Reviewing laptops is something very much outside of my comfort zone, but when Razer offered me the chance to review the latest Razer Blade 15, I knew I had to say yes. Not only does the Razer Blade itself come with a very solid reputation, but if the rest of the Razer range was anything to go by, I was in for a real treat. I was not disappointed!
The 2021 Razer Blade 15 (Base Model) comes packed with some of the best tech on the market. So naturally I was super excited to see what all the fuss was about, especially with the infamous RTX 30 series GPU’s.
10th Gen Intel Core i7-10750h 6 Core (2.6GHz / 5.0GHz)
15.6” Full HD 144Hz 100% sRGB
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 - 8GB GDDR6 VRAM
512GB SSD (M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4) + Open M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 Slot
16GB dual-channel DDR4-2933MHz (8Gb x 2)
Price - $2599 - Centrecom
Out of the box, you're immediately drawn to how sleek looking this machine is. Of course when I learned that I would be reviewing this model, I did my pre-research and honestly, the pictures of it didn't impress me. It looked rather bulky and boxy, and well, that's simply not the case. The look is totally impressive. The CNC Unibody Aluminium chassis, combined with that Anodized black finish had me immediately swooning, and you can't go past that gorgeous backlit razer logo on the lid. my only issue design wise is that while it looks great, that anodized finish is an absolute fingerprint magnet.
After trialling this beast for about 2 weeks, my only complaint is that I don't feel like I got to see even nearly enough of what it is capable of. In design, the 2021 Razer Blade is very similar to previous models; some might prefer that Razer changed things up a bit, but I am a strong believer of the if it's not broken, don't fix it approach. Make no mistakes, this is one good looking laptop that doesn't need fixing. Once you open the lid, you are greeted with a backlit keyboard that looks great, however the keys are a little squishy and don't feel as premium as I'd have liked. Each tap felt a little shallow and made for the typing experience to be a little unnatural feeling, however something I'm sure you'd adapt to over time. That being said, there's not a lot of laptops that feel much better, so not a sticking point, just something to note. Moving on to the touchpad, it is a dream. It looks and feels really nice and is surprisingly responsive. The Display is a 144Hz 1080p 100%s RGB display, surrounded by a delightfully thin bezel, despite still housing the in-built webcam.
The chassis features a whole bunch of inputs and outputs, including HDMI 2.1. If you didn't know already, HDMI 2.1 allows for up to 4K 120FPS and works with any HDMI 2.1 monitor or TV, so playing your games on a 55” or above screen no longer mean loss of performance. As well as this HDMI 2.1 slot, the Razer Blade features:
1x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)
3x USB 3.2 Gen 2
1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
1x Ethernet port
This allows for the connection of multiple peripherals or external storage devices for game or file storage etc.
Now we've talked about how the Razer Blade looks, let's get into how it performs. With any gaming laptop, everything else is second to the importance of gaming performance. Therefore, one of the first things I did, after installing a bunch of launchers and games etc, was to run a benchmark test. The results for this test surpassed even my wildest expectations… Here are the results:
UserBenchmarks: Game 94%, Desk 95%, Work 88%
CPU: Intel Core i7-10750H - 89.9%
GPU: Nvidia RTX 3070 (Laptop) - 100.4%
SSD: Nvme CA5-8D512 512GB - 205.4%
RAM: Unknown NMSO480E82-3200E 2x8GB - 86%
MBD: Razer Blade 15 Base Model (Early 2021) - RZ09-0369
As you can see the Razer Blade is an absolute powerhouse of performance. Now I expected it to be a beast when it came to gaming power, thanks to that RTX 3070, however it's the Razer Blades ability to perform so well as a workstation and a desktop that blew me away. Results this good made me determined to prove them wrong. I was determined to “break” the Razer Blade 15. I failed! Bested by a machine, the Razer Blade 15 handled everything I threw at it. I played Red Dead Redemption 2, Rust, Death Stranding, Control, Bioshock Infinite, Hitman 3, and even Microsoft Flight Sim; the Razer Blade chewed them all up and spit them out with ease. Every single game was able to be played with Ultra settings enabled and ray tracing on where possible. Each time I was getting between 90-180FPS at 1080p with Bioshock Infinite pumping out high 200s and Control giving me about 90, with Ray tracing on and 130 without. All the while the Razer Blade 15 was just kicking back, chilling out at a cool 70-75 degrees.
