If you are a normal reader then you’ll know that I returned the Razer Blade Stealth GTX. I said at the time that I was looking at replacing it with the 2020 model with upgraded 1650ti. Well, that didn’t happen, here is why. I was looking for a laptop that I could use to edit photos and videos using Adobes creative apps (Lightroom, Premiere Pro, Illustrator). I also wanted something that I could use with a video capture card and something that I could game on if I ever wanted. Long story short this is the best laptop you’ve never heard of that was made by a company that everyone knows… I know, crazy right… This is the TLR Technology review of the Eluktronics Mag-15.
Let me go back to the statement that I made above the Razer Blade Stealth 13 is fantastic and more than capable of meeting all of the needs that I listed above. Ultimately the reason that I decided not to replace the Stealth 13 was the screen size. If you want a very portable ultra-book size gaming laptop its really the only one to get. Once I realized the 13-inch screen was just too small for video editing the next logical choice was to get a Razer Blade 15… But what if there is something better?
What if there is a better laptop that can do what the Razer Blade 15 can. Is there a Razer Blade 15 replacement that doesn’t require me to sell my firstborn. Surely something must exist in the market, this is the thought process that ultimately led me to find the Elucktronics Mag-15.
As tested $1,699 equipped with 1660ti, 32GB of Ram, 1TB NVME SSD
Who Is Eluktronics, What Is A Mag-15
I think before we go further that I answer the question about who Eluktronics is and what the Mag-15 is. Before I get into the Who I need to explain the mega-company that is actually behind the design and that is Intel. Yep, I said Intel.
The laptop is a project called White Book, it was designed not so much in partnership but more by Intel. There is a difference. Intel had its hands in the development throughout the entire design process. Basically, they said we want a laptop that does this, this and this. We want the thermals to be here, we and this processor, and even decided on what GPU to equip… more on that part later in the GPU section.
It should go without saying that if Intel was this involved that the end result needs to be better than good… and spoiler alert it is… for the most part.
So who is Eluktronics, well this is an easy tricky question. Intel chose a few small brands throughout the world to rebrand the white book. In the United States, we get Eluktronics Mag-10 and the Maingear Element. Europe gets XMG Fusion15 and Australia received it though Aftershock as the Vapor 15 Pro. All of these base laptops are the same. The only difference is going to be the brand of RAM and NVME SSD that is available to that specific brand.
Hopefully, that explains what the Mag-15 is and who Eluktronics are… Like I said the laptop from a brand that you’ve never heard of designed by a company that we all know.
What’s In The Box
So this part of my reviews are normally easy… Normally. This isn’t exactly the case with the Eluktronics Mag-15, but that is a good thing as you will see. When it comes to unboxing the laptop itself the unboxing is straight forward. If you have unboxed a laptop in the last 10 years or so there is nothing new. Laptops these days don’t come with thick user manuals or much paperwork at all. That is the case with the Mag-15. You open the box and the laptop is well packaged, along with the large power brick and power cord there isn’t anything worth mentioning. All that said this is largely the same unboxing experience I got from the Razer Blade Stealth minus the cool green color and a sticker.
This is where things get difficult in a good way. If you order from Amazon Eluktronics includes a bonus gift pack. The bonus pack includes a nice well stitched Mouse Pad, A optical RGB mouse with paracord cable, a Premium 10ft HDMI cord, and lastly a gaming headset.
Whew, that’s a lot. All of those come individually packaged, so each of those is a separate unboxing experience. Technically if you didn’t any of those items you could sell them to recoup some of the laptop cost. I will tell you though that I’ve used all of the bonus items and the mouse has quickly become my go-to even on my desktop, its that good. Now that I think the only item that’s not currently being used is the gaming headset. I am thinking about giving it to one of the kids so they leave my wireless set alone. So overall every item is worth it. You won’t be getting any bonus from Razer like this. #WINNING
When it comes to the display the Eluktronics Mag-15 is ready for battle with a 144hz 15.6in thin-bezel display. The color isn’t calibrated from the factory like the Razer but the Mag-15 also covers most of the sRGB color spectrum similar to the Razer. I don’t think the average gamer would be capable of noticing a difference when the laptops are side by side. The display isn’t only good for a gamer, it’s color is more than capable for advanced photo and video editing and color correction. For the Sake of the comparison, I feel the Razer would be rated a 10 due to factory color calibration and I’d rate the Mag-15 as a 9.5. The color is nearly identical and could be calibrated to be within the same color range.
