Razer Blade Stealth 13 Mercury White Review – The Best Ultrabook of 2019
This is the new Razer Blade Stealth 13, and I know what you might be thinking to yourselves: Didn’t you just review this about a month ago? That is true, but this is a different model. It’s the base one that comes with the 25W version of Intel’s amazing Ice Lake CPU, specifically the Core i7-1065G7. I was actually kidding about that amazing part by the way, because it’s pretty terrible and the naming scheme is trash.
Specs & Price
Now if you recall reading my article on the Blade Stealth with the GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics card, one of my biggest concerns with that notebook was that Razer was using a 15W version of the Ice Lake processor, which significantly affected its CPU performance. Under a full multi-core load it only reached 2GHz and that also affected gaming performance. Ever since then I’ve been waiting to get my hands on this notebook with the 25W CPU chip to see what kind of performance improvements we can we expect. In fact, is it going to be better than the top tier spec GTX 1650 Max-Q model that costs $300 USD more? Let’s find out.
Alright, so first step I do want to quickly go over the spec differences between this base model and the top tier GTX 1650 Max-Q model. The CPUs are the exact same except for their TDP, the memory remains the same 16GB running at DDR4-3733. Unfortunately SSD storage is cut in half, and Razer does not have an option to upgrade within their site, although it is user upgradable. This Mercury White model does not come with a discrete graphics card and it’s priced at 1500 USD, which isn’t cheap. But if you compare that to the competition from Dell, HP, or even Acer, it’s actually pretty good.
Build & Design
Now from a physical standpoint there isn’t anything new with this Mercury White model. It still maintains the same footprint as the GTX variant. I’m actually really digging this silver finish, it isn’t pure white like the XPS 13 2-in-1 that we checked out recently. It’s matte and interestingly enough it doesn’t show finger pins as bad as the black model.
The key caps are white and I’m still debating whether or not it goes along with the silver chassis. When you’re in a dark room the lighter finish does reflect the colors exhibited by the display and it looks gorgeous. It’s certainly photogenic if you ask me. The keys themselves are okay, they’re not the best in the market right now. I think the Lenovo X1 Carbon takes the crown with that, because it’s got solid feedback when you’re typing on it. I really hope Razer improves the keyboard on their next-gen Stealth notebooks cause it’s the same exact setup that’s found on my higher-end Blade 15 notebook.
The trackpad is one of the best on a Windows-based notebook, and it obviously features Windows Position drivers. I’m surprised at the size of the trackpad, because for a 13-inch notebook it is pretty big, especially when compared to the Dell XPS 13 and even the HP Spectre x360.
Ports & Internals
The I/O remains the same as the GTX 1650 model, so you get two USB Type-A ports, two USB Type-C ports that are also Thunderbolt 3 compatible, and an audio jack. The Blade Stealth 13 comes with a 1080P IPS display. I love the fact that it’s a matte screen instead of the glossy screen that you’ll find on other notebooks, thin-and-light notebooks specifically. This will definitely help you when traveling because you don’t have to worry about reflections or whatnot. It’s a very color accurate panel as well. In terms of upgradability, it’s the same layout as the GTX 1650 Max-Q model, so the only thing that you can upgrade is the storage. Unfortunately, the memory is soldered onto the main board. However, if you pay close attention to one area of the main board, you will notice that that’s where the GTX 1650 Max-Q is housed on the top tier spec model. It’s interesting to see that they’re still using the same layout. Thankfully though now you have two fans just cooling that Ice Lake CPU, which is probably why they decided to go with that 25W version cause they have that thermal headroom.
The battery life on this base model is good, but not great, especially when compared to the GTX 1650 Max-Q model. As you can see it only lasts maybe 10-15 minutes longer than the top tier spec model, which actually goes to show how efficient NVIDIA’s Optimus technology is with that GTX 1650 graphics card.
And now the moment that you all been waiting for, how does this 25W Core i7-1065G7 compare to its 15W sibling? Well the numbers do make a lot more sense now. Taking a look at Cinebench R15, there is a 30% improvement in the multi-core test, but the XPS 13 2-in-1 still remains the fastest in this test. Single core performance didn’t really improve by all that much, and that makes sense since these notebooks didn’t have an issue running at 3.5GHz to 3.9GHz. However, the Whiskey Lake Core i7-8565U on the older model was the fastest. Switching over to Cinebench R20 the story changes completely, the 25W Ice Lake CPU on this Blade Stealth dominates this test, it’s 40% faster than the GTX model.
