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

Guts for gaming

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Vampyr, a very cool new game from Focus

Sarah Tew/CNET

Slim gaming laptops with decent specs are still rare, but not as rare as they used to be. Still, the Razer Blade outdoes much of the competition in terms of packing the most gaming power into the least conspicuous chassis. The Asus Zephyrus is a similarly slim gaming laptop with similar parts, but requires a giant air vent to open up when in use. MSI comes close with its Stealth series laptops, as does this extra-thin Origin PC model.

In this configuration, we have the Max-Q version of the Nvidia 1070 GPU and a 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, plus 16GB of RAM. The performance slotted in as expected, usually between bulkier laptops with the non-Max-Q version of the 1070 and laptops with the more mainstream Nvidia 1060.

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Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, a new take an on old-school RPG 

Sarah Tew/CNET

In hands-on testing I tried a variety of games, including new ones like the expansive RPG Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire and the new gothic vampire game, Vampyr. Those and others all ran smoothly at high detail settings and the full 1080p resolution.

Battery life was a nice surprise, lasting 7 hours, 53 minutes in our video playback battery drain test. That's longer than most gaming laptops we've tested, but keep in mind playing a game, rather than streaming video, will cut that life span down considerably.

The Razer and Blade model

After a couple of years of mostly static designs, this is a very pleasing reworking of the Razer Blade. The bigger screen and touchpad and other aesthetic improvements all add up to a very modern-feeling laptop.

My only real concern is that it's a major investment, even for a gaming laptop. A laptop with an Nvidia 1060 GPU can be easily found for under $1,000, although with a slower CPU, less RAM and storage, and none of the bells and whistles found here. But like Apple, Razer has never catered to the budget end of the market, and so far it's working. And if the company is looking for a new challenge, now I want to see a GPU in the 13-inch Razer Blade Stealth ($1,590 at Amazon)

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Geekbench 4 (Multi-core)

Asus ROG Zephyrus M GM501 (2018)
20,442
Razer Blade (2018)
18,015
Origin PC Evo 15-S (2017)
14,347
Alienware 15 R3 (2017)
14,060
Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017)
10,611

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 CPU (Multi-core)

Asus ROG Zephyrus M GM501 (2018)
1135
Razer Blade (2018)
926
Alienware 15 R3 (2017)
746
Origin PC Evo 15-S (2017)
722
Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017)
510

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test

Razer Blade (2018)
473
Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017)
362
Alienware 15 R3 (2017)
236
Asus ROG Zephyrus M GM501 (2018)
225
Origin PC Evo 15-S (2017)
216

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Alienware 15 R3 (2017)
4,054
Asus ROG Zephyrus M GM501 (2018)
3,954
Razer Blade (2018)
3,431
Origin PC Evo 15-S (2017)
3,180
Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017)
1,871

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided gaming test

Alienware 15 R3 (2017)
82.1
Asus ROG Zephyrus M GM501 (2018)
79.2
Origin PC Evo 15-S (2017)
72.7
Razer Blade (2018)
72.2
Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017)
50.2

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

System configurations

Razer Blade (2018) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,660MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeFroce GTX 1070 with Max-Q Design; 512GB SSD
Asus ROG Zephyrus M GM501 (2018) Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,660MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeFroce GTX 1070; 512GB SSD
Alienware 15 R3 (2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070; 512GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with Max-Q Design; 256GB SSD
Origin PC Evo 15-S (2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 with Max-Q-Design; 512GB SSD

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