Launched in May 2014, the New Razer Blade had been the focus of the gaming community for quite a while during its pre-order period. When the machine finally shipped, it turns out to be a satisfying piece worthy of the wait and money. The stellar 3200 x 1800 ten-point touch screen sets this gaming beast immediately apart from its competitors, while the 4th gen Core i7 processor and Nvidia GTX 870M graphics delivers a solid gaming experience.
- Incredibly thin and lightweight
- Stylish design and great build quality
- High resolution display plus ten-point touch screen
- Razer-style backlit keyboard
- The limit of 8 GB memory
- Hefty price tag
- Lack of dual graphics card
The 2014 New Razer Blade is definitely an impressive gaming laptop, one of its own kind and among the best we’ve ever seen. The new screen is its biggest selling point, which sets a unique new standard for portable gaming laptops. The performance is also good enough for all main stream game, making this machine ideal for mobile gaming needs.
Build and Design
The New Razer Blade’s full metal body resembles a typical MacBook Pro, but it differs in that it is fully painted in black, and has two ridges at the top surface. On the bottom, it also shows two vents which implies the powerful gaming hardware inside. The unit has a footprint of 13.6” x 9.3” (345mm x 235mm), and its height is merely 0.70” (17.8mm), thinner than the latest MacBook Pro. The weight is also pretty light at 4.47lbs (2.03kg), making it quite mobile.
The body looks overall quite fluent and well-built, gaps between parts are even and all edges are all smoothly finished. It surely gives out the typical Razerish impression with its green and dark tone, and its premium feeling.
Input and Output Ports
You’ll find in total 3 USB 3.0 ports on the unit, two on the left side, together with the DC port and the array microphone port, while the other one on the right side, where you also get an HDMI 1.4 port. The unit lacks a built-in Ethernet port, so if you need wired internet, you’ll need an external Ethernet card. The inner parts of the USB 3.0 ports are all colored in Razer green, making them quite distinguishable.
Screen and Speakers
The 14-inch QHD+ screen is the key point of this gaming machine. It features a gorgeous 3200 x 1800 resolution, together with ten-point multi-touch. Razer is doing serious improvement by hearing its fan’s voice here, as the predecessor of the New Razer Blade only had 1600 x 900 resolution, which was quite a dilemma for people considering buying it. The color of the new screen is vivid and ample. Some people may complain about the glossy finish of the screen as there will be annoying reflections from nearby light sources, but we found it’s not that a big issue, and it actually feels necessary to complete the premium look of the laptop.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Unlike its 17-inch sibling, the New Razer Blade does not have a full-size keyboard, and it lacks a few standard keys (like the Home key). But that shouldn’t be a big problem for gaming, especially mobile gaming. The backlight of the keyboard, as expected, emits typical Razer green, and the fonts on the keys are also quite stylish. Typing on the keyboard feels good, there is ample travel distance for good tactile feedback.
The touchpad is generous in size, and it comes with two separate slim buttons at the bottom, making the device’s usability quite nice. Windows 8 gestures performed without any problem on the pad, and it feels very responsive.
The unit we had for the tests is the 256GB version – the storage volume is the only option you can choose when purchasing the unit, so there are really not many variations. The configuration of our test unit is listed as below:
- Processor: Intel® Core™ i7-4702HQ Quad Core Processor with Hyper Threading 2.2GHz / 3.2GHz (Base/Turbo)
- Memory: 8GB onboard memory (DDR3L-1600MHz)
- Graphics and Video: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 870M (3GB GDDR5 VRAM, Optimus™ Technology)
- Display: 14.0″ QHD+ 16:9 Ratio, 3200×1800, with LED backlight, capacitive multi-touch
- Storage: 256GB SSD (SATA M.2)
- Webcam: Built-in HD webcam (2.0MP)
- Communications: Intel® Wireless-AC 7260HMW (802.11a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth® 4.0)
- Operating System: Windows® 8.1 (64-Bit)
- Price: $2399.99
We tested with a few most popular games, including Dota 2, Starcraft 2 Hear of the Swarm, and the newly released PC version of Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare. In any of these games, the overall performance is more than satisfying. However, it is worthy pointing out that at its maximum resolution of 3200 x 1800, some games will stutter a little bit. Also, a very important point is by default settings, the units seems not always trying to use its Nvidia card while gaming – it will use the onboard Intel graphics, which will seriously lower any game’s performance. So before gaming, we suggest you make sure that in the Nvidia Control Panel, set it to always use the dedicated graphics card. Below are the details of each game we tested.
At top resolution of 3200 x 1800 and maximum graphic settings, the fps was not completely satisfying – at an average of 37 frames per second. While the game can be generally run without much problem, there is some occasional stutter at this frame rate. When it comes to team battle, this is more obvious. Lowering the graphics settings to the medium range helps the frame rate grow to around 50 – significantly improved but still less than optimal. For better gaming experience, we recommend lowering the screen resolution to 1920 x 1080 (and maximum graphic settings).
Starcraft 2 Heart of the Swarm
The fps of HotS at the same settings as Dota 2 is generally lower – at 3200 x 1800 and maximum settings, the fps hovers around 31; at high settings, 37; medium, 45; low, 59. Although overall the fps is lower than Dota 2, the games feels more fluent when playing, no obvious stutter can be observed during battles, although some do happen at some cut scenes in campaign mode. We believe playing SC2 HotS at maximum settings and 3200 x 1800 resolution is an acceptable experience.
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare
When resolution is set to 3200 x 1800, fps stays around 31 at ultra settings; 38 for high settings. The game feels pretty stutter at this fps, although still playable at high settings.
We ran two benchmark tests with the test Blade: PCMark8 and latest 3DMark. Results as shown below:
Heat and Noise
During general use, the laptop remained very quiet, and the temperature was pretty acceptable. When it comes to games, the laptop’s fans throttle from time to time, which is quite audible. If you are gaming in a silent environment, this would be not desirable. That being said, the noise level of the fans is comparable with other major gaming laptops, so we don’t think it that bad. The heat, on the other side, is of a little bit of a problem. Most part of the laptop won’t go very hot during gaming sessions, except the top part that’s right below the screen and above the keyboard, where the power button sits. This part grows extremely hot during games, which makes the area not touchable – and the problem is, as mentioned, the power button is here. It is okay if you just quickly push the button, but if you want to press and hold, it would be a pain. However, given that press and hold the power button is not normally needed, this shouldn’t be a big problem for an ordinary gamer.
We took PCMark 8’ Home test as the usage setting, and the battery lasted 2 hours consuming 81% of the total power. This means with normal using (without gaming), it should last for around 4 hours, while gaming would consume all juice within 1 hour and 30 minutes.
The New Razer Blade is definitely a unique gaming laptop that worth to be owned. Priced at around the $2400 point, the unit is by no means cheap, but compared to other laptops you can get at this price, the Blade is a no brainer. While it won’t deliver the ultimate gaming experience, its strength lies in its slim, light and beautiful body, while the gaming experience is still quite satisfying compared with other gaming laptops.
PS: The Razer Blade does not come with a recovery drive but with a recovery partition. If you by any chance messed things up, you can request a drive free of charge from Razer by contacting their support. The drive is pretty stylish and convenient to use, with which you can choose to erase the recovery partition to free up more disk space.