If you’ve seen one Razer Blade laptop previously few years, you’ve primarily seen all of them. The new Blade 15 Advanced is one other a kind of monochromatic, monolithic machines milled out of aluminum. But this one is a beast on the within, with sufficient year-to-year enhancements elsewhere to be worthy of your consideration.
At almost the highest of Razer’s configuration tree sits this $2,999 ($2,799 on the time of publishing) mannequin that I’ve been testing for the final week. It has a highly effective eight-core Intel Core i7-10875H processor, Nvidia’s RTX 2080 Super Max-Q graphics chip, a 1TB NVMe SSD, and 16GB of RAM. Topping it off, it has a 1080p show with a 300Hz refresh price.
This configuration is highly effective, and it has no difficulty taking part in all of right now’s most demanding video games at excessive body charges with its show’s native 1080p decision (but ray tracing with out hand-holding through Nvidia’s AI-assisted DLSS function nonetheless presents a large problem, as I’ll get into later). Pricing for the Blade 15 Advanced begins at $2,599, and that worth will get you an identical processor and 300Hz refresh price show however with the Nvidia RTX 2070 Super Max-Q, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB NVMe SSD.
Perhaps simply as vital for some, that is the primary high-end Blade that’s simple to advocate for a number of different use instances. It’s simpler to stay in a bag than most different hulking gaming laptops. It has satisfactory battery life and strong port choice with Thunderbolt 3 and a quick SD card reader that might be a boon for photographers and video editors. Its keyboard format additionally makes it better for typing than earlier fashions.
The Blade 15 Advanced nonetheless isn’t a grasp at any of its many trades, but it surely’s getting better.
Gaming efficiency on this specific configuration is stellar for many titles, as is anticipated with the specs inside. My ordinary gamut of benchmarks embrace Remedy’s Control and Rocket League; the previous being a recreation that may actually push PCs to their restrict, and the latter being a fast-paced recreation that requires precision that I additionally simply occur to actually take pleasure in taking part in. At their highest settings, Control ran at a clean 110 frames per second, whereas Rocket League unsurprisingly clocked in greater with a regular 250 frames per second. Better but, this show has a 300Hz refresh price, so when video games shot past 60 frames per second it was undoubtedly noticeable.
If you’re after a laptop that has an RTX 2080 Max-Q, it’s doubtless you’re all for profiting from ray tracing options in video games that assist it. Fortunately, that’s all potential right here, however sadly, that is the place it turns into pretty simple to identify this GPU’s shortcomings. The aforementioned Control, with the entire attractive ray tracing options switched to their highest, brings the body price right down to round 40, although it was pretty regular. Fortnite truly fared worse, averaging about 25 frames per second with its ray tracing options turned on. Given Fortnite’s sprawling map and dynamic nature in comparison with a scripted recreation, this efficiency hole is sensible, however I used to be shocked that that is what introduced the laptop to its knees.
Thankfully, Nvidia’s deep studying tremendous sampling (DLSS) function helps to boost the body price of ray tracing gameplay with out too noticeable a hit in visible high quality. Using it allowed the Blade 15 Advanced to run the entire ray tracing options on Control at round 100 frames per second. Fortnite nonetheless offered a problem, with the “performance” DLSS setting elevating it to a comparatively steady, however not excellent, 50 frames per second.
You can nonetheless have a very pleasant gaming expertise on the Blade 15, however you would possibly must toggle a few settings to get the completely finest visible constancy and high quality. Turning on DLSS is technically a cop-out as a result of the system can’t in any other case deal with ray tracing (in Control’s case, it drops the rendering right down to 720p, then upscales with AI), but it surely nonetheless appears to be like nice on a 1080p show. It’s a good cop-out.
It’s laborious to not discover simply how scorching the Blade 15 Advanced can get throughout a recreation. Like the equally specced Razer Blade Pro 17 my colleague Monica Chin examined out, you gained’t wish to contact close to the show’s hinge or anyplace close to the again on the underside of the machine, both. I needed to rapidly pull my hand away after testing how scorching it was. Less demanding video games like Hades gained’t trigger the temperature to rise too excessive, however typically, its poor cooling means you’ll undoubtedly wish to apply it to a desk when you’re gaming. And don’t be shocked should you really feel some warmth making its means towards the palm rests.
