Razer Blade 15 Advanced Gaming Laptop

Razer Blade 15 Advanced Gaming Laptop

The Razer Blade 15 Advanced model is a premium gaming laptop, but there are some important things you need to know before you consider it.

Razer Blade Specs

The Blade 15 is available in either the base model or the advanced model, which has higher specs, and that’s what we’re looking at here. Like many others from Razer, the Blade 15 advanced solid aluminium unibody design with a clean matte black finish.

The build quality feels excellent, though the edges along the front could feel a little sharp depending on the angle I rub up against them.

Design, Size & Weight

Razer lists the weight as 4.7 to 4.9 pounds or 2.14 to 2.2kg, and mine was on the lower side of that range; we suspect the optional glass OLED panel weighs more.

It’s definitely on the thinner side for a 15-inch gaming laptop with these specs inside. The overall footprint is quite portable, resulting in 7mm thin screen bezels on the sides. Mine has a 15.6” 1080p 300 Hz display, but it’s also available with a 4K OLED option.

Unfortunately, there’s no G-Sync; however, we do have the option of disabling Optimus after a reboot for increased gaming performance, but there’s no advanced Optimus here.

Screen:

This is a great result when we compare it against other gaming laptops, just a little behind the ideal 3.33ms needed for a 300Hz

Panel. We’ve tested the screen with the Spyder 5 and got 98% of sRGB, 70% of NTSC, 76% of AdobeRGB, and 76% of DCI-P3. At 100% brightness, I measured the panel at 278 nits in the center and with a 740:1 contrast ratio, so decent colour gamut but not quite as bright as I’d like.

Backlight bleed was minor in this worst case, I couldn’t notice the glow spots when viewing darker content, but this will vary between laptops and panels. There was some flex to the screen, but it was on the lower side, owing to the metal lid.

There was also some flex to the keyboard when pushing down hard, but no issues during regular use. It felt pretty solid due to the metal unibody design.

Camera / Mics:

There’s a 720p camera above the display in the middle, and it’s got IR for Windows Hello support which I found to work well.

This is what the camera and microphone look and sound like on the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, so yeah, not significant compared to most others I’ve recently used.

Keyboard & Touchpad:

The keyboard has per-key RGB backlighting which illuminates all keys and secondary vital functions. It can make effects and customizations through the included Razer Synapse software.

It seems to have about 16 basic brightness levels, which can be controlled by holding the function and pressing the F10 and F11 keys. Typing took me a little getting used to, and I’m not sure why, but it felt fine after a bit of use. The only thing I didn’t like was small up and down arrow keys.

Here’s how typing sounds to give you an idea of what to expect. There are front-facing speakers on either side of the keyboard, and although they look impressive compared to others, I didn’t think they were that fantastic, perhaps a little above average with some bass.

They sounded pretty loud at max volume despite measurements not reflecting this, which I suppose is simply due to their placement, and the latency on results was looking alright.

The power button is found towards the top of the right speaker, which I preferred compared to others that have it as part of the keyboard, so far less chance of miss-pressing it. The glass precision touchpad clicks down anywhere and is one of the best I’ve used.

It’s pretty significant and makes use of the available space well, and it just feels incredibly smooth and pleasant to press. The black matte finish makes the Blade quite the fingerprint magnet, and even light touches show up quickly. It’s not too hard to clean as a smooth surface, but occasionally I had to give it some extra elbow grease.

Input & Output Ports:

There’s the power input on the left from the back, two USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A ports, USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port, and a 3.5mm audio combo jack.

Hardware Canucks noted in their review that the power cable could cover the USB slot, but if that’s an issue, don’t plug it in that way. I liked the right-angled design as it gets the cable running straight out the back and out of my way.

There’s a full-size UHS-II SD card slot on the right from the front. We are glad to see that here, a Thunderbolt 3 Type-C port, third USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A port, HDMI 2.0b output, and Kensington lock.

