The Razer Blade 2019 is strangely similar to the 2018 model, but has plenty of updates to the hardware inside to make the price surge worth it.
The major upgrade the Razer Blade 2019 boasts is the new Nvidia Turing graphics inside, and these are irrefutably much more formidable than the Pascal predecessors. This gaming laptop also has drastically boosted battery life as well as an additional infrared camera, finally allowing for Windows Hello login.
The new Razer Blade is the most improved Razer laptop to date, but just know those enhancements to come at a (high) cost. If you can swing it, however, rest assured that Razer has finally delivered a truly well-rounded gaming laptop.
Here is the 2019 Razer Blade configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H (hexa-core, 9MB cache, up to 4.10GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 (8GB GDDR6; MaxQ); Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,667MHz)
Screen: 15.6-inch FHD matte (1,920 x 1,080, 144Hz, IPS, 100% sRGB)
Storage: 512GB SSD (NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4)
Ports: 1 x Thunderbolt 3; 3 x USB 3.1; 1 x mini DisplayPort 1.4; 1 x HDMI 2.0; headphone jack
Connectivity: Intel Wireless-AC 9560 (802.11ac); Bluetooth 5.0
Camera: HD webcam with Windows Hello (1MP, 720p)
Weight: 4.63 pounds (2.10kg)
Size: 13.98 x 9.25 x 0.70 inches (355 x 235 x 17.8mm; W x D x H)
Price and availability
For the model with Nvidia GeForce RTX graphics, the Razer Blade 15 will set you back a monstrous $1,999 (£1,899, AU$3,549) to start. That gets you an RTX 2060 GPU driving a 144Hz 1080p display and is coupled with a 512GB SSD.
If you need something less pricey, you can compromise with a GTX 1060 coupled with a 128GB SSD, 1TB of storage, and a 60Hz display. This should slash a few hundred bucks or quid off the price at US$1,599 (£1,499). This graphics card isn’t available in Australia. Instead, you can opt for one with a GTX 1060 Max-Q and the same storage instead for AU$2,499 or a GTX 1060 Max-Q and a 256GB SSD and 2TB dual storage for AU$2,799.
You can also upgrade to RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics, paired with a 256GB SSD for $2,299 (£2,219, AU$4,099) or with a 512GB SSD for $2,399 (£2,479, AU$4,399) – both with the same 144Hz Full HD display.
The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics option (our review configuration) rocks a 512GB of SSD storage for $2,999 (£2,849, AU$5,099) and the very same 1080p display. 4K display models are also available for the RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 configurations in the US and the UK, which are of course more expensive. However, this display is not available in Australia at the time of writing.
No matter which configuration of the Razer Blade 15 you get, you’ll have 16GB of RAM – which can be upgraded to 64GB, though you do have your pick of an Intel Core i7-8750H or an i7-9750H. So, essentially, the Razer Blade is once again one of the most high-priced gaming laptops you’ll find right now, especially taking the actual specs into consideration.
For example, the Razer Blade model with RTX 2070 graphics and a 1080p display is only $100 cheaper than as a similarly-configured 15.6-inch Gigabyte Aero 15, which Gigabyte has very recently upgraded. However, Gigabyte’s offering boast a far larger 512GB SSD and larger battery capacity. And of course, it’s newer.
You also have the choice of an Asus ROG Zephyrus GX701 with the same graphics card, but a gargantuan 17.3-inch 1080p display, 1TB SSD and 9th-generation Intel Core i7.
Since you can get similar gaming laptops with RTX 2060 graphics from MSI or Asus for literally half of Razer’s asking price for a laptop with an RTX 2080 (knowing it wouldn’t be nearly as premium a build), you really need to think about how vital those beefier graphics are to you before clicking that ‘Buy’ button.
Boasting the same all-black, unibody aluminum case, the Razer Blade retains the exact same angular shape for 2019 that’s in last year’s model. Only this time, it’s trimmed with the more stripped down RGB lighting from last year – down to just the keyboard and Razer logo on the lid.
At 0.70 inches (17.8mm) thin, this year’s Razer Blade is marginally thicker than before, though only just as heavy at 4.63 pounds (2.10kg). This, too, is a laptop just 14 inches wide with a 15-inch display, thanks to those slimmer screen bezels.
Par for the course, the Razer Blade keeps the webcam in its ideal position above the screen while utilizing narrow bezels. However, at just 720p, the image it produces is awful and dated. It’s serviceable for video calls – just don’t try to broadcast yourself while gaming with this webcam.
Fortunately, the new keyboard still feels comfortable and satisfying to use, and it continues to offer forceful enough feedback for an island-style keyboard. The bad news is that the Razer Blade’s keyboard layout issue has been inherited from earlier models – with the ‘up’ arrow key set between the ‘Shift’ and ‘?’ keys. This makes typing questions a bit of a pain, accidentally pressing the up arrow and adding a question mark to the line above where we are typing – all the time. We would definitely have favored smaller arrow keys if it meant a more practical layout.
As for Razer’s trackpad, it feels exceptional to use. However, much like the keyboard, it’s still held back by one tiny weakness. In this case, the tracking surface is a little too close to the laptop’s edge, triggering mild palm rejection problems when navigating the operating system. We haven’t seen this issue while typing specifically on this year’s model, which is a plus. Still, for this much cash, the experience should be flawless.
Finally, we’re happy to see Razer finally bring Windows Hello facial recognition to its Blade webcam array. It’s not the fastest or most sophisticated implementation of the feature, being a little more sluggish than other flagship laptops we’ve reviewed and blasting a garish red light in our faces while scanning. However, it’s still a handy feature to have, even if it necessitates just a little more tweaking.
Razer nailed again with the Razer Blade’s display…well, mostly because it retains the same display from last year, which is not a bad thing. With a matte coating that’s surprisingly effective at deflecting glare, this screen may only be 1080p, but it’s categorically making the most of it.
Much of this beauty comes courtesy of the screen’s 144Hz refresh rate, which smooths out the animations and motion by outpacing the frame rates the GPU inside is capable of. This is the best-case scenario for Nvidia’s new ray tracing and deep learning supersampling (DLSS) techniques for rendering lighting in games. Drops in frame rates due to these intense features were rather buoyed because of this refresh rate.
Again, the 100% sRGB color gamut makes for quite a wide variety of colors supported at impressive precision and vibrancy. The screen calibration done by Razer on the assembly line helps a lot as well.