Razer has officially decided to step into the productivity scene with the Razer Book 13 and it’s been a long time coming. For the past several years, Razer has touted the Blade lineup as something you can use for work and play, but they’ve never made anything that was dedicated solely for everyday work, until now.
Sure there have been previous attempts, such as the original Razer Blade Stealth. But that model was still intended for gaming, and the glowing green logo made it look completely unprofessional. The Razer Blade Studio was another attempt, yet it was more geared towards creators and graphics professionals and was awfully expensive.
The Razer Book 13 is meant for everyone else – that is, those that aren’t heavy gamers or creators. It does so in a good way, because it’s more affordable than the other alternative that Razer offers, yet still contains a lot of the hardware and features that most users would want. It also looks like something you’d want to carry around the office, which is a minor gripe I have against their Blade lineup, as a Blade 15 owner and user.
I only got to spend a couple weeks with the Razer Book 13, but it was plenty of time to get in all my testing and formulate a solid opinion on the model. There was also a little mix-up with the model I initially received, so I did get to review two of the three choices: the FHD touch and UHD touch models.
I’d say you can’t go wrong either way, but I think the real value lies in the FHD model and I’ll explain why in the details below.
Specs as reviewed
||Razer Book 13 UHD+ Touch – 2020
||13.4 inch, 3840 x 2400 px, 16:10 aspect ratio, IPS equivalent, 60 Hz, touch with Gorilla Glass 6 and anti-reflective coating
FHD+ touch and FHD+ matte screen options also available
||Intel 11thth Gen Ice Lake i7-1165G7 CPU, quad-core 2.8 GHz (4.7 GHz boost)
||Intel Iris Xe Graphics (28W)
||16 GB LPDDR4 4267Mhz (soldered)
||512 GB M.2 NVMe (Samsung PM981 MZVLB512HBJQ)
||Intel Wireless-AX 201 Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5.0
||1x USB-A 3.2, 2x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.0, headphone/mic
||55 Wh, 65 W charger
||295.6 mm or 11.6” (w) x 198.5 mm or 7.8” (d) x 15.15 mm or .6” (h)
||1.40 kg (3.09 lbs)
||Chroma RGB keyboard, large clickpad, HD Windows hello webcam, stereo speakers, microSD card reader
Design and ergonomics
The design of the Razer Book 13 is very familiar, as it’s extremely similar to the Razer Blade Stealth. It’s slightly smaller in width and depth, but if you’re not putting both models side by side, it would be pretty easy to mistake this model for the other (especially since they had a mercury white color on their models Stealth 13 last year).
This being Razer’s first official productivity notebook, part of me was expecting something more, such as a 360-degree hinge or maybe even pen input. But considering how well received the Stealth model is, it makes sense for them to replicate what has worked in the past.
The build quality of the laptop is just what I was expecting: excellent. The unibody design is very sturdy, as it’s made from a single piece of aluminum. The design is very rectangular, but the balance and symmetry are ideal for carrying and handling purposes.
The lid is pretty plain, with the exception of a lightly embossed Razer logo. Now, I’ve praised this design with the Stealth model, as I really appreciate it more than their glowing green logo that is on the Blade 15 and 17. But I feel like I should be more critical with them on this model. If this is indeed expected to be used in the professional environment as a productivity device, Razer should realize that most people still have no clue what that logo is. I would much rather have preferred a clean lid, but would accept a smaller graphic, or better yet text, logo in the corner. It just reduces the number of questions you get from people. Maybe Razer wants that attention, but I do not – which is why I always put a wrap on my Razer laptop after I purchase it.
Lifting the lid can be done with a single finger, however, you’ll be hard-pressed to do it correctly on a regular basis. It’s not the hinge, but the finger cutout that’s the problem. I typically just use two hands on the corners to peel it open. The good news is the hinge is really strong and feels premium, especially since you may want to use that touchscreen.
Once open, you’ll immediately notice the very tiny bezels surrounding the 13.4” screen. More on that later, but you’ll also notice a tiny Windows Hello webcam, located centrally above the screen. There’s a Razer logo on the bottom center, but it’s almost impossible to see unless the room is very bright. Very subtle – very nice!
