Razer Blade Review: Beautiful Black Sheep
To test the Blade’s gaming prowess, I used Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs, Battlefield 3, and a press preview build of the new Rise of the Triad remake. The results are below.
- Bioshock Infinite – Ultra Preset – 36 .2 fps
- Tomb Raider – Ultra Preset – 38.3 fps
- Sleeping Dogs – High Preset – 40.2 fps
- Battlefield 3 MP – High Preset – 59.1 fps
- ROTT Preview Build – Medium Preset – 42.9 fps
At High and Ultra Settings, the Blade will give you 30-plus frames per second in virtually any game you throw its way. If you dial down the settings to Medium and turn off anti-aliasing, those figures will jump into the sweet-spot 60 fps range.
The numbers are especially impressive when put in the proper context; a laptop that’s half the thickness of traditional gaming laptops is posting playable framerates on the current, popular games. The numbers are roughly the same as those produced by a more traditional gaming laptop — the Alienware 14 — despite the drastically smaller size.
Razer has designed its first 14-inch Blade for those who want to play PC games anytime, and virtually anywhere, but that mobility does come with some strings attached. Everything about the Blade screams Apple (in a good way), as this laptop is the black sheep brother to the Macbook Pro 13 and 15, both in design terms and price. The CPU and GPU are best-in-class, offering up performance never seen in what is ultimately an Ultrabook-ish form factor (in size, if not in weight). High framerates and a killer aesthetic come at the expense of lackluster I/O, a disappointing display, and a touch-less Windows 8 experience. If you can live with the caveats, you’re getting a beautiful, capable gaming laptop with a solid keyboard, and a no-nonsense approach to software.
The price is the biggest roadblock here, of course, but that’s the compromise that the Blade is built upon. The $1,800-plus tag is the price you pay for playing PC games on such a compact, powerful machine. If you can part with $1,800 ($2,000 for the 256 GB model, or $2,300 for the 512 GB model), and you need to get your Borderlands or Battlefield fix on the road without breaking your back, the Razer Blade is absolutely the laptop for you. But if you can weather the extra weight and less appealing design, there are plenty of thicker, bulkier 15-inch gaming laptops out there for you to choose from.