If you're on the hunt for a small and powerful ultraportable today, there's really no other better option than the Razer Blade 14. It's certainly not your average Razer gaming notebook.
For one, it's the first Razer notebook to be powered by the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor - a big break from the gaming company's exclusive use of Intel processors for their previous notebooks.
Razer might have been a little late to the Ryzen game (ROG, Lenovo and even MSI have got Ryzen-armed gaming notebooks for a little while now), but it's never too late to take advantage of the Ryzen 9 5900HX's improved power efficiency for better battery life and less heat - which are key considerations that impact both performance and longevity for a compact notebook like the Blade 14.
On the graphics end, the Razer Blade 14 comes with the complete repertoire of NVIDIA's RTX 30 Series Laptop GPU options - up to RTX 3080.
The Razer Blade 14 review unit that I received is equipped with NVIDIA's fastest GeForce RTX 3080 Laptop GPU and combined with the AMD processor, makes it arguably the most powerfully specced out gaming notebook in the 14-inch realm of ultraportable notebooks.
Expectedly, it comes with a premium price tag: $4,599.
Let's take a closer look at the notebook.
As with all Razer's line of gaming notebooks, the Blade 14 retains the same anodised all-metal chassis with a programmable RGB (sorry, Chroma) keyboard.
At 16.8mm thick and weighing 1.78kg, it's certainly not as svelte as the Razer Blade Stealth series - necessary compromises had to be made to accommodate the new vapour chamber cooling system - but will still fit easily inside most backpacks.
The build quality is great, does not flex (that the Blade Stealth notebooks tend to), and there's a robustness to the frame that feels premium in the hands.
In short, it's very much a Razer Blade notebook that looks instantly familiar to most gamers. It's certainly a case of "if it works, why change it", but I personally would have like to see Razer push a bit more boundary as far as aesthetics go.
Razer Blade notebooks looks great, don't get me wrong.
But sticking with the same design for the past decade seems like an oddity for a company that continues to push out edgy-looking products in its other categories.
That familiarity cascades down to the Blade 14's keyboard, which is still excellent as ever.
Razer's switches offer generous travel and tactility, which makes typing and gaming easy, and are also programmable from the Synapse software.
Below the keyboard is a large glass touchpad, and while its gaming usage scenarios are limited to point-and-click and turned-based games, it's responsive enough without feeling wobbly.
For every other genre of gaming, stick with a wired mouse.
Speaking of that; the Blade 14 has a wealth of ports available despite its incredibly thin form.
On both sides of it, there is one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C and a USB Type-A port. So that means you get two USB-C and two USB-A ports, which is pretty generous for an ultraportable notebook - and a gaming one at that - because having to carry additional dongles is so yesteryear.
A HDMI port is also available on the right side, while the charging port and a 3.5mm audio combo jack are on the left.
The highlight here is definitely the QHD (2560 x 1440) display with a 165Hz refresh rate though.
Razer has been improving the displays on their notebook consistently for a while and the Blade 14 has quite possibly one of the most beautiful displays for a gaming notebook right now.
And that's saying a lot, because while a lot of displays with fast refresh rates will usually cut corners when it comes to colour accuracy or brightness, the Blade 14 produces a full 111 per cent coverage of the sRGB spectrum, as well as an average brightness of 332-nits - that's superior to even some of the best ROG gaming notebooks, which we rate very highly here at HardwareZone.
Now let's look at how this little Blade performs in our benchmarks.
While my Blade 14 test unit does have an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 chip, it's not the fastest version of that GPU.
This is because with the new RTX 30 Series Laptop GPUs, NVIDIA has allowed manufacturers to determine the power profile of these GPUs in their notebooks.
This flexibility allows brands like Razer to be able to fit a power-hungry RTX 3080 GPU inside a small and slim notebook like the Blade 14 but with some compromises made.
You see, the laws of physics would dictate that the more power a GPU generates, the more energy it requires, and this energy would in turn needs a bigger and more efficient cooling thermal design so that the GPU doesn't overheat and throttles down its speed - which kind of defeats the purpose of having a fast processor in the first place.
In the case of the Blade 14, its ultraportable format meant that Razer saw fit to configure the RTX 3080 to max out at 100W of power, rather than, say, the larger ROG Strix Scar 15, which comes with a 115W-rated RTX 3080 GPU (and hence the higher boosted clock speed).
Razer Blade 14 Key Specifications (Comparisons)
|Razer Blade 14 (2021)||ROG Strix Scar 15 (2021)|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX||AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX|
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
Laptop GPU /w 1245MHz
Boosted Clock (100W)
NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080
Laptop GPU /w 1545MHz
Boosted Clock (115W)
|Memory||32GB (Dual Channel)||32GB (Dual Channel)|
But don't take any of this to mean that the Razer Blade 14 isn't powerful enough.
While you won't get the full power of the RTX 3080 with this notebook, it's still incredibly powerful for such a small ultraportable. And then there's the AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX - the best and fastest mobile processor for my money.
This makes the Blade 14 a great fit for getting any productivity work done while on the go - be it office type or content creation - and it will be able to keep up with it.
Just look at my benchmarks results below.
So in a nutshell, you could be looking at two different notebooks that are equipped with an RTX 3070 or 3080 Laptop GPU but in fact have different graphics horsepower.
What you want to look out for, is the TDP of the equipped RTX 30 Series Laptop GPU, which is also what NVIDIA encourages all manufacturers to be transparent by listing that information on their respective notebooks' specifications too.
I'll come straight to the point: The Razer Blade 14 is a great looking notebook that comes with quality parts and components.
If you're looking for an ultraportable form factor notebook that basically does anything you throw at it - be it for creativity work or high-performance gaming - then there really isn't any other notebooks quite like the Razer Blade 14 in the market now.
But that's not to say it's perfect, not with this particular build that I reviewed.
That's because high-end gaming performance for mobile devices in 2021 is inextricably linked to thermals, and the small, restrictive, confines of the Razer Blade 14's design (and its smaller cooling system designs) will inevitably deliver lower gaming performance from a GPU as hungry as an RTX 3080 than if it was used in a stockier chassis - like, say, a 15 or 17-inch one.
It's really a trade-off between performance and portability.
The plus point for the Blade 14 series is that there's also a lower-tiered version that comes with an RTX 3060 Laptop GPU paired with a 1080p 144Hz display.
I think this makes for a more ideal and better-for-your-dollar gaming ultraportable notebook because the RTX 3060 runs at a lower TDP, and so the Blade 14's cooling doesn't limit it as much as it does with the RTX 3080.
This article was first published in Hardware Zone.