Now, when I think of a laptop, I think of portability. So having a laptop with a RTX 3070 and all that performance power should be perfect to game on the go, on public transport, at work - right? Well, yes and no. Yes it's true that you can technically have this power at your fingertips anywhere, after all it's a laptop - but you'll want to be next to a power point. Before I ran the benchmark test previously mentioned, I ran one on battery power. That 94% gaming performance, dropped to 31%. That is lower than my wife's 4 year old Dell Inspiron and way below my HP Omen laptop. I tweaked with the settings but was never able to get it as high as that 94% on charge power. Another problem I ran into in terms of portability was battery life. While it is understandable that a laptop this powerful would chew through battery life, it was only lasting me between 3-4 hours of use that for pretty basic gaming. Which although disappointing, is actually not far from the average gaming laptop battery life. Needing to be connected to a power point, doesn't really scream portability. Speaking of the need of a power point, another thing that is on my radar, is the sheer size of the Razor Blades power brick. The thing is huge, it's heavy and just makes the idea of putting this system in a backpack or laptop case a tad unrealistic. Between the laptop itself and the power brick you're looking at about 3kg, with the charging brick and cords being almost ⅓ of that. Now, while laptops are “technically” intended for portability, I must admit, the furthest away from my desk that I've ever used my current laptop is the couch, so this relative lack of portability isn't an issue for me, but is worth mentioning for anyone who may need their laptop to double for work or study purposes.
Let's get back to talking a little more about what makes the Razer Blade a fantastic laptop for just about anyone. We've covered how it's a powerhouse for gaming, now let's look a little at video editing. This is another field in which the Razer Blade excels and it honestly surprised me. Using Vegas Pro, I created a few 4K videos from gameplay footage off my PS5. These videos rendered perfectly and in half the time my daily laptop can do them. The whole thing felt too easy to be honest. So I kicked it up a notch. I rendered a video in the background while downloading a game on steam, editing a photo in Photoshop and watching a couple of videos on Youtube. Once again, the Razer Blade knocked it out of the park. At this point I'm wondering if it will even break a sweat, and quite honestly, it never did. I was pushing it to what should be its limits, and it seemed like it had so much left in reserve. It was about then that I decided to stop trying to push the Razer Blade 15 and just enjoy it for what it is. An absolute beast of a laptop for whatever you're wanting to do with it. It was giving me performance, above what the vast majority of high end desktop PCs would.
In terms of Audio, I was both impressed and a little underwhelmed at the same time. Audio performance for gaming, I'd give about a 5/10 but for things like music it's a solid 8/10. Any serious gamer though would likely be gaming with headphones, so another minor detail for me. I did play around with the THX app included, which does have presets for all different occasions, but I was never really able to find one that improved the gaming audio significantly.
As with all laptops, the webcam isn't much, I expected as such and to be honest, if you're buying a laptop for its crystal clear webcam, then you might be disappointed whichever one you go with.
The display on the Razer Blade is outstanding, the colours, the vibrancy, the refresh rate, all came together just perfectly to deliver some of the best looking 1080p visuals I've seen. I do feel however that in a laptop of this calibre, a 1440p display should be the minimum. It just feels like a lost opportunity, that despite getting frames far above the display's capability, I am unable to increase the resolution slightly and not lose any perceivable quality.
I didn't think the Razer Blade 15 would have quite the effect on me it has. I wholeheartedly recommend this as a gaming laptop to anybody, Whatever it is you want it to do, it will do it, with ease! There's not a lot I can fault the Razer Blade for, other than it's expectedly average webcam, somewhat unexpectedly poor battery life and possible portability restrictions; the Razer Blade is perfect in just about every other way. I have fallen in love with the Razer Blade 15 and would highly recommend it to just about anyone, even outside the gaming realm.
Overall the 2021 Razer Blade 15 base model is a home run. It is a lot of things that I didn't really know gaming laptops were capable of. The level of performance you can expect is far above any laptop I've used before, albeit when it is plugged in. Whether you're looking for a gaming laptop that can deliver performance similar to most desktops, or simply a more portable version of next gen consoles, the Razer Blade 15 is a top pick for this editor.
*This laptop was provided to us by Razer on a temporary basis for the purpose of a review. However, we assure you that all the opinions provided in this review are the honest opinions of the writer.*
Image Credit - Razer