Razer Blade 14 review

Razer Blade 14 review

Everybody likes the look of Razer’s gaming laptops. That may be why they’ve barely changed in years. However, they have had some issues – they can get hot, loud and whiny because of the beefy hardware inside and this has put some people off. Now, here’s the latest Razer Blade 14 and it’s got a high-end AMD Ryzen CPU and a top-tier Nvidia GPU. Is that too much for such a small, ultraportable body? Or will it be brilliant?

Key specs of the Razer Blade 14

14-inch, matte, 165Hz, 2560 x 1440 LCD display; 3.3GHz-4.6GHz AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU; 16GB RAM; 1TB NVMe HDD; 8GB Nvidia RTX 3080; 62Wh battery; 1.8KG. SKU: Blade 14, Full specs here.

Design and Handling

The Razer Blade 14’s black, milled-Aluminium body, with its sharp lines and matte finish remains so drop-dead cool that it likely keeps Jony Ive awake at night. The glowing, green logo on the lid ensures people from across a room will notice it while the individually-lit RGB keyboard shines out of the dark like an opal in a mine. The fire effect alone feels like it will keep you warm. It’s also incredibly solid to the point where it could be a weapon. The screen is well protected  by the solid lid which requires significant lateral force to twist. Despite the solidity, it only ways 1.8KG. There are lighter 14-inch laptops, but nothing nearly so powerful.

The keyboard is a low-travel touch-type affair that’s very comfortable, accurate and quiet to type upon for extended periods. All the key keys are full sized although the up and down arrows are half height. The trackpad is large, smooth and accurate.

The Razer Blade 14’s screen has a UHD 2560 x 1440 resolution and gets very bright. However, at peak brightness it can wash out the colours a bit. There is some banding in both colour gradients and monochromatic gradients but not much. The 165Hz screen ensures motion is rendered silky smooth with minimal ghosting and image blur – perfect for all types of gaming.

Razer Blade 14
Razer’s Synapse app, which handles performance and lighting, has finally been updated and is far more intuitive.

Above the screen is an HD webcam that’s Windows Hello compatible so it supports face-recognition log-in.

The speakers are a mixed bag. On the one hand there’s no bass to speak of (unsurprising for a small laptop) and, at full volume, excessive treble can distort. However, they get reasonably loud and the mid-range fidelity, especially surrounding vocals, comes through clean, loud and clear.

Performance

The high-end 3.3-4.6GHz AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU is supported by 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and a 1TB NVMe drive. We expected great things and the PCMark 10 score of 6852 is not to be sniffed at… but it’s not quite as high as it should be. Could thermal issues be affecting performance? The lesser-spec’d Asus TUF Dash A15 did better. That said a Cinebench R15 rendering score of 2237 is the best we’ve seen anywhere – amazing for a 14-inch ultraportable in a world of very high performing laptops. It scored 12,426 in the longer Cinebench R23 test which was just behind its other AMD brethren which again suggests it slows down a little as it heats up.

3D performance is catered for by an 8GB Nvidia RTX 3080 – it’s like putting a V8 in a Mini Cooper. In 3DMark Time Spy it scored 10,201 (an average of 65fps). This is again, very high, but not quite as high as we’ve seen on similarly specified, larger machines. In FireStrike Extreme it scored 12,510 (average 58fps) while in Port Royal it scored 6602 (average 30.5fps). All very high… but not quite as high as could be. Ultimately, it can play pretty much every game out there with full detail settings, with the possible exception of Far Cry 6’s more-complicated scenes.

When thermal issues occur they’re often hand in hand with overheating and fan noise. However, the Razer Blade 14’s cooling system and the power efficiency of the components mean that noise doesn’t become an issue. On battery power we hardly heard a thing. But, even under load, it’s not loud. Amazing!

Connectivity

On both the left and on the right are a USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port plus a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port that supports power delivery and DisplayPort 1.4. On the left is also a 3.5mm audio jack while on the right is an HDMI 2.1 port.

Left side.
On the left.
Right side of the Razer Blade 14.
Right side.

Inside is Wi-Fi 6 and BlueTooth 5.2.

Portability

The robust chassis and 1.8KG weight mean it will easily survive life on the road. However, the top-tier, power-hungry components gave cause for concern regarding battery life. So we were flabbergasted when it lasted 9hrs 52mins in PCMark 10’s Modern Office battery life test. That’s properly amazing. Just note that the power supply and cables aren’t typical of an ultraportable – they add a not-inconsequential 850g to the weight.

Underside of the Razer BLade 14.

Should I buy the Razer Blade 14?

If you had to design a perfect 14-inch laptop, this would be it: amazing performance, fantastic looks, superb build quality and fantastic portability. Sure, the components could be faster in a bigger body, but this laptop will do anything you want without annoying you with noisy fans. Naturally, there’s a price to be paid – at $4999 this is incredibly expensive. We’re looking forward to seeing MSI’s latest Prestige laptop which may turn our heads but that will still, likely be under-powered in comparison. The non-gaming Asus ExpertBook is more of a traditional ultraportable and the terrier-like Asus Swift X offers basic gaming performance at a much lower price. But, while there are cheaper, lower-spec’d options, the best, ultraportable high performance gaming laptop you can buy right now is the Razer Blade 14.

Rating

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