The Blade can also charge the Blade with either Type-C port, and both also offer DisplayPort support. Both Type-C ports and HDMI connect directly to the Nvidia GPU, bypassing the Intel iGPU; no surprise there as we can disable Optimus.

Build Quality:

The back appears clean; we can see the air exhaust vents are hidden back here until we look underneath. The front is clean with just a status LED on the right and a gap to get your finger in to open the lid.

The Razer logo on the lid lights up green, and it’s separate from the screen’s backlight, so it stays on when the lid is closed, and

I didn’t see a way of modifying it through software.

Underneath is also pretty clean, just some air intake vents towards the back directly above the fans and rubber feet down the front and bottom which did a fair job of preventing sliding around when in use.

Getting Inside + Internals:

Getting inside was easy enough after removing ten screws with a TR5 bit, and the 4 down the front are shorter than the others.

Inside, we’ve got the battery along the front, a single M.2 storage slot above it on the left, two memory slots in the middle, WiFi 6 card towards the right, and the vapour chamber cooler up the back.

Unlike others with this same CPU like the Lenovo 7i, Razer runs the memory at DDR4-2933 rather than 3200 speed, and I couldn’t change this in the BIOS.

Battery Life:

The advanced model of Blade 15, and we’ve tested it with the keyboard lighting off, background apps disabled, and screen at 50% brightness and its battery power is 80Wh.

The results seem reasonable for a laptop of this spec, lasting for just over 7 hours in our YouTube playback test. I’ve also tested it but with Optimus disabled, and it was now lasting for about half as long, three and a half hours in the same test as the Nvidia graphics uses more battery.

Thermals / Clock Speed / TDP:

The Razer Synapse software has a default mode called balanced, but you can also select custom, which lets you modify the CPU and GPU performance independently.

The CPU can be toggled between four levels, low, medium, high, and boost, while the GPU has three modes, low, medium, and high. It doesn’t seem that we get fan control in custom mode, though we can change it a little in the default balanced mode if we set it to manual.

None of these modes applied any overclocks to the GPU. The Blade does make use of Nvidia’s new Max-Q dynamic boost, but that said, we never saw it boost above 90 watts with a GPU-only load running.

We haven’t tested undervolting, as we are using the latest 1.04 BIOS at the time of testing, which has disabled this. We didn’t try the older BIOS but could confirm that it’s disabled in the current version with no option in the BIOS to enable it.

The idle temperatures were ok with a 21 degree Celsius room; stress tests were done with Heaven and Aida64 when playing games with Watch Dogs 2. Temperatures increased in the higher performance modes, and there was some thermal throttling with the CPU Boost mode in use.

We can see how the power limits are modified with these different modes here, so never above 90 watts on the 2080 Super Max-Q, which was hit with the GPU set to high and around mid-50s for the CPU best case.

These are the clock speeds seen from these same tests, similar to the Lenovo 7i with the same processor best case, not counting its undervolted results. CPU-only performance was where I noticed an issue.

With a CPU-only stress test running and the GPU now idle, we’re seeing 55 watts being hit in the best case boost mode, pretty similar to what was possible with the GPU active in the results.

It does mean that it’s not getting hot when we’re smashing the processor, but this comes at the expense of less performance. We’re only just hitting 3.2GHz over all 8-cores in this test which is honestly relatively weak. It becomes clear when we look at how the Blade compares against other laptops.

Keep in mind that this is an 8-core laptop, but the multicore result is more in line with what we see from the 6-core options. The single-core result is better than those 6-core options than most of the other 8-core laptops above.

Most laptops will boost the processor when the GPU isn’t using power and creating heat, but that’s not the case here.

The keyboard area never felt hot, though the wrist rest was warmer than many other laptops when under load, likely due to the metal unibody design that conducts the heat. It did feel quite hot right up the back under the screen, but you don’t need to touch it there, so it shouldn’t be an issue.

It was just audible when idling, but even worst case, it’s not as loud compared to many other laptops that I’ve tested.

