2018)
MSRP $1499 $1699 $2099
Screen 13.3" QHD+ (3200x1800) IGZO Touch Screen
CPU Core i7-8550U
GPU Intel UHD Graphics 620
RAM 16GB LPDDR3-2133MHz (non-upgradeable)
Storage 256 GB PCIe 512 GB PCIe 1 TB PCIe
Network Killer 1535 Wireless-AC (802.11a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth® 4.1)
Display Output

1 x Thunderbolt 3
1 x HDMI 2.0b

Connectivity 1 x Thunderbolt 3
3.5mm headphone
2 x USB 3.0 (Type-A)
Audio Stereo Speakers, Array Microphone
Weight 2.98 lbs. / 1.35 kg
Dimensions 0.54” / 13.8 mm (Height) x 12.6” / 321 mm (Width) x 8.1” / 206 mm (Depth)
Battery 53.6 WHr
Operating System Windows 10 Home 

One of the things that surprised me most when researching the Razer Blade Stealth was just how equipped the base model was. All models include 16 GB of RAM, a QHD+ touch screen, and at least 256 GB of PCIe NVMe flash storage. However, I would have actually liked to see a 1080p screen option, be it with or without touch. For such a small display size, I would rather gain the battery life advantages of the lower resolution.

Continue reading our review of the Razer Blade Stealth (2018)!!

CES 2018: Acer Announces Redesigned Swift 7, "World's Thinnest Laptop"

Subject: Mobile | January 6, 2018 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: xmm, ultrabook, thinnest, swift 7, LTE, Intel, CES 2018, acer

Acer took the opportunity today to announce several new notebook designs ahead of CES 2018. One of the more interesting and unexpected items is the newly redesigned Acer Swift 7 notebook.

Acer Swift 7.jpg

Touted as the "World's Thinnest Laptop" by Acer, the Swift 7 comes in an impressive 8.98mm (0.35-in) thick. To put that figure into some context, consider that the Core M-based 12" MacBook which was praised for its thin form factor comes in at 13.2mm (0.52-in) at it's thickest point.

Currently, the information we have about the hardware of the Swift 7 is a bit sparse. While Acer states it will feature a 7th Generation Core processor, we don't yet know if this is referring to a 3.5W processor like the i7-7Y75, or a higher power 15W processor such as the i7-7500U. While I am desperately hoping that Acer has managed to integrate a 15W processor into this design, it seems likely to be using a Y-series part.

Acer Swift 7_2.jpg

In addition to the i7 processor, the Swift 7 will be equipped with 256 GB of PCIe storage, as well as 8GB of LPDDR3 memory.

Even with its super-thin form-factor, the Acer Swift 7 manages to pack another surprise, the addition of built-in LTE connectivity. Unlike other connected Windows devices we have seen recently, the Swift 7 is opting for an Intel XMM Modem solution instead of Qualcomm's offerings. The Swift 7 will feature a built-in eSIM for a fast and easy subscription process to your carrier of choice.


In addition, Acer is also partnering with a company called Transatel to provide one month's worth of free trial LTE access (up to 1GB of data) for owners of the Swift 7. Transatel partners with carriers all over the world with their international data SIM service, meaning this connectivity will be available in 48 countries.

As you might expect, the "World's Thinnest Laptop" doesn't come cheap, starting at $1699 for the base configuration with availability set to begin in March. 

Additionally, Acer also updated us on their previously announced Switch 7 Black Edition 2-in-1 device.

Acer Switch 7 Black.jpg

First discussed at the IFA trade show last year, the Switch 7 Black Edition is billed as the most powerful fanless 2-in-1 device. Not only will it feature a quad-core 8th Generation Intel processor, but Acer also is packing in an NVIDIA GeForce MX 150 discrete GPU cooled by their Dual LiquidLoop heat pipe design.

The Switch 7 Black Edition will be shipping later this month, with the earlier announced base price of $1699

Source: Acer
Manufacturer: Intel

Overview and CPU Performance

When Intel announced their quad-core mobile 8th Generation Core processors in August, I was immediately interested. As a user who gravitates towards "Ultrabook" form-factor notebooks, it seemed like a no-brainer—gaining two additional CPU cores with no power draw increase.


However, the hardware reviewer in me was skeptical. Could this "Kaby Lake Refresh" CPU provide the headroom to fit two more physical cores on a die while maintaining the same 15W TDP? Would this mean that the processor fans would have to run out of control? What about battery life?

