Razer has been at the forefront of laptop design with its sleek Blade machines for years now. The Razer Blade 14 is the company's first 14-inch laptop and the first Blade to sport an AMD processor. Using a Ryzen CPU should come as no surprise these days, but rather it was long overdue. This Blade locks and loads the Ryzen 9 5900HX, which is one of the best laptop processors around.
Our review unit has paired the 5900HX with GeForce RTX 3060 graphics and a 1080p display with a 144Hz refresh rate. It will set you back $1,799, and it’s the most affordable of the three new Blades. The mid-range model keeps the 5900HX and upgrades to an RTX 3070 and a 165Hz display with a 1440p resolution for $2,199. While the priciest model deploys an RTX 3080 and costs $2,799.
Features and Design
The 14-inch screen size might be new for Razer, but elsewhere this machine looks familiar – and that’s no bad thing. The Blade 14 uses the same CNC-milled aluminum construction we're used to see from other Razer machines, and it retains the clean lines, black finish, and slick shape of the rest of the range.
The Blade looks more like a black MacBook than a gaming laptop. The only RGB LEDs are beneath the keyboard, and the only logo is the backlit Razer motif on the lid.
The Razer looks fantastic – and, as usual, it’s well-built, too. There’s hardly any movement at all in the metal base, and the display has only slight amounts of flex and no desktop distortion. It’s easily strong enough to be slung into a bag, although you’ll want a sleeve to avoid the exterior getting scuffed or scratched.
This Razer weighs 3.92 pounds, so it’s relatively lightweight, although the hefty power brick increases that figure by 1.4 pounds. The Blade’s body is 320mm wide and 220mm deep, and just 16.8mm thick, although that latter figure does extend to 21mm thanks to the Blade’s rubber feet.
Those are impressive figures given the hardware on offer, but don’t make it the slimmest or lightest 14-inch gaming laptop you can buy right now. The Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 is broader and deeper than the Razer, but it weights slightly less, and its power adapter only adds another pound on top of that. These figures are not deal-breakers in any way, especially for a light gaming notebook.
The Razer’s right-hand edge has single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A and Type-C ports. They both have 10Gbps of bandwidth, and the latter also serves up power delivery and DisplayPort 1.4 compatibility. There’s an HDMI 2.1 port here, too, which supports 8K/120Hz outputs – a handy bit of future-proofing, even if only modest games and less-demanding esports titles will play at that resolution using the RTX 3060.
The left-hand edge has the same USB Type-A and Type-C configuration alongside an audio jack and the machine’s power connector.
On the inside, there’s dual-band 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2, and the Razer’s feature set is rounded off by a Kensington Lock slot, TPM 2.0 security, and a 720p webcam with built-in Windows Hello. The camera’s quality isn’t great, but it’s fine for video calls, and signing in with your face is a welcome boon.
It’s a solid set of features, but things are missing, too. There’s no Gigabit Ethernet and no card or fingerprint readers. And, because this is an AMD laptop, there’s no Thunderbolt. The main memory isn’t upgradeable either.
The rival Zephyrus G14 isn’t as good in terms of connectivity. Only one of its USB-C ports has DisplayPort and power delivery, and its HDMI 2.0b port isn’t as capable as the Blade’s HDMI 2.1 connector. Its USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports have half the bandwidth of the ports on the Blade. The Asus does have a fingerprint reader, but it doesn’t have a webcam. And while it does have dual-band Wi-Fi 6, it doesn’t have future-proofed 6E ability.
The Blade has a 14-inch IPS panel with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, which means a density level of 157ppi. That’s excellent, and it means that games are pleasingly crisp – although they’re noticeably sharper on the pricier versions of this laptop, which use a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution for a density level of 210ppi.
Still, there are plenty of pixels here for gaming, and the rest of the specification is good: AMD FreeSync bolsters the 144Hz refresh rate, so you get smooth gaming in mainstream situations, and the panel has a matte finish.
