Razer Blade 2014 review

Is the most beautiful gaming laptop worth your bottom dollar?

Razer Blade 2014 review

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Three revisions in, the Razer Blade has been honed to a fine edge, merging nearly peerless performance with an unmatched sense of style. Razer's crack team of engineers and designers is clearly on to something with this device, but I can't help but think that the vision still needs further refinement.

We liked

Not much has changed about the Razer Blade design over the past year, and, despite the rather flimsy touchpad buttons, that's completely OK. I've often called Razer's mean machine the MacBook Pro of gaming laptops, and I still stand by that and consider it a compliment. From the lecture hall to the LAN party, this is a notebook that will fight right in no matter where you take it.

Panache with performance to match, the Blade can keep right up with the best of its competition. If you own a (completely legal) treasure trove of 1440p or better video content to watch, it will absolutely pop on this brilliant, bright screen. And, if you can tolerate lower settings, games will look just as incredible at QHD+.

Lasting exactly half a work day in my personal battery test, the Razer Blade – being a gaming laptop, of course – produces at least some of the lasting power that its form factor commands. The Blade will hang in there for most flights, but will likely check out before you land on a cross-country jaunt. That's more than most gaming laptops can even come close to claim.

We disliked

Frankly, the touchscreen should have stayed on the chopping block like it did last year. Sure, it performs just great, thanks in no small part to the IGZO technology, but what does it matter? My use of the touchscreen didn't extend beyond testing whether it actually works, and it rarely does on any touchscreen laptop I review. I'd much rather save a few bucks.

Speaking of which, while being one of the first gaming laptops to pack an IGZO panel sporting a crazy crisp 3,200 x 1,800 resolution makes for a great bullet point, it too is largely unnecessary. If this model were to come touting an IGZO, 1,920 x 1,080 display (without touch), I'd be just as excited and impressed. Again, another place dollars could be saved for all parties involved.

Finally, as much as Razer tried, it simply still struggled to keep the heat under control in a laptop this thin. I won't belabor the point, but perhaps if Razer moved the air intakes to where the speakers are located, and employed tweeters embedded underneath the keyboard, heat would be less of an issue. Most PC gamers I know use headsets anyway.

Final verdict

Razer has more than proved its point: it can craft a gaming laptop better than all the rest. But the Razer Blade still feels like a proof of concept more than a viable product for the PC gaming masses, if only due to some superfluous features and thusly baked-in prohibitive price.

As powerful and pristine as the new Blade is, some of that power is wasted on unnecessary hardware features that only serve to drive the price up to levels unattainable by most PC game enthusiasts. And that's not even including those who have yet to recognize the wonder and majesty of the platform and ecosystem.

To be blunt, there isn't a scenario in which I would wholeheartedly recommend the Razer Blade. For the same price, you could either purchase a far more sensibly-built, though not as beautifully-built, gaming laptop or build your own beastly desktop gaming PC.

But, and this is a big "but", the fact of the matter is that the Razer Blade is one of the best gaming laptops, if not Windows laptops, that money can buy. It's just a damn shame that it takes so much money to get.

Joe Osborne

Joe Osborne is the Senior Technology Editor at Insider Inc. His role is to leads the technology coverage team for the Business Insider Shopping team, facilitating expert reviews, comprehensive buying guides, snap deals news and more. Previously, Joe was TechRadar's US computing editor, leading reviews of everything from gaming PCs to internal components and accessories. In his spare time, Joe is a renowned Dungeons and Dragons dungeon master – and arguably the nicest man in tech.