Sunday, June 26, 2022

Razer Blade 15 review: A real treat if you have the money

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Luxury probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think of gaming laptops, especially what look, say, extra, with and embedded in their lids. But with its outstanding performance, superb build quality, understated design and a all luxury price, the really feels like it’s crossed the line into portable gaming opulence.

Design

Now it’s true that the 2022 Blade 15 looks almost identical to previous models, leading some people to feel it needs a facelift. But even after all these years, I still love the Blade 15’s clean lines and sturdy aluminum chassis. That said, I wish Razer would add full RGB support to the backlit logo on the lid. I know neon green is a Razer thing, but on a premium machine like this it seems weird that you can’t set it to whatever color you want.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Many configuration/screen options
  • Strong performance
  • New 1080p webcam
  • Preat port selection

cons

  • Pricey
  • Just OK battery life
  • Patented plug

The Razer logo on the Blade 15's lid lights up, but you only get one color option: neon green.

Sam Rutherford/cafe-madrid

Inside, the Blade has a large glass trackpad that is one of the best you can get on a Windows laptop. New for 2022 are larger keycaps along with Razer’s signature Chroma lighting per key. Another subtle design tweak is that instead of using a clear cutout for the laptop’s upward-firing speakers this year, Razer has used lasers to etch the grille directly into the deck, improving rigidity while retaining that minimalist aesthetic. There’s also a new 1080p webcam for 2022, which is a welcome upgrade from the 720p cams on older systems. And finally, you get a plethora of connectivity, including two USB-C ports (including one with Thunderbolt 4), three USB-A ports, HDMI, headphone jack and even a full-sized SD card reader.

Display

The 2022 Blade 15 is available with a range of display options, including both LCD and OLED with refresh rates up to 360 Hz.

Sam Rutherford/cafe-madrid

To our There’s a 15.6-inch 240Hz QHD display, which offers a great balance of size and resolution. I wish it was a little bit brighter. Razer says that all of the Blade’s LCD screens should produce about 300 nits of brightness. But with a light meter, I measured closer to 275 nits. That’s fine in most situations, but if you’re in a sunny room, colors may appear slightly faded. Alternatively, Razer offers 144Hz and 360Hz panels on other models. And just this week, Razer announced, so there’s a wealth of screens to choose from.

Achievements and Gaming

Moving towards performance, Razer offers the latest 12th generation Intel H-series CPUs and Nvidia RTX 30-series GPUs. The downside is that these components don’t come cheap, with the 2022 Blade 15 starting Bee $2,500 for an i7-12800H, 16GB of RAM, and an RTX 3060 Ti, before hitting a wallet-twitching $4,000 for a fully loaded model with an i9 chip, 32GB of RAM, and a 3080 Ti.

New for 2022 on the Blade 15 is a 1080p webcam, up from 720p on previous models.

Sam Rutherford/cafe-madrid

Now I should point out that the configurations only have 1TB of storage. But for those who want even more space, the Blade 15 has two M.2 slots, only one of which is populated out of the box. So if you’re willing to remove the laptop’s bottom panel and SSD cover, it should be pretty easy to throw in another drive. Remember to use single sided modules as double sided M.2 sticks will not fit.

You get what you pay for though, as the Blade 15 can play with the best of them. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider at the highest graphics settings of 1920 x 1080, our Core i7, RTX 3080 Ti unit reached 124 fps, which is just slightly lower than the , and that is with its optional $1,400 mobile graphics dock. (That’s a total of $3,200 for those keeping the count.) Results were similar in other titles, too, with the Blade 15 hitting 86 fps in Metro Exodus on high settings and 81 fps in Forza Horizon 5 on Ultra.

battery life

Due to the sturdy components, Razer uses a patented power connection for the Blade 15 charging brick.

Sam Rutherford/cafe-madrid

Really, the Blade 15’s biggest weakness (aside from the price) is its battery life. On our local video overview test, it took just 5 hours and 42 minutes. That’s similar to what we got from the Asus Flow Z13 (5:38), which if you remember is a PC gaming tablet. But compared to more traditional rivals, the Blade 15 lasted more than three hours less than the (7:57) and four hours shorter than the . And in the real world, it’s not much better. The Blade 15 struggled to play two games from Teamfight Tactics back-to-back, which involved about an hour and 15 minutes of relatively light gaming. I should also note that when you run out of battery, the Blade’s performance takes a hit too, with framerates in Shadow of the Tomb Raider dropping to about 45 fps.

The other annoyance is Razer’s Charging Brick. While the proprietary connector is forgivable given the 230-watt power adapter, the rectangular design means that if you plug it in incorrectly, you’ll block one or possibly two of the laptop’s USB-A ports. In all honesty, high wattage delivery over USB-C can’t come fast enough.

Packing up

As you'd expect from Razer, the Blade's latest keyboard supports 15 RGB lighting per key.

Sam Rutherford/cafe-madrid

While the Blade 15 isn’t as slim or portable as the latest 14-inch gaming machines, there’s something to be said for having a large, upscale alternative. Sure, it’s very expensive, and the 15.6-inch screen and 4.4-pound body mean you might not be able to throw it in your typical messenger bag. But it has premium components, a strong frame that basically shows no flex, and impressive performance in a slick and (relatively) understated design. Well, apart from that big glowing logo.

In a way, the Blade 15 is a fantastic take on a modern desktop replacement, especially for folks like me who don’t want to lug around a massive 17-inch rig. Unlike ROG Flow Z13, you don’t have to worry about a separate graphics dock to get top frame rates. And thanks to a wealth of ports, you can leave all your dongles and adapters at home. So while the Blade 15 doesn’t make sense to anyone on a budget, this thing is a real treat if you have the cash.

All products recommended by cafe-madrid have been selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories contain affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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