Now that we have our hands on our first two notebooks with the i7-8550U in, it's time to take a more in-depth look at Intel's first mobile offerings of the 8th Generation Core family.


Click here to continue reading our look at performance with Intel 8th Generation mobile processors!

It's dangerous to go alone; gaming on a Lenovo X1 Carbon ultrabook

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2017 - 03:01 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ultrabook, Lenovo, ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Techspot recently investigated the ability of current generation ultrabooks to game, without external assistance.  They tested using a Lenovo X1 Carbon, similar to what Ken utilized when he benchmarked the AKiTiO Node external GPU.  Techspot's model had a Core i5-7200U as opposed to the 7300U both chips have the same HD 620 iGPU, but only Ken's had help. 

Techspot focused on the performance the ultrabook could provide in 34 different games, from current and past AAA games as well as eSports and even 2D indie games.  Take a look through their results to see just how far we have come since the original generations of Intel iGPUs which simply could not game at all.  The results show that there is indeed a market for Thunderbolt based external GPUs.


"With this in mind, we've tested 34 games on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon: from current AAA titles to older 2D platformers, to give you an idea of what games are actually playable on modern ultraportables."

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Source: Techspot

Rumor: Intel to Launch Quad Core Kaby Lake-R CPUs for Ultraportables

Subject: Processors, Mobile | July 17, 2017 - 04:32 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, quad core, Intel, i5-8520u, i5-7200u, hyperthreading, dell xps 13, acer swift 3, 15w

A few days ago, uncovered some listings for an unannounced revision to the Acer Swift 3 notebook.


In addition to the new Pascal-based NVIDIA MX150 GPU announced just before Computex, astute readers will also spot an unannounced CPU from Intel – the Core i5-8250U. While the model number itself doesn't tell us much other than it's a next generation CPU, the description in the Acer product listings notes it as a quad core CPU.

Following Intel's history with the U-series parts, the 8250U would traditionally be a 15W, dual core CPU with hyperthreading enabled, with the true quad core parts starting with the 35W TDP options

We've had an indication that a quad core U-series processor was coming in the second half of this year from Intel's performance claims presented at Computex this year, but we weren't quite sure what form it would take.

Doing some additional research, we can see several results from this processor in the Geekbench database from various notebook manufacturers – including devices we would expect to be refreshed like the Dell XPS 13 and ASUS Zenbook UX490.


From the Geekbench results of the XPS 13 with the i5-8520U compared to the current generation i5-7200U, we see a 54% increase in multi threaded CPU performance while only a 7% increase in single threaded performance. Keep in mind that these leaked benchmarks should be taken with a grain of salt, but we would be very impressed with these numbers in a shipping notebook.

Geekbench's processor profiler also reveals the i5-8250U to be a 4 core/8 thread processor, pointing to hyperthreading being enabled on the i5 processors as well as the i7's, like we currently see in the U-series.


Some people have been theorizing that this 8000 series processor is from the upcoming Coffee Lake release. However, based on some of the Intel roadmap leaks from late last year, I think that this is actually a Kaby Lake-R CPU. The leaked roadmap suggests that Kaby Lake-R will launch as the 8th generation processor family, to be released in the second half of 2017.

Either way, I am excited to finally see some push forward in the 15W CPU space, which I consider to be the sweet spot between battery life and performance for most users.

Stay tuned for more information on these new Intel processors and these new notebooks as we get out hands on them!

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Dell


Editor’s Note: After our review of the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, Dell contacted us about our performance results. They found our numbers were significantly lower than their own internal benchmarks. They offered to send us a replacement notebook to test, and we have done so. After spending some time with the new unit we have seen much higher results, more in line with Dell’s performance claims. We haven’t been able to find any differences between our initial sample and the new notebook, and our old sample has been sent back to Dell for further analysis. Due to these changes, the performance results and conclusion of this review have been edited to reflect the higher performance results.

It's difficult to believe that it's only been a little over 2 years since we got our hands on the revised Dell XPS 13. Placing an emphasis on minimalistic design, large displays in small chassis, and high-quality construction, the Dell XPS 13 seems to have influenced the "thin and light" market in some noticeable ways.


