TECHNOLOGY

Razer Blade 14 Review: The Ultimate Portable Powerhouse

The Blade 14 proves that Razer continues to make the sexiest Windows laptop money can buy.

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BY Rahil Bhagat - 04 Sep 2017

In a Nutshell

The Razer Blade 14 is a no compromise beast, fitting a full spec gaming and productivity powerhouse into a slim 2-kilo chassis. All this performance comes at a premium, but overall the Blade 14 proves that Razer continues to make the sexiest Windows laptop money can buy.

 

For many years, Apple’s Macbooks, especially the Macbook Air, was the last word in sexy laptops.

Then came peripheral maker Razer with the original Razer Blade in 2011 and showed us that Windows powered PC’s could be every bit as sexy and desirable as their Mac OS powered counterparts.

That original Razer Blade was a real thing of beauty, it was one of the greatest “want one” pieces of tech ever created. It was a device for the grown up gamer that broached no compromise. Of course that original device had it faults--the screen was ok at best, the Switchblade UI trackpad was underdeveloped, and it used to give the surface of the sun a good fight for thermal performance.

It was the beginning of the portable powerhouse, and PC makers from Dell to Asus and beyond have adopted the design tenets that Razer first espoused.

That was then, 2017 is a different story.

The market that Razer helped build has now matured and the company built “For Gamers by Gamers” faces stiff competition from rivals like MSI and Asus.

Can Razer’s latest 14-inch Blade, powered by a top of the line Intel Core i7 processor and a Nvidia 1060 graphics chip keep Razer on top?

Read on to find out.

The Good

The latest Blade 14 continues Razer’s tradition of premium built devices. Machined out of a single block of metal, the jet-black chassis is a thing of beauty. It also helps that it's built like a tank with little in the way of screen or chassis flex.

Under the hood, the Blade 14 packs top of the line specs, including Intel’s latest Core i7 Kaby Lake processor as well as Nvidia’s GTX 1060 graphics card. This results in a truly blistering performance for a laptop of this class. It runs most AAA games on high with ease and works wonders for video and photo editing with little in the way of throttling even when running the most intense applications.

Props also should be given to Razer for including one of the best keyboards I have ever used in a laptop as thin and light as this. Beyond the Chroma RGB color software that allows users to customize keyboard backlighting, the actual key presses are great, with a nice tactile feel and comfortable key travel.

The speakers on the Blade 14 are an unexpected highlight, producing louder and richer sound than nearly anything in its class. The stereo speakers are located at either side of the keyboard, and even during complex firefights in games like Battlefield One or when listening to the thumping bass of EDM, the Razer Blade 14 does a remarkable job.

The Razer Blade 14 also has a fantastic array of ports with all the basics well covered. Razer has even equipped the device with a Thunderbolt 3 port allowing users to attach an external GPU dock and other Thunderbolt 3 enabled goodies.

The Meh

On the previous generation of Razer Blade’s, a highlight was the 4K touchscreen that made pictures really pop. It was bright, viewing angles were good, and the touchscreen was accurate and quite useful...if you didn't mind the fingerprints.

On the new Blade 14 review unit, the 1080p Full HD screen, while pretty good, just made me realize how much I missed the 4K display on previous generation Blade’s.  

The company does offer a 4K variant of the Blade but unfortunately, it’s not available here in Singapore.

One benefit of not having a 4K display is that you can get more out of the Razer Blade’s admittedly less than stellar battery life. I got around 5 to 6 hours maximum in my tests, pretty average for a device of this size and weight. When gaming or doing anything strenuous, you will probably get an hour, maybe 90 mins of usage. It helps though that the charger Razer provides in the box is slim and very light.

The Bad

It's hard to pick a fault with Razer’s latest 14-inch device but if there was one, it has to be that the device runs and hot and the fans are loud. It’s not as bad as it was on previous generations, but the fans in particular do get really noisy, especially while gaming.

This is understandable when you consider the power under the hood, but after using the same basic chassis for so many years, one hopes that Razer would be able to solve an issue that has plagued the Blade 14 since the very beginning.

There’s also the question of the price, the princely sum of SG$2899 for the base model with a 256gb SSD. It may seem a lot but if you are in the market for the last word in portable computing, it’s hard to top Razer’s effort.

For slightly less, Razer’s Blade Stealth is a great option, especially considering that the Thunderbolt 3 port on the Stealth allows you to connect an external graphics card enclosure.

Conclusion

Overall, the Razer Blade is still the king of the hill when it comes to the thin and light 14-inch laptop. Nothing else in the market comes close. It’s high price and less than stellar battery life might make the device a hard sell, but there are very few machines out there that get so much so right.

 

Device specs:

CPU: Intel Core i7

Ram: 16 GB

GPU: Nvidia GeForce 1060

Screen: 1080p Full HD

Price: SG$2899