Razer Blade 14 Gaming Laptop

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Razer Blade 14 Gaming Laptop

Razer has brought their smaller Blade 14 gaming laptop with AMD’s Ryzen 5000 processors. This small machine packs quite a punch, so let’s get straight into the review.

I’ve got the higher specced configuration here with an 8-core Ryzen 9 5900HX processor, Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics, 16 gigs of memory, and a 1440p 165Hz screen, so some pretty crazy specs for a 14-inch laptop. Razer also has lower spaced models with the 3060 or 3070 graphics instead.

Design, Size & Weight

The Blade 14 has a smooth anodized black finish, and the whole thing is CNC aluminium; it feels seriously premium compared to most other laptops.

The laptop alone weighs under 1.8kg or 3.9lb, then 2.6kg or 5.7lb total with the 230-watt power brick. It’s pretty thin and just all around on the smaller side; it’s very portable.

Screen

The 14″ 1440p 165Hz screen has an excellent colour gamut, decent contrast, and FreeSync Premium. It gets reasonably bright too, above 350 nits at maximum while 90% brightness was above 300.

I measured the average grey-to-grey screen response time at 8.75ms, not below the 6ms needed for transitions within the refresh window. That said, it’s still the best result I’ve got for any 13 or 14″ gaming laptop so far, slightly ahead of the ASUS Zephyrus G14, though arguably within a margin of error, but expect different results with the 1080p 144Hz option, which is slower.

The total system latency was slower, at least out of the small number of few laptops I’ve tested so far. The amount of time it takes from a mouse button press to when a gunshot fires in CS: GO as tested with Nvidia’s LDAT. Mine had no noticeable backlight bleed, but this will vary between laptops and panels.

Camera / Mics

There’s a 720p camera above the screen in the middle, and it has IR for Windows Hello, which worked fine.

It is what the camera and microphone look and sound like, this is what it sounds like while I’m typing on the keyboard, and this is what it sounds like with the fan actually to get to top new laptops only be done if the laptop’s plugged in. It takes a long time for the fan to get to maximum, I was waiting for about a minute and a half, but you can still hear me ok over the fan noise.

Keyboard & Touchpad

The keyboard has per-key RGB backlighting, and all keys and secondary functions are lit very nicely, with about 15 levels of essential brightness possible with the F10 and F11 shortcuts keys.

It can also control keyboard brightness through software, which offers a sliding scale between 0 and 100% with 1% increments, but I honestly can’t tell if it’s charging 1% at a time. There are also some built-in effects, or you can customize it further through the Chroma Studio.

Typing was fine, though the keypresses felt a bit shallow for me, but maybe I’ve been ruined by all the mechanical keyboard laptops I’ve tested lately. The power button is next to delete and backspace, but an accidental press doesn’t do anything. The glass precision touchpad is pretty extensive, 8 considering the smaller size of the laptop. I never had issues with it getting in the way though, it clicks down anywhere and feels very nice, definitely one of the better ones out there.

Input & Output Ports

The left has the power input at the back, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A port, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port, and a 3.5mm audio combo jack. The power cable is angled, you can make it block the USB port if you want, or you could not do that.

The right also has USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C and Type-A ports, HDMI 2.1 output, and Kensington lock, so no air exhaust vents on either side.

It can use both Type-C ports on either side of the laptop to charge. They both also offer Display Port 1.4 support, and both those Type-C ports and the HDMI ports connect directly to the Nvidia RTX 3080 graphics, so touching an external screen will give us a speed boost in games.

Build Quality

The Razer logo on the back lid lights up green, and you can either set it to breathing or off – I’ve had it on living throughout this review. Keyboard flex wasn’t too bad, the metal body felt pretty solid during regular use, but just doing this, you can see how easy it is for fingerprints to occur.

Fortunately, the smooth finish is relatively easy to clean with a microfiber cloth. Lid flex was only minor due to the solid metal lid, though while doing this, I noticed that the laptop could move a bit on my desk, it is a lighter laptop, and weight helps reduce this.

Although the rubber feet run along most of the top and bottom, they didn’t feel super grippy. The bottom panel otherwise has air vents over the intake fans.

