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Razer Blade Stealth (2019) review: the cost of compromise

Razer's latest Blade Stealth has a new design, more power, and some much-needed improvements. Those changes have the potential to turn the company's least interesting laptop into its most versatile.

The Blade Stealth is Razer's smallest, lightest, and least expensive laptop, starting at $ 1,399. It occupies the same space as thin and light computers like Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro and Dell's XPS 13. Like other Razer laptops, it leads the way with specs: it has a fast processor, a new option for a discrete graphics card and up to 1

6GB of RAM.

In addition to the spec updates, Blade Stealth is also available in a new limited edition quartz pink finish. It's probably the smart laptop I've ever seen, and it's quite a departure from the typical black-and-green Razer laptop.

As configured, the midieer unit I've been testing costs $ 1,599 and includes the dedicated 4GB Nvidia MX150 (25W) graphics options and the limited edition pink colorway.

The biggest question here is do these upgrades to finally make Blade Stealth a real gaming laptop that you can take anywhere and game confidently on? At the same time, can Blade Stealth hang with other thin and light computers when it comes to productivity? I've spent the last couple of weeks with a quartz pink Blade Stealth to find out.


Verge Score

Good Stuff

  • Lightweight, stellar build quality
  • Sharp, vibrant display [19659010] Excellent touchpad

Bad Stuff

  • A 25-watt MX150 is still not a high-end GPU
  • Battery life is still subpar
  • Expensive for only 256GB storage

Part of the Razer Blade Stealth's redesign Has been updating it to look more in line with the Blade 15 Advanced. It is a very blockier design with hard edges and sharper corners. As a result, the black version of the new Stealth is the otherwise spitting image of its bigger sibling, while the quartz pink edition Blade Stealth has the same design as the black version, except, well, it's pink.

The Stealth's pink anodized exterior goes through the same manufacturing processes as the black blades do, so the color will not just rub off. The pink colorway even applies to details as the laptop's screws.

The Stealth is available with either a 1080p non-touch display or a 4K touchscreen. The 1080p screen I've been testing has vibrant colors, a sharp text that does not look overly processed, and a moderately bright panel that pops up at around 346 nits. Its 60Hz refresh rate is not as fast as what you can get on larger gaming laptops, but it's fairly standard for 13-inch laptops. Razer also includes an anti-glare coating that does a decent job of avoiding indoor light, but direct sunlight can still make it tricky to view perfectly.

Overall, it's not a designer monitor quality, but Razer can individually calibrate each display at its factory. This screen supports 100 percent of the sRGB gamut but only about 61 percent of Adobe RGB. I'm also glad Razer did not use the black bezels around the 13.3-inch screen. Instead, it went with the matching bench, making the Stealth's design look cohesive.

The Stealth's chassis is a solid unibody design that does not flex in the display, palm rest, or keyboard. Razer's improvements in build quality over past generations are evident just by handling Stealth between meetings. Everything is just more buttoned up than it used to be.

A big part of the Stealth's appeal is its weight: it's just 2.89 pounds, compared to the other four-plus pounds of Razer's other laptops. That's considered extremely light in the world of gaming laptops. But compared to other thin and light, it's merely average. The Stealth Clocks in a little heavier than the Dell's new XPS 13 but a bit less than a 13-inch MacBook Pro. Of course, neither of these computers have a discrete graphics card. Still, under three pounds, the Blade Stealth is great for commuting, and I had no issues fitting into a backpack or laptop sleeve.

In addition, the Stealth has a better port selection than other ultrabooks. On the left, you will find an audio jack, USB 3.0, and a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port (with four PCI Express lanes). On the right hand side, there's one USB-C 3.1 and a second USB 3.0 port. Only one of the two USB-C ports supports Thunderbolt 3, but both are capable of charging the Stealth battery.

The best hardware upgrade here is the new webcam coming with Windows Hello facial recognition as a standard feature. You will no longer need to type a long password or PIN to get into the Blade. It had no issues recognizing me in different lighting situations, like with my glasses on / off or at different angles. I used it almost exclusively as a reliable login authentication method.

On the flip side, the 720p webcam is not so great. The picture is grainy, washed out, and looks even worse in rooms that do not have bright light. You'd be better off using your smartphone for video conferencing.

If it looks like a gaming laptop, it sounds like a gaming laptop, and is priced like a gaming laptop, does it make it a gaming laptop? Unfortunately, no. The Stealth's 25-watt MX150 discrete GPU is up to four times more powerful than the integrated graphics you might find in other ultrabooks, but it's still not powerful enough for high-level gaming. Its performance in the real world is really limited to powering external monitors, using it for creative tools like Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as occasional casual or older games that are not too graphic-intensive.

