I guess in 2020 I should expect a laptop this thin and light could play triple-A games at better than decent quality but I still grin when I fire up a game like Apex Legends and get basically a locked 60 FPS. Allow me to introduce you to the world’s first gaming ultrabook with a dedicated Nvidia GTX GPU. Meet the Razer Blade Stealth 13 GTX.
TLDR;Should you buy the Razer Blade Stealth 13 GTX. This is a hard question to answer. I think this entire review is valuable to determine if the asking price of $1,799 is for you. I will say at the time of review Razer is offering $300 off. At the current price of $1,499 you won’t find a more powerful and capable ultra book, or Macbook… PERIOD! that said at $1,499 its a fantastic deal. ( Read the Final Thoughts section for a little more in site)
Whats In The Razer Blade Stealth GTX Box
As always we need to get through the unboxing. I’ll just say this isn’t exactly an over the top experience that you would get from something from Beats for example. The box is just basic black cardboard with a graphic that informs anyone that handles it that there is a lithium battery inside.
Once you get the box open things become slightly more exciting but not much. Inside you’ll find another texture flat black box that almost looks like it could be the Razer Blade 13 GTX but it’s not, so we get to open another box…YAY…lol In front of that box is the thin cardboard that houses the 100-watt power brick.
Finally, things begin to get somewhat interesting. When we open the small thin flat black box we find the Razer Blade 13 GTX . I actually really like this part of the unboxing experience because Razer used bright green cardboard to surrounds the laptop and its a much more interesting contrast. I wish Razer would have used that bright green color on the inside of the main box (first box) it would (IMO) have built more excitement for what was coming.
Hey! Look Stickers
Under the Stealth GTX is you get the typical envelop that has the warranty card a few nice reflective stickers. A welcome letter to the Razer club/ family letter and a quick start guide is also included. Par for the course these days, you won’t receive an instruction manual in the box. You will have to go to Razers website in the support section and download the PDF.
Any Color You Want As Long As It Is Black
Let’s get to what we all came for the Razer Blade 13 GTX. First, the statement above is true… sort of… The late 2019 and the just-announced 2020 Razer Blade 13 GTX models comes in a total of 2 colors. A white and gray color scheme Razer calls Mercury White and it comes in the typical Razer Flat Black that is a fingerprint magnet.
Yeah, I know I said you can have any color you want as long as it is black. It’s true if you want the GTX version with the dedicated GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU you can only get it in black. The Mercury White color is reserved for the lowest tier Blade 13 with the Intel integrated iris plus graphics.
Because I Mentioned It
Just because I mentioned it, everything on the Mercury White version is the same except the GPU and the amount of storage but there is a twist. Because the Mercury White version doesn’t have the to cool a dedicated GPU the TDP (power) of the processor is 10 watts higher, 25 watts vs the 15 watts of the GTX. This means that the Mercury White (cheaper) blade 13 is faster out of the box at some task. The increased TDP allows the Intel i7 to boost higher and maintain the faster boost clocks longer… BUT WAIT THERE IS MORE
Another side effect of not having to power a dedicated GPU means the battery lasts a few hours longer on a charge. Yep, you read this section right the cheaper Razer Blade 13 is faster at some task, boost higher, holds the processor boost longer and its battery lasts longer. So why buy the more expensive Razer Blade 13 GTX, well I’ll tell you, of course.
Spend More And Get More
So why would someone in their right mind spend hundreds more to get a slower ultrabook with less battery life?
Okay, here goes. The Razer Blade 13 GTX obviously has a dedicated GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU. This is the only ultrabook on the market with a proper Nvidia GPU, not a watered-down MX150. So you’d expect to pay more in the market where there is no competition. Razer has set the bar and its now up to others like Asus and Dell to follow suit and until those units hit the market Razer sets the price.
The next reason is the gaming performance, it can’t be touched by any other ultrabook of this size, but I ‘ll talk about this more later. While we’re talking about the GPU realize that GPU are used for more than games. Many programs such as Photo and video editors can offload a lot of the heavy lifting onto the GPU which are much faster at some task than CPU. This is also true if you’re into streaming your games online or if you video chats for pleasure or work. The GTX 1650 Max-Q will improve your experience. This is one of the reasons the Razer Blade 13 GTX is under the work and play section on Razers website.
I hope it’s becoming clear why one would pay more for a model with less processor power( despite being literally the same) and worst battery life.
I’m going confuse some of you and blow the minds of a few of you..lol
First, the battery life of the GTX model is still respectable if you are not using the GPU to play games, etc. If you’re just surfing the web, listening to music, streaming movies, you can get 6 plus hours per with the display ( which is bright and fantastic) at a reasonable level. This takes the GTX model just out of what some would consider all-day battery life.