The main chassis includes a properly sized keyboard, with a very large trackpad for a 13” device. Flanked on both sides of the keyboard are a pair of upward-facing speakers. The power button is located on the upper right, where the delete key typically is.
As far as the ports and I/O go, this is a pretty minimalistic laptop. But it does have all the most important stuff. On the left edge, you have a Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port, a single USB-A 3.2 port and a headphone/microphone combo.
On the right side, you have another Thunderbolt 4 USB-C, an HDMI 2.0 port, and a microSD card reader. To be honest, I would rather have had another USB-A port over the microSD, but I’ll take it. By the way, both of these USB-C ports can be used for charging.
The bottom of the laptop is also pretty clean, but has a couple of long feet and a pair of vents for the intake to the CPU cooler. The exhaust is located between the hinges and blows upward towards the screen. Very typical design as far as Razer’s laptops go.
So to sum it up, I loved the Razer Blade Stealth’s design, therefore I love this one as well. Yes, I’d like another USB-A jack, as I had to disconnect my mouse a couple of times, but at least they included a microSD reader and an HDMI port, both of which were omitted from the Stealth. The logo needs to go, though.
But when it’s all said and done, this Book 13 is a practical design, sturdily built and lightweight. I’d gladly carry this one around as my daily driver.
Keyboard and trackpad
When I first looked at the keyboard, I immediately thought it was the same one as on the Razer Blade Stealth. It’s close, but I think there are some subtle differences you should be aware of.
The layout is exactly the same, which is a good thing. Pretty much every key is properly sized and in the right place. The only key that might feel different to a new Razer customer is the location of the delete key, which is right next to where the power button is (where the delete key should be).
I did accidentally hit the power button instead of Del a few times, but fortunately, by default, the power button doesn’t put your laptop to sleep.
In general, it’s a good keyboard. I took my typical typing test and scored 46wpm with 9 errors, which is a little low for me. The main problem is I was missing some keystrokes. Over my usage, I was able to resolve the issue by typing a little harder than I am used to on my personal laptop (the Blade 15). This is something that I think will easily improve over time, if I were to keep this laptop.
When I first saw the white on silver keyboard keys, I immediately thought there might be a problem seeing what key was what, when it comes to the contrast. That is not the case though, as it was never a problem for me, day or night and even with white backlighting.
Speaking of backlighting, the keyboard comes with Razer’s chroma RGB per-key backlighting effects. Using synapse, you can change the color of each individual key to millions of different color options. If you’ve owned a Razer device before, you’ve likely seen this, but if Razer is new to you, you are in for a treat as this is arguably the better of all the brands when it comes to keyboard backlighting software.
For me, I kept mine a teal color as I thought the contrast was optimal without being too flashy. But I can certainly see the value in coloring some of the media keys in different colors, so you can use them in your peripheral vision without directly looking at them.
The only criticism I have on the backlighting is it’s a little uneven on some of the keys, such as the Caps and Enter keys, where not all the text is lit. Not a dealbreaker – just an observation that I quickly noticed.
The trackpad is exactly what I expected, as it’s pretty much the same as what I’ve used on all of Razer’s review samples over the past several years. They really have perfected the recipe on their trackpads, so there’s little reason to change anything.
It’s as large as it can possibly be, without getting in the way of your palms. Tracking with your finger is smooth and accurate. All my multi-touch gestures registered as expected. Even pinch to zoon with pictures feels natural and accurate, although you might as well use the touchscreen for that on this model.
It’s a clickpad, so you can click most anywhere to register a left-click, and a right-click will happen if you click the lower right corner. I personally use single and double taps since it’s universal to all trackpads these days. Both methods work fine.
The Razer Book 13 gets a 13.4” 16:10 screen with FHD+ or UHD+ IPS-equivalent panels. the UHD+ is made by Sharp, with part number LQ134R1JX48. Rather than the standard 16:9 ratio, Razer opted for 16:10, so the total resolution is 3840×2400.