The backlight reaches a peak of 323cd/m2, which is bright enough to handle all indoor situations and most outdoor scenarios. The 0.17cd/m2 black point is good, too: better than many other IPS displays and low enough to serve up lashings up depth and nuance – darker colors are absorbing on this panel. The 1,900:1 contrast ratio is fantastic and better than most IPS displays. The vast contrast helps the panel deliver punchy, vibrant colors – combine this with the black point, and you’ve got a display that makes games look bold and immersive.
The colors are decent, too. The Delta E of 1.66 ensures accuracy, and the Gamma level of 2.09 is pretty good. The display’s color temperature of 7,348K is a little on the cool side and too far away from the 6,500K ideal figure. But it’s not a disaster – the colossal contrast stops colors looking washed-out.
The Razer’s panel renders 93.2% of the sRGB color gamut at 96.4% volume, so you get almost every shade required by modern, mainstream games. That’s a good result – and overall, this is an excellent display – but this particular panel can’t handle the Adobe RGB or DCI-P3 gamuts.
The 2,560 x 1,440 screen included in the pricier Blade 14 models is noticeably better. We have also tested that panel and we could appreciate that in addition to the higher resolution, it has a quicker 165Hz refresh rate. It renders more of the sRGB gamut with a higher volume, so colors look punchier. The 1440p display’s contrast ratio of 1,072:1 is good, albeit not as high as that on the 1080p screen, so that’s one area where the 1080p panel does have more depth – but the 1440p panel isn’t far enough behind in this department to make it a poorer experience. The resolution, refresh rate, and color ability help it make back some ground.
The speakers are reasonable, but not great. They’ve got a surprising amount of bass and enough volume to fill a bedroom, and top-end sounds are decent – but the mid-range is muddy. The Blade’s audio kit can handle casual gaming and media, but a headset will provide a far better experience.
Razer’s keyboard has customizable per-key RGB LED backlighting that is crisp and bold. The keyboard has n-key rollover, and the buttons themselves are crisp, fast, and consistent, so you’ll have no problem getting up to speed in games.
There are inevitable issues on a small laptop like this, though. While the buttons are fast and crisp, they’re shallow, so they lack the punch and weight that keen gamers often prefer. This typing unit is fine for casual and mainstream games, but you’ll undoubtedly find larger and heftier keys on bigger notebooks. The Asus had a little more travel, too, although its buttons are slightly softer.
There are layout compromises, too. The cursor keys are small, the Return key is single-height, and there’s no number pad either. The trackpad is reasonably large, responsive, and fine for productivity and casual gaming, but a USB mouse will always be better for playing.
As usual, the Razer Synapse app manages this machine. It’s got modules for customizing the lighting and synchronizing it to other Razer devices, and the laptop can be easily switched between its balanced and boosted performance modes.
The RTX 3060 Laptop GPU inside the Blade has the usual 3,840 stream processors and 6GB of memory, and it runs with a TDP that runs between 90W and 100W. That’s towards the top of the range for this core, and that translates to an entry-level base speed of 900MHz and a more impressive boost pace of 1,425MHz. On paper, this core is beefier than the RTX 3060 inside the Asus, which runs between 60W and 80W.
The Ryzen 9 5900HX is tremendous on paper, with eight multi-threaded cores alongside base and boost speeds of 3.3GHz and 4.6GHz – and the Zen 3 architecture. The rest of the specification is good but unsurprising: the Blade is kitted out with 16GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory clocked to 3,200MHz and a 1TB Samsung PM981a SSD that delivered solid read and write speeds of 3,544MB/s and 2,747MB/s.
The Razer’s RTX 3060 proved a capable performer in games benchmarks. Two of the most demanding games in our slate of tests are Red Dead Redemption 2 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and the Blade performed well in these titles. We ran Red Dead 2 at High settings, and the Razer delivered minimum and average framerates of 35.7 fps and 64.8 fps, and in Valhalla’s Very High settings the Blade ran at 39.4 fps and 55.3 fps. They’re easily quick enough to enable smooth single-player gaming in the most demanding titles.
