After spending more than a month with the Razer Blade Stealth, I was eager to return to my daily driver, the Razer Blade 15, and see how much I missed it. But then Razer was kind enough to lend me one of their newer Blade 15 models, with the RTX 2080 Super packed inside. How can I refuse that?
So I’ve had it nearly a month now, and I’m pleased to say that Razer kept a lot of things exactly the same as they were – and that’s a good thing. They did make a few improvements where needed though, and I now like this model even better than before.
For starters, the keyboard is fixed. No more weird keyboard layout! They also gave the screen a 300Hz makeover and upgraded the GPU to the 2080 Super. All welcome improvements that pair nicely with the octa-core CPU.
Rather than a full-blown review, it’s safe to say that my feelings on this model haven’t changed all that much from my review last year – I still love it. So I’d recommend checking that review out as well, as this one will be more of an approach of what’s different.
Update: Our full review of the updated 2021 Blade 15 Advanced is available over here.
Specs as reviewed – Razer Blade 15 Advanced 2020
||Razer Blade 15 Advanced
||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS equivalent, 300 Hz, matte, 3ms response
||Intel 10th Gen Comet Lake i7-10875H CPU, octa-core 2.3 GHz (5.1 GHz boost)
||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER Max-Q with 8GB GDDR6 VRAM and Intel UHD, Optimus
||16 GB DDR4 2933Mhz (2×8 GB DIMMs)
||1 TB M.2 NVMe (Lite-On CA5-8D1024)
||Intel Wireless-AX201 and Bluetooth 5.1
||3x USB-A 3.2 gen2, 1x USB-C with Thunderbolt 3(PD 3.0 charging support), , USB-C 3.2 Gen 2(PD 3.0 charging support), HDMI 2.0B, mic/earphone, Kensington Lock, SD card reader
||80 Wh, 230 W charger
||355 mm or 13.98” (w) x 235 mm or 9.25” (d) x 17.8 mm or .70” (h)
||2.14 kg (4.73 lbs)
||individually lit RGB keyboard, large clickpad, HD Windows hello webcam, stereo speakers
Design and first look
Like I just said, my thoughts on many aspects of the Razer Blade 15 haven’t changed from last year, as the early 2019 model is still my daily driver. The fact is, when it comes to the design, there are almost no differences between models. So I’d recommend checking out my thoughts in the other article for more details.
The only major difference is the IO, with the addition of a USB-C 3.2 port on the left-hand side and the addition of PD 3.0 charging with both USB-C ports. Last but certainly not least, Razer finally added an SD card reader. All welcome changes.
VR gamers need to be aware though that they removed the mini-DP in this model and now just rely on Thunderbolt 3 through the USB-C port. If you’re using an Oculus Rift, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to use it with this model. HTC Vive can use the HDMI and the Oculus Quest can, of course, use the USB-C port.
I’m glad Razer left everything else alone. It really is still a sleek and robust design, so why change it. Even after denting my 2019 model on the first week of owning it (I dropped it), it’s still held up like a champ and looks great.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard is almost identical to last year, but has one very important improvement. If you’ve read any of my past reviews from 1-2 years ago, you’d have seen my constant gripe on Razer putting the up arrow between the shift key and the ? key. Well, Razer fixed it in this model.
It’s a good thing too, because to this day it’s still an annoyance I face with my 2019 model. If you’re typing and accidentally hit the up arrow instead of the ?, you end up highlighting a row, and then the next keystroke you make deletes and replaces that row. I had to have a permanent macro assigned to the up arrow to fix the problem. Thank you Razer for listening to your customers.
So on this model, the right shift key is full-sized now and the up and down arrows are split on one key. A fair compromise to solve the problem, for sure.
Without a doubt, I’m fully accustomed to typing on this laptop, so my opinion is kind of biased. I still like it as a daily use keyboard, as I find the keys easy to press, with decent feedback. The palmrest is just the right size for my hands, and I have no trouble typing and avoiding the trackpad.
Razer opted not to use their optical switches in this model. Probably for the best, because although I liked those keys, they are clicky and loud, which might annoy some people. Also, they weren’t able to fully backlight the secondary functions on those keys for some reason, which is a huge drawback.
The chroma lighting is still exactly the same as the 2019 model, which is also a good thing. Razer’s Synapse software is used to control the lighting, and is pretty much the easiest software to learn how to use and do so.