Aiming their sights at a slightly different corner of the market, this year Dell unveiled the XPS 13 2-in-1, a convertible tablet with a 360-degree hinge. However, instead of just putting a new hinge on the existing XPS 13, Dell has designed the all-new XPS 13 2-in-1 from the ground up to be even more "thin and light" than it's older sibling, which has meant some substantial design changes. 

Since we are a PC hardware-focused site, let's take a look under the hood to get an idea of what exactly we are talking about with the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
MSRP $999 $1199 $1299 $1399
Screen 13.3” FHD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge touch display
CPU Core i5-7Y54 Core i7-7Y75
GPU Intel HD Graphics 615
Storage 128GB SATA 256GB PCIe
Network Intel 8265 802.11ac MIMO (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz)
Bluetooth 4.2
Display Output

1 x Thunderbolt 3
1 x USB 3.1 Type-C (DisplayPort)

Connectivity USB 3.0 Type-C
3.5mm headphone
USB 3.0 x 2 (MateDock)
Audio Dual Array Digital Microphone
Stereo Speakers (1W x 2)
Weight 2.7 lbs ( 1.24 kg)
Dimensions 11.98-in x 7.81-in x 0.32-0.54-in
(304mm x 199mm x 8 -13.7 mm)
Battery 46 WHr
Operating System Windows 10 Home / Pro (+$50)

One of the more striking design decisions from a hardware perspective is the decision to go with the low power Core i5-7Y54 processor, or as you may be familar with from it's older naming scheme, Core M. In the Kaby Lake generation, Intel has decided to drop the Core M branding (though oddly Core m3 still exists) and integrate these lower power parts into the regular Core branding scheme.

Click here to continue reading our review of the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1

Jack Sprat would approve of the third incarnation of the ASUS Zenbook

Subject: Mobile | February 20, 2017 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: zenbook 3, UX390UA, ultrabook, kaby lake, asus. zenbook

We caught a glance at the new ASUS ZenBook 3 at CES and today Kitguru provides a full review of one, albeit a slightly different model.  The UX3901UA model contains a Kaby Lake i5-7200U with HD 620 graphics, 8GB LPDDR3-2133 and a 512GB M.2 SATA SSD.  The 12.5" screen is 1080p with no adaptive graphics or other tricks.  Where things seem to go off the rails is when you look at the thickness of the Zenbook, at its thickest it is 11.9mm (0.46").  This means you get no ethernet nor USB type A plugs as they simply would not fit and you have to content yourself with a single Type C plug.  For some the sacrifice is worth it; if you are one who likes petite sized computers you should head over for the full review.

open2 (1).jpg

"What has really caught my eye about the ZenBook 3 is its physical dimensions – it measures just 11.9mm thick, while it weighs a mere 910g. With Kaby Lake hardware inside, as well as the promise of a crisp 1080p display and Harman Kardon speakers, could this be our new ultrabook of choice?"

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Source: Kitguru

Xiaomi Launches Sleek Mi Notebook Air Ultrabooks

Subject: General Tech | July 28, 2016 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: xiaomi, ultraportable, ultrabook, thin and light, Intel, core m3, core i5

According to the guys over at The Tech Report, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is jumping into the notebook game with two new Mi Notebook Air ultrabooks. The all aluminum notebooks are sleek looking and priced very competitively for their specifications. They are set to release on August 2nd in China.

The new Mi Notebook Air notebooks come in 13.3" and 12.5" versions. Both models use all aluminum bodies with edge to edge glass displays (1080p though unknown what type of panel), backlit keyboards, and dual AKG speakers. Users can choose from gold or silver colors for the body and keyboard (Xiaomi uses a logo-less design which is nice).

Xiaomi Mi-Notebook-Air in Gold and SIlver.jpg

Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air via Ars Technica.

Both models sport a single USB Type C port (which is also used for charging), two USB 3.0 Type A ports, one HDMI video output, and a headphone jack. The Xiaomi website shows an USB Type C adapter that adds extra ports as well. Internally, they have a M.2 slot for storage expansion but the notebooks do not appear to be user serviceable (though iFixit may rectify that...). Also shared is support for the company's Mi Sync software and Mi fitness band which can be used to unlock the computer when the user is in proximity.

The smaller 12.5" Mi Notebook Air is 0.51" thick and weighs just over 2.3 pounds. It is powered by an Intel Core M3 processor and Xiaomi claims that this model can hit 11.5 hours ouf battery life. Other specifications include 4 GB of RAM, a 128 GB SATA SSD, and 802.11ac wireless.

