Razer Blade (14-inch, 2016) review:

A bigger Blade, with a hypnotizing keyboard

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Using the included Chroma app, different sections of the keyboard can be programmed to show different colors -- such as highlighting the all-important WASD keys in a different color than the rest of the keyboard. Sure, you can meticulously program a custom keyboard backlight scheme, but for most people, it'll be enough to just run through the different presets to get a good idea of what the keyboard is capable of.

The preset called "spectrum cycling" lets the keys fade new colors in and out in unison, just slowly enough to not be distracting. "Reactive" leaves a trail of lit keys in your wake as you type, like a fading echo. "Ripple" sends a burst of a single color expanding outward, away from each individual key press. In this mode, typing causes cool-looking explosions of color all across the keyboard. You probably won't use it on your own, but as a fun demo for friends, set the keyboard to "Wave," and a rainbow of colors will move rapidly left to right (this movement is also reversible) across the entire keyboard.

More than enough for most games

The combination of an Intel Core i7-6700HQ and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 970m puts the Blade about a step behind the very fastest gaming laptops, which have the Nvidia 980m GPU, but that shouldn't have much practical effect in everyday gaming, where you're likely to dial the in-game resolution down to 1,920x1,080, as even those 980m cards can struggle to play games at high details levels and nearly 4K resolutions. There are new GeForce 1080 desktop cards about to hit from Nvidia, eclipsing the somewhat old 900 series, but for now this is still the top-end of the mobile graphics card list.

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In most of our application and gaming tests, a tricked out midsize Acer Predator 15 is faster, but that 15-inch gaming laptop is both more expensive and much larger, despite having a screen only 1.6-inches diagonally bigger.

Battery life is always a tricky proposition on a gaming laptop, especially one with a higher-res screen. That said, the 5 hours, 41 minutes that the Blade ran on our streaming video playback test was better than expected. It doesn't come close to a 15-inch MacBook Pro, but a recent Samsung midsize laptop with a similar configuration ran for about two hours less on the same test.

Conclusion

The Razer Blade sits in between a few categories, making it hard to figure out who the exact target audience is. There are more powerful gaming laptops, there are slimmer and lighter midsize laptops, and there are laptops with higher-res true 4K displays. And, if you're interested in the Razer Core peripheral, which adds significant cost, it might be more practical to start with the $999-and-up 13-inch Stealth model, then add the Core and your own desktop graphics card.

But, for high-end gaming on the go, or a laptop that works in a professional environment but also can play Fallout 4 or Doom, this is a piece of premium hardware that looks and feels great. Think of it as a MacBook Pro, but for PC gamers.

Multimedia Multitasking test 3.0

Acer Predator 15
143
Razer Blade (14-inch, 2016)
205
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Pro
301
Microsoft Surface Book
489
Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2015)
505

Note:

Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Geekbench 3 (Multi-Core)

Acer Predator 15
15,678
Razer Blade (14-inch, 2016)
13,130
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Pro
12,543
Microsoft Surface Book
7,269
Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2015)
6,729

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test

Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2015)
608
Acer Predator 15
350
Razer Blade (14-inch, 2016)
341
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Pro
224

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Acer Predator 15
3,193
Razer Blade (14-inch, 2016)
1742
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Pro
659

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Metro: Last Light gaming test

Acer Predator 15
46
Razer Blade (14-inch, 2016)
33.33
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Pro
17

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

System Configurations

Razer Blade (14-inch, 2016) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2133MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970; 256GB SSD
Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2015) Apple Yosemite OSX 10.10.2; 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-5257U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 1,536MB Intel HD Graphis 6100; 128GB SSD
Acer Predator 15 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 2TB 7,200rpm HDD
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Pro Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 1,600MHz, 2048MB Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M; 256GB SSD
Microsoft Surface Book Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6600U: 16GB DDR3 1,866MHz; 1,024MB Nvidia GeForce GPU; 512GB SSD

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