All in all, this is an excellent panel and checks off all the boxes for me. The bezels are very slim, the viewing angles are perfect and I detected no backlight bleed whatsoever. This was obviously designed to rival the XPS 13, and it stands up very well against it in the screen department.
The max brightness I was able to achieve was 387 nits, which is good enough even for outdoor use. But with the panel being glass, expect some sun glare, even with the anti-glare coating. The contrast ratio was also excellent, topping out at 1678:1 at maximum brightness.
I took some specific measurements on my xRite i1 Pro sensor and here’s what I got:
- Panel HardwareID: Sharp SHP1528 – LQ134R1JX48;
- Coverage: 100% sRGB, 78% NTSC, 83% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.2;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 387 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 1678:1
- Native white point: 6300 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.23 cd/m2.
As stated, it’s a phenomenal screen, one with very few drawbacks. I was originally supposed to review the FHD+ touch model, but fortunately for me, I got sent the UHD version first. After using this one for a few days, I can certainly see some value in it, depending on the type of user you are.
The only cons to this panel, in general, are the lower refresh rate and the cost. The refresh rate is locked at 60Hz for all configs, so if faster screens are more your thing, you may want to opt for a different laptop, such as the Razer Blade Stealth.
The cost increase for the UHD model is asking a lot though – a full $400 more. Realize that the top configuration also includes a bigger SSD, but you’re most likely going to replace that 256GB or 512GB SSD anyways, so it doesn’t matter much. Plus, aren’t SSDs cheap these days anyways?
I honestly can’t justify paying that much more for a 4k screen, but some of you may differ in opinion. Note that this config doesn’t have 100% aRGB color coverage either, like the 15/17-inch Razer 4k models have. It’s close though and better coverage than the FHD+ model, so if you’re going to do color-sensitive work, opt for the 4k.
After a few days of messing with the UHD version, Razer and I realized that I was supposed to receive the FHD version instead. So they were kind enough to swap with me and I spent the remainder of my review period with that model instead.
The FHD screen is also touch-enabled, provided you get the mid-tier model and not the base-level one, which gets the same panel, but in a matte non-touch variant. The resolution is 1920×1200, also 16:10.
Here are the readings I took from the FHD+ model:
- Panel HardwareID: Sharp SHP1528 – LQ134N1JX48;
- Coverage: 98% sRGB, 70% NTSC, 72% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.2;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 527 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 1670:1
- Native white point: 6000 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.3 cd/m2.
After reviewing my measurements, my initial assumption was correct. The UHD screen does have slightly better colors than the FHD model. But to be honest, I much prefer the FHD mode, as it still provides a really nice image, with excellent contrast and no backlight bleed. The maximum screen brightness is also incredibly high!
Whichever screen you choose, note that both will come factory calibrated in the box. While recalibrating the screens to take my measurements, I barely saw any difference between my profile and theirs.
The last thing I should mention is that both screens I reviewed are touch-enabled. The touch functionality worked fine with the programs I used it for. This is pretty standard for many laptops now, so I can’t really cover it better than by saying “it works”. The hinge is plenty strong enough to support the touchscreen.
Note that the only model I didn’t review is the low-cost model, which has an i5 and a FHD+ non-touch screen. It’s likely the same panel, but in a matte finish and a plastic bezel.
Hardware, performance, and upgrade options
This Razer Book 13 comes with a quad-core Intel Tiger Lake Core i7-1165G7 processor and 16GB of RAM, similar to the late-2020 Razer Blade Stealth. The major difference between the models is the lack of a dedicated GPU on the Book 13. That’s ok though because this machine is meant for productivity, not gaming, so the CPU is what matters most.
The good news is the CPU is powerful for this class and should suit almost anybody’s needs. Pretty much every program I used on this laptop ran well, including more intensive programs such as Solidworks. I wouldn’t say I would recommend it for the heavy-duty programs, but if the small size really matters to you, this laptop is no slouch. For the 95% of us that just use laptops for typical day to day tasks, this is more than enough horsepower for nearly everything. For the rest, perhaps a Ryzen laptop might better suit your needs.
