Tech review: Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model lives up to its name

Overall, the Blade 15 is a laptop that puts the latest high-end gaming hardware in an attractive and handy package suitable for the gamer on the go.
Overall, the Blade 15 is a laptop that puts the latest high-end gaming hardware in an attractive and handy package suitable for the gamer on the go.PHOTO: RAZER

Razer's latest Blade 15 Advanced Model makes a strong case as being one of the best slim gaming laptops now.

Not only does it sport a lovely 15-inch screen with a class-leading 240Hz refresh rate, it also comes with the latest Intel Core i7-9750H processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 (Max-Q) graphics chip.

Even its Intel Wi-Fi chipset, which works with the Wi-Fi 6 standard introduced last year, is so fresh that chances are your router won't be able to utilise its full potential.

But the best change for me is that, as of last month, Razer no longer requires users to have an account to use its Synapse 3 software - they can now log in anonymously as a guest. Signing in with an account still has its benefits, especially if you own many Razer products because the settings are saved online.

In any case, the Synapse software seems to be the only way to change the performance mode in the Blade 15 to Gaming mode to get the best performance.

Note that the cooling fans in the Blade produce quite a din when running at full speed in Gaming mode. Thankfully, the laptop's speakers are loud enough to drown out some of the fan noise.

While the default Balanced mode may run quieter, it is slower in the benchmarks. For instance, the score increased from 6,525 to 6,986 in the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark after changing from Default to Gaming mode.

But I was not blown away by the performance of the Blade 15. It managed an average of 114 frames per second (fps) in Crysis 3 at Very High setting compared to the 128fps scored by the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX701, which has an identical graphics chip but an older Core i7-8750H processor.

The Asus was also ahead in the PCMark 10 benchmark, which tests the performance in tasks like Web browsing and photo editing, with a 6,042 score versus 5,494 by the Blade 15. Perhaps it is because the Asus laptop has more system memory or the fact that the older 8750H chip actually has a higher maximum speed than the newer 9750H chip when fewer processor cores are being used.

Nevertheless, the Blade 15 is one of the fastest gaming laptops in the market. Besides churning out the desired performance level, the Blade 15 also has a super-fast 240Hz display that redraws the on-screen content 240 times a second.

A high refresh rate is desired by gamers because it leads to smoother images that make the game feel more responsive.

However, while I can easily see the difference between the Blade 15's 240Hz screen and a standard 60Hz display, I cannot really distinguish between this screen and the 144Hz screens that are the norm in gaming displays nowadays.

Design-wise, the Blade 15 is identical to its predecessor. It is not as slim as older iterations, but its aluminium chassis feels well-made and sturdy. At 2.15kg, it is also relatively portable for a gaming laptop.

The display is surrounded by narrow bezels, with an infrared camera above the screen to enable facial recognition, a feature added in a previous version.

However, I am not a fan of its shallow keyboard that offers little key travel. Another quibble is that unlike most keyboards, the Up arrow key is located between the right shift key and the question mark key, which could throw some users off.

The keyboard, though, looks stunning thanks to a per-key backlight that offers over 16 million colour choices, as well as a dazzling variety of lighting effects.

Overall, the Blade 15 is a laptop that puts the latest high-end gaming hardware in an attractive and handy package suitable for the gamer on the go.


FOR

- Display offers highest refresh rate

- Latest high-end features

- Well-built chassis

AGAINST

- Noisy fans

- Shallow keyboard

- Expensive

SPECS

Price: $4,699

Processor: Intel Core i7-9750H (2.6GHz)

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 8GB GDDR6 (Max-Q)

RAM: 16GB DDR4

Screen size: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

Connectivity: Thunderbolt 3, 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, HDMI, Mini-DisplayPort, audio jack

Battery: 80 watt-hour

RATING

Features: 4.5/5

Design: 4/5

Performance: 4/5

Value for money: 3.5/5

Battery life: 2/5

Overall: 4/5