The Razer Blade Stealth is what the MacBook Air could have been if Apple did not neglect its genre-defining notebook.
Both are ultra-thin laptops with a sturdy unibody aluminium chassis and a minimalist design. However, the latest Stealth, like most premium Windows ultrabooks, has moved so far ahead of the Air that it would no longer be fair to compare the two.
Razer has added a new 13.3-inch version this year (the older 12.5-inch model is still available). Despite its larger screen, this model is just as thin as its smaller sibling, and weighs only 40g more at 1.33kg.
It also has a similar footprint because its screen bezel is narrower, which makes its lovely touchscreen stand out even more. This bezel, however, is not as slim as the ones on rival ultrabooks such as the Dell XPS 13 and LG Gram.
Razer says the Stealth's crisp 3,200 x 1,800-pixel display supports 100 per cent of the sRGB colour spectrum. The swirl of colours showcased by the default wallpaper certainly looked vibrant to me.
Matching this colourful wallpaper is the Stealth's Chroma keyboard. Like other Razer Chroma-branded keyboard and mice peripherals, the Stealth's keyboard backlight supports more than 16 million colours. The LED for each key can be individually customised to display a different colour. You can also customise macros and tweak the LED lighting schemes.
To do so, users will need to register and log in to Razer's Synapse software. This software also controls the Razer logo LED on the lid. But, while Synapse is probably useful to gamers, one should not need to create yet another account just to change the keyboard backlight. As it is, you can adjust the brightness of the backlight using only the laptop's Function keys.
PRICE: $2,149 (256GB), $2,449 (512GB), $2,999 (1TB)
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7500U (2.7GHz)
GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 620
SCREEN SIZE: 13.3-inch, 3,200 x 1,800 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: 1 x Thunderbolt 3 port, 2 x USB 3.0, HDMI, audio jack
BATTERY: 53.6 watt-hour
BATTERY LIFE: 3/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
The keyboard is shallow because of the laptop's slim build. It also seems to require a bit more pressure than other laptop keyboards for its keystrokes to be registered.
New to the Stealth is a precision touchpad that supports native Windows multitouch gestures like a three-fingered swipe to the left or right to switch between open apps.
Audio is loud for a laptop, thanks to the front stereo speakers at both sides of the keyboard. The preloaded Dolby Digital Plus software lets you change the audio equaliser to suit the content.
Unlike some laptop makers that have jumped the gun by switching to having only USB Type-C connectors on their computers, Razer has retained a good mix on the Stealth, including two Type-A USB 3.0 ports and a HDMI port. It does have a single USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 port, which is used for data transfer and for charging the laptop.
This Thunderbolt 3 port is also used to connect the Stealth to the Razer Core, an external graphics dock that, when outfitted with a desktop graphics card (sold separately), enables desktop-class gaming performance on the Stealth. This dock was previously unavailable in Singapore, but Razer now sells it here at $749.
With a seventh-generation Intel Core i7 chip, 16GB of RAM and integrated graphics, the new Stealth's hardware is identical to that the 12.5-inch model released late last year. Even the size of the battery is similar. My review set has a 256GB solid-state drive, but 512GB and 1TB options are available.
Battery life was similar to that of the 12.5-inch Stealth, at around 5hr 20min of uptime when playing a video at maximum brightness and volume, and without turning on the keyboard backlight.
This uptime falls short of the six to seven hours on other ultrabooks.
• Verdict: The new Stealth sports a larger screen and a slimmer bezel than previous models. But the hardware and the design is mostly unchanged. It still offers middling battery life.