The RAM is soldered, so there’s no chance to update it. It’s LPDDR4x 4267Mhz, which really caught my eye considering that’s an extremely high clock speed. But my excitement faded when I saw the timings, with the CAS latency being 36! If you do the math, that means the true latency is 16.87ns, which is about average. To put it into perspective, the Razer Blade 15 I reviewed a few months ago has 2933Mhz RAM with a lower CAS latency, which ends up having a lower true latency at 14.32ns – slightly better. So in short, the RAM on this model looks faster, but isn’t.
My 4k model came with a 512GB Samsung PM981 drive, which is pretty standard for higher-tier laptops these days. The FHD+ version was only a 256GB variant, which is a little small if you ask me. See my Crystal disk mark benchmark for the speeds. There’s only the single M.2 SSD slot, so expect to upgrade the entire drive if you want more space.
I personally don’t find 512GB to be enough anymore, let alone 256GB, so replacing that would be the first thing I would do. Fortunately, SSDs are pretty cheap these days and there’s no point in getting PCIE 4.0 drives since this CPU won’t properly support it anyway. Swapping out the SSD is simple – just remove all the torx screws on the backplate, swap the drive and reassemble.
There’s no GPU, so gaming performance is limited, even with Intel Iris Xe included with the integrated chip. It’s decent though and probably fine for light use. Plus, if you’re one of those that prefer gaming at home, you still have the option of using the Thunderbolt 4 connection for an external GPU, such as the Razer Core.
Let’s take a look at the benchmarks though and see how it actually performs. Here were my results with some synthetic tests I ran. All these were run in “Balanced“ mode in Synapse:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 4983 (Graphics – 5583, Physics – 11778);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 1748 (Graphics – 1585, CPU – 4224);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 1072;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 3106;
- PCMark 10: 4828 (E: 9812, P: 6710, DC: 4641);
- GeekBench 5.0 64-bit: Single-Core: 1529, Multi-core: 5517;
- Cinebench R15: CPU 746 cb, CPU Single Core 226 cb;
- CineBench R20: CPU 1863 cb, CPU Single Core 537 cb;
As you can see, the CPU is pretty powerful. The iGPU, however, is fairly limited. For what is worth, though, this Book 13 is the most capable Tiger Lake configuration we’ve tested here on the site so far.
Here’s the same testing in “Performance” mode:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 5205 (Graphics – 5707, Physics – 14420);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 1792 (Graphics – 1610, CPU – 5016);
- PCMark 10: 4878 (E: 9895, P: 6538, DC: 4869);
- GeekBench 5.0 64-bit: Single-Core: 1538, Multi-core: 5812;
- Cinebench R15: CPU 937 cb, CPU Single Core 190 cb;
- CineBench R20: CPU 2212 cb, CPU Single Core 552 cb;
Then, here’s how this Razer Book performs in the Cinebench R15 loop test, on the Performance and Balanced profiles. The CPu Boosts up to 52 W on Performance and then stabilizes at around 35W and temperatures around 85 C, significantly higher than any other Tiger Lake laptop we’ve tested so far. On Balanced, the CPU stabilizes at around 20W and temperatures around 65 C.
And here’s how the Book 13 fairs in comparison to a couple of other mobile platforms available these days, both from Intel and AMD. As mentioned already, this is the fastest Tiger Lake laptop we’ve tested so far in this sort of CPU-heavy loads. This is a significant upgrade from the Intel Ice lake i7 in the previous generation Stealth, but even so, the 4C/8T I7-1165G7 is still not a match for the AMD Ryzen 5/7 U alternatives out there.