The Blade performed well in other games, too. It zipped through Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s High settings at 52.4 fps and 92.9 fps, and averaged 58.4 fps with the game at maximum settings. Its minimum got beyond 60 fps in Far Cry: New Dawn at High settings and hit 54.1 fps at Ultra, and it delivered a nice 69.1 fps in Borderlands 3.
There’s enough power here to play any of today’s top single-player titles smoothly – you won’t struggle to get beyond 60 fps at 1080p. And in Rainbow Six Siege, the Razer ran at 191.2 fps and 182.6 fps at Medium and Ultra settings, so this machine will easily handle esports games at the speeds required to sate the 144Hz display.
It’s good performance, and the Blade’s higher-power RTX 3060 will likely outpace the same chip inside the Asus. It’s not necessarily the fastest RTX 3060 we’ve seen, though. In our deep-dive GPU review we reviewed versions of the chip that ran between 80W and 95W alongside an Intel Core i7-10875H and between 115W and 130W alongside an AMD Ryzen 7 5800H. In most of our benchmarks, those other RTX 3060 machines were faster than the Blade, with wider gulfs seen in minimum framerate tests.
New Dawn 1080p ultra 54.1/77.2 GTA V 1080p max 4xMSAA 65.2/97.4 Shadow of the Tomb Raider 1080p High SMAATx2 52.4/92.9 Red Dead 2 1080p High, no AA, AF16x 35.7/64.8 Valhalla 1080p Very High 39.4/55.3 Borderlands 3 1080p Ultra, DX11, fog/ssr medium 49.4/69.1
|1080p Ultra settings
(min / avg FPS)
|Far Cry New Dawn||54 / 77 fps||Ultra preset|
|GTA V||65 / 97 fps||Max preset, 4xMSAA|
|Shadow of the Tomb Raider||52 / 92 fps||High preset, SMAATx2|
|Red Dead Redemption 2||35 / 64 fps||High, no AA, AF16x|
|Assassin's Creed Valhalla||39 / 55 fps||Very High preset|
|Borderlands 3||49 / 69 fps||Ultra, DX11, fog/ssr medium|
Other machines are quicker, but it’s not a game-breaking distinction. A closer look at the GPU reveals that it runs at a 90W peak during its conventional operating modes and only hits 100W with the boost options enabled. And while boost mode did improve the Blade’s performance by a few frames, especially in the minimum framerate tests, it still wasn’t enough to help this laptop overhaul the RTX 3060 cores we’ve seen elsewhere.
The processor is impressive, although this is another area where the silicon doesn’t reach its full potential. In Cinebench R20 the Ryzen 9 5900HX returned single- and multi-threaded scores of 560 and 4,240. The former score is around 20 points behind the performance we saw in our in-depth CPU review, while the latter falls around 700 points short. In the single-threaded test, the 5900HX is on par with the Ryzen 7 5800H and a little behind the newer Intel Core i7-11800H; in the multi-threaded benchmark, it’s level with Intel and slower than the Ryzen 7 CPU.
This pattern is visible elsewhere. The 5900HX took ten minutes and ten seconds to complete the Blender test – behind the Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 9 chips tested elsewhere and only slightly ahead of the Core i7. Its result of 1.55 in the Matlab R2020 test is slower than every other CPU mentioned here, and it fell behind the other CPUs in the Excel and PCMark 10 tests.
As with the graphics core, the Blade’s CPU has a boost mode to deploy extra speed. And it does deliver some additional performance: its Cinebench R20 multi-threaded result rose to 4,720, and the Blender result improved by one minute. That helps, but that boost mode isn’t perfect – the revised Cinebench multi-threaded result outpaced the Ryzen 7 and Core i7 chips but still couldn’t match the best speed we’ve seen from the 5900HX, and the same was true in that boosted Blender test.
The boost mode didn’t impact single-threaded performance, either: the Blade’s performance in the relevant Cinebench and Excel benchmarks didn’t change.
As ever, a clock speed examination illustrates what’s going on. On paper, the Ryzen 9 5900HX can hit single- and all-core boost speeds of 4.6GHz and 4.2GHz. But when running in its normal performance mode the Razer could only manage single and all-core boost speeds of 4.5GHz and 3.5GHz. Using the boost option saw the single-core speed remain at 4.5GHz, and it did improve the multi-core pace to 3.9GHz, but it still leaves this particular 5900HX lagging behind a little.