It’s hard to tell here, but the mesh looked finer than other laptops with less metal and more holes. The back section also seems to be where the air is exhausted and below the screen.

There’s nothing otherwise on the back, while the front has a power LED on the right-hand side, and the middle has an indent for you to get your finger in to open the lid quickly.

Getting Inside + Internals

Getting inside requires removing 10-small TR5 screws and the bottom panel was very easy to pry open using the tools linked in the description.

Inside, we’ve got the battery down the front, a single M.2 storage slot just above the left, and a Wi-Fi 6E card on the right.,

That’s all there is, the vapour chamber cooler is up the back and 16GB RAM is soldered to the motherboard. That’s the only version available, no 32 gig option.

At least the secondary memory timings look decent, faster than the memory used in both the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro or ASUS Strix G15 Advantage, for instance.

Battery Life

The Blade 14 has a 61.6Wh battery, and I was able to boost the battery life in the YouTube playback test by about 40 minutes simply by changing the screen’s refresh rate from 165Hz to 60Hz.

We’ve tested both because the option is presented clearly through the Razer software, but the change isn’t automatic when you unplug, unlike ASUS laptops.

Also, just a quick side note, any time you change the resolution in Windows, the refresh rate automatically goes back to 60Hz, which seems like a bug. Here’s how battery life stacks up compared to others.

It’s lasting a little longer than the Blade 15 advanced with a larger battery just below it, though that said, the smaller Blade Stealth 13 is just ahead of the 14 owing to the lower end specs.

Thermals / Clock Speed / TDP

We’ve got the vapour chamber cooler with two fans for cooling. The Razer Synapse software lets us change between these performance modes. Instead, we can use custom mode to get more granular control over the CPU and GPU with four performance levels for the CPU and 3 for the GPU.

For some reason, this means you can’t max the fans out in custom mode, only in balanced, and on battery mode, it will automatically run in flat mode with no fan control. These are the power levels and clock speeds advised by Razer for these different modes. Again there’s quite a bit of customization possible here, so let’s see how the various ways perform.

There’s a lot of data here as I probably tested too many different configurations. The idle results down the bottom weren’t wrong. I’ve run stress tests with both the CPU and GPU loaded up to represent a worst-case, as well as playing an actual game.

Setting the fan to max speed lowered the temperatures by a reasonable amount in balanced mode, whether gaming or under stress test. The temperatures rise with both the CPU and GPU set to low, medium, high and boost plus high.

Using a cooling pad, linked down in the description, in the most significant boost plus high mode was able to help a fair bit in the stress test, but it made less of a difference with this particular game.

These are the clock speeds from the same tests. The best case in the stress test is the 5900HX is getting to around 3.9GHz on average overall 8-cores, though the game can get up to 4.2GHz, this will vary based on the game.

The GPU clock speeds increase when the GPU is set to high mode, as this applies the previously mentioned overclock, but it also boosts the power limit. With the GPU set to high, it’s able to run up to 90 watts in this combined CPU plus GPU workload.

With the CPU idle, though, the RTX 3080 can sustain 100 watts. In the best case, we see 45 watts on the CPU and around 90 on the GPU, which is not too bad for these specs, we’d argue, given the smaller 14″ size.

CPU Performance – Cinebench

Here’s how the different modes perform in Cinebench R23, a CPU-only workload with the GPU now idle. The highest boost mode up the top gives us the most significant improvement compared to the others. It’s doing reasonably well when compared against others when considering the smaller size.

The performance drops down quite a bit when running on battery power. The single-core version, in particular, is now one of the lower results, while multicore is at least able to beat a few other larger 8-core laptops.

Keyboard Temperatures

The keyboard area is in the mid-30s in the centre. The whole thing feels a little warm as its metal, and it conducts heat, but not uncomfortable. Setting the fans to max speed lowered the temperatures by a few degrees, but the WASD area was cold.

I’ll just quickly skip through the results with both the CPU and GPU set to low, medium, and high, as there honestly isn’t too much change, and then the same with a significant plus boost as the fans increase alongside these changes.