I also ran some testing on games to put it more into perspective, on the Balanced profile (I’ll explain why in the next section). I know this laptop isn’t necessarily for games, but if you’re an occasional gamer, this is what you can expect.
|Wolfenstein Old Blood( Medium, FHD+)
|Wolfenstein Old Blood( High, FHD+)
|Turing Test (Ultra, 1080p)
|Star Wars Squadrons (Low, FHD+)
|Skyrim (High, FHD+)
|Skyrim (Ultra, HD+)
Note that one of my games wouldn’t even run, due to the lack of driver support. The rest, though, performed decently at low or medium graphics settings. Expect most older titles to run better, but it all depends on the graphics settings.
To be brutally honest though, if you’re buying this to play games, you’re buying the wrong laptop. If that’s your thing and small size matters, just get the Razer Blade Stealth instead.
ThisBook 13 is for the average laptop user, that doesn’t play a lot of games and needs a portable machine to run all their daily tasks. If that’s you, then this laptop does the job very well. Just update that small SSD when you get it.
The last thing I can cover with the performance is the SD card reader. It’s for microSD cards only, so you’ll still need a dongle if you use full-sized cards. The mechanism is spring-loaded so inserting and removing the cards is simple. The speed of the reader seems to be up to par, as I was getting USB 3.0 speeds from the SD card I tested. See my results in the graphic.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
The cooling system on the Razer Book 13 is good enough. The heatsink is a vapor chamber, placed right on top of the CPU. The chamber is connected on both sides by a pair of small fans, which pull intake air from the underbelly and exhaust the hot air through the hinge vents.
Full disclosure, I spent almost my entire time testing this unit in the Balanced mode in Synapse. My reasoning was simple – when shifting to Performance mode, I actually got only slightly better benchmarks (and sometimes even a little worse).
The main reason for this is thermal throttling, which occurs when operating in Performance mode. So the CPU actually shifts to lower clock frequencies sooner, than if you left Synapse in Balanced mode, and it takes longer for the fans to catch up. So basically the CPU spikes in Performance mode are more frequent and severe.
In Balanced mode, internal temps weren’t all that bad for typical use. Expect CPU temps to hover in the 60s. But if you’re doing heavier stuff and are plugged into the wall, the CPU can go as high as 92C before the fans kick in to stabilize it.
In Performance mode, typical internal temps hovered in the 70s for the most part. Heavier apps would cause CPU spikes as high as 99C and they would be more frequent. The CPU fan was also more audible in this mode until CPU temps stabilized.
It’s mainly due to the small heatsink and the fact the fans aren’t always running at a speed to dissipate the heat, when you initiate a heavy load. With sustained heavy loads, the temps usually stabilize out in the high 70s and low 80s. Hot, yes, but about what I would expect from a thin laptop with a powerful CPU in it.
So now let’s talk about those chassis temps. I took some readings with both typical and gaming use and here’s what I got:
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, Whisper Mode, fans at 0-33 dB
*Gaming – Balanced mode – playing Wolfenstein: Old Blood for 30 minutes, fans at 41-42 dB
Typical tasks make the laptop a little warm, but it was nothing serious. Gaming and heavier tasks make the laptop hot on the underside though. If you’re planning on doing a lot of heavy tasks, you might want to just rest it on a flat surface instead of your lap.
Noise emissions were considerably low on this device. The fans hardly operated during normal use, and if they did, I never heard them. Even when they did cycle on, they were barely audible at about 35dB (my ambient room noise is 33dB), as measured with my phone.
For gaming and heavier tasks, it was significantly louder, though. On average I measured around 37bd at ear level and 40dB at the unit. But occasionally for really heavy sessions, it peaked at 42dB at ear level and 50dB at the unit, for short amounts of time before the fans could keep up. Considering the hardware and how thin the chassis is, this is certainly expected.
For audio, there is a pair of upward-facing speakers on both sides of the keyboard. I measured 78dB at max volume, which sounded pretty good and were plenty loud for my usage. The speakers lack bass though, as the bass seemed to disappear around 100Hz.
For connectivity, there’s an Intel Wireless-AX 201 module which provides a great connection to WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0. 20 feet from my router I was getting 560Mbps. Increasing the distance to over 50ft and I still get 120Mbps. Full disclosure, I just got a Wifi 6 router and I’m not convinced the range is as good as my wireless AC router it replaced, so your mileage may vary.
