The Bottom Line
Jul 12 2013 - Razer's new compact gaming laptop is an amazing feat. That they could pack in such performance into a system that is generally half as thick and a third lighter than most gaming rigs. The big drawback though is the display with its lower resolution and mediocre picture. It would have been nice to see a somewhat better panel especially given the price tag of the system which is just under $2000. Of course, you won't find a more capable gaming laptop with such compact dimensions.
- Excellent Build Quality
- Surprisingly Good Performance
- Long Battery Life
- Lower Resolution Display With Below Average Performance
- Gets A Tad Hot Under Heavy Loads
- Intel Core i7-4702HQ Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 256GB Solid State Memory
- 14" WSXGA+ (1600x900) Display With 1.3 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M Graphics with 2GB Memory
- 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
- Three USB 3.0, HDMI
- 13.6" x 9.5" x 0.66" @ 4.1 lbs
- Windows 8
Review - Razer Blade 14-inch
Jul 12 2013 - Razer has taken the idea from their 17-inch Blade laptop (now renamed the Razer Pro) and shrunk that down to an even more compact design with the new 14-inch Blade laptop. It uses the same general black anodized aluminum frame with green accents that it did in its previous mobile systems. The smaller profile did mean that a few things had to change including the removal of the Switchblade customizable display on the side to be replaced by a more traditional trackpad beneath the keyboard. At just .66-inches thick, this is an incredibly thin system that is even thinner than Apple's laptops and has a very light four and a tenth pound weight. Even though it is very thin the design is solid and gives it a very high level of quality that very few companies offer.
Powering the Razer Blade 14 is a new quad core i7-4702HQ processor. This is the 4th generation processor from Intel that makes some huge changes in the design specifically with how it uses power. It offers a very solid level of performance that even surpasses the Core i7-3632QM processor that is the closest of the 3rd generation of processors. It certainly has more than enough for the average user and should have no problem with modern games or other demanding tasks such as desktop video work. This combined with 8GB of DDR3 memory allows for a smooth overall experience with the Windows 8 operating system. The only real complaint is that under constant heavy loads from tasks such as PC gaming, the system can get quite warm that it certainly is not comfortable to use on ones lap.
To keep its slim profile and also give it some exceptional performance, Razer has elected to only offer the system with solid state drives. The default configuration uses a 256GB model but if you want to save a bit more you can get a 128GB model for $200 less or for an extra $200 you can go for a 512GB. Performance from the drive is very good with cold boot times of just under ten seconds and very fast program loads. The only real downside is the limited space meaning gamers will likely have to rotate games in which likely won't be a problem with digital distribution will be forced to use as there is no optical drive. There are three USB 3.0 ports for use with high speed external storage devices if you do need some additional space. Unlike most laptops, there is no SD card slot on the system at all.
The biggest flaw with the Razer Blade 14 is its display. Most gaming focused systems tend to come with displays capable of a 1920x1080 but the smaller 14-inch screen here only reaches 1600x900. This is likely to ensure that the system could run at smooth frame rates from its NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675M graphics processor which would have trouble generating 30 frames in many new games at a full 1080p resolution. Still, there are many games out that that it could do a decent job with at a higher resolution. In addition to the resolution, the display also has some limited viewing angles that mean even moving the screen just a bit off of the direct angle will result in color shifting.
For the most part, the keyboard design of the 14-inch Razer Blade remains mostly unchanged from the larger 17-inch. Of course it lacks the visual trackpad and customizable keys of the larger version but this helps keeps things clean. A few of the keys were resized which makes it a bit easier to use. Overall, it is a very good keyboard that should provide a very comfortable typing but also a gaming experience. The trackpad design is nice and large along with two dedicated buttons below the pad rather than integrated. Most gamers will probably still use an external mouse for accuracy and comfort but the trackpad is very responsive and handles multitouch gestures quite well. It could be nice to have an easy way to disable the trackpad though as accidental brushes can cause issues while gaming.
While the system is extremely thin, Razer did manage to pack in a fairly high 70Whr capacity internal battery pack. In digital video playback testing, this resulted in over six hours before the system went into standby mode. This is extremely impressive and can be attributed to the larger battery pack and the improved power profile of the new 4th generation Core i7 processor. It certainly gives a much longer running time than any of the other more traditional laptop gaming rigs on the market but still a bit short of the Apple MacBook Pro 15 with Retina Display with its seven hours. Admittedly, you won't expect to get six hours of straight gaming away from a power cord but it still should last longer than most.
Pricing for the Razer Blade 14 is quite high at $1999. When compared to the MacBook Pro 15 with Retina, this isn't so bad but it is significantly higher than many other gaming specific laptops such as the Alienware M14x, more general purpose laptop like the Lenovo IdeaPad Y410p or a compact ultrabook such as the Dell XPS 14. Each of these has prices starting around $1000 and have their own benefits. The Alienware M14x can feature just as fast of a processor and graphics but come with a 1920x1080 display although it is much heavier. The Lenovo IdeaPad Y410p may be larger and have a lower resolution display bit it is half the price. Finally, the Dell XPS 14 offers a system that is just as compact even if it does sacrifice performance for a similarly long running time that once again can cost half as much.