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Razer Blade (2018) review: The sharp-looking Blade rides the knife edge between gaming and work

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The Good Great overall redesign, with a larger screen, smaller bezels and bigger touchpad. Includes either an Nvidia 1060 or 1070 GPU, which is enough for almost any laptop gamer. 144Hz display option. Cool keyboard lights, if that's your bag.

The Bad Painfully expensive considering Nvidia 1060 laptops can be found for under $1,000. The 4K touchscreen option isn't available yet.

The Bottom Line The redesigned Razer Blade moves the bar on slim gaming laptops, with better hardware and a bigger screen, but you'll need a bigger budget for it, too.

8.6 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 7

There are really only two features on the new Razer Blade laptop that betray its origins as a gaming machine: The keyboard still lights up, with each key capable of displaying more than 1 million colors across several patterns; and there's a glowing intertwined snake logo on the back of the lid.

To further masquerade as a nongamer, you can turn the keyboard backlight off, or set it to a mellow single color. The backlit glowing snake logo (which always remind me of this iconic film design) can likewise be turned off. It's still there, and green, but at least it's not glowing.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Or, you can choose to embrace your inner gamer and crank the keyboard lights up to full thermonuclear blast (they really do get pretty bright) with swirling or swooping patterns in a rainbow of colors. The green Razer logo can likewise "breathe," fading in and out. Take it another step and add Razer accessories like the Hyperflux mousepad or the Chroma stand, all of which can be synced together in one glorious light show.

But, none of that matters if this isn't a great gaming laptop. And at $1,899 to start and $2,599 with all the current upgrades, it had better really deliver. The starting price is £1,699 in the UK and AU$2,899 in Australia.

Razer Blade (2018)

Price as reviewed $2,599
Display size/resolution 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 @144Hz display
CPU 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H
Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,660MHz
Graphics 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with Max-Q Design
Storage 512GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth
Operating system Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Fortunately, this new version takes some pretty big leaps past the previous gaming laptop calling itself the Razer Blade. We've always really liked the previous 14-inch Blade for its subtle design, multicolored backlit keyboard and general gaming chops. But the display had a thick bezel that felt a little dated, and the GPU topped out at an Nvidia GTX 1060 -- fine for mainstream gaming, but not exactly top-of-the-line.

For the new version of Razer's flagship laptop, the 14-inch display in the Blade gets an upgrade to a 15-inch screen, while keeping roughly the same footprint. In fact, Razer says this is the "world's smallest 15.6-inch gaming laptop."

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The biggest difference is the much thinner bezel around the screen, which gives the new Blade a more modern look. If you compare the older and newer models side by side, you'll see it's also moved from the traditional rounded corners to a more modern-looking squared-off look with sharper edges.

The screen comes in 60Hz or 144Hz 1,920x1,080 versions, and the body is milled from a single piece of aluminum, much like a MacBook, and fitted with a much larger touchpad than previous models. 

A 4K 60Hz screen is also going to be an option, but it's not available yet (and 4K in a gaming laptop is an absolute battery killer, so think carefully before making that leap).  

The components inside get updated as well, to an eighth-gen Core i7-8750H and your choice of Nvidia 1060 or 1070 GPUs. To keep things cool, it has a vapor chamber for cooling, which is a kind of sealed liquid-cooling heat pipe.

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