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Razer Blade (Late 2016)

Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating starrating star
Editor's Choice award

What's Hot: Compact and light gaming and pro apps monster. Classy chassis, NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics, high res touch screen, good keyboard, good battery life for a gaming laptop.

What's Not: Hot and loud when gaming, otherwise pretty well behaved. Multimedia keyboard keys aren't backlit.


Reviewed November 24, 2016 (GTX 1060) and June 7, 2016 (GTX 970M) by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

Razer Blade

The Razer Blade has been synonymous with cutting edge technology and gaming prowess since the line's 2012 launch. Razer makes excellent gaming oriented peripherals, and their Blade laptops are boutique gaming laptops that look stately enough to take into a meeting (particularly if you turn off the lighted green Razer snake logo on the lid). The 2016 model (released May 2016 and refreshed with new NVDIA GTX 1060 graphics in late 2016) is the evolution of the line, and much remains the same as the last generation, including the portable and slim 14" form factor, high end dedicated graphics and the same QHD+ Sharp IGZO vibrant touch screen. Even better, for late 2016 Razer has brought back the full HD matte display option, with a lower price tag and better contrast than the QHD+ model.

What's changed in this Intel quad core powerhouse? Razer has updated the Chroma keyboard, reduced weight, moved from 4th to 6th generation Intel CPUs and improved cooling. If you own the 2015 model, that's not likely enough to entice you to upgrade, but the huge jump in graphics performance with the NVIDIA Pascal 10 Series GPU might be enough. Razer has dropped the price ($1,799-$2,199) several hundred dollars from previous generations, making this expensive laptop a wee bit more attainable. It's in the same price range as a similarly equipped Dell XPS 15 and considerably less expensive than the 2016 15" MacBook Pro with tepid AMD dedicated graphics. It's still more expensive than MSI's slim and light 15.6" GS63VR Stealth Pro and 14" GS40 Phantom Pro, but the price divide for a similarly configured laptop is no longer that great.


Specs at a Glance

This is a very thin and light 14" gaming and pro apps laptop that weighs just 4.16 to 4.3 lbs. and is 0.7" thick. It's portable enough to be a great travel machine, but it has the horsepower of a much larger gaming laptop. It's finished in matte black aluminum and ships with the Intel Core i7-6700HQ quad core CPU and 16 gigs of DDR4 RAM. The dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1060 6GB DDR5 graphics and superb Killer Wireless-AC 1535 second generation WiFi 802.11ac with Bluetooth are top notch, and the Chroma RGB backlit keyboard does light shows (if you like). The laptop has stereo speakers flanking the keyboard, and they're louder and fuller than average for a 14" design (quite nice when gaming).

Razer Blade


Design and Ergonomics

If you've seen the previous generation 2015 Razer Blade, there's nothing new here. It has the same aluminum matte black chassis that's moderately fond of fingerprints, a 14" display with not particularly small bezels, and a fit and finish that equal a Mac's. The design is likewise tasteful, clean and lovely like Apple's laptops--when closed it looks like the 2015 13" MacBook Pro dressed in black (except the lid). There's a pronounced cutout on the front edge by the trackpad to make it easy to open and raise the laptop's lid, and there's no flex anywhere except the bottom panel. There's just a faint hint of movement if you press on the bottom, and we'd have never noticed except that if you press on the area where the two fans are located (as you might if picking it up with one hand in a finger pinch maneuver), the metal grilles can press against the fan, making noise.

The 4.3 lb. (4.16 lb.with 1080p screen) laptop is compact and thus feels dense given the 14" footprint and weight. It looks like a 3.5 lb. Ultrabook, but it's obviously heavier. Still, it's one of the lightest gaming laptops with a quad core CPU and strong dedicated graphics on the market (the MSI GS40 Phantom is the lightest at 3.5 lbs.). The 2016 Razer Blade has three USB 3.0 ports in Razer green, a 3.5mm combo mic/stereo headphone jack, an HDMI port, charging port and a single USB-C 3.1 Gen.2/Thunderbolt 3 port that works with the Razer Core external graphics amplifier that lets you use desktop graphics cards with the laptop as well as all manner of USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 peripherals.