I did say there is a twist though. This is a very easy workaround so that you could have the best of both worlds. Type Control Panel into the windows search bar or go to the device manager any way you want. Under display devices, you’ll see 2 items, the build into the CPU iris integrated graphics. The same as the Mercury White model, remember they have the exact same processor. Below that you’ll see the GTX 1650, click it, go to the drivers tab and disable it… Yep, we are disabling that sweet GTX 1650 you spent your hard-earned money on.
Once the GTX 1650 is disabled, you will be running on the Intel Iris graphics, and the TDP of the i7 will swap to the full 25-watt TDP. You now have access to the faster more stable boost clocks if you need to do something that would be faster with the increased processor clock speeds. Another side effect is you’ll get the longer battery life, the same as the Mercury White model. It takes a few seconds for the battery monitor to update but in my test, it went from 5 hours and 50 minutes to 7 hours and 5 minutes and that wasn’t on 100% charge. This workaround easily places the Razer Blade Stealth 13 GTX back into the all-day battery life category.
When you plan to game or do a task that would benefit from the dedicated GPU just go back to the device manager and enable it. It really is that easy. It would have been cool if Razer made a profile that was a 1 click solution. Either way, it’s easy enough and takes maybe 20 seconds if that to do.
She’s A Brick House
As with all Razer laptops, the chassis is made from one piece of aluminum, for reference so is the Macbook Pro. With that said, there is no flex or give, even the screen is backed in aluminum and has nearly no twist. This thing is a brick house, it’s robust and damn near bulletproof physically. Razer are a boutique brand and it shows, you’d be hard-pressed to find another laptop/ ultrabook built this well.
A side effect of the fantastic (IMO) industrial design is the palm rest are aluminum and hard. If you are used to a crappy plastic or thin aluminum build laptops it’s likely the palm rest would give/flex a little. Not happening with the Razer laptops. Again the Razer Blade series palm rest are solid and could lead to being uncomfortable after a long time of use. I’m sure most people “IF” it did bother them would get used to it.
Another side effect of the industrial design is the palm rest edges are sharp. Obviously, they aren’t sharp enough to cut you but if you have incredibly large hands or sit in a way that your wrist makes contact with the very edges I can see how it could be a deal-breaker. I think this will be a non-issue for 99.8% of people but I just wanted to mention it.
Let There Be Light
And there was… Sorry I had to say that ..lol let’s talk about light, or rather the RGB. Razer is good about not including bloatware on its laptops but the one program that you actually need from them is Razer Synapse. This includes Razer Croma studio which is how you control the only RGB in the keyboard.
No Per Key RGB ;(
Despite being a gaming laptop Razer has kept the RGB to a minimum and I like it honestly. The Razer Blade Stealth 13 series doesn’t include the light-up green Razer logo on the top. If that is a feature that you want you’ll have to get the 15 in or 17-inch laptops. If you want per-key lighting you will have to jump to the expensive 15 advance model or the borderline astronomically priced 17-inch model.inch
The RGB are fairly bright and can be seen in a room with reasonable lighting if you’re in a really bright room some colors won’t show as well. Razer has included a multi-function key that can be used to adjust the brightness or turn off the RGB completely if you choose.
The keyboard RGB is a single zone, which means all the key will be illuminated the same color and same brightness. This was done more for battery saving than space-saving. Razer also recommends turning off the RGB or setting them to either Red, Green, or Blue to extend the battery life even more. The reason is RED, Green, or Blue is only lighting one LED per key whereas other shades might light 2 or 3 LEDs to reach the desired color.
Stealth Mode Activated
The logo in the top is now glossy black that contrasts with the Flat Black of the aluminum body and looks stealthy compared to the bright green LED logo on the 15, and 17in models. It also makes it much easier to blend into a work environment vs the larger models.
Lights, Cameras, Action
I know you are thinking well that kind of sucks, You want per-key RGB. I understand and feel your pain. Most of my keyboards… NO! X That all my keyboards have per-key RGB control. However all isn’t lost, well per-key RGB is but Razer still allows a few animations. The standard color spectrum fade (Fade thru all colors) is of course here, Razer wouldn’t be able to show their face at gaming convention if it wasn’t. Besides that, you have the breathing effect at 3 speeds. You can add a second color if you chose so it breaths alternating colors. There is a watered-down ripple effect that changes the color when a key is pressed, along with a few other effects that Razer managed to pull off with a single color RGB zone.
