Updated: Aug 21
Just like all of you all out there, we have been asking Razer for a Blade laptop with an AMD Ryzen CPU. Now, they finally did it with the release of their latest Razer Blade 14 - the first-ever AMD-powered gaming laptop from the company.
Razer has come a long way in terms of its laptops, no doubt about it. All of the laptops the company has released thus far sports an Intel Core CPU. Which is quite understandable as AMD wasn't bringing the performance needed on the CPU front of things for the laptop segment for quite a long time. This is also coupled with the fact that Razer isn't the only company to favour Intel for their laptops. However, that all changes this generation with the AMD Ryzen 5000 Series.
At long last, Razer has finally decided to embrace AMD and it starts with its latest Blade 14.
If you're familiar with the design language of Razer's Blade laptops over the past few years, then you'll find the Blade 14's design very familiar. Razer basically took the Blade 15's design, trimmed its edges and made it slightly more compact to make the Blade 14's design. The result is a simple and minimalistic design that wouldn't look out of place anywhere. The aluminium used and it's finish is just immaculate.
We've always and still very much like Razer's design for their Blade series of laptops and this is no exception.
The smaller size of the Blade 14 means it is lighter as well. It comes in at only 1.78 kg - about 10% lighter than the Blade 15.
The Blade 14's display is where it is most different from the Blade 15. As of this article's publication, there are two display options available to customers: a 1920x1080 144Hz Full HD display and a 2560x1440 165Hz Quad-HD display, with both displays measuring 14-inches long. Do note however that the panel option is fixed depending on the GPU of your choosing. Meaning you can only get the full HD 144Hz display on the RTX 3060 variant while the quad-HD 165Hz display will only be available for the RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 variants. The unit we reviewed has the RTX 3080 installed and thus we have the Quad-HD 165Hz display.
The display as mentioned earlier, is 14-inches long and it is an IPS panel, sports a resolution of 2560x1440, a refresh rate of 165Hz, covers 100% DCI-P3 and has a max brightness of up to 350 nits. In short, it is a display that's great for anything you'll want to use the laptop for, especially more so when it comes to gaming.
Above the display is a 720p webcam that supports Windows Hello. We might be on a broken record here but it performs pretty much like any other laptop webcam currently in the market. However, we did notice a small difference with the Blade 14's camera. It seems to have a slightly stronger contrast which does lead to slightly less details. Even so, the webcam performs as it should and it is there if you need one.
If you're familiar with the Blade 15's keyboard, then you'll find the same experience with the Blade 14. We like what Razer has done with its laptops' keyboards. It's nice, tactile and has that comfortable typing feel that we like. However, it is up to user preference as some people might not like the slightly shorter travel, the typing feel, or perhaps the layout itself. Especially since due to the laptop's smaller size, Razer has decided to make the backspace and enter key smaller than usual.
The trackpad is as great as ever and in our opinion, it is still one of the best trackpads we've ever used on a Windows laptop. It's large, smooth and tracks well. No qualms about it.
As for the Blade 14's speakers, they are honestly great and we believe these speakers are the same pair of speakers you can find in the Blade 15. The audio coming from the laptop can be loud enough to fill a whole room and despite the smaller form factor, you could still experience a decent soundstage and stereo separation.
The Blade 14 has a healthy amount of ports. The laptop has two USB 3.2 Gen2 ports on either side of the laptop, two USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C ports, both of which supports display output and power delivery, a HDMI 2.1 port and finally, a 3.5mm combo jack.
As for the battery, it is smaller compared to the Blade 15's due to the laptop's size. However, the Blade 14's 61.6 Wh battery can still provide you up to eight hours of battery life during casual use and you can get more battery life if you change the laptop's refresh rate down to 60Hz.
Let's now talk about the Blade 14's performance. As previously mentioned, the unit we reviewed has the highest specifications, which consists of a Ryzen 9 5900HX for the CPU, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 with a 100W TGP for the GPU, 16GB of RAM running at 3200 MHz and 1TB of PCIe NVME SSD storage.
In Cinebench R23, using the default Balanced profile via Razer Synapse, the Ryzen 9 5900HX scored about 10700 points on multi-core and about 1270 for single core. Changing the profile to Manual and running the CPU on Boost increases the multi-core score to about 11420 and 1270 for single core. Quick note, the Ryzen 9 5900HX was able to maintain 3.6 GHz across all cores on the Balanced profile while that increases to just over 4 GHz across all cores on the Boost profile.
