Introducing the Razer Blade 14-Inch

Despite arguably still being a market that supports growth, the gaming notebook arena has remained relatively staid over the past few years. At the highest end we're still looking at just Alienware and Clevo, with MSI, ASUS, and the odd Toshiba picking up the slack. Risking using a buzzword that makes most journalists froth over with rage and irritation, this is a market that's fairly ripe for innovation but hasn't seen a tremendous amount of it.

Razer's entry into the gaming notebook arena wasn't a total game changer, but it was definitely an eyebrow raiser. The original Razer Blade was an ultrathin gaming notebook, featuring an industrial design rivaled only by its profound inability to handle the tremendous heat generated by its components and its nearly impossibly high price tag. The second version did a lot to ameliorate those complaints, but I suspect it's really going to take the combination of Haswell and Kepler to get this concept where it wants to be (price notwithstanding). Thankfully that's what Razer is offering in their third generation of gaming notebooks.

Splitting the line into two models, the newest revision of the 17.3" Razer Blade gets dubbed the Razer Blade Pro, with the non-Pro nomenclature falling to the brand new 14" model. At the risk of being premature, I suspect the 14" Razer Blade is going to be the more desirable of the two notebooks: hardware specs are virtually identical between the Blade and Blade Pro, with the primary differentiators being the 1080p display and Switchblade panel in the Pro. Cutting down the Pro to a slightly more conventional 14" gaming notebook has left Razer with an attractive machine that's hard not to compare to Apple's MacBook Pro.

Razer Blade 14-Inch Specifications
Processor Intel Core i7-4702HQ
(4x2.2GHz + HTT, Turbo to 3.2GHz, 22nm, 6MB L3, 37W)
Chipset Intel HM87
Memory 8GB DDR3L-1600
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 765M 2GB GDDR5
(768 CUDA cores, 797MHz/863MHz/4GHz core/boost/memory clocks, 128-bit memory bus)

Intel HD 4600 Graphics
(20 EUs, up to 1.15GHz)
Display 14" LED Matte 16:9 900p
AU Optronics AUO103E
Hard Drive(s) Samsung PM841 256GB mSATA 6Gbps SSD
Optical Drive -
Networking Killer Wireless-N 1202 dual-band 2x2 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD audio
Stereo speakers
Combination mic/headphone jack
Battery 70Wh
Front Side -
Right Side USB 3.0
HDMI 1.4a
Kensington lock
Left Side AC adapter
2x USB 3.0
Combination mic/headphone jack
Back Side -
Operating System Windows 8 64-bit
Dimensions 13.6" x 9.3" x 0.66"
345mm x 235mm x 16.8mm
Weight 4.1 lbs
1.88kg
Extras Webcam
USB 3.0
Killer Networks wireless networking
Backlit anti-ghosting keyboard
Warranty 1-year limited
Pricing $1,799
As configured $1,999

It's hard to feel like any compromises have really been made in terms of the Razer Blade 14-inch's internal hardware. The Intel Core i7-4702HQ CPU boasts a healthy 2.2GHz nominal clock speed across four cores and is able to turbo up to as high as 2.9GHz on all four or 3.2GHz on a single core. This is the situation that Haswell is ideal for: a thin portable chassis with somewhat limited cooling capacity.

Despite being essentially a refresh of extant silicon, NVIDIA has actually made some fairly impressive strides with the second generation of Kepler mobile GPUs. The GK106 chip has turned out to be a solid desktop offering, but like Haswell, its true destiny may very well be in mobile. That chip powers the Razer Blade's GeForce GTX 765M, the same mobile GPU you're going to find in Alienware's competing 14-inch notebook. It's a slightly cut down GK106 chip, sporting 768 CUDA cores at a nominal 797MHz clock speed, and it comes with NVIDIA's Boost 2.0 enabled. That should allow it to hit speeds as high as 900MHz during gaming, thermals depending. 2GB of 4GHz GDDR5 is attached to a 128-bit memory bus.

Meanwhile, storage is handled by Samsung's 840 series SSD, shrunk down to an mSATA form factor. This is the only differentiator between the three models of Razer Blade 14-inch: $1,799 will get you 128GB of storage, $1,999 will get you 256GB, and $2,299 will get you 512GB. While your gaming needs may vary, I've found that 256GB is pretty much the minimum for all my stuff plus the games I need on the go. Individuals looking to use the Blade as their primary system (and it's totally feasible) may actually want to make the jump to the 512GB.

Where Razer does come up short with the 14-inch Blade is connectivity. Three USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI port should theoretically be enough to cover the most basic needs, and I'm even willing to forgive the lack of a card reader on a notebook that's geared exclusively towards gaming. Lacking wired gigabit ethernet is a more bitter pill to swallow, though. The Killer Wireless-n ameliorates this somewhat, but it doesn't replace it. For serious online play there's just no substitute for a stable wired connection.