Again, I know, I know its still not as cool as per-key RGB… But there is hope. I’m not sure how many of you know or have ever used in-game keyboard color profiles. What I mean in certain games, Doom, Apex Legends, etc the developers created effects that control certain RGB devices. Typically keyboards. If you have then you’ll realize that most of the time the effect are actually lighting one color at a time.
An example would be something like the RGB flashing Red and white if you are being shot or the keys become brighter red as you get closer to death. Most, if not all these effects will work on the single zone Razer Blade 13. So I think it might have been a good idea not to have per-key RGB. The decision was a good balance for battery life on an ultrabook and still allows for that something extra in many games that support it.
I Did Say Cameras
I did say cameras because technically the Razer Blade Stealth 13 has 2. The first and most important is more an IR sensor. Think Apple or Google face ID. This camera/ sensor shoots infrared dots on your face that it then reads to determine shape and depth. Think 3D image mapping, because that’s exactly what it’s doing. The result is a fairly robust biometric security system that is Windows Hello.
If you are new to Windows Hello, its just fancy face unlock and it is fast. Like crazy fast. I think it’s faster than the fingerprint reader on the new Macbook Pro. In the time it takes to open the top, reach and put your finger on the touch sensor the camera has already scanned your face and unlocked. It’s so fast that you really don’t have a reason not to lock your Stealth 13.
The second camera is not as cool as the IR sensor and that is the 720p webcam. It’s 2020, how does every laptop not come with at least a fantastic 1080p webcam. Cheap phones these days have decent 1080p front cameras, Chinese action cameras shoot 4k 60, and cost like $40. Anyway I digress, The include 720p camera isn’t bad at all and will do in a pinch. If you need to video chat for work or personally it will be just fine. If you’re trying to become a game streamer you’ll likely want to buy a Logitech USB 1080p webcam.
Before The Action
Before I get into the Action of our “Lights, Cameras, Action” I want to touch on the ports and briefly mention the keyboard layout.
The ports that Razer included are very much 2019/2020 and almost perfect… Almost. On the left side, you have a USB 3.1 Type C and Type-A port and the combination 3.5mm headphone/ microphone jack ( more on this in a sec). On the right side, You have another 3.1 USB A port and type C that has Thunderbolt 3, and that is it. No SD card reader, not even a Micro SD card reader. In my mind, the only port that is missing is the card reader, as an ultrabook aimed at work and play I think you should at the very least include a card reader. However, if you are like me you’re already living that dongle life. If not I’ll link to one that I use and I’ve had no problems with.
You can charge from either USB C port and the charger is 100 watts due to the GTX GPU, vs the smaller 65 Watt of the lower model non GTX Stealth 13’s. All the Ports are at least USB 3.1 which means you have a ton of speed for transfers. Lastly, the (right side USB C) is a Thunderbolt 3 which uses PCI lanes to transfer information stupid fast ( that’s a technical term). The reason Razer includes it is the option to connect to an external GPU. Razer sells 2 units it calls the Core but other companies make them cheaper.
You basically pick a desktop GPU mount it in the Core or eGPU unit and connect it via the ThunderBolt connector. This then disables the GTX 1650 like I mentioned earlier. The Stealth then uses the external GPU and provides you with graphics horsepower that is only available in desktops. This works great if you are short on space, on a budget, or only want one computer. You take the small and light Razer Blade Stealth GTX on the go, use it for work, school, etc. Play some games on the go. Then go home connect to the eGPU and another larger monitor if you choose and you can have a top of the line gaming desktop experience. This also allows you to buy the Stealth, play games, and later buy the eGPU case and GPU… Plus this means you can upgrade the external GPU if you choose to over time. Smart!
OK, before we get into the (spoiler alert ) good keyboard. Let me mention the most controversial thing about the 2019 Razer Blade Stealth 13. The right shift key. ( Insert facepalm Emoji here)
Yep, the right shift key. Personally out of a bad habit normally use the left shift key. I rarely use the right shift key, so it wasn’t as annoying for me. I can, however, see how it would be more than annoying if you do use it. There will be a learning curve for sure. Razer chose to keep the keyboard symmetrical and include arrow keys. The result is the up arrow splits the question mark and shift key. This isn’t normal. Those keys are normally next to each other, the result for many is hit either the up arrow or the up arrow along with the shift key. Either way, this will be very annoying and slow you down especially if you type more than a word a minute.
NOTICE: UPDATE Razer the day I posted this review release the details of the 2020 model that addresses pretty much all complaints that people had… That said the 2020 model that can be pre-ordered and has a proper right shift key.
