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Razer Blade 14-inch 2016 Derek Sullivan Rating: 4 out of 5

Razer Blade 2016 (14-inch) review – Skylake hardware and Nvidia GTX 970M GPU

35 Comments

  1. Adrian

    June 1, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    Great review Derek! Would you be able to post photos with a size/thickness comparison between the XPS 15 and the Blade? I’m currently trying to decide between the two and some comparison photos would help a lot! Also you impressions of the weight difference between the two would be helpful too… Thanks!

    • Derek Sullivan

      June 2, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      Believe it or not, the dimensions are almost identical in every way. I’ve been handling them both regularly for the past week because of my Razer Core testing. I have no preference between the two as far as carrying them around. As far as comfort goes, I like the palm rest of the XPS 15 a little better since it’s a little softer and not as cold to the touch when first using it for the day. It also doesn’t get near as grimy. But as far as usage goes, I prefer the Razer Blade because the lid is much much easier to open on a regular basis. I can’s imaging having to choose between the two. There are so many pros and cons and they are both great machines. If you mixed the highlights of both, you literally would have the perfect laptop.

      I’ll try and get some pictures up soon. I’ve been super busy but I should be able to get them by the weekend.

    • Derek Sullivan

      June 18, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      Sorry for the delay in putting up pictures. Instead, I just wrote a comparison article. See here: http://www.ultrabookreview.com/10980-dell-xps-15-vs-razer-blade-14/

  2. Eliot S.

    June 3, 2016 at 4:26 am

    Really comprehensive review! Better then some of the more mainstream review sites out there as well. And appreciated both knocking them for not waiting on Pascal here, and guessing the Pro is waiting on it. Also, the attention to secondary keys not getting backlight is the best thing I have read on the laptop. Will be coming to look at your reviews on any PC I am considering.

  3. Vagif Rzayev

    June 7, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    Thank you for the amazing review Derek!

    Is there any difference between gtx970M 3gb versus gtx970M 6gb , in terms of gaming performance and does it offer 2x time better frame-rates than 3gb model?

    I can’t really find answers online , hope to find them here!

    • Derek Sullivan

      June 8, 2016 at 12:34 am

      It’s not 2x faster. What happens is if you run out of VRAM, it uses system RAM for graphical applications, which is much slower. In cases like that, your framerates will drop severely. But to get a gae to use more than 3GB of VRAM, you pretty much have to be maxing out aliasing and be running at resolutions higher than 1080p. Considering the 970M can’t handle gaming at resolutions at higher than 1080p very well, this is almost a non-issue. There are some older games that can be modified and will use more than 3GB of VRAM but that is still unlikely for most people, in my experience.

      In short though, 6GB is better to hae than 3GB. But you won’t be seeing any significant performance boosts in comparison to last year’s model.

      • Vagif Rzayev

        June 8, 2016 at 7:04 pm

        So it’s just a marketing gimmick. Why would one need the extra VRAM if the video card is not capable of using it?

        • Derek Sullivan

          June 9, 2016 at 12:35 pm

          For most people, yes. I’m sure some people who do heavy rendering or big mods to games might use it. My guess is it’s probably <5% of people out there though

  4. thomas

    June 29, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    do you have the exact model number of the synaptic trackpad ?
    I have installed OS X on it and almost everything works but the trackpad…and audio
    Best

    • Derek Sullivan

      June 29, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      I’m not sure how to find the models of those. I’ve always wondered myself. Sorry

    • Tim Felbinger

      September 19, 2016 at 9:29 am

      Windows says:
      Synaptics TouchPad V1.0 on RMIHID Port
      Driver Version: 19.1.11
      Firmware Version: 1
      Interface: RMIHID

      And then under synaptics control panel, I found this:

      United States Patent Nos.
      6,642,857; 6,975,302

      Let me know how if you get MacOSX fully working.

    • Thet

      December 22, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Hello Thomas,

      I was just wondering how you made this a Hackintosh, because that is the ONLY thing currently stopping me from buying this instead of a MBP 15" because I don't need gaming exclusively because I have a custom made gaming PC at home, I would need this for photoshop and video editing and presentation making which I've preferred on Mac and my day to day use just feels more smooth and simple on my Mac. But if it was possible then I would greatly appreciate any help because I've only ever made one Hackintosh and it was a disaster hahahaha.