This is where things can be kind of weird. The Eluktronics Mag-15 has an optical-mechanical tactile keyboard… Yes, I said a mechanical keyboard on a laptop. In fact, Razer made a false claim to have the first optical-mechanical key switch laptop. The Eluktronics Mag-15 / White Books had it first. What Razer might have is the first Razer optical/mechanical key switches in a laptop, but you can no longer find this claim on the Razer product page.
Unlike the base model Blade 15, the Mag-15 has per-key RGB… SWEET! You’d have to pay a bit more for the Razer Blade Advance to get PER key RGB if you really want it. The downside to the Mag-15 RGB is that Intel hasn’t released the keyboard RGB API, so that means games that have RGB control baked in won’t work on the Mag-15. I’ve set some custom schemes such as only lighting the keys needed in League of Legends and color-coded them based on function. Other than that the rainbow wave looks cool from time to time sitting on my desk. Again something you have to pay extra for with Razer.
All the RGB is cool but it means nothing if the keyboard sucks. Well, I’ll admit the keyboard will have a learning curve. It is not what you’ll be used to coming from any other laptop. It’s not a bad thing and if you’re familiar with the Youtube JayZ 2 cents he completely loves the keyboard. Its really just something that you have to get used too.
It also seems to have a slight break-in period where the key presses began to get smoother. I’ve been using the Eluktronics Mag-15 for maybe 3 months now I can type just as easily and quickly as any of the other mechanical keyboards we have. When it comes to gaming though I do enjoy the tactile feel of the Mag-15 over the Razer Blade Stealth that I tested. So when it comes to the keyboard I’d give the edge to the Eluktronics Mag-15 but again this a personal preference.
The trackpad is what you’d expect. Its glass and uses the windows precision drivers so it’s accurate. Comparing it to the Razer I’d call it a wash, maybe the surface of the Razer feels very, very , very slightly better… But maybe that is just in my head, they feel that close. I’ve read that some people had trackpads that worked perfectly but sounded lose everyone said it was not a problem but different. I don’t know if they had early units or odd units but my trackpad is firm and feels as good as other premium laptops that I’ve used.
The trackpads does have a cool feature that I’ve not seen with many other laptops including the Razer. Most laptops these days have large trackpads and sometimes those can be hit by accident. The windows precision drivers have good palm rejection but the Mag-15 takes it a step further. Double-tapping the upper left corner on the trackpad will disable it and illuminate a tiny white indicator LED.
One of the leading selling points of the Razer brand of laptops are the form factor. The build quality is solid aluminum and the size is more compact. When I began searching for a possible option other than the Razer 15 as the replacement for the Stealth 13 it had to be compact. Razer being the leader I wanted something that was the size of the Razer Blade 15. I knew that would be a tall ask, but once again the Eluktronics Mag-15 delivers. Here are the sizes for comparison
Razer Blade 15 —> 0.78″ x 9.25″ x 13.98″
Eluktronics Mag-15 —-> .80″ x 9.19″ x 14.03″
The Mag is .02 inch thicker compared to the Razer meaning sitting on a table you can’t tell a difference. Front to back the Mag-15 is .06 in thinner ( the thickens of the edge of a US Penny), again sitting on a table you can’t tell. Lastly, when it comes to width the Mag is .05 inch wider compared to the Razer Blade 15 AND!!!!! again less than the thickness of a penny size difference. So the Mag-15 is basally identical to the Razer Blade 15 in physical size.
The other component was the build. Razer is extremely hard to beat here. I wanted to know if I could find something even remotely close and again the Mag-15 delivered. In the grand scheme of construction material, you could argue the ranking would be Steel, Aluminum, Magnesium, Titanium, Carbon Fiber.
