Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2020) Review: The Best 13” Gaming Laptop? – Singapore
Updated: Aug 20, 2021
This is the new Razer Blade Stealth, the 2020 model, and it’s honestly a really unique laptop. With this laptop, Razer is addressing a niche segment of the laptop market.
There are three criteria for this.
One, you must be someone who favours portability and compactness. Two, you require high performance of a minimum level for both creative work and gaming. Three, you are constantly on the move, perhaps out in the field doing photography, or holding a LAN party with your friends, or maybe both.
If you don’t meet any of these criteria, then I would say, you shouldn’t consider this laptop. It’s by no means bad, it’s, in fact, quite possibly the best 13” gaming laptop out there. But you have to remember that you’re paying a real premium for this laptop. So unless you’re a hardcore Razer fan, look at other options.
But if you fit that specific niche, well then, this laptop is fantastic.
Let’s start with the build quality. If you’re coming from a previous generation Blade Stealth, not much has changed, but needless to say, it’s great. It has the awesome unibody design that not only looks good but feels good as well, and the entire laptop just feels really well balanced and premium. I also actually prefer the matte plain finish for the Razer logo instead of the usual green. That simple touch just makes it look slightly more professional.
But of course, as usual with the Blade Stealth, it’s really easy to see fingerprint and oil stains, so do give it a good wipe every now and then.
We now come to the display, and like the previous generation, there’s a 4K option.
Like always, I suggest not to get the 4K option. 4K at 13.3-inches doesn’t really make sense. You really can’t make full use of that resolution, especially with Windows Scaling issues.
What you should be looking at, is a newer second option. It’s a Full HD IPS panel that supports 100% sRGB and about 75% AdobeRGB, so it’s still going to be pretty great for photo and video editing, and it can get up to about 400 nits in brightness. All those are good stuff, but the real kicker is the refresh rate.
This is a 120Hz panel, and it’s great. Compared to 60, 120Hz is a game-changer. It feels great to use for not just gaming, but even simple tasks like browsing YouTube. The motion and the overall experience is just so much more fluid.
Now is it the best 120Hz panel out there? No, probably not. There was some ghosting when playing fast-paced shooters, meaning the response time is definitely not less than 10 milliseconds, but in all honesty, it wouldn’t bother most people.
In the end, the simple fact that it’s 120Hz just makes it great.
The Blade Stealth does have a 720p webcam. It’s not the best, but it’s far better than most others out there. The microphone does sound decent as well, though of course, a good headset is best. Overall, it’s an okay webcam that’ll get the job done.
The webcam does support facial recognition for authentication via Windows Hello, so that’s another positive.
Moving down, we have the keyboard, and Razer has finally listened and solved the main issue in the previous generation.
They’ve moved the full-size arrows keys, back down to half size, and so the slash and question mark key is finally right beside the Shift key like it should be. It’s so much better now, you won’t get as many typos with this.
The keys have a slight clicky feel, and it’s really tactile, and of course, there’s full RGB for you to play with. The backspace button is slightly smaller than desired, and I do wish that the delete key and power button swapped positions, but overall, it’s a great typing experience.
Next, we have the trackpad, and trackpads on Razer Blades are really great. I consider them to be the best among Windows laptops, on par with the Surface Laptop, and second only when compared against the best of the best, MacBooks.
It’s a glass surface, runs Precision, tracks really well, and the clicks are also satisfying. I can see myself just using the trackpad for short video edits, and not finding myself reaching for a mouse immediately. I think that says quite a lot.
Next are speakers, and once again, Razer has impressed.
Now, of course, it isn’t on the level of the Macbook, those still reign supreme. But for an ultra-portable laptop, this is really good. It’s got good separation thanks to the dual-firing speakers, vocals are clean, highs are clear and there’s definitely more depth in the bass.
We now come to ports, and the Blade Stealth does feature a standard amount.
On the left, you get a Type-C USB 3.1 Gen2 port that supports both power input and display output, a standard USB 3.1 and your headphone/mic combo. On the right, you get another standard USB 3.1 and a Type-C port that supports Thunderbolt 3.
With that Thunderbolt 3 port, you can connect to various peripherals like storage, NAS solutions or external graphics cards like you can with the Razer Core X. Having Thunderbolt 3 gives you that flexibility, and that’s why it’s nice to have.
