From its striking beauty to its potent performance, the latest Razer Blade Stealth has something for everyone. Starting at $899.
Razer sticks with a tried-and-true, all-black, attractive CNC aluminum chassis. The familiar accent lines on the lid draw the eye to the glowing green tri-snake emblem. The notebook’s interior has more of that sexy ebony aluminum, which helps to highlight the gorgeous glowing keyboard and equally lovely 12.5-inch display, The Stealth’s diminutive frame makes it hard to load it up with ports, but the ones it does have can turn the ultraportable into the brain of a formidable gaming or productivity station. Along the right, you’ll find a full-size HDMI port and a USB 3.0 port. On the opposite side, Razer adds another USB 3.0 port with a headset jack, as well as a Thunderbolt 3.0 port that doubles as the AC charging port.
The audio you get from the Stealth’s diminutive speakers is louder than you’d expect from a notebook this size. However, during several tracks including Miguel’s “Vixen” and Jill Scott’s, Fools Gold the bass, while present, was rather diffused. The speakers did a solid job of delivering Solange’s airy vocals on “Cranes In The Sky.Razer pre installed Dolby’s Digital Plus audio software, which features four profiles (Movie, Music, Game, and Voice), and it definitely helped to amplify the laptop’s audio. The Music profile gave the best result a nice balance of warmth and clarity. You can also create your own custom profiles using the Intelligent Equalizer and Surround Virtualizer.
Keyboard and touchpad
Razer wisely opted to keep the visual cornucopia that is the Chroma keyboard. Because the keyboard can recreate up to 16.8 million colors with several captivating effects, Razer kept its 4.1 x 2.5-inch Synaptics touchpad. Thanks to the rather small palm rest, it looks bigger than it actually is, but it still offered agile, accurate responses when I pinch-zoomed an article or did a four-finger flick to switch between open apps. The bottom corners of the pad delivered clicky, punchy feedback when pressed.
The era of Kaby Lake is upon us, and I couldn’t be more elated. Intel claims its 7th-generation processors deliver better performance while extending battery life. Equipped with a 7th-Gen 2.7-GHz Intel Core i7-7500U CPU with 16GB of RAM, the Stealth ably streamed an episode of Luke Cage while running a full system scan with 13 tabs open in Google Chrome.We also got our hands on a model with a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i5-7200U CPU with 8GB of RAM. Though not as powerful as a Core i7, this config is quite fast. I had no problem running a Windows Defender scan while streaming Ava DuVernay’s “13th” from Netflix with 10 Google Chrome tabs open.The Core i7 Stealth notched 7,871 on our synthetic Geekbench 3 test, easily beating the 5,528 average for ultraportable notebooks. Outfitted with their own Core i7-7500U CPUs, the HP Spectre and the Asus ZenBook 3 hit 7,888 and 7,647, respectively. The Dell XPS 13 (Intel Core i5-7200U CPU) delivered 7,159, while the MacBook and its 1.2-GHz Core m5 processor obtained a rather disappointing 5,906. The Core i5 Stealth delivered a hearty 7,075.During the File Transfer test, the Core i7 Stealth’s 256GB M.2 PCIe solid-state drive duplicated 4.97GB of mixed media files in 14 seconds, which translates to a transfer rate of 363.5 megabytes per second. That scorches the 164.5-MBps average as well as the 355.9 MBps, 339.3 MBps and 195.9 MBps put up by the MacBook (512GB SSD), XPS 13 (256GB SSD) and Spectre (256GB SSD), respectively. However, the ZenBook pulled out the win with its 512GB PCIe SSD (508.9 MBps). The Core i5 version of the Stealth and its 128GB M.2 PCIe SSD missed the mark, with 118.3 MBps.
Although Kaby Lake ushers in the new Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU, don’t expect to start playing Gears of War 4 or The Witcher 3 on the Stealth or any other ultraportable. However, you can get away with playing less demanding titles, like Dirt 3. On 1080p at high settings, the Stealth turned in 28 frames per second, matching the XPS 13 and beating the 24-fps average. The ZenBook 3 turned in a significantly higher 47 fps.When we ran the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark, the Stealth notched 69,207, which was enough to top the 52,219 ultraportable average as well XPS 13’s (Intel HD Graphics 5500 GPU) 62,754. However, the Spectre and its last-gen Intel HD Graphics 520 GPU achieved 69,409. But the ZenBook 3 and its Intel HD Graphics 620 GPU were the ultimate winners, scoring 70,628.
If you’re planning to do any gaming, you’ll have to invest in the Razer Core, the company’s $399 graphics amplifier. When paired with a desktop graphics card of your choosing, the Core will bypass the Stealth’s integrated graphics, allowing you to play even the most taxing games.
The Core i7 Stealth lasted 6 hours and 36 minutes on our battery test (continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi), while the Core i5 version posted 6:58. Both results are a marked improvement over the previous generation’s 5:05. They also outlasted the Spectre’s time of 6:06. However, it was nowhere near the 8:08 ultraportable-notebook average and also below the ZenBook 3’s 7:05. The MacBook lasted an impressive 9:38, while the XPS 13 actually lapped the Stealth with a time of 13:49.
The Stealth’s integrated webcam captures images and video in 1920 x 1080 and does a pretty good job. The test shots I took in the lab captured the varying shades of purple, orange and black in my locks, as well as the black and white stripes in my dress.
Software and warranty
As usual, Razer employs a light touch on the software. Aside from your typical Windows 10 software, you get Razer Comms, the company’s voice-chat gaming messenger, which lets you chat for free on mobile and desktop. The messenger also features a handy in-game overlay, so you can talk without leaving your game.Third-party apps include Flipboard; Twitter; Killer Diagnostic, which keeps tabs on network speeds; and Killer Network Manager, which allows you to maximize online gaming performance by configuring the network card.