  5. Jayden

    July 7, 2016 at 11:16 am

    If I were to upgrade it with a 950 pro from Samsung would it be possible I haven’t found much on upgrading so getting a response would be great also awesome review

    • Derek Sullivan

      July 7, 2016 at 11:28 am

      Yes, the 950 pro definitely works in this machine, although it’s a really big grey area as to how it affects the warranty. If you read their policy, it shouldn’t void it provided you don’t damage anything doing the install.

    • Max Schwartz

      July 11, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      I actually swapped in the 512GB 950 Pro myself and it’s been a joy to use!

  6. Gabriel Porras

    August 7, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    The support the WORST!!!
    If you have problems with your Razer Pro, as me that my battery get damaged, you simply can’t buy the battery.
    You need to send the Razer Pro to his headquarters and wait they return again it.
    If you get a simply cable damaged the same.
    Don’t buy Razer products because if you have some problem you can’t buy the replacement part.
    Take care!!!!

  7. Jason

    September 5, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    I bought a blade based on this review. Fantastic. I have one question though: You mentioned that you can change the regedit to enable the 3 finger gesture for forward/backward, but I haven’t been able to do that despite searching it on the internet for days. Would you be able to share more information or a link to the tutorial about this?

  8. Konrad

    November 9, 2016 at 1:00 am

    I have a RAZER Blade from 2013, its just starting to wear down on me. So Im going to be in the market for a new computer real soon and want to know, if itd be worth the upgrade

    • Derek Sullivan

      November 9, 2016 at 1:08 am

      Most definitely. I'd go for the 1060 version though, not the 970m in this review. The major difference you'll see is the keyboard. It's a little inferior to what you have in my opinion, but the benifits far outweigh the cons of your model. If you pull the trigger, I'd recommend the 1080p version over the QHD+.

  9. Johannes

    November 16, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Hey Derek, awesome review. I'm really almost convinced in buying the new blade with the 1060 chop. The only thing is that there aren't any normal reviews on it online yet. Wanted to know when this one of yours will be updated :) Cheers

    • Derek Sullivan

      November 18, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      I'm still waiting on Razer to send me a review unit. I was originally told it'll be in October but have now been told that it might be as late as next month. Hopefully it won't be delayed any further.

      • Bart

        November 27, 2016 at 5:07 pm

        Tell them that lack of reviews and gossip about high temps on the internet made me into proud owner of MSI GS63VR.

        Stupid muppets. I guess if they cannot even handle marketing, they cannot be expected to handle customer service well.

  10. Mathieu

    November 22, 2016 at 12:38 am

    Why would you recommend the 1080p over the QHD+? I want to buy this laptop for photo and video editing, wouldn't it be better for me to go for the QHD+?

    Thanks!

    • Derek Sullivan

      November 22, 2016 at 9:54 am

      The QHD panel didn't have the greatest viewing angles, as the colors would shift at a pretty narrow range. The FHD panel doesn't have this issue. Also, both panels are matte but the QHD has a glass touchscreen on top of it, so you get the cons of a matte screen and eliminate the benefit. Finally, possibly in your case, you won't have scaling issues with your photo editing software. It depends really what software you're using but I can say from experience Adobe CS4 and earlier has issues with high dpi screens

  11. Jacques Chazelle

    December 2, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Hello Derek,

    I finally got this laptop (FHD 1060) for the form and durability and i wanted to thank you for listing out all the 1060 laptops and reviewing them. This laptop is amazing so far, screen is great for matte coating, keyboard and SSD are good, touchpad is great, gaming is awesome and not too hot, but the one thing that bugs me is battery life. I've installed battery bar pro and have been comparing the discharge rate to those of your tests and have been consistently performing 25-35% worse. Maybe I'm just not correctly interpreting your tests but my discharge rates are 20W with extreme power saving measures (minimum brightness, disabling turbo boost, no keyboard backlight, Edge, undervolting by 40V, and reducing the clock multiplier). I never see more than a 5W difference by changing settings :/

    I know this sounds like a support question (and it is) but I'm just asking around to see how people got such good battery life. Any recommendations for checking what hardware and software is hogging battery life with specific numbers?

    Anyways keep doing what you're doing, it's extremely helpful! Thanks!

