Razer calls it the ‘Ultimate Ultrabook’, and it certainly looks like an Ultrabook, with a depth of just 18mm and featherlight 1.28kg weight. The well-built and stylish chassis is made from dark aluminium that tapers to a slim edge, and sports smartly implemented RGB LEDs and an illuminated Razer logo on the lid.
Of course, you sacrifice computing power to get such a svelte machine. The low-power dualcore Kaby Lake i7-7500U CPU runs at just 2.7GHz. It only has 4MB of L3 cache, and you only get Intel’s HD Graphics 620 for graphics too. Likewise, the 16GB of DDR3L RAM in this machine runs at just 1866MHz. On the plus side, the 256GB Samsung SM951 NVMe SSD is faster than a SATA drive, but it doesn’t have much storage space.
Also, while Razer has installed Killer 802.11ac Wi-Fi, connections are otherwise meagre. There’s no Gigabit Ethernet – you only get individual audio and HDMI ports alongside two USB 3 ports and Thunderbolt support. That means no DisplayPort, SD card slot or USB 3.1 Type-C.
You also compromise on the keyboard. The shallow buttons have even less travel than most other gaming laptop keyboards. It’s consistent and the aluminium build gives you a solid base, but it isn’t brilliant for gaming. It looks good though – each key has individual RGB LEDs, and the Synapse software can customise colours, record macros and alter the system elsewhere. The touchpad is fine though – the large surface clicks satisfyingly, and the buttons are fast and light.
What the Stealth does have is a fantastic touch-screen. Its 2,560 x 1,440 native resolution and 12.5in diagonal mean it has a sharp pixel density, and it’s an IGZO display too, which means smaller transistors inside the screen and therefore smaller pixels. IGZO screens are slimmer and more powerfrugal than IPS screens, although they’re also more expensive. They’re usually found in smartphones and tablets, rather than laptops. A version of the Blade Stealth with a 4K IGZO screen is available with a 512GB SSD, but you’ll have to pay £1,760 for that system.
It’s one of the best laptop screens we’ve ever used
Ultrabooks aren’t generally used for gaming, but Razer has a trick up its sleeve here with the optional Thunderboltconnected Core graphics dock. It can accommodate almost any modern desktop graphics card, and effectively turns the extremely portable Blade Stealth into a fast gaming machine when you get home.
Not surprisingly, the Blade Stealth’s low-power CPU isn’t quick. ItsCPC RealBench system score of 52,637 is underwhelming, with the dual-core CPU particularly struggling in our heavily multi-threaded Handbrake test.
These results are slow compared with top-end gaming laptops, but they’re great for Ultrabooks. There’s certainly enough power to handle web browsing, office applications and photo editing.
The low-power CPU also means the battery lasted for 3.5 hours in our application test, and almost nine hours in a low-power test with the screen at 25 per cent brightness.
Thermal results are solid too. The CPU and GPU delta Ts never went beyond 68°C, while the exterior remained cool and quiet. The CPU occasionally throttled to 1.5GHz in stress tests, but the Blade stayed responsive – and you’re unlikely to push an Ultrabook to peak load on the move anyway.
Meanwhile, the IGZO screen’s brightness of 342cd/m2 is fantastic, and it’s backed up by a black level of 0.29cd/m2 and contrast of 1,179:1 – a great result that outpaces most IPS screens. Likewise, the delta E of 2.25 is great, and the panel renders a solid 93.3 per cent of the sRGB gamut. Viewing angles are superb, and brightness variation is minimal. The colour temperature of 7,586K is a little cool, but that’s our only issue. It’s one of the best laptop screens we’ve ever used. The stereo speakers offer surprisingly balanced audio as well – the high end is clear, the mid-range is punchy and there’s even a little bass.back to menu ↑
Razer’s Blade Stealth is a high-quality affair. Its design is spot on, the screen is stunning and the low-power Kaby Lake CPU provides enough grunt without killing battery life – it’s a stylish, well-built machine that’s designed for life on the move.
Of course, you sacrifice keyboard depth, connection options and processing power, but on the plus side, the Core effectively turns Blade Stealth into a games machine, complete with an Ethernet connection and more USB connections. This smart add-on isn’t cheap, but it allows the Blade to deliver near-desktop performance on the laptop or on an external screen.
The Razer Blade Stealth costs £1,350 and the Core costs £500 inc VAT, so they’re hardly cheap, but together, they provide a more versatile setup than some gaming laptops. It’s a niche setup, but it fills that niche exceptionally well.
The Core weighs nearly 5kg without a GPU, and it measures 43mm wide and 300mm long – so it’s hardly small. It’s easy to use and has plenty of features though. A handle twists to release the internals, and all but the beefiest GPUs will fit inside it. The Core has two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors that deliver up to 375W, and its rear serves up four USB 3 ports and an Ethernet connection to supplement the laptop.
It looks the part, with slatted areas and Chroma lighting, and it’s compatible with any GPU from AMD’s Radeon R9 285 and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 750 onwards. Our Blade Stealth registered a GTX 1080 Ti without rebooting, and it gave our game tests an immediate boost, delivering 2,560 x 1,440 minimums of 48fps, 45fps and 36fps in Fallout 4, The Witcher 3 and Deus Ex. It was similarly impressive when we outputted to 4K. It almost hit 30fps in Deus Ex and The Witcher 3, and ran Fallout 4 at 33fps.
That’s a huge boost compared with the base Ultrabook, but the Core still didn’t allow the GTX 1080 Ti to mirror desktop performance. The Thunderbolt 3 connection is limited to providing up to 40Gb/sec of bandwidth, with just four PCI-E 3 lanes.
That’s also why the supplied Thunderbolt 3 cable is just 18in long – any longer and bandwidth drops further. Of course, the Stealth’s low-power CPU will be a bottleneck when games become CPU-limited as well.
It isn’t cheap either, costing before a GPU has been added. That could be a price worth paying, though, especially if you already have a graphics card. The Core works well and helps the tiny Razer Ultrabook to deliver neardesktop power. It’s a fantastic bit of kit that can transform the Blade at home or at events.
Superb design and a high-quality screen make the Blade Stealth a great Ultrabook, while the Core is a solid, if expensive, companion.back to menu ↑
Razer Blade Stealth Review Benchmark
Superb design and a high-quality screen make the Blade Stealth a great Ultrabook, while the Core is a solid, if expensive, companion.