As for the trackpad, it’s identical to before. It was already perfect the way it was, so no point in changing it. No question, this is amongst the best trackpads I’ve used on a Windows laptop, and is probably as close as you’re going to get to a Macbook level.
The 2020 Razer Blade 15 gets a matte 15.6-inch IPS equivalent panel with FHD resolution and a stunning 300 Hz refresh rate. It’s a really nice panel made by AUO and is a pretty decent upgrade from the 144Hz screen option I have on my unit from last year.
The max brightness I was able to achieve was 357 nits, with 336 nits in the center. This is pretty good and can even be used outdoors without suffering from too much glare. The contrast ratio is also excellent on this panel.
My model had zero backlight bleed, but keep in mind that it differs from unit to unit.
I took some measurements on my XRite i1 sensor and here’s what I got:
- Panel HardwareID: LG Phillips LGD05C0;
- Coverage: 98% sRGB, 69% NTSC, 73% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.2;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 336 cd/m2 on power;
- Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 16 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 1548:1
- Native white point: 7000 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.21 cd/m2.
The screen is calibrated right out of the box, so I saw little improvement in my color correction. In general though, the colors are fairly accurate and this panel could easily be used for color-sensitive work. Just keep in mind it’s not full gamut.
Like before, there’s still no GSYNC on this laptop. It’s not really necessary considering the screen is 300Hz though. I really doubt you’ll be maxing out the screen refresh rate all that often and you can still use Vsync to reduce tearing, if you do.
Overall, this is a great panel. I like it a lot better than my 144Hz one, as it’s brighter and the contrast is noticeably better. It also seems a little bit smoother, whether it be the refresh rate or the improved response time. I don’t have the tools to measure that, but I definitely did not see any ghosting in the games that I played.
Hardware and performance
This version of the Razer Blade 15 comes with Intel octa-core i7-10875H processor, 16GB of RAM, the RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU, and a 1 TB M.2 NVMe SSD. The 2933 Mhz memory is dual channel and both slots are occupied with an 8GB stick. If desired, you can upgrade to 64GB, but it’ll require replacing both sticks.
The NVMe drive is also upgradeable, but thankfully Razer offers a 1TB drive in this model. This really needs to be the standard going forward, considering the 512GB drives are barely enough space these days and the price difference isn’t all that significant.
Upgrading is fairly easy, as the bottom cover is held on by 10 Torx screws and comes right off. You’ll have direct access to the SSD and RAM modules.
The octa-core CPU is more than enough horsepower to deal with day to day tasks. It’s overkill for most. But even with high demanding rendering or batch processing, you’ll likely find that the CPU in this model is up to the task.
The GPU is a 2080 Super Max-Q, which is a minor upgrade from the 2080 Max-Q model I own. There is a slight performance boost, although the real-life boost isn’t as big as I thought it would be. However, if you’re coming from a 10xx series GPU or older, you’re going to be very impressed with this GPU.
I took a lot of synthetic benchmarks at different configurations in Synapse. For this run I had Synapse set to maximum (Custom and Boost/High settings):
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 18491 (Graphics – 21638, Physics – 19862);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 8100 (Graphics – 7980, CPU – 8862);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal (RTX) Graphics: 4889;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 4937;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 15786;
- PCMark 10: 5236 (E: 9111, P: 8280, DCC: 5166);
- GeekBench 5: Single-Core: 1281, Multi-core: 7378;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 135.5 fps, CPU 1490 cb, CPU Single Core 200 cb;
- CineBench R20: CPU 3314 pts, CPU Single Core 477 pts;
Boost mode was kind of hot and very noisy, so I wanted to tone things down a little and redid the tests with Synapse in Custom Medium settings. It did reduce the temps a little, but the fans were still running at high speeds. Here’s what I got:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 16970 (Graphics – 20803, Physics – 16500);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 7572 (Graphics – 7634, CPU – 7239);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal (RTX) Graphics: 4656;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 5165;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 16112;
- PCMark 10: 5046 (E: 8896, P: 8256, DCC: 4747);
- GeekBench 5: Single-Core: 1270, Multi-core: 6071;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 135.84 fps, CPU 1061 cb, CPU Single Core 193 cb;
- CineBench R20: CPU 2464 pts, CPU Single Core 437 pts;