The bottom cover is affixed with Torx T5 screws, and if you remove the bottom cover you have access to the battery, WiFi card and M.2 PCIe SSD slot. The 16 gigs of DDR4 RAM is soldered on board.

Razer Blade



Again, if you're familiar with the last two Razer Blade generations, then the QHD+ 3200 x 1800 Sharp IGZO touch screen will be familiar. Perhaps Razer couldn't work a new generation 14" IGZO panel in (if one exists), but by using the same panel, they were able to drop the price, so we won't complain. Likewise, we won't complain about the good color calibration and accuracy that remind us of the Retina MacBook Pro models. The whites are simply white rather than being too blue as on the IGZO-equipped Dell XPS 15, and the panel is bright without being harsh. This is a very, very nice screen, even if many panels beat it on contrast and black levels. Not that it's a slouch with 304 nits of brightness, full sRGB coverage and 75% of Adobe RGB (that's the same color gamut we see on other high end laptops, but not as high as the near full Adobe RGB XPS 15 with 4K display). Contrast isn't very high at 380:1 and it has a fairly high black level of 0.79 at max brightness (lower numbers are better for black levels since black is actually the absence of light). Color temperature is perfect at 6500K to 6600K (it hits 6600K only at max brightness). Gamma is a little low at low brightness settings--2.1, reaching a perfect 2.2 at 70% and higher brightness levels. As a content creator, I'm willing to give on contrast if I get a very bright and color accurate display with neutral whites in return. Gamers who play games set in dark places and those who watch movies more often than create them will likely have the opposite preference. That said, the display looks really lovely when watching movies, and glare is well managed despite the glossy touch screen. I haven't had problems crawling dim caves in games, but I do raise the brightness or in-game gamma setting as needed.

Razer Blade

At 3200 x 1800, it has a standard 16:9 aspect ratio that's perfect for movies and games, and we won't complain that it's not an even higher resolution 4K display given the 14" panel size. Razer ships it with a custom 300% scaling setting that we found worked well (everything is easily readable and icons and text aren't overly large). This is a great display for gaming, media consumption and content creation for pro photo and video editors. For those who like to use their laptop with brightness set very low, note that the Razer Blade's minimum brightness isn't very low.

The full HD 1920 x 1080 display option is my pick for its matte finish and higher contrast, while maintaining the same color gamut as the QHD+ version. It's $200 less and drops the weight a few ounces. It's not a touch screen, but it does have noticably better contrast (and thus apparent sharpness as well as more detail in dark scenes), and is equally as bright as the IGZO option.


Keyboard and Trackpad

Razer has revised the Chroma RGB backlit keyboard. There are many entertaining backlight settings from "Fire" to a starlight simulation, plus settings for various game types. You can customize the backlighting--you could spend days playing with all the colors and overlays. You can also leave the Razer logo on the lid lit in vibrant green or disable that for work. That's all fine and wonderful for gaming, but how's typing? Yes, the keyboard has shorter travel than the previous generation, but it's nonetheless a good keyboard to type on at length. The 1.3mm travel is short, but the keys are nicely damped, have good force requirements and feel very precise and clicky. It's more comfortable and easier to type on than the Dell XPS 15's keyboard and is similar to the 2015 15" Retina MacBook Pro (less travel but more clicky and responsive). Of course, the Blade's travel is luxurious compared to the 2016 MacBok Pro models that use Apple's 0.5mm travel butterfly keyboards.

Razer Blade

For some reason, Razer continues to torture us with backlighting that doesn't illuminate secondary maskings like @#$ (OK, muscle memory might have those memorized) and multimedia control keys (it's cruelly ironic to have to search for display and keyboard backlight brightness in the dark). Argh!

