Incremental updates to an already fantastic Ultrabook.
We were huge fans of the first Razer Blade Stealth, Razer’s entry into the ultraportable market in 2016, to the point where this author now relies on one as his daily laptop. It was super thin and light, with one of the sexiest screens we’ve seen, yet came with a relatively affordable price point. Razer has just released the second itineration of the Stealth, but it’s now facing stiff competition from the likes of Dell and Acer. Can the latest version live up to the reputation of the original?
It appears that the new Stealth uses an identical chassis to the original, which is a mere 13mm deep. This means it’s not the thinnest ultraportable around, but it does have one of the most rugged cases in this category, built from CNC aluminium. There’s extremely little flex apparent on the screen, while the keyboard doesn’t bend in the slightest, even with the heaviest of touches. Yet it’s still a relatively lightweight unit, hitting a mere 1.29kg, but is about 30% heavier than some of the lightest Ultrabooks such as the latest MacBook.
One feature that shone bright with the original Blade was its gorgeous screen, which pumped out some of the richest, delicious colours we’ve seen. The new version comes with the same 12.5-inch QHD display as standard, which has a resolution of 2560 x 1440, and it’s just as pretty. There’s also a 4K option, which is pure overkill for such a small screen, as the 234 pixels per inch of the QHD screen is already crystal clear. If there’s one thing that is a bummer, it’s the glossy finish, which can make viewing the screen in direct sunlight a real challenge.
The other major improvement is battery life, with Razer claiming a 15% boost in battery capacity. Combine this with Intel’s new 7th Gen Core CPU, which is a power sipper, and it will definitely last longer on a full charge than the original. Unfortunately we encountered some very strange issues with not one, but two of these laptops. Neither would charge when connected to our home’s electrical system, no matter which power cord or power point we used... until it randomly started working. As a result, we were able to test battery life, which came in at 219 minutes in PCMark 8 Home’s battery test, which wasn’t quite as good as we’d hoped. However, just after finishing this review, we were informed by Razer that our issues were a software problem, which will be resolved via a software update from the Razer site.
Speaking of the CPU, our review sample came with Intel’s i7-7500U processor. It’s only a twin-cored chip, versus the quad-cores found in the original’s i5-6500U, but the inclusion of HyperThreading helps boost performance. More importantly, it can hit a Turbo Boost frequency of 3.5GHz, yet still only has a 15W TDP. This is a huge drop compared to the 65W TDP of the original model’s CPU. 16GB of DDR4 memory is excellent for this price, but once again we find an Ultrabook that has ultra-small amounts of storage. In the $1,849 model we tested, a single Samsung NVMe 240GB PCIe SSD is included. We’d highly recommend updating this to a larger model for just a few hundred dollars more.
Performance was very solid for such an affordable, portable machine, with a PCMark 8 Home Accelerated score of 3303. This is a large leap over the 2506 points we measured with the first version, though we think that one suffered a little throttling as it was tested in the hot and humid climate of Taipei. This is a little odd though considering our original version had a quad-cored chip; perhaps running two cores without throttling works out to deliver better overall performance than a quad-core chip that must lower its speed when the going gets tough?
Other than the new CPU and improved battery life, everything else is much of a muchness, with identical I/O configuration. The integrated GPU is a slight improvement as well, moving up to the Intel HD Graphics 620, which includes huge improvements when it comes to 4K hardware accelerated playback. It’s still no gamer though, hitting a mere 6744 in the extremely lightweight 3DMark Cloud Gate gaming test. We’re still very big fans of the latest incarnation of the Stealth, yet it’s now facing incredibly tough competition from the Acer Spin 7, which is thinner and convertible, though about 10% slower.
We’re still very big fans of the latest incarnation of the Stealth, with the improved battery life and performance being its stand-out features. However, it’s now facing incredibly tough competition from the Acer Spin 7, which is thinner and convertible, though about 10% slower.