Even once you aren’t gaming, heating can nonetheless be a difficulty. This machine bought toasty after I exported a five-minute, 33-second 4K video in Adobe Premiere Pro, and it accomplished the duty in 4 minutes, 9 seconds at its quickest. This result’s slower than the Alienware M15 R3’s three-minute, 42-second completion time and significantly behind the Gigabyte Aero 15’s two-minute, 42-second run by the export.
On the CPU and RAM entrance, Razer’s laptop matches what’s inside the Aero 15. Yet, this Blade 15 Advanced variant has a extra highly effective GPU than each the Gigabyte or Alienware. It ought to carry out better, but the cooling (or lack thereof) looks as if the offender right here. During repeated export exams, I observed the CPU reaching 99 levels Celsius (about 212 levels Fahrenheit — the literal boiling level of water), and the progress bar appeared to decelerate because it bought overloaded. This may not be a difficulty you’ll run into together with your duties, but it surely’s value taking observe that the skinny Blade 15 Advanced will get very popular, to the purpose the place the efficiency would possibly typically take a hit.
I didn’t discover any indicators of throttling throughout gameplay, however my expertise with Premiere Pro despatched a worrying signal that it may occur throughout a recreation. I didn’t play longer than 30-minute bursts, however should you log a number of hours of a demanding PC recreation, you would possibly run into heating points that might impression efficiency.
As I touched on earlier, Razer’s keyboard is better than ever. The outdated, obnoxious arrow key design was reworked with this yr’s iteration, shifting them utterly out of the best way when you’re typing. Your mileage could fluctuate when it comes to whether or not the keys supply sufficient journey. I feel they’re extra satisfying to kind on than the MacBook Pro’s now-defunct butterfly keys, however that’s not precisely a excessive bar. To my information, the glass Windows Precision trackpad hasn’t modified a lot. It’s nonetheless lots large and satisfying to make use of.
Also, in comparison with my colleague Dan Seifert’s expertise with the low-end model of the 2019 Blade 15 Advanced, this new mannequin has better battery life regardless of having extra highly effective specs, which is a feat. His unit bought about three hours of life whereas on battery-saver mode, however the one I’m utilizing lasted round 5 hours doing basic work duties, together with Slack, loads of Microsoft Edge tabs, Spotify, and the occasional Affinity Photo edit. It’s nonetheless not a sterling life span, but it surely’s drastically improved.
In phrases of minor however nagging faults, the matte black end on the Blade 15 Advanced simply will get coated in fingerprints. In reality, I rushed to take images of it for the assessment earlier than I truly examined it out since you wouldn’t like the way it seemed now. After a week of utilizing it, it frankly appears to be like gross. It could be cleaned, but it surely’s a chore. I’d advocate getting the mercury (silver) colorway to keep away from this downside, however Razer doesn’t supply many configurations (together with this one) in that colour.
Moving on, I admire the Windows Hello webcam for rapidly logging in with my face, however the digicam high quality is grainy with poor publicity. My basement studio residence doesn’t get a lot pure gentle, but it surely makes me appear like I reside in a cave. This isn’t an anomaly on the earth of gaming laptops, however in our present age of countless Zoom conferences, it’d be nice if Razer made enhancements right here. A 1MP / 720p digicam is laughable for a $3,000 laptop.
Razer’s newest Blade 15 Advanced brings a collection of enhancements, which is at all times nice to see in a laptop that already has a comfy lead over the competitors when it comes to design. But should you’ve been listening to this yr’s fleet of gaming laptops, the margin of Razer’s lead is shrinking. MSI’s GS66 Stealth actually impressed me earlier this yr, with a equally skinny design, good battery life, and total speedy efficiency (even going toe to toe with a 300Hz refresh price show). If MSI can button up its construct high quality and proceed providing perks like extra RAM and a quicker processor with its subsequent iteration, Razer’s in hassle.
But a minimum of for now, Razer nonetheless makes the very best thin-profile gaming laptop.
Photography by Cameron Faulkner / The Verge