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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.

For example, the XPS 13 put out some particularly good numbers in PCMark 8 Work Conventional—its score was 2,887, while the Blade Stealth clocked in at 2,426. We were at a loss to explain this disparity at first, given that with better hardware, you’d expect the Blade Stealth to score higher.


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A closer look at PCMark’s graph showed the issue. For whatever reason, the Core i7-6500U inside the Blade Stealth continually hopped between its standard 2.5GHz clock and a lower 1.5GHz step, whereas the XPS 13 stayed at 2.3GHz for the entire test.

At first, we thought Razer might be throttling the processor to keep the Blade Stealth cool on your lap. But if the company did choose to do that, the throttling is happening at fairly low temperatures—our graphs show the i7-6500U stepping down when it hits 50 degrees Celsius, which isn’t that high.

It’s also possible that it's standard behavior for the i7-6500U to step down during low-intensity tasks. The Yoga 900 (which is also equipped with an i7-6500U) and Dell’s own XPS 13 Gold (which features a similar i7-6560U processor) posted lower benchmark scores than the Core i5 XPS 13 in the same PCMark 8 test.

Our second hypothesis seems supported by the results of our processor-intensive Handbrake test, during which we have Handbrake encode a 30GB MKV file into an MP4 using the Android Tablet preset. The Blade Stealth finished its task in 6,255 seconds (about an hour and 44 minutes), while the XPS 13 took 6,839 seconds (about 10 minutes longer).


Click on image to enlarge.

Does it ultimately matter? Probably not. Ultrabooks aren’t known for being powerful workstations, and it’s doubtful that’s what you’re buying this machine for. What’s more important is that the Blade Stealth hangs right in the pack—certainly with machines at the same price, and in many cases with ultrabooks a few hundred dollars more expensive.

That extends to gaming as well—the little you’ll be able to manage with an ultrabook, at least. The Blade Stealth was consistent with other HD 520-equipped laptops, scoring 3,413, while the XPS 13 and Yoga 900 netted 3,444 and 3,121 respectively.

The Blade Stealth’s only major downside (at least, for our review unit) was battery life. Our battery rundown clocked a mere 5 hours and 37 minutes of screen-on time—which, while expected for a 4K UHD panel, still means a lot less usable time away from an outlet. For contrast, the Surface Pro 4 and its 2736x1824 screen made it to 6 hours and 26 minutes, while the 1980x1020 XPS 13 hit 8 hours and 17 minutes. If battery life is a concern, the 1440p version of the Blade Stealth may be more your thing, as it should have similar performance to this 4K UHD model given its specs.

 

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