Razer Blade 15 (2019) review: Sharper than ever
Test setup and performance
Here's a full list of the notebooks we're looking at:
- Razer Blade (2019)
- Razer Blade (2018)
- Gigabyte Aero 15Y v9
- ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX531GW
- ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501
I've included a mix of notebooks equipped with both the Max-P and Max-Q versions of the GeForce GTX 1080 and GeForce GTX 1070 to see how the GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q stacks up against the best of Pascal.
I ran the notebooks through the following benchmarks:
- PCMark 10
- PCMark 8
- Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
- Tom Clancy's The Division
How does it do in daily computing tasks?
The Razer Blade 15 (2019) did really well in PCMark 10 Extended, topping the charts in terms of overall scores. On the one hand, that's not particularly surprising, since none of the other laptops – with the exception of the Gigabyte Aero 15Y – have a GPU that can match the power of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q. But speaking of the Gigabyte notebook, it only serves to highlight how much thermal design matters and how fast the Razer Blade 15 is. Despite also being equipped with a GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q and a more powerful overclockable Intel Core i7-8950HK processor, the Aero 15Y was unable to keep up with Razer's laptop.
That's something you'll see in the following gaming benchmarks as well, showing that you don't necessarily need an overclockable chip to achieve excellent gaming performance.
On the storage front, all the tested notebooks were neck-and-neck with each other, and I don't think you should notice significant differences in terms of real-world usage.
How fast is it in games?
The new Razer Blade 15 shines when it comes to gaming performance. In 3DMark Fire Strike, it was a good 27 per cent faster than its predecessor, and 21 per cent faster than the ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501, which is equipped with last generation's flagship GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q GPU.
However, it lost out to the ROG Zephyrus GX501 in VRMark, a benchmark which doesn't seem able to take advantage of the shift toward processors that feature more cores at lower clock speeds. The quad-core Core i7-7700HQ in the Zephyrus has a higher 2.80GHz base clock, versus 2.20GHz on the Core i7-8750H, which probably helped improve its performance.
That aside, most folks aren't looking to run VR games on their laptops, and the good news is the Blade 15 performs admirably in actual games. It had no problems running both The Division and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at Ultra settings and 1080p, although maximizing the 144Hz refresh rate is quite another matter altogether. Compared to the ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX531GW and its GeForce GTX 2070 Max-Q, the new Razer Blade 15 is just under 10 per cent faster.
How good is the battery life?
Battery life was one of the strongest points on last year's Blade 15, and that remains the case here as well. The generous 80Wh battery gives the Blade 15 solid battery life for a gaming laptop, even though it still falls behind the Gigabyte Aero 15Y and its even larger 94.24Wh battery. That said, the Blade 15 still comes in near the top of its class, and it's good battery life and slim form factor make it a truly mobile powerhouse.
That's borne out in the portability index, which aims to be an objective measure of portability by taking into account factors like weight, dimensions, and battery life. The Blade 15 came in only slightly behind the Gigabyte Aero 15Y, which practically offers the best battery life on any gaming notebook today.
Does it run hot?
Temperature is always a chief concern with any slim and light gaming notebook, and the Blade 15 is no exception. Surface temperatures are slightly lower compared to its predecessor, as are the CPU and GPU temperatures. That said, that still doesn't mean that the new Blade 15 is a chilly beast, and it still gets noticeably warm during intense gaming sessions. However, at the very least, it seldom gets too hot to touch, and the heat doesn't seem to extend to the keyboard or the WASD keys, an important point if you're going to be gaming for hours on end.
Having said that, I should point out that the default fan profile appears insufficient to allow the GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q to operate to its fullest potential. Razer's Synapse 3 software lets you manually configure the fan speeds, and you should use this to set the fan speeds to maximum. Of course, this does mean that the notebook will churn up quite the racket, but it's actually still a tad quieter than the Zephyrus S, and the noise is easily blocked out with a headset. Woe to anyone who is sitting near you though.