Razer Blade 15 review

Razer Blade 15 review
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Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

Razer Blade 15 is a very familiar device at this point. Razer has improved its classic gaming laptop design every year and the 2021 version is no exception, packing the latest and greatest hardware.

Now powered by Nvidia Ampere and Intel 11th-generation processors, the Razer Blade 15 is more powerful than ever and finally capable of powering the 4K screen that the top-end model features. This model’s Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 is the perfect partner for its 4K display, and it may be the first 4K gaming laptop to make a genuine impact.

The Razer Blade 15 still does all the things that made it stand out in the past. For the amount of power it packs, the laptop is still remarkably thin and light, and it’s one of the few gaming laptops we don’t feel embarrassed to pull out at a coffee shop.

With a 4K display and literally the most power-hungry laptop hardware on the market, battery life remains a challenge for the Razer Blade 15. Razer Blade 15 still can’t be taken to work without a charger. It’s less of a concern now that it can be charged using a standard USB-C charger – at least to a point.

SPEC SHEET

CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i9-11900H (eight cores, 24MB cache, up to 4.9GHz Turbo)

Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080

RAM: 32GB

Screen: 15-inch 4K Touch OLED, 60Hz

Storage: 1TB SSD

Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 4, 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 1 x SD Card reader, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Power, 1 x Kensington Lock

Connectivity: Intel Wireless Wi-Fi 6E AX210 (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax), Bluetooth 5.1

Camera: FHD Webcam w/ IR

Weight:  4.4lbs (2.01kgs)

Size: 13.98 x 9.25 x 0.67 inches (355 x 235 x 16.99 mm; W x D x H)

Design

Razer Blade 15 review

Razer Blade 15’s design hasn’t changed much in recent years, and we aren’t complaining. On the top of the laptop, the Razer logo is illuminated, as is the entire aluminum chassis in black. The laptop is also equipped with a large trackpad and some of the best speakers around. Also, a keyboard that is simply to die for.

It’s thin and light for a laptop with such powerful hardware, weighing just 4.4lb and measuring just 0.67 inches thick. It’s one of the most portable laptops in its class, and gamers looking for performance without sacrificing portability will find a lot to love here.

Despite this portability, the large charging brick detracts from its portability a little. The Razer Blade 15 is definitely smaller than previous models, but it still adds a bit of bulk to the package – especially since its battery cannot last an entire day on battery power, more on that later.

This particular model has a 4K touch OLED display, and wow is it gorgeous. When that’s combined with its ability to hit 109% of the sRGB color spectrum, it’s simply a beautiful display to look at, whether playing games or just watching Netflix in bed.

Aside from the display, the speakers are also incredible, further enhancing the media appeal. During our two-week vacation in Colorado, we used the laptop to watch TV, listen to music, and play games, and the speakers performed beautifully in all scenarios.

It has a thick bass that fills a room with sound. The details aren’t lost in the high-end during bass-heavy music or action-packed scenes in movies and games. Although it’s still not going to beat buying a nice gaming headset, the speakers definitely get the job done.

Razer Blade 15 still has one of the best trackpads of any laptop this side of the best MacBooks, while other Windows laptops are catching up to it. It’s accurate, smooth, and large enough to be used with gestures without accidentally brushing your fingers against it.

Obviously, it’s a nice touch, but we’re still not at the point where trackpads are good for playing PC games, so you’ll likely want to pair this laptop with a gaming mouse.

With plenty of travel and a beautiful RGB lighting system, the keyboard is as good as ever. Travel feels good in the hand, and we have no problem typing on it quickly and accurately, which is more than we can say about our 2018 MacBook Pro.

Given how thin this laptop is, there are actually a lot of ports. On the right side, there is a Kensington lock, a USB-A port, a Thunderbolt 4 port, and an HDMI port. There is a charging port, another Thunderbolt 4 port, two more USB-A ports, and a combo 3.5mm audio jack on the left side. Laptop makers are dumping many of these ports in the name of making thinner and lighter laptops, but Razer has so far resisted the urge – let’s hope it continues to do so.

Performance

BENCHMARKS

Here’s how the Razer Blade 15 (2021) performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark: Night Raid: 26.303; Fire Strike: 19,188; Time Spy: 8,666

Cinebench R23 Multi-core: 8,555 points

GeekBench 5: 1,664 (single-core); 7,212 (multi-core)

PCMark 10 (Home Test): 6,797 points

PCMark 10 Battery Life: 6 hours and 16 minutes

Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 5 hours and 31 minutes

Total War: Three Kingdoms (1080p, Ultra): 72 fps; (1080p, Low): 217 fps

Metro Exodus (1080p, Ultra): 65 fps; (1080p, Low): 156 fps

With an 11th-generation Core i7 processor and an RTX 3080, any gaming laptop is going to dominate any game you throw at it, but what was surprising was how well it handled 4K games.

Since the mobile version of the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 is not as powerful as the desktop version, it struggles a bit at 4K, especially with ray tracing. We’ve been able to max out the graphics settings on games like Middle Earth: Shadow of War and Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers and still get a frame rate above 60 fps.

The Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 are heavy games that we have to lower graphics settings a bit, but those games are incredibly heavy and only the beefiest desktop systems can handle them at 4K anyways.

Based on our benchmarks, we score 72 fps in Total War: Three Kingdoms and 65 fps in Metro Exodus. Yes, these are technically older games, but they still push hardware to its limits, which is why we use them in testing.

Overall, it’s a solid PC, scoring 8,555 points in Cinebench and 6,797 points in PCMark 10, which is only bested by the Razer Blade 14.

Battery life

razer blade 15

Previously, we just assumed that any gaming laptop would have bad battery life, but that’s not the case anymore. In fact, gaming laptops like the Asus ROG Strix G15 can reach over eight hours of battery life – and that laptop even performs better than the Razer Blade 15.

Instead, the 2021 Razer Blade 15 lasts just six hours and 16 minutes in the PCMark 10 battery test, and barely breaks five hours and a half in our video playback test. This is definitely a pity, as otherwise, this laptop would make a great travel companion.

It’s not the end of the world to have six hours of battery life. The laptop will still last long enough for you to accomplish plenty of work before it dies, but it’s still less than we’d like to see when compared with similar devices.

Camera and microphone

Having tested laptops in lockdown over the last year or so, one of the biggest pet peeves we have is that laptop cameras are awful. Particularly with Ultrabooks that have bezels that are nearly invisible and serve no real purpose. Razer Blade 15 does have an excellent webcam, however.

This laptop comes with a 1080p webcam that actually looks pretty good during calls. While we’re in Discord or chatting over Zoom, the microphone picks up our voice clearly without too much background noise distracting our friends.

Software and features

Fortunately, the Razer Blade 15 doesn’t have much bloatware. Razer Synapse comes pre-installed on the device – love it or hate it – but after that, the preinstalled software ends. Therefore, when you pull the laptop out of the box, it will boot up quickly the first time, and the SSD can be used to install whatever you want, but nothing that you don’t.

We wish Razer had also included a fingerprint sensor with the webcam, as it supports Windows Hello via its IR sensor. Even so, facial unlocking is fast, and setting it up is as simple as ever.

Pros Cons
Still the best trackpad in a Windows laptop Very expensive
Comfy keyboard Short battery life
Beautiful design Gets hot
Excellent performance

Conclusion

The Razer Blade 15 is still one of the nicest laptops available, offering a luxurious design and excellent performance at the same time. It is held back from perfection by its high price tag and relatively short battery life.