The CPU and GPU performance compromises are no surprise in a thin and light machine, but they do have an impact on how you’ll be able to use the Blade in day-to-day life, and you will get better performance if you leave the 14-inch form factor behind.
If you want to stick with the 14-inch Razer, you can pay more for the RTX 3070 or RTX 3080 versions, but they’ll experience the same issues: those GPUs are faster, but they’re both restricted to 100W TDPs too. Similarly, the 5900HX will only fulfill its potential in a larger laptop, which comes with its own trade-offs. In this machine, it still delivers lots of computing power: the slim Blade has more than enough speed for mainstream photo-editing and other content-creation tasks, and it’ll tackle as many Office apps and browser tabs as you want to throw at it.
And, while the Razer has been designed this way because of the slim, light chassis, the Blade is not a perfect thermal performer. Let’s cover the good stuff first. If you’re using the Blade to handle work tasks using its conventional performance mode, you’re going to have a decent time. In single- and multi-threaded work tests the CPU never got beyond 82°C, and the exterior remained comfortably cool. In these tests, the noise output peaked at 45db and 48db: not quiet, but not ruinously loud either. A headset or speakers will easily handle the noise, and it’s not loud enough to prove irritating.
If you use the CPU’s performance boost mode in single-threaded situations then there’s no difference to the noise and heat levels, but using this setting in a multi-core test saw the CPU’s temperature rise to a hefty 100°C and the noise level rise to 55db.
The Blade is a bit of a mixed bag when gaming, too. In its conventional performance mode the GPU’s temperature of 69°C is fine, and the noise level ranged between 53db and 56db. That’s not a disastrous noise level and you’ll be able to drown it out with speakers or a headset, but this isn’t the quietest machine when gaming either. It’s not the coolest laptop: the underside became slightly uncomfortable, and the metal above the keyboard was even hotter. When gaming in turbo mode the noise level remained similar, but the exterior was even hotter. If you want to play games using this machine, we recommend using a desk rather than your lap.
The Blade has a 61.1Wh battery that only excels in certain situations. In a gaming test it lasted for just under one and a half hours, which is only average: last year’s Asus G14 lasted for two hours and the latest model will likely hit that same lifespan. If you want to play games using the Blade 14 then it’s best to stay connected to a power source – and, given the exterior heat, best to place it at a desk.
In an everyday work benchmark the Blade 14 lasted for 7 hours and 36 minutes, and it ran out of juice after a whopping 10 hours and 17 minutes when playing video. Halving the screen brightness in both of those tests also saw those results increase by around an hour. The Blade may not have the juice to handle a long gaming session away from the mains, but this machine can tackle a full workday of Office applications and web-browsers, especially if you’re careful with the backlight.
Who Is It For?
The Razer Blade 14 is a bit of an experiment but there's a lot to like here. The AMD processor is quick enough for almost every mainstream content-creation task, and the 14-inch chassis is good-looking, sturdy, slim and light – and it has solid connectivity, too.
The RTX 3060 has the pace to tackle mainstream single-player and esports gaming, and the Blade delivers impressive battery life when running non-gaming workloads. The screen is vibrant, nuanced and has loads of depth, the keyboard is crisp and the speakers are reasonable.
The slim, light design does mean that the graphics card and processor don’t reach their full potential, though, and the Blade is sometimes hot and loud. Gaming battery life is an afterthought, and the small form factor does mean compromises to the keyboard layout.
The Blade 14 is also premium-priced as expected. The RTX 3060-based Razer arrives at $1,799, but you can buy an Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 with a nearly-identical processor and graphics core for around $1,549. And if you don’t need a 14-inch display, then larger 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch laptops with an even faster GPU can often cost less.
The Razer Blade 14 is not perfect, but it crams an awful lot of gaming and application power into a small, stylish, high-quality build. If you’re a fan of Razer’s sleek design and want a compact gaming notebook then this is certainly worth buying.