“For Gamers. By Gamers” has long been the tagline for San Diego-based Razer. Diverging from its usual modus operandi however, the company has introduced its first ultrabook, the Razer Blade Stealth. For the record, this is not a gaming machine out of the box. Rather, Razer has unapologetically prioritized mobility over gaming with a 12.5 inch touchscreen and integrated Intel HD 520 graphics.
In fact, the Stealth’s specifications are in line with a number of other premium non-gaming ultrabook offerings, namely the Dell XPS 13 and Lenovo Yoga 900. As yet another entry in a crowded market segment, does the Blade Stealth have what it takes to stand apart?
- Intel Core i7-6500U Dual-Core CPU with HT @ 2.5GHz / 3.1GHz (Base/Turbo)
- Intel HD 520 Integrated Graphics
- 8GB dual-channel onboard memory (LPDDR3-1866MHz)
- 256GB M.2 M.2 SSD
- 4K UHD Display - 12.5" IGZO 16:9 aspect ratio, with LED backlight, capacitive multi-touch
- 1 x Thunderbolt 3.0, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x HDMI 1.4b, 1 x TRSS 3.5mm
- Bluetooth 4.1, Killer Wi-Fi 802.11ac
- Built-in webcam (2.0MP)
- Chroma RGB anti-ghosting keyboard with individually backlit keys
- Built-in 45Wh rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery
- Approx. Weight: 2.75 lbs. / 1.25 kg
- Approx. Size: 0.52” / 13.1 mm (Height) x 12.6” / 321 mm (Width) x 8.1” / 206 mm (Depth)
- Aluminum Unibody
- $1399 as configured
Whether it was stolen prototypes or product delays, Razer’s eventual entry into the notebook market was anything but uneventful. Despite those early challenges, Razer has proven an ambitious competitor in gaming notebooks. Innovations like the SwitchBlade UI and aggressive portability for gaming laptops has helped the company stand out. This makes the Blade Stealth particularly interesting -- made by gamers, but for who?
Although the company’s first take on an ultrabook, the Stealth feels anything but experimental or beta. Everything about the Stealth looks and feels purposeful. Measuring just 0.52 inches thick, the Blade Stealth is similar in thickness to Apple’s MacBook Air. The CNC-milled aluminum unibody design lends absolute rigidity to the chassis. The design is tight and creates a premium hands-on feel comparable to the best notebooks experiences out there, including those of a certain fruit-themed manufacturer.
When it comes to looks, the Blade Stealth is quintessential Razer: a sleek matte black design with the company’s glowing serpentine triskelion stamped on the lid. The overall aesthetic is clean and simple with just a few embellishments aimed at tickling the fancies of gamers.
One issue that takes away from the Stealth’s sharp aesthetics is fingerprints; the matte finish instantly betrays greasy fingertips. It wasn’t long before the Stealth was an undesirable patchwork of unevenly glossy splotches. Note to self: don’t eat french fries while using the Stealth.
Connectivity includes 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) charging port and HDMI 1.4b. Thunderbolt 3 delivers 40Gbps of bandwidth making it capable of driving two concurrent 4K 60Hz displays. Of course, there’s Bluetooth as well as a 3.5mm jack (headphone + mic).
The Blade Stealth’s bottom rubber pads run nearly the entire length of the notebook. A small touch, but I found this preferable in most situations over a traditional four corner pad design. I wouldn’t mind seeing more laptops designed this way.
Customers have two choices when it comes to touchscreen displays: 12.5 inch QHD (2560 x 1440 pixels) or 12.5 inch UHD 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels). Our review unit shipped with the 4K option. Although both are glossy touchscreens and both are IGZO-based IPS, the 4K model boasts some impressive specs with a remarkably high 352 PPI pixel density and 100% Adobe RGB coverage. The QHD panel, by comparison, claims only 234 PPI and 70% RGB coverage. Even so, those are still some solid specs.
The term “IGZO” comes from the semi-conducting materials contained within the panel backplane: Indium, Gallium and Zinc Oxide. IGZO isn’t a panel type necessarily (e.g. IPS, TN) but actually describes the transistor technology being used. When compared to typical panels, IGZO typically provides faster response times, more passthrough light, less power draw and a more uniform image.
Subjectively, the 4K touchscreen is absolutely gorgeous. Colors are vibrant and rich without appearing artificially oversaturated. When compared side by side with a calibrated Dell Ultrasharp U2713HM, a semi-professional QHD display with 79% Adobe RGB coverage, the Stealth’s IGZO panel looks fantastic.
Colors look true to form; contrast is excellent and blacks are deep with even lighting. This is also perhaps the brightest panel I’ve seen on a notebook. Although I can’t speak for the QHD model, Razer’s 4K screen (manufactured by Sharp) is one of its best features, setting it apart from most notebooks out there.
One criticism regarding the display is the thick black framing that surrounds the panel. I would love to see an edge-to-edge or near borderless design, not unlike Dell’s recent XPS 13. It would have also been interesting to make the Stealth a convertible, but as it is, the display has a somewhat limited range of opening. The touchscreen adds some weight to the laptop and is, of course, glossy.