Many laptops want to lay claim to being portable gaming machines. Some of them fall woefully short, while others have managed to cram powerful graphics cards into reasonably thin and light frames. Laptops like the Aftershock Vapor 15 pro and razer Blade 15 are great examples of what you would consider a portable gaming laptop today. However, they’re still relatively large 15.6inch systems that weigh around 2kg.
But what if you put a gaming-grade graphics card into the body of a 13.3-inch ultrabook? That’s exactly what razer has done with its new Blade Stealth 13, and to my knowledge, it is the only company to offer this at the time of this review. It features an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, opening up a whole new range of possibilities for frequent travellers who can’t bear to be away from their games.
Outwardly, you get the same blocky design and black, unibody aluminium chassis. Small adjustments have been made to accommodate the more powerful Gpu, and the Blade Stealth 13 is slightly thicker than its predecessor, although not by much. It measures 15.3mm to the older model’s 14.8mm, and heavier at 1.42kg, compared to 1.28kg before. The difference is noticeable, but nothing to be alarmed at; I think it’s a small price to pay for the extra graphics processing heft.
Build quality is excellent. The aluminium chassis is really solid, with no discernible flexing anywhere. It all feels very premium, down to the smooth, fluid motion of the hinge. It can also be opened easily with just one hand, so the amount of resistance is just right. The hinge can’t be pushed too far back though, so this isn’t one of those notebooks where you can lay the screen completely flat.
The display is easily one of the best parts of the laptop. I only have the 1,920 x 1,080-pixel IpS model, but it’s bright and boasts 100 per cent coverage of the SRGB colour space. The screen has a matte coating to help with reflections, but fortunately doesn’t get in the way of how vibrant colours appear. The panel is framed by slim 4.9mm bezels on three sides, and the thin bezels help create an edgeto-edge look that feels more modern and immersive. Razer says the screens are also individually calibrated at the factory to help with colour accuracy and reproduction.
The keyboard itself is unremarkable – key travel distance is pretty shallow, but that’s to be expected from a notebook of this class. However, it has a non-standard layout, featuring a tiny, 1u right Shift key that’s separated from the ‘/’ key by a similarly sized up arrow key. If you’re in the habit of using the right Shift to get a question mark out, this will take some getting used to. It’s compounded by the fact that all the arrow keys are the same size as the right Shift key.
This quirk was present on the previous Blade Stealth, and one of the biggest gripes I have. It’s possible that razer went with this approach because having uniform key sizes look better, but I’m not sure if that was worth throwing a curve ball at users.
That aside, the large Windows precision trackpad is great, and it’s even bigger than the trackpads you get on some 15.6-inch laptops. It doesn’t feel cramped at all, and while my palm does rest on it while typing, the palm rejection seems to be working and I didn’t experience any unwanted input.
Razer’s gaming ultrabook actually pushes out frame rates in the playable range in select games at High settings, and I think it’s a decent result that could probably be vastly improved by dropping the graphics presets even further. For instance, it pushed out an average of 48fps in Tom clancy’s The Division 2 at High settings. And if you intend to play less demanding esports titles like cS:GO or Overwatch, the laptop would provide a pretty decent experience.
The laptop only supports single-zone backlighting.
A truly portable gaming machine that offers decent performance for its size.
It comes with one USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 port, both of which can be used for charging.
AT A GLANCE
13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080-pixel IpS 60Hz
Intel core i7-1065G7 processor (1.30GHz, 8MB L3 cache)
16GB LpDDr43733 dual-channel memory
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
512GB pcIe M.2 SSD