Fan Noise

The fans were still audible when idling in the default balanced mode. The balanced mode was a little quieter than setting both CPU and GPU to medium, while the max fan in a balanced manner was about the same as setting both CPU and GPU to high and above in the custom settings

Game Performance Comparison

Now let’s find out how well this configuration of Razer’s Blade 14 gaming laptop compares against others in games, but use these results as a rough guide only.

Now, the far cheaper HP Omen 15 with lower Ryzen 7 5800H and RTX 3070 is ahead of it, but consider that the Blade 14 is 18% faster than the new top-spec ASUS Zephyrus G14 while also being smaller in every dimension, impressive stuff. I’ve tested Battlefield 5 in campaign mode at ultra settings.

The new Blade 14 is again beating the last-gen Blade 15 advanced here; the 1% lows, in particular, are much improved and one of the better results recorded out of all laptops. The average frame rate is extremely close to the larger ASUS Zephyrus G15 with similar wattage 3080, so another excellent result for the smaller Blade 14.

This time the Blade 14 is reaching a 24% higher average FPS compared to the G14, and yeah top-end spec of Blade 14 probably costs more, but I think it’s still interesting to see what’s now possible in 14 inches. Far Cry 5 was tested with the game’s benchmark at max settings.

This game typically depends more on the processor, and this time the Blade 14 was just 6% ahead of the G14. The Blade 15 advanced is also much further ahead now than the previous two games, but this title tends to favour Intel processors, so that may be why.

The Blade 14 is just 4 FPS behind the smaller 13″ X13 with 3080 GPU, and that’s not a cheap setup either. I’ve also tested the Blade 14 in way more games at both 1080p and the native 1440p resolution in this video over here, so check out that one if you want to get a better idea of how well the Blade 14 is performed in games.

I didn’t mind playing games at 1080p at the smaller 14″ size. If I went out of my way to look for it, yeah, it looked a bit more blurry than 1440p, but overall, I thought it was still alright.

But this will be a personal preference, of course, but realistically with the RTX 3080 option, you probably don’t need to go down to 1080p anyway, but maybe you might need to do that for a more significant speed boost with the 3060 or 3070 options.

As I mentioned earlier, we can boost gaming performance by attaching an external screen, bypassing Optimus and the integrated graphics.
E-sports games like CS: GO that hit much higher FPS would see more significant gains here. Generally, the higher the frame rate, the more the integrated graphics are a bottleneck.

Content Creation

The Blade 14 is holding up quite well compared to more extensive and thicker machines, though it’s one of the lower results I’ve got for a 3080 laptop, but not too far behind some others. It’s in the same position in Adobe Photoshop out of the same selection of laptops.

This test typically depends more on the CPU than GPU, and it’s near a few other 5900HX laptops, though some like the Legion 7 scored much higher. DaVinci Resolve is more GPU-heavy, but the Blade 14 is again in the same spot out of this laptop selection.

It’s the lowest 3080 results I’ve got, but only slightly behind the Zephyrus G15 just above it with a similar wattage 3080, though that is a giant machine. I’ve also tested SPECviewperf, which tests out various professional 3D workloads. The 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD was doing well for the reads and alright for the writes.

There’s just one M.2 slot, so if you want to upgrade storage, you’ll either need to clone or reinstall Windows. The BIOS has pretty standard options, nothing exceptional worth noting, and it does have TPM 2.0.

Pricing & Availability

It will change over time, so refer to those links in the description for updates. These are the prices in US dollars that Razer provided, so $1800 for the entry-level model, $2200 for the middle 3070 option, while my top-end configuration is $2800.

Conclusion

It’s not cheap, but that’s always the case when it comes to technology with high specs in a smaller footprint. We think the 3060 model with the 1080p 144Hz screen will be more brutal to recommend, and Razer is saying it has a 20ms response time, similar to the 2020 G14.

Many people find that would be less of a concern than to look blurry in fast-paced games, but if you’re using an external monitor for gaming, that would be less of a problem.

The main issue for me is the 16GB of soldered memory, and we get that not being able to upgrade. It is probably required for the thinner design, but it would have been so much better if they also had a 32 gig option at this price point.

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