Home Laptop Reviews Razer Blade 15 Advanced Gaming Laptop Review – RTX 2080 Max-Q

Razer Blade 15 Advanced Gaming Laptop Review – RTX 2080 Max-Q

18
0
Razer Blade 15 Advanced Gaming Laptop Review – RTX 2080 Max-Q

The Razer Blade gaming laptop has been refreshed with the new advanced model, which now features Nvidia’s latest RTX graphics, so let’s get into this detailed review and help you decide if this is a laptop you should consider buying.

Starting with the specs my unit has an Intel i7-8750H CPU, 90 watt Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, 16GB of memory running in dual channel, a 15.6” 1080p 144Hz IPS screen and a 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD. For network connectivity it’s got 802.

11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 5, no ethernet port though, you’ll have to use a USB dongle if you want it. The advanced model of the blade is also available with RTX 2060 or 2070 Max-Q graphics as well, and you can find up to date prices linked in the description.

The top lid has a black anodized finish with a green Razer logo in the center, and the aluminium unibody within is the same. All edges and corners were rounded and smooth, and overall the Blade felt extremely well built.

The weight of the laptop is listed at 2.1kg on the Razer website, which is about what I got. After including the 230 watt power brick and cables for charging the total weight increases to under 3kg, so quite portable considering the specs we’ve got.

The dimensions of the laptop are 35.5cm in width, 23.5cm in depth, and under 1.8cm in height, so on the smaller side for a 15 inch laptop. This small footprint allows for very thin bezels, which Razer note are 4.

9mm on the sides, then a bit thicker on the top and bottom. The 15.6” 1080p 144Hz screen has a matte finish, though no G-Sync available here. Overall I thought it looked pretty good, no issues to call out and viewing angles were fine.

I’ve measured the current colour gamut using the Spyder 5 Pro, and my results returned 96% of sRGB, 66% of NTSC and 71% of AdobeRGB, so alright results for a gaming laptop though not quite the claimed 100% sRGB.

At 100% brightness in the center I measured 330 nits with a 660:1 contrast ratio, so overall pretty good, though a little low on the contrast compared to others. I’ve taken a long exposure photo in a dark room as a worst case backlight bleed test, and there were some imperfections detected, however these seemed to be slight as I never noticed them while viewing darker content, however this will vary between laptops and panels.

4K touch screens with 100% AdobeRGB coverage also seem to be an option in some regions, so expect different results to what I’ve shown with that. There was some screen flex which I expected given the thinness of the lid, however as it’s solid metal it felt sturdy, and there are two large hinges that go along most of the base further aiding stability.

There were no issues opening it up with one finger, with the battery up the front and cooling towards the back the weight felt evenly distributed. Despite the thin bezel Razer have still managed to place the 720p camera up the top, and it has infrared for Windows Hello support.

The video quality is pretty terrible, very blurry, while the microphone is about average. The keyboard took some getting used to, and I’m not too sure why. Perhaps it’s the lack of numpad throwing me off, I’m not sure, but after a while it was alright.

Unlike the base model, this advanced model has per key RGB lighting available, and all keys even have their secondary functions lit up. The lighting can be controlled through the Razer Chroma software with a number of built in effects, and typing was ok, the key presses felt a little shallow though, which I guess is expected with such a thin machine.

Here’s how it sounds to give you an idea of what to expect. The speakers are found on either sides of the keyboard, there’s plenty of room as there’s no numpad. They sound good overall, even at high volume with a tiny bit of bass, here’s what we’re looking at playing music at full volume, and latencymon seemed to suggest it was alright.

There was a little keyboard flex while pushing down hard, overall it was fairly solid, and about the same in the wrist rest areas, and this was not a problem during normal use. The large glass touchpad uses precision drivers, felt very smooth to the touch and worked well, no problems there.

Fingerprints and dust show up easily on the matte black interior and lid, however as both are smooth surfaces they were easy to wipe off. On the left there’s the power input, two USB 3.1 Type-A ports and 3.

