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Razer Blade Stealth review: This is a feisty ultrabook at an incredibly low price

Hayden Dingman | March 15, 2016
It sports the Razer look, and the upcoming Core graphics amplifier could give it the Razer chops, too.

As for ports, the Blade Stealth sports HDMI and a USB 3.0 Type A port on the right side, plus another USB 3.0 Type A port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and—its main claim-to-fame—a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port on the left side that handles charging in addition to data transfers. I’m not a fan of the Blade Stealth’s power cable though, which ends in a thin USB-C plug that sticks straight out from the machine when inserted. I’ve been unreasonably paranoid about snapping the cable in half with a careless motion, given that it doesn’t easily pop out of the slot when jostled.

Welcome to the USB-C future, I guess.

The competition

The main question about the Blade Stealth is how it stacks up against others in its price range. After all, Razer has a certain reputation (deserved or not) for padding the prices of its premium products, and this is its first foray into lower-cost hardware.

Personally, I think they nailed it. Remember: The Blade Stealth is not a gaming laptop. Razer has an ambitious future plan to release the Razer Core, a Thunderbolt 3-enabled graphics amplifier, so you can augment the Stealth with a desktop graphics card and use it as a pseudo-gaming laptop. But the Core isn’t out, nor does it even have a release date, so there’s no sense banking on that functionality at the moment. (Whenever the Core does become available, we plan to review the Stealth/Core combo.)

With that in mind, the Blade Stealth is pretty damned great for an ultrabook. On paper, its specs beat out pretty much every competitor: It features a 2.5GHz Core i7-6500U processor, Intel’s HD 520 integrated graphics, 8GB of DDR3/1866 RAM, and a PCIe SSD anywhere from 128GB up to 512GB.

The Lenovo Yoga 900 has similar specs, but starts at $1,199. The MacBook Air starts cheaper, at $899, but that version only offers a last-generation 1.6GHz Core i5 processor, a 900p screen, and 4GB of RAM. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 has 8GB of RAM and a 2736x1824 screen, but just an Intel Core i5-6300U. And while the XPS 13, the Blade Stealth’s strongest rival, has a brilliant bezel-free screen, the $999 model only packs a 1920x1080 screen with no touch capabilities and a Core i5-6200U. (Recall that the $999 Blade Stealth has a 2500x1440 touchscreen.)

Numbers aren’t everything

Now, does that processor disparity matter? Not really. The difference between the i5-6200U and the i7-6500U is minimal for day-to-day use. In fact, when we tested the XPS 13 and Blade Stealth side by side, the XPS 13 won out on certain menial tasks. Dollar-for-dollar, the Blade Stealth’s specs are a better buy, but its benchmark performance varied.

 

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