Gaming laptop review: Razer Blade (2014)

Gaming laptop review: Razer Blade (2014)
Razer Blade.

By shrinking the screen size to 14 inches and slimming down the laptop, Razer made the Razer Blade a truly portable gaming machine.

But this was not without major downsides, namely the low screen resolution - just 1,600 x 900 pixels - and lack of in-plane switching (IPS) technology.

That was last year's Razer Blade.

These major weaknesses have now been rectified. The new edition has a stunning IPS touchscreen display of 3,200 x 1,800 pixels, which is close to 4K or ultra high-definition TV resolution of 3,840 x 2,140 pixels.

But the touchscreen bumps up the thickness of the new Blade to 1.78cm (from 1.68cm), and the weight to 2.03kg (from 1.88kg).

Still, by gaming laptop standards, the new Blade is still razor thin.

Otherwise, the Blade's design remains unchanged. It still looks like a black Apple MacBook Pro, sporting an anodised aluminium unibody chassis with the Razer logo glowing green in the centre of the lid.

Two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack and a power port can be found at the left edge. A third USB 3.0 port and an HDMI port are sited on the right.

But there is still no optical drive, Ethernet port or SD card slot.

An optical drive and Ethernet port would bulk up the chassis. But an SD card slot? It is puzzling that Razer left that out.

Lift the lid and you will find twin speakers flanking the keyboard, and a trackpad with two clickable buttons below the spacebar.

The speakers offer pretty loud and crisp audio but the bass lacks punch. The smooth and responsive trackpad supports multi-touch gestures. But most gamers will use a gaming headset and mouse anyway.

The keyboard looks very cool with the green backlight on. It provides great tactile response with minimal finger travel. It also features anti-ghosting, which means that multiple keys can be pressed and registered at the same time. This is important for gamers who are pressing multiple keys in the heat of virtual battle.

You can also use the fabulous touchscreen display to navigate Windows 8.1. There is very little colour shift when the display is viewed from the sides. But the display is quite reflective.

Unlike many gaming laptops, this device has a touchscreen display.

However, your wrists might get toasted on the aluminium wrist-rest during gaming sessions when the Blade gets worked really hard.

Performance-wise, the new Blade will not blow gamers away. Plus, not many games are able to support its ultra high-definition resolution.

But when you start playing Crysis 3, BioShock Infinite and Diablo III at 3,200 x 1,800-pixel resolution, the visual feast the display provides will immediately win you over.

The already-gorgeous world of BioShock Infinite looks even more magnificent, while the smooth textures of Crysis 3 will make you pause just to admire your weapons.

In 3,200 x 1,800-pixel resolution, Crysis 3 clocked an average of 25 frames per second at High setting.

In BioShock Infinite, the frame rates are slightly better at 30 frames per second at High setting.

You will have to drop the graphics setting to Medium or lower the screen resolution to 1,920 x 1,080 pixels for better frame rates of 50 to 60 frames per second.

In our Digital Life video-loop battery test with Wi-Fi switched on and at maximum screen brightness, the new Blade lasted only 3hr 46min. By comparison, its predecessor managed 4hr 24min.

However, I expect most gamers will keep this Blade plugged in to a power socket.

It has sacrificed battery life for an ultra high-resolution display. But if you prefer a glorious display, the new Razer Blade (2014) is well worth its hefty price tag.

Background story

TECH SPECS

Price: From $3,299

Processor: Intel Core i7-4702HQ (2.2GHz)

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 870M 3GB GDDR5

RAM: 8GB DDR3

Screen size: 14-inch touchscreen, 3,200 x 1,800 pixels

Connectivity: 3 x USB 3.0, HDMI 1.4a, 3.5mm microphone/headphone jack

Battery: 70 watt-hours

Weight: 2.03kg

RATING

Features 4/5

Design 5/5

Performance 4/5

Value for money 3/5

Battery life 3/5

Overall 4/5

trevtan@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 02, 2014.
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