5mm audio combo jack. The power cable is reversible, so you can use it either way, although having it out the front will block all but the smallest of USB dongles. On the right there’s a Type-C Thunderbolt 3 port, third USB 3.

1 Type-A port, HDMI 2.0b and mini DisplayPort 1.4 outputs, followed by Kensington lock. On the back there are downwards facing air exhaust vents that you can’t really see, while the front is all smooth metal with a single status LED towards the right.

On the black aluminium lid there’s the Razer logo in the center, it only lights up green, however you can set it to static, breathing, or turn it off. Underneath there are only small vents for air flow directly above the fans, but we’ll see if this is a problem for thermals soon.

It can be removed easily by taking out 10 screws with a T5 Torx screwdriver. Once inside from left to right we’ve got the single M.2 slot, I’ve got a 512gb NVMe stick here but it’s also available with 256gb.

There are two memory slots, and Razer advertise with dual channel memory which is what my review unit came with and it’s expandable to 64gb. The battery runs all along the bottom, and the Intel 9560 WiFi card is on the far right.

My WiFi card wasn’t actually screwed down properly, so not sure if that’s just my unit or a common issue. Powering the laptop is a 80 Watt hour battery. I’ve tested it with the screen brightness at 50%, background apps disabled, and all RGB lighting off.

While just watching YouTube videos it lasted for 5 hours and 35 minutes, one of the best results in this test out of all gaming laptops tested. It was using the Intel integrated graphics in this test with Nvidia Optimus.

While playing the Witcher 3 with medium settings and Nvidia’s battery boost set to 30 FPS the battery lasted for 1 hour and 28 minutes all up, again a good result for a gaming laptop in this test. The frame rate was solid at 30 FPS the entire time too with no dipping as the battery drained.

I did however note the battery would discharge slowly while playing some games, despite being plugged in with the 230 watt power brick. Let’s move onto the thermal testing, again the bottom of the laptop doesn’t appear to have many vents for airflow, they’re just directly above the intake fans.

Inside the Razer Blade uses vapor chamber cooling, so a little different when compared with most other laptops. The Razer Synapse software allows you to choose between three different modes, balanced, gaming, and creator, and I’ve tested all three.

Basically gaming mode is suggested for applications that need GPU power, while creator mode is suggested for CPU intensive tasks. I didn’t find any of these modes to undervolt or overclock CPU or GPU, they just modified power limits.

Thermal testing was completed in an ambient room temperature of 23 degrees Celsius, so expect different results in different environments. I’ve tested idle down the bottom with the balanced profile, and it was on the warmer side for an idle machine.

The gaming results towards the upper half of the graph were tested by playing Watch Dogs 2, as I find it to use a good combination of processor and graphics. The stress test results shown on the bottom half of the graph are from running the Aida64 CPU stress test and Heaven benchmark at the same time to fully load the system.

Some of the titles might be a bit confusing, for example this gaming gaming one means that the test was gaming with Watch Dogs 2, and the second instance refers to the gaming profile being used. Towards the bottom with the stress test going and balanced profile in use, the fan was noticeably quieter compared to the gaming and creator profiles, which you’ll hear soon, but this is why applying a -0.

14v CPU undervolt, shown by UV on the graph, doesn’t affect the CPU temperature here. The GPU was however thermal throttling only in balanced mode, any time it was at 76 degrees. With the gaming or creator profiles in use the CPU temperature either stays the same or gets worse, while the GPU temperature was always fine with these profiles, however we’ll see in the next graph how performance is affected.

We can see that when the Thermaltake Massive 20 cooling pad is used the temperatures of both the CPU and GPU drop by 6 degrees Celsius, whether gaming or under stress test. These are the average clock speeds for the same tests just shown.

Down the bottom we can see there was a 500MHz all core increase with the balanced profile once applying the -0.14v undervolt to the CPU. This doesn’t really change if we max out the fan as thermals are not the limitation.