Game Performance Comparison:

Now let’s check out how well this higher-end configuration performs in games and compare it with other laptops. In Battlefield 5, I’ve got the Blade highlighted in red.

The average frame rate was quite decent when compared against others, it’s the highest result I’ve got from a 90 watt GPU so far, and this is likely due to the option of being able to disable Optimus.

These are Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built-in benchmark. This time the Acer Triton 500 with last-gen CPU and GPU was a little ahead, though this test is more processor-intensive, and the last-gen Triton 500 has a CPU undervolt applied by default out of the box, and I suspect this is what’s giving it the edge.

We tested the Tomb Raider with the games benchmark tool with the highest setting. This time the lower wattage 2080 Super Max-Q in the GS66 was 1 FPS ahead, though it does have a higher tier i9 processor with a higher power limit; either way, not too different.

Content Creation:

Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, and Port Royal from 3DMark.

We’ve used Adobe Premiere to export one of my laptop review videos at 4K, and the Blade 15 wasn’t doing as well as expected; our older Y540 with 6-core i7 and 1660 Ti is doing better here. I’ve also tested Premiere but with the Puget systems benchmark, which accounts for live playback rather than export times.

Again, the Blade wasn’t as good compared to others with higher specs, except the MSI Creator 17, which has a lower result. In Adobe Photoshop, the Blade is now scoring quite poorly, and this is because this is a processor-intensive test.

As discussed earlier, processor performance is lower than alternatives, which is reflected here. In a more GPU-heavy workload like DaVinci resolve, the Blade is scoring much better and is closer to the top of the graph as the processor seems to matter less comparatively.

Storage Testing:

We’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the 1TB NVMe M.2 SSD, and the results were decent, not super excellent for the writes, though, but pretty good. The SD card slot is maxing out my V90 card, which is great to see, and the card clicks in and sits most of the way into the machine.

Check the links in the description for updated prices, as prices will change over time.

Pricing & Availability:

Currently, the configuration I’ve tested here is $2800 in the US. Meanwhile, here in Australia, we’re looking at around $6000 for the top-end spec, so quite an expensive option.

With all that in mind, let’s conclude by summarising the good and bad aspects of the Razer Blade 15 advanced model to help you decide if it’s worthwhile. Razer still has one of the most premium-looking and feeling gaming laptops on the market. The all-metal body and clean matte black finish are iconic for them at this point.

Gaming Performance:

The gaming performance is quite impressive when you consider that it’s just 0.7″ thick, and the fans don’t get as loud as many alternative options. Still, this combination comes along with some compromises.

The first is that there’s just one M.2 slot available inside for storage, making the upgrade process more challenging than installing another SSD.

Performance in processor-intensive workloads was also lower than most others, as Razer is limiting CPU performance to the same levels regardless of whether or not the GPU is active, despite thermal headroom available.

BIOS & Linux Support:

Technically they could change this in a future BIOS update, and I hope they do as it would significantly improve performance in many tasks such as rendering and editing. However, given undervolting was removed in a recent BIOS update, perhaps it’s wishful thinking to hope for changes that improve performance.

The screen was decent in response time and colour gamut, though a little lower in terms of brightness and contrast, but creators have an OLED option.

It’s good that we’ve got the option of disabling Optimus to boost performance, but next time I hope we see advanced Optimus added so we could avoid rebooting, and G-Sync would have been a nice bonus at this price.

Conclusion:

The Blade 15 isn’t the most powerful but was nice to use as a laptop during my testing, and as mentioned, I think there’s some room for future improvements.

The camera was pretty bad, granted that’s par for the course with most gaming laptops. The touchpad was excellent, the keyboard good, and the speakers were alright.

If you work on processor-heavy tasks, you’ll want to consider looking elsewhere, but as far as gaming goes, if you can get by without G-Sync, it does run games well.

Let me know what you thought about Razer’s Blade 15 Advanced gaming laptop down in the comments, and if you’re new to the channel, get subscribed for future laptop reviews and tech videos like this one.

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