There’s also a Balanced mode that lowers the TDP of the CPU. There’s significantly less noise in this setting, but the performance marks take a minor hit. It’s surprisingly close to medium settings though. Here are the results:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 16529 (Graphics – 20552, Physics – 16561);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 7495 (Graphics – 7582, CPU – 7039);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal (RTX) Graphics: 4614;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 4804;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 15144;
- PCMark 10: 4883 (E: 8900, P: 7501, DCC: 4734);
- GeekBench 5: Single-Core: 1266, Multi-core: 6061;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 131.26 fps, CPU 1067 cb, CPU Single Core 188 cb;
- CineBench R20: CPU 2464 pts, CPU Single Core 437 pts;
Finally, I wanted to try again with max settings, only this time with a -120mV undervolt applied:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 19044 (Graphics – 21789, Physics – 21632);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 8261 (Graphics – 8080, CPU – 9469);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal (RTX) Graphics: 4926;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 5079;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 16330;
- PCMark 10: 5348 (E: 9282, P: 8415, DCC: 5316);
- GeekBench 5: Single-Core: 1306, Multi-core: 7805;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 137.66 fps, CPU 1654 cb, CPU Single Core 203 cb;
- CineBench R20: CPU 3587 pts, CPU Single Core 496 pts;
There’s a lot to take in with these results. First of all, there’s a significant CPU bump from the models I reviewed last year. But the GPU isn’t drastically better. At best, only a 5% improvement.
The performance really shines when undervolting though. Mostly because it opens up some power space to feed more to the CPU. It also lowers temperatures slightly, allowing the CPU to stay faster for longer. If this were my machine, I would likely leave Throttlestop running all the time.
If undervolting isn’t your thing though, I would seriously consider just running the laptop in Balanced mode all the time. The results above were lower, yes, but the thermals were much more stable. When it comes to gaming, the performance loss is not as severe, considering the CPU is overkill for most games too.
So here is some testing I did on some games. All gaming tests were done on the Boost/High Synapse profile.
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing ON)
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF) Synapse Balanced Mode
|Final Fantasy XV (Ultra)
|Final Fantasy XV (Ultra) Synapse Balanced mode
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks Off)
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On)
|DOOM Eternal (Ultra Nightmare)
These results clearly show that this laptop is great for gaming. But if you compare these numbers with the ones I got a year ago, it’s surprisingly similar.
I intentionally chose the same games to test, and I have a particular run through that I do for each of them, so it’s pretty much an apples for apples test. It’s interesting, though, how some games perform almost the same, while others get a slight performance bump.
What this means is up to you. If gaming is the only thing you plan on doing, technically you could probably buy the older 2080 model and be just fine. If it were me though, it would have to be a severe price break, because I would gladly pay the extra for the upgraded keyboard and screen.
Emissions (noise, heat), Connectivity and speakers
The cooling system looks to be the exact same as in the model last year, with a vapor chamber tethered to two cooling fans. It’s a solution that works well for this unit, and there’s not a whole lot of space for improvement.
It cools well for the most part, but don’t count on staying below the thermal limits when gaming hard. Truth is, the CPU generates a ton of heat and the GPU is no help either, since the vapor chamber basically means the load is shared by the fans.
Under max settings and heavy gaming, expect the CPU to peak in the high 90s. During my testing with Witcher 3, I got a peak CPU temp of 97C, with the average being 82C. The GPU leveled out around 76C, which is fine. Undervolting helped a little, dropping the average CPU temperature by a few degrees.
I also tried Balanced mode in Synapse, but it actually didn’t change much, except for reduced fan noise. CPU temperature still peaked at 95C and averaged 79C. It appears that even though the power is reduced in the Balanced mode, the fan profile is also reduced.
I tried again one more time, but this time switching the fans to manual. I set the fans to 5100rpm which is the same speed they were operating when I was using max settings. My results were a peak CPU temp of 87C, with average 73C. The GPU leveled out at 71C. Much better.
I would have liked better to be able to modify the auto fan profile though. Setting fans to manual is kind of annoying, because you’ll just have to shift them back to auto when you’re done playing your game.
So let’s talk about those fans. In auto, the noise is almost non-existent when doing normal tasks with no load. Once you start gaming though, the fans really kick in. It doesn’t take much either, especially in boost mode. This is because the CPU usually hit’s the 90s very quickly, triggering the fans to ramp up and balance things out.