The webcam is incredibly small and tucked into the tiny bezel along with the microphone and sensor array. It’s Windows Hello enabled and works well as the primary source of biometrics. The webcam alone is sufficient in decent light, but in low light conditions, it’s not that great at all. Images end up being too dark, or very grainy if the software light corrects it.
Considering the state of the world these days and the 1000% increased webcam usage for me personally, if I were choosing a new laptop, I would certainly be looking for one with a good webcam. This one unfortunately is not it. I accept this level of quality on a gaming laptop, but for one meant for productivity, I expect better.
This Razer Blade Stealth has a 55 Wh battery. I took my measurements for each model for comparison. Here are my results for the 4k model:
- 4.1 W (~13 h 25 min of use)– idle, Best Battery Mode, screen at 0%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 6.8 W (~8 h 5 min of use)– typing this review on Microsoft Word, Better Battery Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 10.0 W (~5 h 30 min of use)– 4k Youtube fullscreen in Chrome, Better Battery Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 8.4 W (~6 h 33 min of use)– 1080p Netflix fullscreen video in Chrome, Better Battery Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 20.1 W (~2 h 44 min of use)– browsing in Chrome, Better Performance Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 29.8 W (~1 h 51 min of use)– Gaming – Wolfenstein, Maximum Performance Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON.
Here are the results for the FHD+ version:
- 3.3 W (~16 h 40 min of use)– idle, Best Battery Mode, screen at 0%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 5.2 W (~10 h 35 min of use)– typing this review on Microsoft Word, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 6.1 W (~9 h 1 min of use)–1080p Youtube fullscreen in Chrome, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 7.0 W (~7 h 52 min of use)– 1080p Netflix fullscreen video in Chrome, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 15.9 W (~3 h 27 min of use)– browsing in Chrome, Better Performance Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 21.2 W (~2 h 35 min of use)– Gaming – Wolfenstein, Maximum Performance Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON.
As expected, the FHD+ version was more efficient than the UHD+ one. Still, though, both models are extremely battery efficient and would last quite a long time without having to be recharged.
The laptop comes with a compact 65W charger than plugs via USB-C into either the left or right USB-C slots, a neat trick few other laptops offer these days.
Price and availability
The Razer Book 13 is available on Amazon as well as the Razer Store.
Both models reviewed in this article are available from Amazon: $1599 for the FHD+ and $1999 for the UHD+ at the time of this review, and you should follow this link for updated info at the time you’re reading it.
There’s also a budget model for $1199, which appears to currently only be available at the Razer Store. I’m not sure it’s worth the loss of features to save $300 for the next model up, as the low-cost model has an i5, no touchscreen, and only 8GB of system RAM.
My final thoughts on this one are pretty straight forward. If you like Razer products and want something that you plan on using for normal day to day tasks, the Razer Book 13 is a pretty nice choice. It has solid performance both inside and out, and does pretty much everything I would expect an ultrabook to accomplish.
The main highlights are the screen choices, superior battery life, good input devices such as the trackpad and touch functionality, and the excellent build quality. It’s also nice to have such strong performance in such a small package.
There are a couple areas for improvement that should be considered. The keyboard, for example, could probably use a little more polish. I also would have liked to see a second USB-A port, as I always have the single slot occupied by a mouse dongle. Last(and certainly not least) I really do think Razer needs a more subtle logo for their “professional” models. That last one could just be me…
But if you can live with those things, this is easily a laptop you could rely on. The only other thing to consider is the cost, which I think is kind of high, especially for the 4k version. As stated before, I didn’t see $400 extra value in having 4k over the FHD model.
$1599 is still more expensive than some of the other competitors, but Razer does have some offerings that the others may be lacking, such as the Chroma keyboard and the stellar trackpad. Still, I think if you can afford it, you’ll be very pleased with the FHD model I reviewed.
I’m happy to hear any questions in the comments section below, whether it be something I missed or if you’d like some more insight on what I reviewed.
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