The glass trackpad is likewise excellent, and also one of my favorites--it feels very Mac-like. It has two hardware buttons for right and left click, and they're just right: they have a satisfying click but don't require excessive force. That said, they're small and can be hard to find by feel, particularly if you're used to the wide berth that buttonless trackpads afford.


Deals and Shopping:


Late 2016 Razer Blade (GTX 1060) Video Review


Early 2016 Razer Blade (GTX 970M) Video Review


Razer Blade vs. Dell XPS 15 Comparison


Razer Blade vs MSI GS40 Phantom Comparison


Horsepower and Performance

This is a powerful Intel quad core, 45 watt laptop that's twice as fast as dual core 15 watt Ultrabooks like Razer's own 12.5" Razer Blade Stealth Ultrabook. It has Intel HD 530 graphics that dynamically switch with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB DDR5 via NVIDIA's Optimus technology. You can override and select your preferred graphics card in the NVIDIA control panel, though we rarely found it necessary to do so. The GTX 1060 is the starting point for NVIDIA's high performance graphics cards, and it's suited to 1920 x 1080 or 1440p resolution in today's demanding AAA title 3D games like Far Cry Primal and The Division. Like other gaming laptops on the market with the Intel 6700HQ 6th generation Skylake CPU and NVIDIA GTX 1060, this laptop can handle any game or pro app. All current tier 1 games run at high to ultra at 1080p at 60fps up to 110 fps, depending on the game (The Division and Battlefield 1 are at the high end for frame rates and The Witcher is at the low end of that range). It's powerful, it will still be able to play new 3D games that come out a year or two from now, and it's great for photo and video editing. It's a significant step up from the GTX 970M in the early 2016 Razer Blade.

Razer Blade

The Razer Blade has 16 gigs of DDR4 RAM soldered on board (not upgradable). It has a single M.2 SSD slot that's compatible with fast PCIe SSDs. Razer offers two models that vary only by SSD capacity; the $1,999 model has a 256 gig SSD and the $2,199 model has a 512 gig SSD (both are PCIe NVMe and ours were the Samsung SM951 drives). You could upgrade to a higher capacity SSD drive later if you wish, just make sure to buy a PCIe SSD rather than the slower SATA3 kind.


2016 Razer Blade benchmarks


Heat and Noise

There's a lot of CPU and GPU here, and they generate heat, which means fan noise. Razer has revised the cooling, and heat pipes abound. The dual fans will be very audible when gaming, though no worse than the 14" MSI GS40 Phantom or even the larger Dell XPS 15 when gaming. If you intend to game frequently and don't like loud fans, this isn't your machine. Look to something with a signficantly larger chassis like the 5.5 lb. Asus ROG Strix GL502VS or the 7.7 lb. Alienware 15 R3. That's the price we pay for a very thin, light and small laptop that has the horsepower of a 15 to 17 inch gaming laptop. When streaming video via Netflix or Amazon Prime, or working in MS Office, you can hear the fans, but they're quiet. Quad core laptop fans are always running--that's the state of technology. I don't find them the least bit annoying when doing everyday tasks, and they don't interfere with movie audio when streaming video.

Razer Blade

The bottom rear section of the laptop is the hotspot, and it will hit 112F when gaming. The center area of the keyboard hit 113F when gaming, while the rest of the laptop stayed below human body temperature (not hot). Razer has done a good job with cooling, and we haven't reviewed a small and thin gaming or pro apps laptop that ran any cooler when gaming. I do recommend a passive laptop cooler between you and the laptop when gaming (even a magazine will do). Your legs won't get hot and the battery won't suffer thermal degradation if you respect the bottom mounted fans and vents and avoid blocking them. The CPU and GPU protect themselves via thermal throttling to prevent damage, but that didn't stop the laptop from maintaining high frame rates in games. It's happy to hit 85C, which is a good thing since it allows for strong performance but is still well below the max allowed 100C temperature. When gaming, the CPU cores averaged 65-75C and the GTX 1060 averaged 82C.


