Razer Blade Stealth 13 Review — An Ultrabook in Disguise
Razer Blade Stealth 13 is the finest Ultrabook we've seen in 2019 -- while it may not be a "gaming rig," it is a great entry-level PC.
Razer is a brand that has worked to revolutionize the gaming laptop scene thanks to the Razer Blade line, and part of that battle is continuing to get thinner, lighter, and more portable. Nothing accomplishes this better than the recently re-designed Razer Blade Stealth 13, a compact yet substantial piece of hardware that refuses to compromise those tenets.
Yet, I’m hard-pressed to label the Razer Blade Stealth 13 a “gaming laptop” per se. Instead, the brand carves out its niche — a mid-way point between a dedicated mobile gaming rig and an all-purpose ultrabook. It’s far from a perfect gaming solution for all, but it will be exactly what an audience of casual PC gamers, students, and professionals have been asking for.
Last year we took a look at the Razer Blade 15, the flagship centric gaming laptop from the Razer brand. And those all left strong impressions — I called it a “technical marvel” that easily outpaced market leaders like the MacBook Pro in build quality and design. Thankfully, the Razer Blade Stealth 13 isn’t aiming at that market, instead opting to be a more entry-level gaming laptop for the budding PC gamer.
Entry-level tends to sound like an insult, but it is anything but. Not all gamers — especially many console gamers who read DualShockers — are vying for a $2500 investment out the gate on a quality rig or souped-up laptop when they are just entering the PC gaming world. While being able to play Kingdom Come Deliverance on max settings is a nice bragging right, there are a handful of gamers just looking to play Apex Legends on the go with their friends at a good quality.
And, yes — the Razer Blade Stealth 13 can do that, all while keeping things slim and quiet.
There are a ton of things I really love about the build quality of the Razer Blade Stealth 13. I’ve cycled through my range of gaming PCs and laptops, but this is the first quality build I would consider “portable.” The line of hardware range from 2.82 to just about 3.04 pounds–that is roughly the same weight (if not lighter) than the latest brand of MacBook Pro, a pound-and-a-half lighter than both the Razer Blade 15 and the Alienware equivalents.
Even better than that, the sleek design of the laptop has even weight distribution across its high-grade aluminum chassis. Gaming laptops tend to feel lopsided, as hardware manufacturers have to balance between keeping their products lightweight, powerful, and well-ventilated. The Razer Blade Stealth 13 hits those first two points in stride next to competitors, while also not making sacrifices to heat dissipation.
That isn’t to say that the Stealth doesn’t get hot — it does. Not nearly as scorching as the Razer Blade 15 or MSI GS75 Stealth Pro when running games on max settings, but then again it is packing significantly less power comparatively. Expect laps to get toasty and (as always) playing on a desk or table is going to be preferable. Thankfully, it is relatively quiet even when fans are whirring — you won’t be playing on a jet engine, whether you’re in your bedroom or taking notes in a classroom.
Talking on power for a moment, this is easily the most well-designed and powerful 13″ laptop we’ve seen for the size, though not reaching the heights of 15″ laptops. Expect to be able to play most current games on low or medium settings easily hitting between 45 and 60 FPS; playing Apex Legends while lounging around seemed effortless, with no noticeable lags, artifacts, or frame skips thanks to the NVIDIA GeForce MX150 and Quad Core 8th Gen Intel i7 Processor. Comparatively, playing Apex at max settings is “doable,” but you are going to be ranging between 17 and 25 FPS throughout, making for some choppy gameplay.
In short, while more graphics-intense or VR-based games are going to chug along, the Razer Blade Stealth 13 isn’t designed for max settings or graphical optimization. Instead, it will cross off all the checkmarks for the everyday gamer looking for portability over power, though not wanting to sacrifice either. If your game is Fortnite, Apex Legends, or checking the slew of indie Steam games, the Razer Blade Stealth 15 will have you covered.
The display itself is vibrant and standard to what we have seen from Razer so far. While there is no OLED display options, the 100% sRGB Full HD display accomplishes the task and then some. The highest end model has a 4K display, but at 13″ and the limited power for gameplay, I don’t think making that leap is necessary. The bezel is a slim 4.9mm, so you are going to get the full impact of the 13″ display.
As far as the actual hardware is concerned, there are definitely sacrifices made for size. One repeating annoyance was the Shift key on the right side of the keyboard–to cut down on keyboard real estate it has been shrunken to the size of a normal character. This is something I got used to over time, but is clearly a sacrifice of comfort for size. Additionally, more premium gaming ports like HDMI and built-in Ethernet ports are missing to keep the laptop’s height under 15 mm. Other than that, the two USB-A and Thunderbolt USB-C ports should cover most day-to-day gaming needs.
Then there are the recurring trends among the Razer Blade models which are all appreciated. This includes the brand’s stand against “bloatware” packed in from launch, aside from Razer Synapse to help sync across other products in the Razer brand. Anyone who has purchased a modern computer and spent a day uninstalling products instantly knows the benefit of not having to work around this exercise.
No discussion on a gaming laptop is complete without pouring over the battery life — the Razer Blade Stealth 13 boasts a generous 11-13 hours of battery in ideal settings. In our benchmarking, this landed at around 7 hours for video playback and 5 hours if doing more intensive tasks, including gaming. In other words, it isn’t the most durable battery we have seen in comparison to Ultrabooks, but compared to gaming laptops it is a sweetheart of a value.
As I mentioned early on, the Razer Blade Stealth 13 isn’t necessarily a “gaming rig” so much as a mid-way point between that and an Ultrabook — and that is great. In 2019, a market for that exists — whether you are jumping on the popular gaming trends, needing an all-purpose machine for mixed work, or want a competent and portable laptop that runs Windows. At the price points (which range from $1,400 to $1900, you can find more capable gaming rigs — however, you will undoubtedly be sacrificing portability and size in the process.
The Razer Blade Stealth 13 isn’t an all-in-one gaming solution, but it was never aspiring to be that. Instead, we see one of the best (and priciest) ultrabooks in 2019 that is extremely capable of playing any game on the market, though not at its highest settings. Even so, the Razer Blade Stealth 13 is one of the most promising laptops of 2019.
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