Playing Black Ops IIII at native resolution (1080p), the Stealth could keep the game blackout mode locked to 60 frames per second at the lowest possible settings However, playing Battlefield V on the MX150 felt hopeless, barely reaching 40 fps at its lowest settings.

Older games such as League of Legends are easy for the MX150, with it hitting a steady 60 fps at maxed graphical settings. Similarly, Overwatch (another game that runs well on lower-end hardware) has frame rates in the mid-60s while running on medium settings at native resolution.

These results may not be that impressive compared to larger gaming laptops, but for a thin computer that weighs less than three pounds, it's about the best you're going to get.

Thanks to the Stealth's Thunderbolt 3 port, it is possible to get better performance with an external GPU. I hooked it up to a Razer Core V2 with an RTX 2080Ti and was able to run Battlefield V with all of its settings maxed out on a 35-inch ultrawide display at over 70 frames per second. This is obviously an expensive solution, but if you want a truly portable laptop with the option to run high-end AAA games, this is an option.

In addition to not having enough GPU power to play games, Stealth's 256GB storage is too limited to easily store them. Black Ops IIII alone takes 100GB, which is almost half of available space. Afterward, I plan to import some RAW photos from a recent photo shoot, then realized I did not have the storage space. You can get 512GB of storage, but that requires a step up to the top-tier $ 1,899 model with a 4K touchscreen (and forgoing the pink color option). Razer says it's possible to upgrade the internal SSD to yourself, which is something you would probably want to do if you plan to use this model for gaming.

The Stealth may be marketed as "gaming ultrabook", but it's also very competent for productivity, at least until the battery dies. The great Windows Precision trackpad provides a comfortable and smooth experience that is considerably better than the previous model, and includes support for Windows 10 gestures.

The Blade keyboard has good travel and feedback, but it has a frustrating layout quirk: right Shift key is sized like a normal letter keycap, and it is positioned immediately above the right directional key. I can not tell you how many times I accidentally pressed this shift key when I meant to hit the directional key.

Thankfully, Razer got the rest of the Stealth's keyboard right by including full backlighting over every key, anti-ghosting, and switches that are not too loud for cafes or conference rooms even when I typing at full speed. Other than the terrible Shift key placement, this is a solid keyboard.

Flanking the keyboard are four speakers with Dolby Atmos tuning and a companion app. It's a pleasant surprise to come across small laptop speakers that pack punchy bass, clear mids, and non-distorted highs. Compared to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, these speakers are on par with the warmth of Mac's sound (even with the "warmth" enabled Dolby mode).

The Stealth's bass really kicking in at the higher volumes (about 70 percent), but there's no distortion or audible strain to speak of. These are really good speakers that I do not mind using to listen to a few songs, for games, or a Netflix marathon with others in the room.

Despite the Stealth's sleek new design, improved gaming performance and better security, two features that have not been improved are battery life and heat management. I could not get more than five hours of web usage out of the stealth, and it took less than an hour of use before I could feel the underside gently toasting my lap.

That's with the Stealth in its default "Better Performance" mode, with 50 percent brightness, the keyboard backlighting set to solid white, and Bluetooth off. Even when using a more power-conscious battery plan and keeping the Chrome tabs open, I only managed to get an extra 30 minutes before the battery was given up. The Stealth's battery life while gaming is half that; It throws in the towel at around two and a half hours.

If you plan on using the Stealth on your laptop, then after all – then I'd advise you only do it for short periods of time. Everything from typing this in Google Docs with multiple tabs in the open to the background to watching videos will trigger a response from the system's fans. You can manually control the fan speed in the Razer's Synapse app, but it does not help much with mitigating heat from the bottom panel.

Compared to earlier versions, the new Razer Blade Stealth is a much more capable gaming laptop, at least for casual gaming. But if you're serious about gaming performance and do not mind a thicker and heavier laptop, Razer's own base Blade 15 also costs $ 1,599, and it can actually play modern games at medium to high settings.

The Stealth can pull double duty as a productivity laptop that can play the occasional game better than Razer's other options, but its battery life makes it hard to rely on for a full day's worth of work The low-end discrete GPU is not really powerful enough to rely on video encoding in apps like Adobe Premiere either, which makes the Stealth a less than an ideal portable editing machine for creators. The ideal setup for either gaming or video editing involves using an external GPU, but that adds considerable cost to the Stealth's already high price. Perhaps Razer should consider selling the Stealth bundled with its external GPU option.

Even with its new design, improved graphics power and better quality-of-life features, Blade Stealth still occupies an awkward middle ground. It's a portable laptop that does not have the battery life of many other thin and light computers, but it's also not really powerful enough for serious gaming or video editing.

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This is a classic jack of all trades, the master of no situation, which makes it hard to recommend it over another thin and light or full-fledged gaming laptop. These do not affect editorial content, though Vox Media can earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy .

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