Tech review: Razer Blade Stealth 13 is a truly portable gaming laptop

The best thing about the Razer Blade Stealth 13 ultrabook is its display.
The best thing about the Razer Blade Stealth 13 ultrabook is its display. PHOTO: RAZER

Many gaming laptops aspire to be truly portable. But even the better ones, such as the Aftershock Vapor 15 Pro and the Razer Blade 15, are still relatively large 15-inch models that weigh around 2kg.

Razer, though, has managed to fit a gaming-grade Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics chip in its new Blade Stealth 13 ultrabook. This svelte laptop weighs just 1.42kg and is only slightly thicker than its predecessor at around 15mm thick.

As expected from a Razer laptop, the build quality of the Stealth is exemplary. Its black unibody aluminium chassis feels solid without any flex. It feels very premium, down to the smooth, fluid motion of its hinge mechanism - the lid can be opened easily with just one hand.

The best thing about the Stealth is its display. My review set comes with a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel screen, not the higher-end 4K touchscreen. But this in-plane switching display (IPS) looks great. Despite a matte finish to reduce reflections, the screen still looks vibrant and bright. The display is surrounded by thin bezels on three sides, which creates an edge-to-edge look that feels modern and immersive.

Razer says that this screen, which offers 100 per cent coverage of the sRGB colour space, is individually calibrated at the factory, which should help with colour accuracy.

Flanking the keyboard are stereo speakers that are surprisingly loud and clear, putting out enough volume to fill a bedroom.

The keyboard itself is unremarkable. It is shallow, which is expected from an ultrabook. However, it has a non-standard layout, featuring a tiny right Shift key that is separated from the question mark-cum-forward slash key by the Up arrow key. If you often use the right Shift to type a question mark, this layout will take some getting used to. Compounding the issue is the fact that the arrow keys are the same size as the right Shift key instead of being half-height, so you cannot tell the position of the right Shift key by touch.

The Stealth also lacks per-key RGB backlighting - there is only single-zone backlighting, which feels limited compared to other modern gaming notebooks. The lighting effects can be adjusted in Razer's Synapse 3 software, which also includes the settings for fan speeds and performance modes.

That aside, the large Windows Precision trackpad is great. It is even bigger than the ones on some 15.6-inch laptops. It does not feel cramped and the palm rejection feature works a treat as there was no unwanted input when my palm was resting on it while typing.

Because of its fast - for an ultrabook - graphics chip, the Stealth can run the latest games decently. For instance, it produced 47 frames per second (fps) in Far Cry 5 and 42 fps in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, at High setting and 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. The performance does take a dip in a more demanding game like Metro Exodus, with the Stealth managing around 27 fps at High setting.

Heat and noise are important concerns for a gaming ultrabook. Thankfully, the Stealth was not that noisy even with its cooling fans set to maximum speed. The laptop felt warm above the keyboard, but the palm rest was comfortably cool.

Its battery life, though, is not at the level of a typical ultrabook. In PCMark 10's Modern Office battery test, the Stealth lasted 132 minutes, which is significantly shorter than the 523 minutes managed by the HP Spectre x360 ultrabook.

Overall, the Stealth feels like a truly portable gaming laptop with a premium design and a vibrant display, though it is not without its flaws.

FOR

- First 13.3-inch laptop with gaming-grade graphics

- Bright and vibrant display

- Excellent build quality

AGAINST

- Pricey

- Non-standard keyboard

- Keyboard lacks per-key RGB customisation

SPECS

Price: $2,899

Processor: Intel Core i7-1065G7 (1.3GHz)

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q 4GB GDDR5

RAM: 16GB DDR4

Screen size: 13.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

Connectivity: Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.1 Type-A, audio jack

Battery: 53 watt-hour

RATING

Features: 4.5/5

Design: 4.5/5

Performance: 3.5/5

Value for money: 3.5/5

Battery life: 3/5

Overall: 4/5