In DaVinci Resolve 17, the Blade 14 in its Boost profile was able to render a 10-minute 1080p video in just seven minutes, while a 15-minute 4K video was rendered at around 16 and a half minutes.
When it comes to gaming, the Blade 14 performs very well. At the native resolution of 1440p, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 was able to achieve pretty good framerates for any game you might want to play - CSGO, Apex Legends, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, you name it. Taking the resolution down to 1080p does yield 10% to 20% higher framerates depending on the game. In short, this makes for a really enjoyable gaming experience and arguably perhaps, the better resolution to run on a 14-inch display.
For those who are interested in realistic lighting and shadows, the 100W RTX 3080 will also be great at either resolution, easily providing more than 60 fps or a little more than 100 fps on the latest gaming titles using DLSS 2.0 such as Metro Exodus: Enhanced Edition.
With that said however, this is where you might find the RTX 3080 on the Blade 14 to be a little lacking given its mere 100W TGP. Compared to the Strix G15 Advantage Edition, the Radeon RX 6800M actually performs better. At 1080p and in ultra settings, CSGO was able to run at 252fps with the RX 6800M compared to the 218fps with the Blade 14's RTX 3080. The Legion 5 Pro with the RTX 3070 also outperformed the Blade 14's RTX 3080 at 1440p and in ultra settings. If we then take the 165W RTX 3080 from the Legion 7... well, there's almost no comparison.
This just goes to show that there is a difference in performance even between the same GPU just based on the amount of TGP allocated alone.
In terms of temperatures however, this is where the Blade 14 kind of shines, which is very impressive when you consider the form factor. In a CPU-only benchmark like Cinebench R23, the Ryzen 9 5900HX maintains just about 82-degrees Celsius on the default Balanced profile. Even on the Boost profile, the temperature rose only to about 86-degrees Celsius. In mixed workloads like DaVinci Resolve 17, the CPU will run hotter under the Boost profile, averaging around 91-degrees Celsius for the most part while the GPU stays at a relatively cool 62-degrees Celsius.
As for gaming with the CPU and the GPU on the Boost profile, the Ryzen 9 5900HX hovers at a temperature of around 90-degrees Celsius while the RTX 3080's temperature remains at 80-degrees Celsius. Overall, this is very impressive. Especially, again, when you consider the form factor of Blade 14. Razer has somehow managed to strike a really nice balance between physical size, performance and temperature. We daresay that Razer is the only company that was able to pull this off.
But, there is a catch.
Due to how the Blade 14 was designed and the use of a single block of aluminium, the laptop gets hot to the touch. We found that we really can't rest our wrists on the laptop while gaming - it gets far too hot. On the upside, it does help with temperatures but on the flip side, it isn't comfortable.
Also, because the Blade 14 is a rather compact laptop, you don't get a ton of upgrade options. You'll only get access to a single PCIe NVMe SSD when you open up the Blade 14. The rest are soldered on. This also means that the highest configuration available at the moment will only offer up to 16GB of RAM. No 32GB option here.
But finally, let's talk about the most important factor when it comes to Razer Blade laptops - the price, and the value of the laptop itself to a certain extent.
In the typical Razer fashion, you might want to consider selling one of your kidneys to get your hands on this laptop.
The RTX 3060 variant of the Blade 14, which has the 1080p 144Hz panel retails at S$2,949 or US$1,799.99. For the same price or less, you can get the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro with the RTX 3070 which has a MSRP of S$2,699. You can also choose to get the Asus Strix G15 Advantage Edition with the Radeon RX 6800M for about US$1,600 to US$1,700. As you've seen the numbers for yourself, these two laptops perform better than not just the Blade at its base configuration, but at its highest configuration of which will set you back S$4,599 or US$2799.99.
That is without a doubt a lot of money and despite the price, you aren't getting the 'actual' RTX 3080 performance per se.
So what are you actually paying for? Of course, you'll be paying for the laptop's design and the brand itself. It's Razer.
But at the same time, you're also paying for the engineering that went behind the creation of this laptop, the form factor, the weight and the amount of performance that you can get for a 14-inch laptop. This has to be the most powerful 14-inch gaming laptop you can get your hands on if you were to calculate performance per volume. While the RTX 3080 can only grab up to 100W, it's still a 100W and a number that's unheard of in a 14-inch form factor.
The whole package is really dense, and it really is something that is uniquely Razer.
The Razer Blade 14 is a very good laptop and we very much like it and might just be the most interesting Blade laptop we've ever come across by far. But it is pricey, make no mistake. So if you're thinking of picking this up, it's up to you to decide the value of the laptop for yourself.
Content by Soon Kai Hong