In and Around the Razer Blade 14-Inch
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  • krumme - Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - link

    Yes, but Dustin says what needs to be said, and is quite frank about the situaiton. He is by far one of the reviewers with most credit in my book. Reply
  • Pfffman - Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - link

    In Anand's defence, there are people that actually don't consider anything apart from Apple so it is actually helpful in that respect. Since customers have their own biases and preferences, and in the case mentioned a very particular one, it is still providing analysis based on what Anand is trying to say is the most benefit based on your usage model. It would be a lot more alarming if it was a "best laptops June 2013" and it only listed Apple.

    I personally don't and have never managed to use OSX properly.
    Reply
  • justaviking - Wednesday, July 03, 2013 - link

    One thing I have always enjoyed and appreciated about AnandTech.com is the BLEND of ANALYTICAL ANALYSIS and OPINION... and their distinction between them.

    The AnandTech staff will often say share the bias they had coming into a review, and how it was supported or how they were surprised (in both good and bad ways). They also talk about how their usage pattern might affect their opinion.

    This is by far my favorite tech review site.
    Reply
  • Bobs_Your_Uncle - Saturday, July 06, 2013 - link

    Brian Klug's review of the HTC One (April 5, 2013 - http://www.anandtech.com/show/6747/htc-one-review) stands out as truly singular in nature. It is the finest tech review I've ever had the pleasure of savoring.

    In fact, my labeling it as a "tech review" does both Brian & AnandTech a disservice: Brian's efforts are a distillation of literary excellence as applied through journalistic themes. Very Well Done One & All!

    Now, what's for dessert?
    Reply
  • Menty - Wednesday, July 03, 2013 - link

    Why not leave the Apple hatred at the door where it belongs? An article about "Best Mac Laptops" is a) only going to contain information about Macs and b) will be appreciated by some readers of this site. It's not a "Best Laptops" article that only contains Macs, is it? Reply
  • Bobs_Your_Uncle - Saturday, July 06, 2013 - link

    In reply to dsumanik (7/2/13):
    A person of intelligence & integrity is capable of holding a distinct personal preference for a given *Something* and simultaneously rendering a reasoned, well supported, & laudably fair critique on that *Something* or *Some-other things*. In fact, such figures in public forums were once respected, & were seen to be exemplars of an ideal worth striving toward.

    Our current cultural climate, however, guides us to accept as our reference point the fact that, regardless of an individuals voice, there is always an undisclosed personal agenda being promoted. Essentially, no one but "ME" (read as, "You the Reader") is capable of anything that isn't hopelessly tainted by the poison of blatant self-interest, abject Fanboi-ism, or both.

    An unfortunate consequence is that examples of intelligent, reasoned, critical thought are becoming quite rare. One example of such analysis is to be found here: The HTC One: A Remarkable Device, Anand’s mini Review; by Anand Lal Shimpi on March 21, 2013 4:49 PM EST - http://www.anandtech.com/show/6851/the-htc-one-a-r...

    Okay, so, we can all agree that no one individual is "perfect". By combining our shared human fallibility with a shared assumption of good intent (until such trust is proved unwarranted), comment forums may become worth the time spent reading them.

    PRO TIP: Not everyone can, or should be, immediately grouped in with the morally bereft Wall Street Ponzi Scheme Promoter, or the craven Supreme Court Justice voting to legalize unprecedented graft & corruption via Citizens United. Doing so only reveals a pathetic pattern of conveniently fact-free, wretched intellectual laziness that "The Ladies do NOT find appealing".
    Reply
  • flyingpants1 - Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - link

    Dustin,

    I didn't say one word about how others review hardware. If you do something bad, the fact that everyone else does it too, doesn't make it OK.

    The obvious problem inherent in reviewing what you're sent is you only have what the manufacturer wants you to have. They know how their product works and they probably won't knowingly send a lemon to Anandtech. Therefore they pretty much know a bit about what you're going to say on their behalf when they send you a package. So you are sort of a mouthpiece.

    Another problem is that you actually miss a lot of good stuff, like the Lenovo laptop the OP mentioned.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - link

    You really don't understand how this works, do you? The industry operates the way it does for a reason, and if you think companies are just sending out their best stuff, you're giving them too much credit. They send out what they think will be the most compelling, but a lot of this stuff is going through PR companies.

    If you really think I'm a mouthpiece, I highly encourage you to go back and read my review of MSI's GT70 Dragon Edition.
    Reply
  • ppeterka - Friday, July 05, 2013 - link

    flyingpants1: Why don't you or the OP buy the aforementioned laptop, send it to Anandtech to review, then after it, just sell it off cheaper? Reply
  • kedesh83 - Tuesday, July 02, 2013 - link

    You have a point there, but i have always come to Anandtech since it started for intelligent reviews about hardware i care about, and written by people who know what they hell they are talking about, rather then the snub nosed hipsters of Engadget and the like Reply

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