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  • Soon Kai Hong

We Love The Razer Blade 16 But It's The Weirdest RTX 4090 Laptop

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Who doesn’t want an RTX 4090? With it, you can play games at 4K, turn up all the settings and even enjoy ray-tracing to its fullest potential. This is the all new Blade 16 and it has exactly what you want. A 4K 120Hz miniLED display, amazing build quality and even plenty of ports. But most importantly, it can be equipped with up to an Intel Core i9-13950HX with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU. Sounds amazing right?

Unfortunately there’s something weird with the RTX 4090 Laptop GPU in the Blade 16 and we think we might know half the reason why.

We Love The Design

Now, for this review, we aren’t going to talk about all the great things about the new Blade 16. Honestly, there’s a lot to cover and we very much love it. For example, the 4K miniLED display is awesome and you can actually switch between native 4K 120Hz or 1080p 240Hz. It’s kind of like pixel-binning in a way and it’s pretty amazing. You can have both your cakes and eat them.

Other than that, you still get a great keyboard which I personally love quite a lot, as well as a gigantic touchpad. In fact, it’s bigger than the MacBook Pro 16 which is quite insane. You’re also well covered on ports and all that as well, so on and so forth. Basically, it’s a bigger Blade 15 and if you like the Blade 15, you’ll probably like this one.

Performance Is Great... But

Anyways, let’s put that all aside. If you want to know more about the Blade 16 itself, there are many other reviews out there that have already covered it. For us here today, we’re going to talk about performance and why we think that this might be the weirdest RTX 4090 Laptop GPU ever. So let’s get straight into gaming performance.

As usual, we tested all 10 games with our new benchmarking process and as you can tell, it is indeed a high performance gaming laptop. Especially with games that support DLSS 3 frame generation, the experience is really fantastic. But it all starts to get weird when you actually compare the performance to other gaming laptops.

In this instance, we had the opportunity to try the Legion Pro 7i from Lenovo and that sports an Intel Core i9-13900H with the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 Laptop GPU. So essentially, these two laptops feature really similar specs with the exception of the GPU. One has the RTX 4090 Laptop GPU while the other has the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU.

But yet when you compare the gaming performance of the two, the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU in the Legion Pro 7i will match that of the RTX 4090 Laptop GPU in the Razer Blade 16 or even beat it at times.

For example, here’s a comparison with Apex Legends. At 1080P, while the average frame rate might be really similar, the 1% low on the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU is actually much higher. When we move up to 1440P, the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU actually pulls ahead with almost a 10% difference And that’s for both average and 1% low. As we move up to 4K, while the difference does shrink, the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU still pretty much performs on par with the RTX 4090 Laptop GPU.

Here’s another example with Cyberpunk 2077, a much more demanding game as compared to Apex Legends. At 1080P, both the average frame rate and 1% low are about 10% better on the Legion Pro 7i with the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU as compared to the Razer Blade 16 with the RTX 4090 Laptop GPU. Move the resolution up to 1440P and the performance advantage still stays the same for the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU, about 10% better. Now at 4K, sure, the frame rate is equally not great on either of the two laptops but the % difference is still largely the same. 4 frames per second equates to about 10% and it still is the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU in the Legion Pro 7i that performs better here.

Now if you are interested to do a full 1-1 comparison, simply go ahead and check out our review of the Legion Pro 7i and you can compare the numbers. But for those of you who don’t want to do that, here’s a quick summary for the comparison.

In general, across all the 10 games that we test here on this channel, the Legion Pro 7i with the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU performs just ever so slightly better than the Razer Blade 16 with the RTX 4090 Laptop GPU at 1080P and 1440P. It is only at 4K where both GPUs are neck and neck for almost any title and it’s only at 4K with Ray-Tracing and DLSS 2.0 or DLSS 3.0 enabled where the RTX 4090 Laptop GPU in the Blade 16 has the definite advantage.