I’ll also note I didn’t test default and max fan speeds with gaming or creator profiles as the fan was already pretty well maxed out under these workloads, that was not the case with balanced which is why I tested it there.

We can see that at stock, the creator profile is giving us higher CPU clock speeds when compared with the gaming profile at stock, as expected, while the GPU clock speeds from the gaming profile are higher than creator mode, again as expected based on what these modes do.

Once we apply the CPU undervolt though, the CPU clockspeeds become about equal, however the GPU clockspeed was still higher from gaming mode. I did test out some GPU undervolting but didn’t get anywhere there.

Basically for gaming it seems like using the gaming profile with a CPU undervolt gets you the best performance, while a cooling pad helped slightly. I suspect this is due to GPU boost preferring cooler temperatures, as again there was no thermal throttling in gaming or creator modes, power limit throttling was what was holding these speeds back from going further.

I wasn’t able to boost the power limit manually in combined workloads like these either, however based on the temperatures going further would make the thermals worse, and while thermal throttling wasn’t happening in gaming or creator modes we’re not too far off.

These are the clock speeds I got while just running CPU only stress tests without any GPU load, and despite this not being a combined CPU and GPU load like before, the clock speeds aren’t really that different.

The CPU only workload gave us basically the same results with either creator or gaming mode, although even undervolted neither were capable of hitting the full 3.9GHz all core turbo speed of the i7-8750H CPU.

The temperatures were a fair bit lower compared to the combined CPU and GPU loads shown before, however the undervolting never made an improvement to temperatures here, we’re just getting the 500MHz or so clock speed boost, but this does show CPU only temperatures are much more reasonable.

To demonstrate how this translates into performance I’ve got some Cinebench CPU benchmarks here. Again very similar results with either gaming or creator mode when under a CPU only workload, but even best case we’re below the usual 1200 score that an unconstrained 8750H is capable of due to power limit throttling preventing full clock speed being reached.

We can see this when looking at the TDP for these CPU only workloads, in both gaming and creator mode we’re artificially capped to a 45 watt TDP, and I wasn’t able to manually boost this using Intel XTU.

While caps are understandable in combined CPU and GPU workloads, given the thermal headroom in CPU only workloads I think it would have been nice if Razer allowed the CPU to boost higher while the GPU is idle like some other laptops do.

Here are the GPU only clock speeds while under a graphical only stress test. We can see that the creator profile is lower than the others, which makes sense given the Razer Synapse software specifically lists the gaming profile as having more GPU power, however I was surprised to see balanced doing this well here.

That said the balanced profile still runs the fans quieter than the others, which results in it running a few degrees warmer when compared to gaming mode and hits thermal throttling at 76 degrees, while creator mode was further back as it wasn’t performing as well.

I didn’t bother with manual overclocking here given the constant power limit throttling on the 2080 Max-Q I saw, which I could not improve by undervolting. As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle with the balanced profile enabled it was a bit above average, mid 30s in the center.

While gaming it gets warm in the center, low 50s, however the sides including WASD keys are noticeably cooler as these areas seem to exhaust air from the fans below. The results are more of the same with the stress tests running, the balanced profile was perhaps a bit warmer, despite performing worse as we saw earlier the fans also run quieter.

While gaming on battery power the wrist rest warms up compared to the rest of the laptop as the discharging battery is directly underneath, although the temperatures are similar to what we saw while gaming and plugged in as the internal components perform better and run hotter.

As for the fan noise produced by the laptop, I’ll let you have a listen to some of these tests. At idle it was basically silent, I couldn’t hear the fan. While gaming in gaming mode it was about average compared to many other gaming laptops I’ve tested, and then same results with the stress tests running in gaming mode, and these were the same as manually maxing out the fans.