So that’s for the physical aspect of the Blade Stealth. We now come to the performance, and this is where the laptop really shines.
You get an Intel Core i7-1065G7, 16GB of 3733Mhz LPDD4X RAM, a 512GB NVMe SSD and lastly but most importantly, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650Ti Max-Q for the graphics.
First up, Cinebench R20. First few times I ran the benchmark, I noticed my scores were a little underwhelming, especially knowing the fact that Razer used the 25W version of the 1065G7 in the Blade Stealth.
I soon realized that it was the power settings within Razer Synapse. By default, it was on Balanced. So I quickly swapped over to the Gaming profile and re-ran the benchmark again, and wow, the scores put a smile on my face.
I was now getting 1644 on the multi-core score, and a solid 400 on the single-core score. It’s almost a 25% increase on the multi-core score, just from the difference in profiles. It’s by far the best performing 1065G7 out of all that I’ve tried.
Moving on to DaVinci Resolve, the Blade Stealth managed to render the 10 minutes 1080 edit under 15 minutes while the 15 minute 4K edit took just over 40 minutes. Again, the results were pretty impressive, and I would say that that’s thanks to the 25W 1065G7, along with the 1650Ti Max-Q.
This is one of the few laptops of this size, that I would say, is actually good enough to do 4K edits. Although of course, I will still suggest running at a quarter resolution within the timeline just for smoother scrubbing.
But creative work aside, this is Razer, so we have to cover gaming.
At first glance, a GTX 1650Ti Max-Q might not seem like much, but it’s actually plenty powerful and you’ll be surprised at the games that it can handle. I was able to get over 60 frames per second in Call of Duty Modern Warfare on the High preset at 1080p, and if you’re playing eSports titles like CS:GO, you can expect frame rates well above 100, making full use of that 120Hz refresh rate.
Temperatures are also really well maintained, with both the CPU and GPU hardly ever hitting the mid-80s, most of the time hovering between 70 to 80 degrees celsius. It’s honestly impressive how Razer has managed to cram this amount of performance in such a thin chassis without compromising on thermals.
But it’s not all that great. Though temperatures are well controlled, the chassis is like one giant heatsink, so when gaming for long periods of time, your hands will definitely feel the heat, and it may get uncomfortable.
If you’re here in Singapore, I’ll suggest only gaming with the AC on.
In terms of upgradability, you don’t really get access to much. With the bottom cover off, you can see the dual fans and heat pipe array which does a great job at cooling the system, as mentioned earlier. The RAM is unfortunately soldered on, so there’s no upgrading that.
All you can do is to swap out the NVMe drive, though I would say that it’s not necessary, considering it’s pretty great, with good read and write speeds for both sequential and 4K random. The other thing you can swap out is the WiFi card. Though again, I would say you don’t need to, as the one included is Wi-Fi 6 capable.
Right at the bottom is the 53Wh battery, which will net you about 5 hours plus of actual real-world usage with the display brightness at 50%, running at 120Hz, along with the RGB keyboard turned on.
Battery life is not the best, but you can somewhat extend it by turning off the RGB, lowering the brightness of the screen and setting it to run at 60Hz instead. With that, you might be able to get an additional hour or more.
Overall, the Razer Blade Stealth is a really amazing laptop. It’s compact and lightweight while offering a whole lot of performance. It honestly has been a joy to use.
But it’s pricey, and it really is catered towards a niche group of people. If you’re one of those people, great. But I daresay, most of you, simply aren’t. And for you people, there are far too many better options out there.
But now, I’m going to throw a curveball. Despite how much I enjoyed this laptop, I wouldn’t recommend anyone out there to go out and buy one, especially if you’re more of a creative than a gamer.
The reason is that Intel CPU. That Core i7-1065G7 is great for gaming, but not the best for creative work, especially when you have AMD with the Ryzen 7 4800U that has twice the number of cores and threads.
Now if Razer were to release a version of the Blade Stealth that features that AMD chip, then I’ll say hands down, it’ll be the best ultraportable powerhouse laptop, period, and I’ll wholeheartedly recommend it to those of you who fit this niche market.
At the moment, however, even if you are part of that target audience, I would say the Blade Stealth isn’t worth your cash, especially when you can get the more powerful Razer Blade 15, for less.
I’m not saying the Blade Stealth isn’t good, because it is. But could it be better? It definitely could. In the end, I just hope that Razer will one day work with AMD.