Razer Blade 15 Review: RTX 3080 At Just 95W?
Updated: Aug 21, 2021
The Razer Blade 15 RTX 3080 is a great laptop that comes with customisation options for you to optimise your gaming experience. However, you might be getting less in terms of performance compared to other laptops with lesser specifications.
This may be our second time reviewing something from the RTX 3000 series, but it is our first time getting our hands on the RTX 3080, in particular. The catch is that the RTX 3080 in this laptop is configured to receive 95W of power, compared to the Legion 5 Pro we previously reviewed, which has an RTX 3070 configured to receive 140W of power. Keep in mind this difference in wattage, because we’ll be going back to that later.
But before we go into all that, let’s talk about the laptop itself. Honestly, there isn’t much to talk about because if you’re familiar with the previous generation of Razer Blade laptops, the Razer Blade 15 RTX 3080 looks pretty much the same. The laptop is still gorgeous and it feels amazing to the touch. The laptop’s design is as minimalistic as ever, and you can tell Razer really does pay attention to detail from the screws all the way down to the cooling fans. Do keep in mind that the laptop still attracts fingerprints like before though.
The laptop does have a few new additions. The Blade 15 RTX 3080 sports a UHS-III SD card reader on the laptop’s right side – a welcome addition for people who frequently use SD cards like photographers and videographers. Secondly, there are now a few variants due to the laptop’s many configurations for its display. There are three options to choose from depending on the laptop’s configuration. The first is a 1080p panel with a refresh rate of 360Hz, the second comes with a 4K OLED panel that has a 60Hz refresh rate and touch support. The last configuration, which is the one we reviewed, features a 15.6-inch QHD display with a 240Hz refresh rate. All configurations are outfitted with 100% sRGB, 350 nits display brightness and G-sync support.
The Blade 15 RTX 3080’s display is great for gaming; QHD makes full use of the RTX 3080 and having a buttery-smooth 240Hz is a sight to behold. However, we found a slight peculiarity to the laptop’s display that is actually linked to the display’s performance, which we’ll discuss further in a bit.
Quickly going through the specs, the laptop comes equipped with an Intel Core i7-10875H processor, an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 with 8GB of VRAM and configured for up to 95 watts of power, 32GB of RAM running at 2933MHz and a 1TB NVME PCIe SSD. The laptop also sports different power profiles which can be accessed from Razer Synapse. However, we’ll only be focusing on the Balanced profile and Boost profile.
The Intel Core i7-10875H isn’t anything new, but it’s still a good chip. When using the Balanced profile, the chip sticks to 2.6Ghz on all cores and 4.2GHz on a single core. In Boost profile, the chip will reach 3Ghz on all cores. In comparison, the Legion 5 Pro with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H comes out on top.
Here’s hoping that an 11th-gen refresh is coming to Razer’s Blades laptop line, or that Razer will switch to AMD processors throughout its laptops.
The laptop actually performed rather well when put through DaVinci Resolve. Editing 4K with the laptop is pretty fast, not just for the renders but even in the timeline performance as well. This is largely due to the laptop’s GPU. The Blade 15 in Boost mode was able to render a 1080p video at around 16 minutes and a 4K video at around 20 minutes. In comparison, the Legion 5 Pro was able to render a 1080p video in 6 minutes and 42 seconds and can render a 4K video in 16 minutes 38 seconds respectively. That’s pretty close if you ask us.
As a disclaimer, we have to first discuss the NVIDIA Advanced Optimus. In a sense, the Advanced Optimus is just a MUX switch; you get to choose between running on Optimus, on the laptop’s dedicated GPU or letting the system auto-select for you. We’ll discuss the NVIDIA Advanced Optimus later on, but for now, keep in mind that we’ll be testing the laptop’s performance when running games on the dedicated GPU option.
All of our games were tested on the maximum resolution of 2560 x 1440 and with all graphics settings aside from Anti-Aliasing maxed out. With that in mind, we were pleased to find that the laptop was able to deliver buttery-smooth graphics across eSports and AAA titles. If you’re into ray-tracing, you can expect great framerates on Balanced mode and even greater numbers in Boost profile.
But when compared with the Legion 5 Pro, the Blade 15 on its Balanced profile falls incredibly short. CSGO and Devil May Cry V ran at 183 and 115fps respectively on the latter, while the same games ran at 238 and 161fps on the Legion 5 Pro. However, the ray-tracing on the Blade 15 saw a better result; Battlefield V was able to run at 67fps on the Blade 15 with ray-tracing on while the game ran at 53fps on the Legion 5 Pro.
In short, the GPU’s wattage plays a big difference in both laptops’ performance in gaming. The Legion 5 Pro’s RTX 3070 performs better than the Blade 15’s RTX 3080 in this case. But for ray-tracing, the number of RT cores makes a bigger difference.
As for the Blade 15’s temperature while gaming, expect temperatures hovering in the mid-80s for the CPU and high 70s for the GPU on the Balanced profile. Meanwhile, the laptop running on the Boost profile will register a CPU temperature around the mid-90s and low-80s for the GPU.
Although the Boost profile actually gives you more frames, we would recommend sticking to the Balanced profile due to lower temperatures and less fan noise.
Getting back to the NVIDIA Advanced Optimus, we have to talk about how the different modes vary from each other. To keep things simple, we’ll be using Shadow of the Tomb Raider to test both modes.
If you were to run the game on Optimus, then you’ll be getting 80fps. We got 84fps when using the dedicated GPU mode and Auto-select also gave us 84fps – a five per cent increase over Optimus. However, this increase might differ when you run other games. Regardless, using auto-select mode or the dedicated GPU mode will grant you the most frames.
This is where it gets weird, and it harks back to the display. The laptop is sporting a 240Hz refresh rate display, but you can’t actually use the 240Hz refresh rate all the time.
If you were to leave the display on Optimus, then you’ll be stuck on a refresh rate of 60Hz; the 240Hz option is not available on Windows itself, on Razer Synapse or in the NVIDIA control panel. On the other hand, if you were to choose auto-select, then the display will switch to 240Hz only when you launch a 3D application like a video game. You can even actually see the display’s colours switching for a moment, which means it swapped. But when you exit a game, the display goes back to 60Hz, locking you out of the 240Hz refresh rate again.
To enjoy 240Hz all the time, you’ll need to leave the laptop on its dedicated GPU mode. However, doing so will be detrimental to the laptop’s battery life. You’ll be able to get six hours or more on the Optimus mode but on the dedicated GPU mode, the battery life will last two to three hours at best.
With all that said though, we still very much like the Blade 15. Razer was able to strike a balance between design, performance and even weight, with the laptop only weighing two kilos. However, you will need to pay a premium for the laptop.
The model we reviewed has a price tag of S$4849 or US$2899.99 – quite a hefty price. Even more so when you compare it to the Legion 5 Pro, which retails for far less with a S$2699 price tag and, despite the Legion 5 Pro having an RTX 3070 as its GPU, still outperforms the Blade 15. Not to mention that the Legion 5 Pro runs on an AMD processor.
Will we still recommend this laptop? Yes, but only if you’re into the Blade aesthetic and you’re willing to pay a premium for portability. Let’s face it: you’re paying for much more for less raw performance, especially if you’re talking about the laptop’s specifications alone.
Content by Soon Kai Hong