Not Too Big, Not Too Small, Just Right

Razer Blade 14

Photo: Sam Rutherford

Anyone who has ever tried to buy a really compact gaming laptop computer has in all probability confronted this dilemma: Do you choose a much bigger system for elevated efficiency, or sacrifice fps and go together with one thing smaller that’s a bit simpler to hold round? Even Razer, an organization that’s been making gaming laptops for a decade, has struggled with discovering that steadiness. But with the introduction of the brand new Blade 14, Razer now has a really compact gaming laptop computer with help for probably the most highly effective cell GPUs you will get as we speak (and an AMD CPU in addition), which lastly eliminates the necessity to decide on between dimension and efficiency. It’s not too large and it’s not too small, it’s excellent.

Familiar Design in a New Dimension

Featuring a unibody aluminum chassis with clear minimalist strains, the Blade 14 comes with the identical wonderful construct and design you get from Razer’s different gaming notebooks. That means the Blade 14 comes with stuff like a per-key RGB backlit keyboard, a webcam with help for Windows Hello face login, upward going through stereo audio system, and a wholesome quantity of connectivity for a system this dimension, together with a full-size HDMI 2.1 port, two USB 3.2 Type-A ports, two USB 3.2 Type-C ports, and a headphone jack. However, it’s vital to notice that as a result of the Blade 14 is the lone gaming laptop computer in Razer’s portfolio that includes an AMD CPU (Ryzen 9 5900HZ), you don’t get help for Thunderbolt 4.

Depending on the config, Razer affords a 144Hz 1080p or a 165Hz 2560 x 1440 14-inch show. On our 165Hz review mannequin, the Blade 14’s display screen produced a great however not particularly spectacular brightness of 346 nits, and whereas colours appeared vibrant and colourful, as a result of Razer makes use of a matte non-touch show, the Blade 14’s colours aren’t fairly as vivid as you what you may see on a laptop computer with a shiny show.

Now I know some folks may take issue with the Blade 14’s somewhat cramped keyboard layout, which features smaller than normal keycaps for things like Backspace, Back Slash, and its arrows keys, but given Razer’s size constraints, I’m not too bothered. Thankfully, typing feels crisp and bouncy, while Razer uses every last millimeter on the Blade 14’s deck to deliver a large (and quite responsive) glass touchpad.

Razer Blade 14 lid

Photo: Sam Rutherford

It’s kind of the same thing when it comes to the Blade 14’s somewhat sizable chin. It’s not bad enough to make the Blade 14 look or feel outdated, though I do wish Razer had found a way to shrink that bezel just a bit by including a 16:10 aspect ratio screen instead of a 16:9 display, which would give you a little extra room for both gaming and productivity.

And with the Blade 14 measuring in at 12.59 x 8.66 x 0.66 inches, you’re getting all this in a machine that’s barely bigger than Razer’s 13-inch Blade Stealth (12 x 8.27 x 0.6 inches).

Big Performance, Compact Package

Here’s what you got here for: Not solely is the Blade 14 Razer’s solely laptop computer to function a Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU from AMD (or any AMD CPUs for that matter), the Blade 14 additionally has 16GB of RAM and could be configured with any considered one of Nvidia’s RTX 30-series GPUs—RTX 3060, RTX 3070, and even the RTX 3080 in the event you’re so inclined. That’s a number of efficiency to cram right into a system this dimension, and a marked enchancment over what you’d get within the 13-inch Blade Stealth, which tops out with a GTX 1650 TI graphics card. And it’s this mixture of efficiency that makes all of the distinction.

Blade 14 power button and speakers

Photo: Sam Rutherford

Compared to the Blade Stealth I reviewed final 12 months, the Blade 14 (100 fps) carried out twice in addition to Blade Stealth (48 fps) in Far Cry 5 at full HD and extremely graphics, which shouldn’t be an enormous shock given the distinction in GPUs. But nonetheless, this comparability reveals far more energy you’re getting by transferring up in dimension only a contact.