During heavy gaming, I measured roughly 45dB of noise on average, at head-level. There were some peaks around 50dB though. In other words, if you plan to game, use headphones.
I measured the surface temperatures while doing normal tasks, like watching a movie, and again while gaming. The temperatures were reasonable for the normal stuff, but you’ll probably want to use a lapdesk or something while gaming – the underbelly gets really hot!
*Daily Use – Netflix clip in EDGE for 30 minutes
*Load – playing Witcher 3 for approximately 30+ minutes on ultra FHD settings
It’s really not that surprising, considering the high performing hardware in such a thin chassis. The good news is these temperatures can easily be reduced by simply throttling your performance in Balanced mode.
The Intel AX-201 module provides a solid Wifi connection. I reached 530Mbps from a 30 ft distance from my router and never had a single dropped connection. It also provides Bluetooth 5.1.
Audio appears to be the same as the previous models. On both sides of the keyboard are some upward-facing speakers. I measured up to 75dB on these speakers and was able to detect bass as low as 100Hz.
The sound is ok, but the bass is very lacking. It’s still better than most gaming laptops, but I’d really like to see some improvement in these at some point. At least they aren’t downward-facing, like in much of the competition.
Like all the other Razer Blade models, above the screen is a tiny HD webcam. It also provides the ability to use Windows Hello biometrics. I’ve mentioned this before that’s it’s an adequate biometrics webcam, but not perfect. In low light, the camera struggles to see you, due to the small IR blaster. It’s still a great feature to have and works perfectly in normal lighting.
This Razer Blade has the same 80Whr battery as before. I did some testing to see how long the battery would last in certain scenarios. I left Optimus activated for the testing to get the most out of it.
Here’s what I got on my laptop, with the screen set at 30% brightness, roughly 100 nits.
- 8.6 W (~9 h 18 min of use)– idle, Best Battery Mode, screen at 0%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 11.3 W (~7 h 5 min of use)– text editing in Google Drive, Better Battery Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 15.3 W (~5 h 13 min of use)– 1080p Youtube fullscreen in Chrome, Better Battery Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12.0 W (~6 h 40 min of use)– 1080p Netflix fullscreen video in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 21.3 W (~3 h 45 min of use)– browsing in Chrome, Better Performance Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 63.8 W (~1 h 15 min of use)– Gaming – Witcher 3, Maximum Performance Mode, 60fps, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON.
No surprises here – the battery life is pretty decent for a gaming laptop.
The power brick is the same as before. It’s 230W, compact and has long wires. The power connection is proprietary, so you’ll be hard pressed to find a replacement if you lose or break it. The good news is the connection is super robust, being large, stiff and at an angle. I have no doubt that the connection will last the life of the device.
Price and availability
The 2020 Razer Blade Advanced is available at many retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy and Razer’s own website. The model in this review is priced at $3000.
Follow this link for updated configurations and prices at the time you’re reading the article.
There’s also a 4k OLED touch version for $300 more. I have never seen this screen personally, but I hear it’s very nice to look at and the response time is also good.
If you’re on a budget, there’s also a base model for $2000, which includes a hexa core CPU and a 2070 Max-Q (details here). The screen on that model is the 144Hz panel from the models last year and the laptop is a little thicker than this .
So yes, after playing with this review unit, I still recommend the Razer Blade 15. It’s a powerful gaming laptop in a thin and light 15” form factor. Not only is the build quality top notch, but the input devices are also excellent, making the device feel like it’s worth the premium price you paid for it.
I’m really happy Razer fixed the keyboard layout, as it was really the most frustrating part of the previous models. It’s not enough to make me buy the new one just yet, but that’s only because the hardware upgrade isn’t that significant for me. Maybe next year.
But for anyone else shopping for a new gaming laptop, I don’t think you could go wrong with putting this one on your short list. Especially if you want the most performance in the smallest package possible.
There are certainly few competitors out there that are similar in design and specs. The Asus Zephyrus S15, Acer Triton 500, Gigabyte Aero 15, or the MSI GS66 are also similarly specced and priced devices. They all have their pros and cons though, so I’d recommend checking out those reviews and see what fits you.
Unfortunately, I have to return this to Razer, but I’m still happy to go back to my daily driver with the slightly inferior keyboard layout. I’ll live. :)
I hope this review was helpful though, and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask in a comment below.
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