Razer Blade Stealth (Early 2018) Review: Almost There
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)|
|Screen||13.3" QHD+ (3200x1800) IGZO Touch Screen|
|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)|
1 x Thunderbolt 3
|Connectivity||1 x Thunderbolt 3
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)|
|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.
For those of you who are interested in saving a bit of cash in the form of less CPU power, Razer also continues to offer the Blade Stealth with the previous 7th generation dual-core Intel processors.
When looking for a notebook from a lower volume notebook manufacture like Razer, build quality is one of the things I tend to keep an eye out for. However, this has absolutely not been a concern with the Blade Stealth. The aluminum, unibody construction seems to be as durable as any other consumer-focused laptop I've seen. However, mostly as a personal preference, I would like to see the screen hinge to be a little stiffer. I don't necessarily think it's a particularly weak aspect of the design, but there is a bit of wobble from time to time if the notebook gets jostled.
Speaking of display, the 13.3" 3200x1800 IGZO panel found in the Razer Blade Stealth is beautiful. In particular, I was immediately impressed by how deep the black levels on this display were when I started using it.
As far as color gamut is concerned, the Razer Blade Stealth with a quick calibration on our Spyder 4 Pro colorimeter was at 100% sRGB, so don't expect any sort of support here for wider color gamuts.
The keyboard, however, is a bit of a mixed bag. There are some things that I think Razer has done really well here with the keyboard on the Blade Stealth. First, I think it looks nice from a design perspective. The clean, modern typeface that Razer used (and uses on most of their products), doesn't make this product shout "gamer" as we see a lot of notebooks from other manufacturers do.
Additionally, the backlight on the Blade Stealth is fantastic. While the "Gunmetal" Blade Stealth we have here doesn't support Razer's Chroma RGB Keyboard (that's only available with the black chassis for some reason), it's one of the best-implemented backlights I've seen recently. There is zero bleed through the keycaps to other keys, and the legends are very well illuminated.
One detail that I appreciate and haven't seen on any other notebooks is how Razer handles the "Function" key. When you depress the function key, the backlight for the rest of the keyboard turns off, leaving only the row of function keys illuminated so you can more easily look at the button you need to press to do things like control the screen brightness or volume. This is a nitpicky detail for sure, but one I personally enjoy.
Unfortunately, my main fault with the keyboard on the Razer Blade Stealth is a big one, the key travel. The Blade Stealth is relatively thin by modern standards at just over half of an inch in height, but the keys seem to have much lighter actuation points than comparable notebooks.
Additionally, I think the trackpad has some similar issues. While I found the tracking and palm rejection to be better than most notebooks, the actuation pressure for the click is very low. The closest analogy I can think of is to the modern MacBooks which use the electromagnetic click pad on the "softest" setting. However, unlike the MacBooks, it is a physical, non-adjustable button here. I found myself accidentally clicking in the trackpad often with my palms while typing.
As far as ports are concerned, Razer has bucked the modern trend of USB Type-C heavy notebooks and has retained a lot of the ports that users care about.
While the main charging port doubles as a Thunderbolt 3 Port, you also have 3x Type-A USB 3.0 connectors, a headphone jack, and a full-size HDMI 2.0b port.
Personally, I would have liked to see another charging-capable USB-C or Thunderbolt port on the other side of the notebook, and an SD card reader to round out the input options on the Razer Blade Stealth, but as it exists currently it's a very flexible combination.
|Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
|How product was obtained:||The product is on loan from Razer for the purpose of this review.|
|What happens to product after review:||The product is the property of Razer, and will be returned after the publication of this review.|
|Company involvement:||Razer had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.|
|PC Perspective Compensation:||Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Razer for this review.|
|Advertising Disclosure:||Razer has not purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.|
|Affiliate links:||This article contains affiliate links to online retailers. PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases through those links.|
|Consulting Disclosure:||Razer is not a current client of Shrout Research for products or services related to this review.|