The "hey, look at this!" setting is "Wave," where a wide rainbow of colors moves quickly across the keyboard from left to right. It's the kind of thing you'll turn on to show your friends, but the more in-your-face presets are way too distracting if you're actually trying to get any work done. Thankfully, you can opt for a single static color or just turn the backlight off. The effects can also be set to turn off when using battery power or when the battery level falls below a certain percentage.
Enough connections to make your MacBook jealous
Other 12-inch laptops have embraced the enforced minimalism of a single USB-C port. The Apple MacBook, Asus ZenBook 3 and others all rely on that still-new port to provide access to USB accessories, wired mice, video output, power and anything else that requires a physical wire, usually with the help of a USB-C adaptor. Asus at least includes a mini-dock in the box with its new ZenBook 3 -- Apple charges $80 for essentially the same thing.
This is a case where the Razer's larger body works to your benefit, as it can accommodate two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI output and even a USB-C port, which is used for power and as a Thunderbolt connection.
This system shares a common CPU with the Asus ZenBook 3 (which is why we keep comparing the two), which is an updated version of the low-voltage Core i7 chips found in other slim laptops, such as theor the . In our benchmark tests, these laptops performed similarly, as expected. All are very well-suited for office tasks, multi-tab web browsing, HD video streaming or even basic photo and video editing. The only real slowpoke in the group was the 12-inch MacBook from Apple, which uses a slower (but more power-efficient) Core m3 processor, but even that feels fine for everyday use.
The previous Razer Blade Stealth was held back in the battery department by its ambitious 4K-resolution display. This time we tested a version with a 2,560x1,440 resolution (sometimes called QHD), which gave us a much better 6 hours 54 minutes of battery life in our streaming video test. The 4K version from earlier this year ran for about 3 hours. This QHD Razer, the Asus ZenBook 3 and the HP Spectre all ran for about the same amount of time, but keep in mind the Razer has a higher-resolution touchscreen, while those other two laptops have 1,920x1,080 non-touch displays. Even so, the 12-inch MacBook dusts them all, at just over 10 hours.
The Razer Blade Stealth remains one of the best deals around if you're looking for 12 or 13-inch laptop and want to spend around $1,000 or £1,000 (probably around AU$1,800). Adding a bit more for double the RAM and hard drive space makes sense, but skip the optional 4K display, which is both expensive and a major drag on battery life. The fun Chroma keyboard is amusing, but not a huge factor in my strong recommendation for this system.
Other 12-inch laptops are slimmer and lighter, but many lack a touchscreen and are limited to a single USB-C port. On the other hand, the Stealth looks and feels like a 13.3-inch laptop, despite having only a 12.5-inch display.
One extra note, if you're interested in doing some gaming on this laptop, Razer sells an external box called the, which holds a (sold-separately) desktop graphics card and connects via Thunderbolt. The Core is $500 and a good graphics card will run you another $500. We haven't had a chance to test the Core out yet, but it sounds interesting, especially if you want to use a virtual reality headset with your laptop.
|Asus ZenBook 3 UX390U||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD|
|Apple MacBook (12-inch, 2016)||Apple El Capitan OSX 10.11.4; 1.2GHz Intel Core m5-6Y54; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 1536MB Intel HD Graphics 515; 512GB SSD|
|Razer Blade Stealth (2016)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 620; 256GB SSD|
|Dell XPS 13 (Gold Edition)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.2HGz Intel Core i7-6560U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel Iris Graphics 540; 256GB SSD|
|HP Spectre||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5HGz Intel Core i7-6500U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,866MHz; 128MB (dedicated) Intel HD Graphics 520; 256GB SSD|
Update, November 8: Added official UK pricing.