A Compact Powerhouse
There’s no doubt that the Razer Blade 15 RTX will cost you a pretty penny. But if you’re shopping for gaming laptops in the range of a few thousand dollars, you’d have trouble finding one that offers the sheer performance that you’ll find in the Razer Blade. And the fact that they pack all that power into a machine that’s marketed as the “world’s smallest 15.6 inch gaming laptop” is a true feat of engineering. Let’s get into it.
Razer hasn’t cut any corners in terms of the CPU. The Intel’s i7-8750H boasts six cores, and it’s the benchmark to beat for gaming laptops today. The eight generation of Intel processors signified a significant boost in performance in a market where releases are usually pretty iterative, and it shows. And that’s partnered with 16GB of dual-channel RAM, a combination of hardware that is next to impossible to beat. In short, any modern video game can run crisply at even the highest performance, and this machine is an absolute beast in terms of multitasking.
For gamers who demand optimization (and at this price point, that’s practically a given), the Razer Synapse software that comes included admirably fits the bill. Its three preset performance modes are balanced for casual use, gaming, and development, and you can even manually control the fan speeds and the refresh rate. But chances are you won’t need to. The presets are smartly optimized right out of the box.
Complementing the impressive RAM and the truly top shelf CPU is a monstrous NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card. It isn’t quite the best graphics card that NVIDIA has on the market (that privilege goes to the desktop-optimized 2080 Ti), but you won’t find a better option on any laptops operating today. Even the most graphically demanding games work admirably at the highest performance settings with the Razer. GPU-hogs can run well over 60 fps at a resolution of 1920 x 1080.
If you plan on spending three grand on a computer, you should expect it to not just perform well today but for years down the line, and the Razer is optimized for future performance as well. It supports ray tracing – a technique that offers for an incredible level of graphical realism. Ray tracing was one of the major highlights of Unreal’s demos at GDC 2020, and while it hasn’t seen that much use in the games of today, you can expect it to become the standard for high-end games in the years to come.
A poorly crafted screen can quickly negate the positive effects of a powerful graphics card, but Razer fortunately went all out in requisitioning a very good panel for their gaming rig. Manufactured by LG, this panel is an IPS equivalent and offers an FHD resolution. The frame refresh rate of 144 Hz should be able to keep pace with even the most complex graphics, and it can achieve a max brightness of 299 nits.
NVIDIA’s GSync technology (designed for performance above the given refresh rate) isn’t included. But considering that very few modern games can perform over 144 Hz, that doesn’t pose much of a problem. It may not be the best monitor on the planet, but any differentiations in contrast will be barely noticeable even if you put it side by side with a higher contrast monitor, and it can perform both indoors and in bright outdoor settings very well. The lack of blacklight bleed is also phenomenal in this panel.
If there’s one black mark against this model of the Razer Blade, it’s the storage capacity. A full terabyte of storage has become the expectation of gaming laptops in this price range, but the Razer sports only 512 GB solid state drive. That’s not ideal, but with proper memory management, you should be able to keep a decent library of games stored on your computer. And for the sake of the other top end features packed into this machine, the minor hassle of games management likely won’t be a breaking point for most gamers. And if that poses a serious problem for you, the storage capacity can be expanded to up to two TB.
The keyboard here is very sturdy, and it comes with the sort of aesthetics that you’d expect from the gaming laptop. The inclusion of customizable RGB backlighting is further supplemented by the fact that it can coordinate with any other Razer peripherals. That said, this isn’t the best keyboard for gaming. In a subculture where mechanical keys with tactile and resonant response are the expectation, the Blade 15 keyboard is a little too shallow and a little too light. How much that affects you will depend on how serious you are about gaming, but it’s an issue that can be resolved through the purchase of an external keyboard. It’s not ideal, but it’s also not a dramatic impediment.
The trackpad avails itself much more respectably. The glass surface takes up a lot of real estate, and it’s incredibly responsive and exceedingly smooth in terms of performance. While it likely won’t be the navigational mode of choice for twitch-heavy games like first person shooters, the simple fact is that there’s no trackpad that can really compete with a more traditional mouse peripheral.
The Razer Blade 15 RTX is a monster of a machine. It’s capable of deft and impressive performance even on the latest games, and the inclusion of features like ray tracing means that it will continue to be a powerhouse of a gaming rig even years down the line. Razer has invested in the best hardware available essentially all across the board. There are a few minor downsides here – most notably the modest memory storage and the shallow keyboard – are also issues that are easily remedied. It may be hard to argue that this is one of the cheaper gaming laptops around, but it’s also hard to argue that it doesn’t justify its value.