If you need a bit more computing power, the 13.3" notebook is slightly bulkier at 0.58" thick and 2.8 pounds with the tradeoff in size giving users a larger display, keyboard, and dedicated graphics card. Specifically, the 13.3" ultrabook features an Intel Core i5 processor, Nvidia Geforce 940MX GPU, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, a 256GB NVMe PCI-E SSD, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. This laptop is a bit heavier but I think the extra horsepower is worth it for those that need or want it.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about what many will see as an Apple MacBook Air clone is the pricing. The 12.5" laptop will MSRP for RMB 3499 while that 13.3" notebook will cost RMB 4999. That translates to approximately $525 and $750 USD respectively which is a great value for the specifications and size and seemingly will give Apple a run for its money in China. That's the bad news: Xiaomi does not appear to be bringing these slick looking notebooks to the US anytime soon which is unfortunate.

Also read:

The Huawei MateBook Review: A Denial-of-Surface Attack

Source: Xiaomi
Subject: Systems, Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Specifications

Lenovo made quite a splash with the introduction of the original X1 Carbon notebook in 2012; with its ultra-thin, ultra-light, and carbon fiber-infused construction, it became the flagship ThinkPad notebook. Fast-forward to late 2013, and the introduction of the ThinkPad Yoga; the business version of the previous year's consumer Yoga 2-in-1. The 360-degree hinge was novel for a business machine at the time, and the ThinkPad Yoga had a lot of promise, though it was far from perfect.


Now we fast-forward again, to the present day. It's 2016, and Lenovo has merged their ThinkPad X1 Carbon and ThinkPad Yoga together to create the X1 Yoga. This new notebook integrates the company's Yoga design (in appearance this is akin to the recent ThinkPad Yoga 260/460 revision) into the flagship ThinkPad X lineup, and provides what Lenovo is calling "the world's lightest 14-inch business 2-in-1".

Yoga and Carbon Merge

When Lenovo announced the marriage of the X1 Carbon notebook with the ThinkPad Yoga, I took notice. A buyer of the original ThinkPad Yoga S1 (with which I had a love/hate relationship) I wondered if the new X1 version of the business-oriented Yoga convertible would win me over. On paper it checks all the right boxes, and the slim new design looks great. I couldn't wait to get my hands on one for some real-world testing, and to see if my complaints about the original TP Yoga design were still valid.


As one would expect from a notebook carrying Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 branding, this new Yoga is quite slim, and made from lightweight materials. Comparing this new Yoga to the X1 Carbon directly, the most obvious difference is that 360° hinge, which is the hallmark of the Yoga series, and exclusive to those Lenovo designs. This hinge allows the X1 Yoga to be used as a notebook, tablet, or any other imaginable position in between.


Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (base configuration, as reviewed)
Processor Intel Core i5-6200U (Skylake)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 520
Memory 8GB LPDDR3-1866
Screen 14-in 1920x1080 IPS Touch (with digitizer, active pen)
Storage 256GB M.2 SSD
Camera 720p / Digital Array Microphone
Wireless Intel 8260 802.11ac + BT 4.1 (Dual Band, 2x2)
Connections OneLink+
Mini DisplayPort
3x USB 3.0
Audio combo jack
Dimensions 333mm x 229 mm x 16.8mm (13.11" x 9.01" x 0.66")
2.8 lbs. (1270 g)
OS Windows 10 Pro
Price $1349 -

Continue reading our review of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Notebook!!

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Lenovo

A Very Familiar Look and Feel

Released alongside the launch of Windows 8 in October 2012, the original Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 was a revolutionary device. While Microsoft's initial vision for a touch-enabled Windows may have not panned out exactly as they wanted it to, people still found utility in 2-in-1 devices like the Yoga. In the proceeding years, similar devices from companies like HP and Dell have arose, but consumers ultimately migrated towards Lenovo's offerings.

The Yoga line has seen several drastic changes since it's inception in 2012. Industrial design changes like the Watchband Hinge introduced in the Yoga 3 Pro, and the spinning off of Yoga out of the IdeaPad brand into it's own family this generation with the Yoga 900 point towards the longevity of this 2-in-1 design.


Today we are taking a look at the most affordable option in the Yoga family, the Lenovo Yoga 700.

Continue reading our review of the Lenovo Yoga 700!