Hands-on review: CES 2016: Razer Blade Stealth

Razer has been chasing after the dream of a thin but capable gaming laptop for a few years now but I think it has finally pulled it off with the Razer Blade Stealth. Self-categorized as a gaming Ultrabook, the 12.5-inch machine is amazingly thin with a beautiful screen and packing a fast processor.

But when you’re ready to game, you can plug the Stealth into an external GPU box called the Razer Core and play titles on Ultra without any problems at all. It’s a system we’ve seen before on the MSI GS30 Shadow and Alienware 17, but Razer’s solution is the most elegant I’ve seen as it’s smaller and requires only one thin USB-C cable to work.

Razer Blade Stealth review

Measuring just 0.52-inches (13mm) thin and weighing 2.75-pounds (1.25kg), you almost wouldn’t believe it is powered by an Intel Core i7-6500U processor instead of one of Intel’s Core M-series chips. Complete with an extremely sharp CNC’ed aluminum chassis, it’s ready to throw down with some of the best Ultrabooks including the Dell XPS 13 and Lenovo Yoga 900.

Razer Blade Stealth review

Every Razer Blade also comes outfitted 8GB, though storage options vary with which model you choose. You also get an IGZO display with the option of either a 2,560 x 1,440 (QHD) or 3,840 x 2,160 (4K) resolution panel. In my short hands on time I was given the 4K model and the picture quality is stunning in both vibrancy and deep blacks.

Razer Blade Stealth review

And if that isn’t enough color for you the fully backlit and customizable keyboard is spectacle to behold. Not only does it light up with every color you can think of, you can also program every single key individually. Want WASD to show up in red, arrow keys in turquoise, the entire number pad in brighter shades of lavender with each numeral; it can all be done in Razer’s Synapse software.

The extra layer of granularity is extremely superfluous for most laptop users but for gamers lighting is everything, and the Razer Blade Stealth is one of the finest devices I’ve seen in this regard.

Razer Blade Stealth review

As for typing with the keys, it feels serviceable enough. The keys don’t travel deeply at all but it doesn’t feel mushy and the buttons themselves are large so the small ding is forgivable. The trackpad is huge, smooth and offers a lot of clicking action so I only have great praises for it.

Razer Blade Stealth review

While there’s a lot to like about the Blade Stealth as an everyday Ultrabook, it impresses to an even greater degree as a gaming machine. Connecting the notebook’s Thunder 3.0 supported USB-C to the Razer Core essentially gives it a nitrous boost of desktop graphics power. With the system fully hooked up, I was able to play Fallout 4 on a curved 1,920 x 1,080 display on Ultra settings at a silky smooth 60fps.

Razer Blade Stealth review

The Razer Core itself is a sharp aluminum enclosure that can fit a full-sized desktop card including the redonkulous Nvidia Titan X. It’s also fitted with a few Chroma lights of its own to illuminate the left-side mesh window as well as the front edge for an under glow effect. It’s coolest feature, however, is the locking mechanism for the GPU dock also doubles as a pull out handle. The whole assembly slides out on rails with a quick tug as if you were pulling the core out of a nuclear reactor.

Razer Blade Stealth review

Early verdict

The Razer Blade Stealth is one impressive laptop as both a thin-and-light everyday machine and an absolute gaming powerhouse when plugged in with the Core. It’s $999 (about £681, AU$1,395) starting price when outfitted with a QHD screen and 128GB SSD makes it a strong contender in the Ultrabook world.

However, there are still a few unknowns about this machine that you can’t look past before you buy this Ultrabook. For one thing Razer has yet to quote what battery life users can come to expect. But it looks promising and given how wonderful everything else is on this gaming Ultrabook, I have high hopes for the Razer Blade Stealth.

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