In actuality, the Blade 14 has far more in frequent with its larger sibling—the Blade 15—than it does with the Stealth, as each techniques function the identical vary of GPU choices, together with comparable ranges of RAM and storage. That mentioned, because of the Blade 15’s bigger chassis, it does have extra room to channel scorching air away from its internals, which leads to the Blade 15 having fun with round a ten% efficiency benefit in gaming in comparison with the Blade 15. That’s not an insignificant penalty, however for folks actually attempting to min-max on portability, that trade-off is perhaps price it.

Razer Blade 14 left side

Photo: Sam Rutherford

Using the identical settings as earlier than in Far Cry 5, the Blade 15 pumped out 109 fps versus 100 fps for the Blade 14. And in Shadow of the Tomb Raider at full HD on highest settings, it was an identical story, with the Blade 15 averaging 112 fps in comparison with 99 fps for the Blade 14. That mentioned, once we look outdoors of Razer’s camp at different comparatively compact gaming laptops, the Blade 14’s efficiency nonetheless compares fairly favorably to techniques like Alienware m15 R5 and the Acer Predator Triton 300 SE, with the Blade 14 (which is admittedly costlier than its rivals) providing pretty much as good or higher efficiency throughout almost all of our productiveness and gaming benchmarks.

Underwhelming Battery Life

With a time of 6 hours and 49 minutes on our video rundown check, the Blade 14’s battery life is fairly unremarkable, possibly even bordering on barely disappointing. Systems like MSI’s Stealth 15M (7:59), the Alienware m15 R5 (7:27), and the Asus ROG Strix G15 Advantage (8:22) all posted longer runtimes, with Acer’s Triton 300 SE (6:11) being one of many few rival techniques to not outlast the Blade 14. But contemplating all these laptops are extra normal 15-inch techniques, this actually highlights the boundaries of placing all these power-hungry elements right into a small chassis with much less room for large battery packs.

Blade 14 keyboard

Photo: Sam Rutherford

Some different vital issues other than battery life are that when underneath full load, the Blade 14’s exterior temps can rise reasonably rapidly, to the purpose the place it’s probably not comfy to make use of in your lap. And, in the event you’re attempting to sport on battery, peak efficiency takes a noticeable hit too, although with how rapidly the Blade 14 runs by juice when away from an outlet, at that time you’re higher off dialing down graphics settings to enhance battery life in any case. And lastly, whereas USB-PD in all probability can’t deal with the facility necessities the Blade 14 wants (at least not yet), I actually want Razer had discovered a strategy to make charging over USB-C the default choice, as a substitute of counting on its proprietary energy plug. That little change alone would nearly actually be a welcome improve and make the Blade 14 much more moveable than it already is.

That Price Tag

While the Blade 14 has a couple of small weak factors and shortcomings, its largest and most blatant draw back is its worth. Now it’s true that Razer’s gaming laptops have by no means actually been what anybody would name reasonably priced, however with the Blade 14 beginning at $1,800 for a Ryzen 9 5900 HX CPU, 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, and an RTX 3060 GPU, it feels such as you’re paying an excellent larger premium to place all these elements in a barely extra compact 14-inch chassis.

Blade 14 right side

Photo: Sam Rutherford

This means the largest argument towards the Blade 14 is a system just like the ROG Strix G15 Advantage, which begins at simply $1,550 and options the identical CPU and an equal AMD GPU because of its Radeon RX 6800 graphics card. Sure, the G15 Advantage’s construct high quality isn’t as good as Razer’s machines, it’s larger, and it doesn’t even include useful options like a built-in webcam. But in relation to pure worth, the Blade 14 can’t fairly sustain.

Power and Portability

Blade 14 front

Photo: Sam Rutherford

As somebody who usually has to debate in the event that they wish to deliver a typical 13-inch or 15-inch laptop computer with them whereas touring, the true luxurious of the Blade 14 isn’t actually having to compromise on energy or portability—the Blade 14 provides you each in spades. It’s simple to slide into virtually any laptop computer bag, and it’s bought greater than sufficient oomph to play something you may fairly want, each at dwelling or on the street. The Blade 14 is a compact however highly effective do-everything machine that’s simple to lug round. Even if it’s not fairly as reasonably priced as lots of its rivals, it’s laborious to not admire all the pieces you get from such a small bundle.

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