The correct action is what Durgod did with the Hades 68 we reviewed. They shortened the shift key slightly and placed the arrow to the right of shift key which as a result never has the up arrow/shift key or up arrow problem. Another idea is the tap method used on the Anna Pro that we reviewed where taping the keys that aren’t arrows but are where you’d expect arrow keys to be work as arrow keys. Pressing the key gives you the letter or symbol as expected. Either of these methods would have fixed this problem.
There is a workaround for this if you feel like that would be a deal-breaker for you. You can remap every key including the function key in the Razer software. A simple workaround would be to swap the right shift key and up arrow. This obviously isn’t a perfect solution but could fix the issue of muscle memory if you find you can’t get used to the short right shift.
Again this is not really an issue and isn’t something that can’t be adjusted to, but I had to mention it.
Now, this is what you’ve been waiting for the action. Well simply put when it comes to gaming ultrabooks this small 13-inch ultrabook can’t be beaten as of now. Equipped with the GTX 1650 Max-Q you have more graphics power than the GTX 1050ti and just under the GTX 1060 ( last-gen desktop GPU) so its no slouch.
In Apex Legends, I was able to basically lock 60FPS. In most other Esports titles you can easily get over 60fps even on max settings. I was getting 174 FPS in League of Legends (keep in mind the display is only 60 Hz). If that wasn’t enough 1650 will have enough grunt to play most if not all AAA games at medium setting at least. Normally you can drop shadow quality or anti-aliasing and pick up some extra frames and on a 13 in the display, you won’t notice them in-game unless you have your face right up against the screen.
We’ve determined that the Razer Blade Stealth GTX can game but what about when its time to put in work. I’ve put the Stealth GTX through its paces and I’m happy to say work has been a breeze. I typed this entire review that is over 5,000 words on the keyboard. I also edited 4k video in Premiere Pro without any hiccups. Pro tip: I’d recommend using Razer Synapse to boost performance when editing video.
Overall its small size and massive performance makes the Stealth 13 an easy choice to balance life and work.
No Way 4K
I also need to take a second to let you know that you can get the Razer Blade Stealth 13 GTX with a 4K display. No one in their right mind is really going to recommend it though. It will cost you $300 more, it will suck more battery power, it will bog the GPU because it has to push 4 times more pixels compared to the 1080p model.
At 13.3 inches you wouldn’t notice a difference unless your face was a few inches away. I mean your face would have to be sitting above the keyboard to pick out separate pixels on a 1080p screen that 13 inches. The only real benefit of the 4k model is it adds touch screen. If your willing to pay $300 to get the touch screen and lower the resolution down to 1080p to game, I guess… Shrugs… but to each their own.
Since I’m talking about the display let me finish it up in the work section. The display is a 1080p panel that can get above-average brightness for ultrabooks. If you get the 1080p model the display matte which helps reduce reflections in well-lit environments like office space, library, etc. The 4k display has a glossy glass coating, which will be much more reflective and will require some tilting to reduce.
Both the 1080p and 4k display are color calibrated from Razer and cover 100% of the sRGB color spectrum. The Stealth 13 display isn’t as nice as the newest 13 in Macbook Pro which we are also reviewing, but its defiantly, easily, one of the best windows ultrabook displays.
I mentioned the right shift key fiasco earlier but I didn’t talk about the keyboard feel. Honestly, it’s not bad at all. The keys have a little tactile bump that lets you know that you actuated them. I think most people will like the feel of them and can get up to speed in a few minutes especially if you used to laptop or 60% keyboards.
Keys are spaced well and the letter and number keys are about if not the exact same size as a normal keyboard. The bottom row with control, windows, alt, space bar, and enter are going to be slightly smaller compared to a regular full-sized. The reason they are slightly smaller is to fit the function (Hyper Shift) key but they all fall exactly where you’d expect and likely won’t affect typing speed or accuracy.
Side Note: Razer has fixed the right shift issue on the 2020 Blade Stealth 13 that was announced for pre-order the day this review posted. TLR will be getting the 2020 Stealth GTX for review soon.
Keeping Track Of Your Fingers
Let’s see. How can I explain the trackpad… It will probably be the best that you’ve ever used on a Windows laptop… No, seriously… Don’t take my word read other reviews. The trackpad is really second to none as far as windows laptops and ultrabooks go. The MacBook and Pixelbook feel maybe, “MAYBE” better. The functions don’t miss a beat, the multi-finger gestures are lightning-fast thanks to the processor, glass trackpad, and Windows Precision Drivers.