Battery Life

Gaming laptops usually have at best mediocre battery life. The powerful processor and graphics, not to mention the two fans required to keep them cool, take their toll. High resolution displays consume more battery too, so the Razer Blade should have rotten battery life, right? Wrong! At least by gaming laptop standards, this 14" powerhouse has good battery life that averaged 5.6 hours of actual use time on a charge in a mix of productivity work and streaming 1080p video at 40% brightness. That's a few hours better than most laptops with the NVIDIA GTX 970M and GTX 1060. If you're taxing it more heavily with code compiles, video editing or multiple VMs, you'll see shorter battery life. If you game unplugged, you'll see the shortest runtimes.

The laptop ships with the most compact 165 watt AC adapter on the market. It's small and curvy like the XPS 15 charger, and it can get quite warm when gaming since it's working overtime (180 watts is the proper output for a quad core with this level of NVIDIA graphics). Note that you can't charge via Thunderbolt 3 because the Blade's power requirements exceed what Thunderbolt 3 puts out in terms of watts. The laptop has a 70 Whr battery that's serviceable if you remove the bottom cover.

Razer Blade



It's hard not to fall in love with the 2016 Razer Blade, and that's what we like for a machine this expensive. It has an immaculate design that's cool looking yet calm enough to take to work. Performance is very impressive, particularly for something this thin and light. Both the 1920 x 1080 matte IPS display and the IGZO QHD+ touch screen are pretty and on my short list for photo and video editors who need good color accuracy and brightness (I lean toward the 1080p matte display for lack of glare and better contrast and viewing angles). The Chroma keyboard is literally colorful and it's crisp and precise for extended typing sessions. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB DDR5 graphics can handle any game on the market, and should continue to be relevant for a few years into the future (longer if you're not a hardcore gamer who must always have the latest tech). The laptop will get both loud and toasty when gaming hard with demanding 3D games and moderately loud and warm when video editing with 1080p and 4K footage, and that's still the price we pay for a miniaturized workstation/gaming laptop. Look to 17" laptops if you want it chillin' and near silent. Well done, Razer. Recommended.

Price: starting at $1,799


Related Reviews:

Razer Blade Stealth Review

MSI GS40 Phantom Review

MSI GS63VR Stealth Pro Review (NVIDIA GTX 1060)

Asus ROG Strix GL502VS Review

Dell XPS 15 Review

Alienware 15 R3 Review

Late 2016 13" MacBook Pro Review

15" Retina MacBook Pro Review (2015)

Dell Inspiron Gamer 7559

2016 HP Omen 15 Review

Lenovo IdeaPad Y700 Review

Origin EON 15X Review

Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 Review


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Display: 14", 1920 x 1080 matte, non-touch IPS display and QHD+ 3200 x 1800 Sharp IGZO gloss touch screen available. Intel HD 530 integrated graphics and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB DDR5 dedicated graphics. HDMI 1.4b and USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port.

Battery: 70 Whr, 4 cell Lithium Ion rechargeable. Compact 165 watt charger.

Performance: 2.6 GHz Intel Skylake 6th generation Core i7-6700HQ processor (45 watt) with Turbo Boost to 3.5 GHz. 16 gigs DDR4 RAM (soldered on board) and 256 or 512 gig PCIe M.2 SSD.

Size: 13.6 x 9.3 x .70 inches (345 x 235 x 17.9mm). Weight: 4.25 pounds (1.93 kg).

Camera: 2MP webcam.

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone/mic jack. Dolby Digital Plus, 7.1 via HDMI.

Networking: Integrated Killer AC 1535 dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1.

Software: Windows 10.

Expansion and Ports: 3 USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, 1 USB-C Gen. 2/Thunderbolt 3 port and 3.5mm audio.



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