Razer Blade 14 (2014) review: High-res touchscreen puts Razer's thin gaming laptop a cut above

Battery life, unfortunately, took a hit: last year's Blade lasted an impressive 7 hours, 46 minutes in our video playback battery drain test. This year's version only lasted 4 hours, 27 minutes. That's no different than most other gaming laptops, but the Blade's big advantage of last year is gone, traded for different advantages in display and gaming graphics. Playing games at different settings on battery power gave us between 1 hour and 90 minutes of life, really no better than an oversize gaming desktop replacement.

Configurations vs. the competition

The Razer Blade's lone configuration variable is solid-state drive (SSD) storage: you can choose a 128, 256, or 512GB solid-state drive. The three cost $2,199, $2,399, and $2,699, respectively. (Availability and pricing outside the US will be announced later this year.) The smaller 128GB is really not enough for a laptop that's this expensive and high-end, especially if you plan to download full-size games via Steam, Gog, or Origin. Our review configuration, the 256GB $2,399 version, seems like the one I'd pick, although if you're in for this much money, maybe you'd just want to go whole hog since game downloads aren't small.

This is an expensive laptop, and a nonconfigurable one, but it's not that bad a deal compared with others on the market. A recent 15-inch MSI GE60 and the latest Maingear Pulse 14 both cost around $1,000 less, but they drop the GPU a few steps to the GeForce 860M and 850M and downgrade the display to a 1080p non-touch screen.

You're paying for style and and a thin profile with the Razer Blade, as well as the better-than-HD touchscreen, higher-end GPU, and expensive SSD storage.

razer-blade-2014-product-photos006.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

Conclusion

"If the Blade had a display like its 17-inch cousin, this would be an Editors' Choice laptop." That's what I said last year about the Razer Blade 14. This Blade definitely offers up the fantastic display I dreamed of, but it doesn't have the same great battery life -- and it's more expensive.

But this Blade is a near-perfect balance of all the great things you'd want in a dream thin gaming machine. It's the best Blade yet, even if it's a bit of a compromise, especially on battery life. You can't always have everything, but this Blade comes close. While I'd love to see a lower-priced model with a standard 1080p touchscreen and better battery life, there's still nothing cooler happening in gaming laptops anywhere else right now.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test

MSI GE60 Apache Pro-003
229
Maingear Pulse 14 (2014)
229
Razer Blade 14 RZ09-0116 (2014)
189
Asus G750JZ-XS72
185
Razer Blade 14 (2013)
177

Note:

In seconds, shorter bars indicate better performance

Apple iTunes encoding test

Razer Blade 14 (2013)
99
MSI GE60 Apache Pro-003
97
Razer Blade 14 RZ09-0116 (2014)
97
Maingear Pulse 14 (2014)
96
Asus G750JZ-XS72
93

Note:

In seconds, shorter bars indicate better performance

Multimedia multitasking

Maingear Pulse 14 (2014)
188
Razer Blade 14 (2013)
186
Razer Blade 14 RZ09-0116 (2014)
185
MSI GE60 Apache Pro-003
179
Asus G750JZ-XS72
170

Note:

In seconds, shorter bars indicate better performance

BioShock Infinite 1,920x1,080

Razer Blade 14 (2013)
27
Maingear Pulse 14 (2014)
48
MSI GE60 Apache Pro-003
52.83
Razer Blade 14 RZ09-0116 (2014)
66
Asus G750JZ-XS72
81.67

Note:

In frames per second, longer bars indicate better performance

Metro: Last Light 1,920x1,080

Razer Blade 14 (2013)
11.33
Maingear Pulse 14 (2014)
13.33
MSI GE60 Apache Pro-003
14.67
Razer Blade 14 RZ09-0116 (2014)
15.33
Asus G750JZ-XS72
30.67

Note:

In frames per second, longer bars indicate better performance

Video playback battery drain test

Maingear Pulse 14 (2014)
246
MSI GE60 Apache Pro-003
249
Razer Blade 14 RZ09-0116 (2014)
267
Asus G750JZ-XS72
317
Razer Blade 14 (2013)
466

Note:

In minutes, longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

Razer Blade 14 RZ09-0116 (2014)
Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-4702HQ; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz, 3GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 870; 256GB SSD

MSI GE60 Apache Pro-003
Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M; 1TB 7,200rpm HGST hard drive

Razer Blade 14 (2013)
Windows 8 (64-bit); Intel Core i7-4702HQ; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M; 128GB Samsung SSD

Maingear Pulse 14 (2014)
Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-4702MQ; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 850M; 500GB 5,400rpm Seagate hard drive

Asus G750JZ-XS72
Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ; 32GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 4GB Nvidia Geforce GTX 880M;(2) 256GB SSD RAID 0 1TB 7,200rpm HGST hard drive

Editors' Top PicksSee All

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy See all prices

Razer Blade 14 Inch Touchscreen Gaming Laptop 256GB

Part Number: RZ09-01161E31-R3U1
Low Price: $2,799.99 See all prices
Hot Products