    • Derek Sullivan

      December 2, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      What test are you comparing it to when you get 20W? One thing that is different between models is the screen. I know it's FHD but it's still different and could very well consume more power than the QHD+ panel. 50% brightness could be higher on the FHD version than 50% on the FHD.

      I also wonder if the GPU is switching. Is it possible the 1060 could be stuck on in your testing? That would make a huge difference.

      • Jacques Chazelle

        December 2, 2016 at 5:15 pm

        Thanks for the quick reply!

        I'm comparing it to the light browsing and YouTube tests in which you get 6 hours (I watched videos mostly 720p – 1080p). I have verified that the 1060 card is not running via the Nvidia control panel option to show when it is being used. For display brightness its at the minimum and every else is on power saver (so I am using more extreme power settings than you and getting worse battery life). In a poll on battery life, I found that most people had around my battery life 3+- 1 hours (http://www.strawpoll.me/11764256/r) even with power saving measures. Sure it's not verified but it's insightful at least.
        If you still have the laptop or recall your tests, what specific applications did you run (and websites etc). Maybe some standardization will help isolate?

        • Derek Sullivan

          December 2, 2016 at 5:41 pm

          Unfortunately I don't have that laptop anymore to test.

          During that test, I am usually reading articles on Microsoft Edge while also having Word open typing the review. These articles are static and there are usually aren't many animations and no video. For multiple tabs and videos running on pages, that fulls under my heavy browsing test. The test goes on for about 15 minutes and I use the average power consumption based on what HWinfo reports. HWinfo does a high low and avg, so it's important to reset the test right as you start and then get the result immediately after the test is done. If you do other stuff it skews the results. You also want to make sure other software isn't downloading in the background, such as Windows updates, because that also changes things. A good indicator of this would be to monitor your CPU usage during the test and see if it compares to mine.

          In the end though, these are only estimates. I only go through all those details to keep my measurements consistent, for comparison purposes. Real life results will definitely vary though, because very few people will actually sit and do only light browsing for 6 hours straight. 3 hours average usage is pretty typical from what I have observed in the forums. Maybe closer to 4. I'm still wondering if there's a hardware reason for the power draw. A curious point for me is the differences in drain between minimum and full brightness.

          • Jacques Ming Chazelle

            December 2, 2016 at 5:44 pm

            I will do a more comprehensive test within the day. But so far in my experience changing brightness and keyboard backlight only changes discharge rate from about 23W to 22W (or is that significant?).

          • Derek Sullivan

            December 2, 2016 at 5:52 pm

            Yeah, that's pretty typical. That leads me to believe the power draw is coming from somewhere else. It must be the CPU then. Assuming you are using Throttlestop, have you tried all this with stock voltages? Sometimes by tweaking things, speed step gets messed up and either stops working or works incorrectly. The package power is what you would want to monitor. If it's anything above 8W, then something else is loading your CPU or your throttlestop settings are wrong.

          • Jacques Chazelle

            December 3, 2016 at 4:42 am

            Okay with the tweaked settings I got 5 1/2 hours on airplane mode minimum brightness not keyboard lighting and the other tweaked settings. Interestingly enough BatteryBar Pro was feeding me incorrect data the whole time (said drain was anywhere from 17W to 22W) when it was actually 75Wh/5.5h = 14W. I've got possible answers from Razer support so I will look into that tomorrow.

  12. Jacques Chazelle

    December 5, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Hey Derek,

    Interesting update – recalibrating the battery by removing battery drivers and recharging results in similar performance as you. I'm glad to be able to fully appreciate this machine now!

  13. rob

    December 11, 2016 at 4:16 am

    derek,
    insightful review. debating between this and 15" macbook pro with touch bar. have any thoughts?
    thanks
    rob

    • Derek Sullivan

      December 12, 2016 at 1:39 am

      Can't comment on the MBP, sorry. I've never used Apple stuff other than the occasional task at work. It really depends on your intended use though. Usually people only choose Apple if they are content with using Apple software and use other Apple hardware in tandem. If you're thinking of just loading Windows on it to play games though, look elsewhere. The graphics card in the new MBP is pretty mediocre, considering the cost. But if you're just using it for consumption and productivity, I can see how the Macbook Pro would be an appealing choice. Sorry I can't be more of help.

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