Razer build is a CNC solid piece of aluminum with a special coating for feel. Razer chassis construction is fanatic. Well… Mag in the Mag-15 stands for Magnesium. The next level on the construction list, known for its strength and lightweight. Results again close but the Mag-15 is lighter due to the lighter material. I’m going to call it a draw, I lover Razers construction.
This is a big deal for most people and this is a section that I think Razer often drops the ball. Razer has what they call the 15 Base, 15 Advance, and on the extreme end $4,300 Studio edition. Razer misses the mark here for me. There needs to be a model in the middle. Razer locks some features and ports behind a paywall. You might buy a more expensive model to get some ports that you want, at the same time you might lose some ports you wanted from the base 15. To get all the ports you want may lead you to the eye-watering Studio edition. When it comes to Razer this section is the hardest part to swallow for me.
The Eluktronics Mag-15 laid all my frustrations with the Razer Blades to rest. First, on the right side of the Mag-15, you have a UHS-1 card reader ( I wish it was the faster UHS-II or III) but it is better than not having one. Next to that is 2 USB type A 3.1.
On the rear Mag-15 packs more user-friendly ports. There is a USB C Thunderbolt port, Full-size HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and the power. Yeah, I said the power. So many laptops these days have power cables on the sides that only get in the way. Not the case on the Mag-15.
On the right side, there is the Kensington Lock slot, another USB 3.1 (Gen 2), the 3.5mm headphone, and 3.5mm microphone jacks.
I challenge you to find a Razer Blade with all those ports… ***Hint*** it doesn’t exist. The $4,300 studio model does come close. It adds a second USB C but loses the Gigabit Ethernet port.
I’ll keep this short. The Eluktronics Mag-15 has a 6 cell- 94Whr. The limit for taking on an airplane is 99Whr. If your not gaming you can just about get a full day of work out of it with the Dedicated GPU disabled. Similarly to what I suggested in the review of the Stealth GTX. Using it out the box in battery saver mode I’ve gotten over 6 hours easily just searching the web and writing articles. For comparison, the Base Razer Blade 15 is 65Whr the Advance model Blade 15 is 80Whr.
Processor and GPU
The processor available in the Mag-15 is last year’s 6 core- 12 thread i7-9750 Hexacore Processor. This processor easily holds its own with the new 10 series Intel chips, AND at the time of the review, Razer is still selling an Advance model with the i7-9750 and an RTX 2070 for $2,300. Don’t let the fact the processor is the last generation because Intel typically doesn’t have huge gains from generation to generation. The largest leap for Intel this generation was the built-in GPU has gotten significantly better. However, that largely doesn’t matter much on a laptop designed around gaming.
Onto the GPU, The Eluktronics Mag-15 can be purchased with either the GTX 1660ti or the RTX 2070. The unit that I purchased has the 1660ti. The reasons I chose the 1660ti are the first battery life. When not connected to the charge I wanted to have the best battery life that I could.
The second reason is when it comes to laptops the higher-level GPU significantly underperforms the desktop version. This is due to the small form factor of the laptop. This hinders the cooling performance the GPU needs to perform at its best. The next is the power level required to sustain the performance isn’t there. While you would get more frames from the 2070 vs the 1660ti its often not as much of a performance gap as you would think. Mid-level GPU like the 1660ti can function more closely to the desktop unit as a well-designed laptop can get most if not all the power required to function fully. Also, the heat output can be less in some situations.
The third reason is the display is 144hz 1080p. The reality of this while it is super nice to game at 144hz the only games that you’ll get in that range are going to be the Esports titles such as League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike, Overwatch, Vlaorant, etc. All of these games can get close to the 144hz at medium or high settings with the 1660ti which won’t look bad on the 15.6in display. The benefits of the 2070 won’t be as noticeable in games like these in my experience. If you are into playing more triple-A games then you’ll see more benefits from the 2070… but again the FPS per dollar to me don’t really justify the cost.
I started this review by stating I was looking for a Razer Blade15 equivalent. I wasn’t even sure that one existed. It took me days of searching and I stumbled upon it really. Upon doing my research and seeing that others had including Dave2D, Jayz 2 Cent and even Linus from Linus Tech Tips had reviewed the Maingear Element. None of them had anything negative to say about it. I decided to take the risk and get it. I figured at best it would be fantastic and make for a great review, the worst would be it would suck, go back and still make a great review.