Moving onto some real-world tests, starting with Blender running to BMW benchmark, the Stealth continues to surprise me. It is once again 40% faster than the GTX model and close to 30% faster than the XPS 13 2-in-1 notebook. Unfortunately, running DaVinci Resolve Studio on these notebooks is a little bit of a challenge. We tried rendering the exact same project that we use for all of our benchmarks on the Ice Lake notebooks, but with the notebooks that don’t have a discrete graphics card it just wouldn’t work. I think it’s more of an Intel QuickSync optimization issue given that the test runs fine with the GTX1650 model and the MX150 model and basically other systems that run a discrete graphics card. Therefore, I think maybe Black Magic has to do something optimization. It’s certainly not Razer’s fault, but it’s something to know if you’re planning on running DaVinci Resolve on this notebook… even though I would not recommend it because this is not an editing notebook.
However, I did run Adobe Premiere Pro and I expected it to be slower than the GTX models since it is missing a discrete graphics card after all. This test certainly favors that model, but when you compare it to the XPS 13 this Blade Stealth is 14% faster. Interestingly enough, when you compare this to the Whiskey Lake models featuring the MX150 GPU, it’s relatively close. To wrap things up, we have Corona add-in for 3Ds Max and this Razer Blade shines once again and comes in first. Overall, the 25W version of the Core i7 Ice Lake CPU on this Blade Stealth 13 is certainly the fastest that we’ve tested among other notebooks, and I didn’t expect it to be that fast compared to the XPS 13 2-in1 featuring the exact same CPU with the same TDP.
Temperatures & Gaming Performance
This performance advantage has to do with how well Razer was able to sustain clock speeds on this notebook at 2.8GHz under a full multi-core workload. Now I do want to bring up something important, which is that when you hit this notebook with a full load the clock speeds go up to 3.5-3.7GHz, but temperatures reach 93°C and then it downclocks they to 2.8GHz while maintaining temperatures around 70°C.
Can you actually game on this notebook? Well you can’t really throw anything intensive at it since the Iris Plus graphics are really meant for light gaming loads at 1080P at the lowest possible settings. Titles like Rocket League, CS:GO, and Overwatch run pretty well and it’s a significant improvement over the last gen UHD graphics. For some reason 3DMark Cloud Gate refused to run on this notebook. I tried everything I could to diagnose that issue, but I was out of luck.
To conclude this baseline Razer Blade Stealth 13 surpassed my expectations, especially in terms of its CPU performance. It really is one of the fastest that we’ve tested so far, and I really wish that the GTX 1650 model had the exact same configuration. Regrettably that isn’t the case. It’s really weird to have two different versions of the same processor on both these notebooks. And it’s kind of ironic because you’re spending $300 more to get that GTX 1650 graphics card but you’re not getting the best CPU performance on that model. Then again, this isn’t a gaming laptop, I think Razer’s really targeting this towards other thin-and-light notebooks and the competition Dell, HP, and Acer. I wouldn’t say that this is a great primary notebook, I think this would be more of a supplementary notebook that would go along with your desktop PC. Or if you’re someone just looking for a clean simple laptop that has really good CPU performance, pretty good battery life, and looks like a MacBook pro, then why not? I think the price is pretty justifiable, although I am pretty bummed about the fact that Razer doesn’t give you the option to upgrade storage on their site.
Now having said all of that, I want to invite someone who might actually consider switching to this Blade notebook from his Lenovo X1 Carbon… or not, I don’t know if that’s going to happen. However, I’m gonna invite Mike over because he has some thoughts about this laptop.
Mike: So I was never a Lenovo ThinkPad user. I always used the Sony Viao’s, but after the last year of using the X1 Carbon I absolutely love this thing. Would I switch to the Razer? There’s a couple of benefits going in the Razer’s favor. First of all, this screen is so much better than the one I have right now on my X1 Carbon. In addition to that, the form factor is a little bit smaller. The keyboard is nowhere near as good as the X1 Carbon, and at the same time I’m really not a big fan of the white keyboard. Now from a performance standpoint I actually prefer the Razer device. The reason for that I want to have something that’s a little bit more adaptable, because if I want to play CIV or something like that at the airport this is capable of it, whereas the X1 Carbon completely shits the bed. However, as somebody who has a high powered desktop and just want something that’s portable with good battery life would I even think about getting this? It would be on my list, but I would still go towards the X1 Carbon just for all of its benefits.