Balanced mode was quieter, as mentioned earlier, but performs worse as a result, but you’ve got the choice of sacrificing performance to run quieter. Creator mode was a little quieter than gaming mode in this test, but I found it to vary, rising up to match gaming mode at times.

Overall I think the advanced model of the Razer Blade with these specs is performing alright in terms of thermals considering its size, there’s no thermal throttling even under combined CPU and GPU stress test outside of balanced mode, however this seems to be due to power limitations that restrict performance as a result, it’s always going to be a trade off.

I was a bit sad to see that while under CPU only loads the performance would not further boost up like many other laptops do, given there seemed to be thermal headroom available, however that sort of thing could be improved in a future BIOS update.

Finally let’s take a look at some gaming benchmarks, I’ve tested these games with the these Nvidia drivers and all available Windows updates to date installed. Battlefield 5 was tested in campaign mode and not in multiplayer mode, as it’s easier to consistently reproduce the test run.

The purple bars show the results with ray tracing disabled, while the green bars show RTX on. The RTX results were actually fairly decent, it was playable even at ultra settings, the 1% lows weren’t too far below the averages so the frame rate was somewhat consistent.

For a first person shooter though most people just want more frames, so leaving RTX off will give you almost 100 FPS at ultra. Apex Legends was tested with either all settings at maximum, or all settings on the lowest possible values, as it doesn’t have predefined setting presets.

It played well even with max settings, still perfectly smooth with 100 FPS averages, with 30% higher average FPS possible at minimum settings. Far Cry New Dawn was tested with the built in benchmark. While the results look pretty good in isolation, in most instances the ASUS Scar II with RTX 2060 was actually ahead in this test.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was tested with the built in benchmark, the results were quite good for this test, in line with other 2080 Max-Q laptops I’ve tested, but we’ll compare these results to other laptops soon.

CS:GO was tested using the Ulletical FPS benchmark, and like always high frame rates were coming out of this test, with 200 just possible with all settings at minimum and not much of a drop with everything at medium.

The average frame rates were again similar to the 2060 in the Scar II for the most part, however the 1% lows are boosted a fair bit here comparatively. Rainbow Six Siege was tested with the built in benchmark, and is a game I’ve found to benefit from Nvidia’s new turing architecture.

This is the first time I’ve started using a 100% render scale, my previous results used 50% as that’s the default the presets of the game set, so these results are a bit lower when compared to other laptops with the same specs due to this.

PUBG was tested using the replay feature, and we were only just below 100 FPS at ultra settings in my standard test, with above 60 FPS 1% lows still possible, so should run quite well, though I still always end up playing with very low settings because how else can you go pro? Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was tested with the built in benchmark, and I was getting 60 FPS with very high settings, the results at max settings were on par with the other 90 watt 2080 Max-Q laptops I’ve previously covered.

Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane with an average amount of action going on, and it was running very smoothly without any problems at all, I won my game anyway, no doubt thanks to the high FPS.

Fortnite was tested with the replay feature, and due to a recent game update the replay I’ve used is a fair bit different compared to my previous tests, so these results can’t really be compared with my past results.

Regardless even with max settings over 100 FPS was easily possible in this well optimized game. Overwatch is another well optimized game and was tested in the practice range, as other players, bots and even different maps in actual gameplay affect the frame rate and this allows for consistent testing.

Even ultra was giving us 1% lows around the refresh rate of the panel, so it’s running extremely well. Watch Dogs 2 is a resource intensive game, but despite this even ultra settings was able to average around 60 FPS, which is plenty given this is a game that I think runs perfectly fine with a solid 30 FPS.

The Witcher 3 was also running well with hairworks disabled, and seems to be a game that loves higher end graphics, able to achieve above 100 FPS even with ultra, while high settings let us better utilize the 144Hz screen, not that this game really needs to be super smooth to play, but it does look great though.