We Dive Deeper

So now you might be thinking, well, Razer probably restricted the TGP for the RTX 4090 Laptop GPU in the Blade 16 or perhaps it’s because they don’t have a MUX switch. But that’s not true. Both the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU in the Legion Pro 7i and the RTX 4090 Laptop GPU in the Blade 16 have access to the full 150W with an additional 25W boost for a total of 175W. In addition, the Legion Pro 7i has a MUX switch enabled via Lenovo Vantage while the Blade 16 has Advanced Optimus and a MUX switch which can be toggled via the NVIDIA Control Panel or the BIOS respectively.

But here’s the weirder thing, we couldn’t find out any particular single factor that would’ve contributed to the lower performance on the Blade 16 when it comes to the GPU. In fact, we did a short video a while back where we tested both laptops with Apex Legends running at 4K.

Both laptops had their respective GPUs at a 100% usage, they even exhibited really similar power draw patterns and temperatures on both are definitely well under control. Now you might say that the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU was able to clock much higher, nearing 2,500MHz compared to roughly 2,100MHz on the RTX 4090 Laptop GPU but it’s all well within the parameters given how GPUs are usually tiered. The 4080 has less CUDA cores and thus a slightly higher clock speed while the 40900 has more CUDA cores and thus a lower clock speed.

And again, that’s how GPUs are tiered and so a 4090 Laptop GPU should perform better than a 4080 Laptop GPU just like how a 3080 Ti should perform better than a 3080 in laptop, as long as they have access to the same TGP and with temperatures well under control, which is exactly the case here.

So what exactly might be the actual difference here?

Sometimes, CPU GHz Counts.

After much testing, we believe it has everything to do with the CPU. Although the Blade 16 features the slightly higher-end Core i9-13950HX, it runs at about 3.6GHz during most gaming scenarios. In comparison to the Core i9-13900H in the Legion Pro 7i, that runs at about 4 to 4.2GHz in most gaming scenarios. In addition, the Legion Pro 7i pushes 0.1V more to the CPU as well. And so if you look at games which require more CPU performance such as CS:GO and Black Desert, you’ll notice that the Legion Pro 7i performs much better as compared to the Blade 16. Whereas in games where GPU usage is much more intensive, the performance between the two laptops are neck and neck.

Now you can technically overclock the CPU via Razer Synapse but it does require you to disable Windows Core Isolation and Hyper-V. While the latter isn’t really important, the former definitely is. So we highly recommend not to do so. So as per our testing, we feel that because Razer has taken steps to perhaps control the CPU performance and temperatures so as not to overload the thermal system, that might’ve contributed to the potential loss of performance with regards to the RTX 4090 Laptop GPU.

On the other hand, we also really have NVIDIA to blame. The RTX 4090 Laptop GPU isn’t really that much of a leap over the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU. In fact, the entire RTX 40-series Laptop GPU range is really a sly naming scheme by NVIDIA. The RTX 4090 Laptop GPU is more akin to that of the RTX 4080 desktop GPU, while the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU is more akin to that of the RTX 4070 Ti desktop GPU, so on and so forth.

Go For The RTX 4080 Laptop GPU Model

So all we can say is this. This particular Blade 16 will set you back over US$4,299.99 or S$7,099 and that is a hell of an investment. If you really want the Blade 16, we would suggest getting the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU model instead. Granted, we’ve yet to test that SKU but as far as we can tell, the 4090 model doesn’t really offer more for what you’re supposedly paying more for.

The RTX 4080 Laptop GPU SKU will set you back US$3,599.99 or S$5,999. Certainly it’s still hell of a lot but that also puts it more in line with the pricing of the Legion Pro 7i with the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU which makes it far more reasonable. But if you have the space to spare, perhaps you can opt for the Blade 18 instead. Other reviewers have already reviewed the Blade 18 with the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU and that also performs equally or better than the Blade 16 with the RTX 4090 Laptop GPU.

So that’s our honest opinion. Avoid the Blade 16 with the RTX 4090 Laptop GPU because you’re paying more for nothing. Instead, grab the Blade 16 or the Blade 18 with the RTX 4080 Laptop GPU instead if you really love Razer. For us, we’ll still admit that the Blade is the best looking gaming laptop out there and for some, that is enough of a reason to make the purchase.

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