Also worth mentioning is the trackpad is larger than the previous Razer Blade Stealth GTX 13 inch models, it puts it close to the size of a Macbook and it is nearly perfectly placed. I don’t think they could make it larger without it getting in the way. The palm rejection with the windows drivers is nearly spot-on. The only time I had a problem and its not really a problem but if you very, very, very, slightly set your finger on the trackpad and then try to move the cursor it wouldn’t move as it thinks the finger is a palm. Like you have to go out of your way and try repeatedly to recreate it.
Music To My Ears
I guess the last point to touch on is the speakers. I don’t know that you really need me to talk about them. If you have read this far you probably expect them to be good, if not at least decent… Well, you’d have assumed right.
The Razer Blade Stealth GTX has 4 speakers, 2 on each side again placed similar to the Macbook Pro. Each speaker is a 2-watt speaker, Like the Macbook, are you detecting a trend. Yeah, me too. So, we have 4 powerful speakers that are facing up. They are more than enough to fill a small bedroom or office. The placement means you get pretty good stereo separation when sitting in front of the . The one thing that Apple added that Razer didn’t is a subwoofer so the speakers are a little lacking for bass but we’re talking tiny laptop speakers here, so expecting real bass is not so realistic.
I know our audience will want more than just good sounding speakers and Razer delivers with Dolby Atmos support and licenses included out of the box. You will need to go into the window store and download the Dolby Atmos and Atmos for headphones app. (yeah, you get Atmos for headphones included as well). This isn’t the top end extreme DTS X. For super crazy surround sound, that will cost you $19.99 if you want to upgrade.
If you don’t know what Dolby Atmos is I’ll explain quickly. Dolby uses a process that uses sound in a way with good speakers or headphones that can make you feel as if your are surrounded by sound. If the game or movie has Atmos support ( and a lot do ) you’ll have a great experience. If it doesn’t it will still sound better than the same speakers without Atmos. However, you won’t get the more aggressive surround sound (imaging). Remember once you download Atmos from the windows store you’ll need to right-click the speaker icon and go into windows spacial sound and set it to Atmos. If you would rather game in stereo you can always turn Atmos off before you decide to game. In the right games, Atmos can give you an advantage with its placement of enemy in 3d space.
So, we have arrived at my final thoughts. Should you buy what is an expensive ultrabook. Retail price of the Razer Blade Stealth GTX equipped model is $1,799 but it can be found on sale at the time of this review for $1,499. Honestly, I straight up think at that price is an easy buy if it fits your budgets and needs.
Side Note: I do need to mention is the Razer 15 is available with the same $300 off deal. That said you get a faster 6 core i7 CPU, you step up to the 1660ti graphics, a larger battery for $100 cheaper $1,399… YEAH!!! $100 cheaper, you can get the same 15 inch Razer with the 144hz 1080p display. Only $100 more $1,599 compared to the $1,499 Stealth 13 GTX. So keep that in mind, if you can live with a heavier larger laptop (still one of the smallest 15-inch laptops) and a 230-watt power brick you can spend less and get more.
Let’s do a quick review though to demonstrate the value
- All aluminum premium rock-solid build
- RGB backlit tactile keyboard ( just take note if you use the right shift)
- Factory calibrated 1080p Display that covers 100% of the sRGB color spectrum
- Large glass trackpad that is probably the best you can get in a windows laptop
- 2 USB A 3.1 ports, 2 USB C ports (that can be used for charging) 1 of which is Thunderbolt 3 and allows for eGPU connection
- The only ultrabook with a true Nvidia GTX GPU (GTX 1650 Max-Q)
- 10th generation Core i7 quad-core CPU with 8 threads
- 16 GB of very, very fast RAM
- Fast 512gb Samsung NVME M.2 storage ( user can upgrade easily)
- 4 Better than average top-mounted speakers with Dolby Atmos
- Dolby Atmos for headphones license included.
Lastly, the last bit of perspective as a 13.3-inch ultrabook the Razer Blade Stealth GTX cannot be touched. Dell doesn’t make a model with a GTX GPU. Dell’s closest model without the GPU is almost the same price as the Stealth. Other manufactures make similar spec or WORST spec ultrabooks minus the GPU and cost the same as the Stealth GTX. Some even cost more at its current sale price. A Macbook Pro with and 8th generation i7, 16gb of ram, and 512gb SSD will set you back $2,200. At the price of $1,499 or even $1,799 the Razer Blade 13 Stealth GTX might actually be a deal.
At its current $1,499 sale price for a one of a kind premium built boutique ultrabook its an easier buy.
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