The Razer Blade Stealth late 2016 refresh is now available. So how does it perform compared to the Razer Blade Stealth from early 2015? Find out in this Razer Blade Stealth 12.5″ Ultrabook Review.
Under the Hood
As far as refreshes go, this one is fairly simple. All Razer really did was take out the Intel i7-6500U dual-core Skylake processor that the early 2015 iteration had and replaced it with the i7-7500u, which is also a dual-core, but part of the Kaby Lake line that some described as “Skylake on steroids.”
The rest of the hardware, aside from the RAM cap upgrade and improved battery, is practically the same. Consumers can now choose between 8 GB and 16 GB of non-upgradeable, soldered LPDDR3 RAM rather than be stuck at just 8 GB, which was the only option for the early 2016 iteration. The storage also options also remain unchanged – 128-GB, 256-GB and 512-GB NVME SSDs. There is a 1-TB SSD option but that’s only available for the 4K screen version.
The Razer Blade Stealth comes with its default LED backlit 12.5-inch 1440p QHD multi-touch display. This offers up to a 170-degree viewing angle. Razer also offers a 4K screen option, which will bump up the bill by roughly 50 percent since it will only come bundled with either a 512-GB SSD or a 1-TB SSD, depending on the customer’s preference.
Audio and Webcam
Again, aside from the processor, there’s nothing that changed for the new Razer Blade Stealth, which is a good thing since both built-in speakers and microphone are really good. The webcam, while not the best, is also decent. Linus Sebastian of LinusTechTips commented that other outfits should learn from Razer when it comes to the built-in microphone and webcam because people actually use them.
Keyboard and Trackpad
This is another part of the Razer Blade Stealth where changes are not that needed. The Razer Chroma anti-ghosting keyboard, which has, individually backlit keys is quite good. The spacing is certainly nice.
The keys are also quieter, which some hate and others love. The same with mushy, less crispy feel. Some people prefer the mushiness while others hate it.Of course, the real feature is that it’s a Chroma, which puts remapping and macros on the table. And with it being an RGB, there’s plenty of effects and patterns that can be implemented. The only real caveat aside from the cramped up/down arrow keys is that only the characters atop the keys are illuminated and not the entirety.The trackpad has good palm rejection. And while Razer removed the left and right click buttons, the gesture-aware clickpad implementation is quite good that there’s really no need to miss those two buttons.
Design, Weight and Dimensions
What is there to say about the Razer Blade Stealth’s aesthetics aside from that it looks and feels solid and premium, just like the Razer Blade 14. With its dimensions, it looks like a black MacBook, which is a positive thing aesthetically. Albeit, it’s really prone to fingerprints, which can be addressed by getting a skin.
And at 0.52 inch x 12.6 inches x 8.6 inches and 2.84 lbs, you’ll forget that it’s even in your backpack. It’s half the weight of the Razer Blade 14.
I/O and Connectivity
Even at half an inch, Razer managed to pack a number of I/O ports. On the right-hand side are a USB 3.0 and an HDMI 1.4 ports. On left is a 3.5mm combo audio jack that’s beside another USB 3.0 port and USB Type-C port, which supports Thunderbolt 3. The charger also goes into USB Type-C port. It’s also the port used to connect to the Razer Core external graphics housing.For connectivity, the Razer Blade Stealth features a Killer wireless-AC chip that supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1.
This is a really welcomed upgrade for the Razer Blade Stealth since one of the issues with the early 2016 version is the 6.5-hour battery life that comes with its 45 Wh battery pack. With a bigger battery capacity at 53.6 Wh and the move to Kaby Lake, which consumes less power, the late 2016 version manages 7.5 to 8 hours.
Performance and Recommendation
According to Techradar, the Kaby Lake processor beats the Skylake on every benchmark, which includes 3DMark: Cloud Gate, the Cinebench CPU test, Geekbench 3.0 and PCMark 8. However, against other Kaby Lake notebooks, such as the HP Spectre X360, the Razer Blade Stealth loses by a small margin.
There’s really nothing much to say about the new Razer Blade Stealth’s gaming prowess. Sure the HD Graphics 620 that comes with the i7-7500u produces more FPS than the HD Graphics 520 that’s packed with the i7-6500U, but they’re far from the level of dedicated graphics. Albeit, games like Overwatch and Dota 2 really benefit from the on board graphics upgrade.
For a decent gaming experience, the Razer Core, presumably filled a decent GPU, needs to be hooked to this notebook. However, if you really want a good experience when gaming, get a desktop and leverage the Razer Blade Stealth for what it truly is, a premium ultrabook that’s quite perfect with productivity in mind.