I’ve tested 20 games in total in the dedicated gaming benchmark video, check the card in the top right corner if you want to see more results. I’ll also mention that with Thunderbolt 3 you could also expand to desktop graphics with an external enclosure such as Razer’s Core X, however that’s quite an expensive and niche solution.

Let’s also take a look at how this config of the Razer Blade compares with other laptops to see how it stacks up, use these results as a rough guide only as they were tested at different times with different versions of Nvidia drivers.

In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the Blade up the top in red, and we can see that it’s ahead of the Alienware m17 despite having the specs, likely due to the thermal throttling I noted in the m17. The blade is scoring second highest out of these laptops, however is still behind the larger ASUS Zephyrus GX701.

Here are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark, this time the Blade was behind the m17, though only just by a few frames, but only slightly ahead of the 1070 in the MSI GE75 or 2070 Max-Q in the Apex 15X which uses the popular Tongfang chassis.

These are the results from Shadow of the Tomb raider with the built in benchmark at highest settings, and in this one the Blade is back in second place and ahead of the larger m17, but still can’t catch up to the GX701 as it’s got G-Sync and therefore no overhead from the Intel graphics.

Overall the gaming performance from the Razer Blade was great, the i7-8750H CPU, dual channel memory, and 90 watt RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics with 144Hz screen make a nice gaming machine, and it was great to play on.

I did note that in some games at lower settings performance was lower than lower specced laptops, most likely due to CPU power limit throttling covered previously, so it seems like if you’re going for the 2080 Max-Q model you’ll want to use high settings to take full advantage of the GPU.

Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy, Port Royal and VRMark from 3DMark, just pause the video if you want a detailed look at these results.

As we saw earlier we’ve got the option of overclocking the graphics and undervolting the CPU to increase performance, so let’s see how these changes actually help in gaming. Far Cry 5 was tested using the built in benchmark at 1080p.

At ultra settings there was a 3.6% improvement to average FPS with the CPU undervolted and graphics overclocked, the best case scenario. The 1% low rose by a similar amount, 3.7%, which I’m guessing is more due to that extra CPU performance from the undervolt, so it is possible to get some improvements with simple tweaks.

I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the storage, and the 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD that was installed was offering good speeds all round, and as this laptop only has just the one M.2 slot for storage your only option for upgrading is to replace the existing operating system drive.

For updated pricing check the links in the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording in the US we’re looking at around $3200 USD, while here in Australia it’s going for $5000 AUD, so definitely not cheap in the top end configuration.

This is about the same price as the 17 inch ASUS Zephyrus S we compared against earlier, so technically you can get slightly better performance there for the same price, however as a 15 inch machine the Razer blade is noticeably smaller, while still having better battery life, let me know if you want to see a full comparison between the two in a future video.

So what do you guys think about the advanced model of the Razer Blade? Overall it’s a very nice machine, the build quality felt exceptionally premium, which you’d hope considering the price tag. It can also be specced up quite high like the one I’ve got here, and as we’ve seen it performs quite well in the games tested, even at max settings.

The battery life is also great, one of the best gaming laptops I’ve tested in that regard. Combined with the 144Hz screen and the fact that Razer only seem to sell laptops with dual channel memory, we’re looking at a great gaming machine.

I was also impressed that there was no thermal throttling outside of balanced mode, as that was not the case the last time I reviewed the Razer Blade 15 with GTX graphics. It was unfortunate that CPU only workload performance was capped despite there being thermal headroom available though.

I get that the laptop is thin, but not having an ethernet port and embracing dongle life will be annoying for some. One M.2 slot isn’t great for upgradeability, but I guess even the larger GX701 could only fit one.

The camera was pretty garbage to be honest, it works ok just don’t expect the other person to know which pixel you are, it is at least still up the top though, no nose cam here. Overall the Razer Blade is a great portable gaming machine if you’ve got the budget.

Let me know what you guys thought about the new Razer Blade gaming laptop with RTX graphics down in the comments, and if you’re new here get subscribed for future laptop reviews like this one.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here