Well, it doesn’t suck, like at all. The keyboard might take a few days of solid use to break-in. The fans can get loud ( most gaming laptops are). The only word of caution that I have is that it’s recommended that you go to the website and update drivers to the latest version. This includes the Thunderbolt, Soundblaster audio, and the Power center app that you use to swap power modes… When I received I notice some of the drivers were already updated and some weren’t. I think they try to update them the best they can before they are shipped. Either way, check them.
As far as positives go with the Mag-15 there are almost too many to list but let’s try.
The Mag-15 has a power mode button next to the power button that allows you to swap from battery saver, gaming, and gaming with Eluktro boost ( a factory overclocked mode).
The Mag-15 has an IR camera for windows hello facial unlocking.. which the Razer Blade base 15 doesn’t but the Stealth 13 does… weird…
The Battery lasts forever for a 15.6 in a gaming laptop.
The keyboard is a tactile optio mechanical with crisp defined key presses (will take a few days before they are smooth).
The trackpad is glass with windows precision drivers and has double-tap the corner to disable.
The display is beautiful and 144hz
2nd M.2 NVME SSD slot to expand storage.
SD card reader, Thunderbolt 3, Wifi 6, and Gigabit internet all on one laptop, no dongle required.
The value can’t be beaten unless it fell off the back of a truck.
You receive a premium mouse, mouse pad, HDMI cord, and Gaming headset with a removable microphone.
The Charging block is the size of a small house. I leave it at home as the battery last me when I’m out and about.
The frame rate when gaming not plugged in is unusable. (I’ve come to realize that most gaming laptops do this).
The keyboard takes a few days to get used to and break in to become smooth.
Needed to update drivers out the box to get working as well as it should.
Is The Eluktronics Mag-15 A Razer Blade 15 Killer
So I want to say YEAH!!!! but that might depend on what you want. I don’t for a second regret buying the Mag-15 vs the Blade 15. I wanted a card reader which Razer adds starting at the Advance edition, I wanted windows hello. I’d have to buy the advance 15 or studio edition. Per key RGB is not available on the base model either. Also worth noting the Mag-15 is half a pound lighter due to the Magnesium chassis vs the Razer Blades Aluminium.
Let me drive the point home. I don’t mind spending the cash on a nice device and the Razer is certainly nice. There is such thing as Razer tax, similar to the Apple tax. They just cost more for the same thing with the idea that you’re getting a boutique-quality product/ experience. The main reason that I started looking for a laptop that wasn’t Razer wasn’t due to the cost but the lack of features/ options that were scattered across the range. I’m sure this is done with the hopes that you’d jump to the next tiered model so get that option.
The Mag-15 starts at $1,499 which includes all the features I’ve described, they don’t remove features base on price. The price changes based on the GPU, storage, and ram you choose. Simply brilliant right! Razer you listening.
At $1,499 you get a 166ti, 512gb NVME, and 16GB of ram. The Razer does offer a $1,599 base Blade you get a 1660ti, 256GB Nvme (half the storage), and 16GB of ram… You do get the newest Intel 10th gen processor…
So Razer charges $100 more and the only real benefit is the newest 10 gen processor. You lose half the storage, 30Whr of battery, SD card reader, Per-Key RGB, and Windows Hello facial unlock.
First, there are tons of laptops and gaming laptops that are cheaper than the Mag-15. Some will be a trade-off of size, build quality and material for example. Other people might not mind a larger laptop as it won’t really be moved. Some might not mind a plastic build. Those people may find cheaper alternatives that work well for them.
This comparison might sound like a knock on Razer and it really isn’t but is. It’s based on the overall lack of features included at the price point or rather the lack of models that should fit between the base and advanced or advanced and studio. I’d have gladly purchased a Razer and might again if I can get the larger battery, with the SD card reader, with Windows Hello, and per-key RGB in one laptop and not have to pay $4,300.
See our link below if you think that Eluktronics might be for you. TLR Technology might get a small kickback from Amazon and that will go right back into creating content for you, our readers. Thanks again.