Razer Blade Stealth 13 GTX 1650 Review – Intel Ice Lake Inside!
This is the new Razer Blade Stealth 13, more specifically the model that comes with Intel’s newest 10th Gen Ice Lake processor and a GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics card. The rest of the specs includes 16GB of RAM in dual-channel mode with an insane memory speed, a 512GB NVMe SSD, and a 1080P IPS display. The unfortunate part is that it’s going to cost you $1,800 USD.
That is a lot to ask for especially for a gaming laptop that doesn’t really feature top tier specs. Now what really makes the Blade Stealth stand out from the competition is its form factor. I think I’ll give Razer the credit for actually integrating a GTX 1650 such a thin-and-light body, because as far as I know this is the only 13-inch notebook with a graphics card of that caliber. So what happens when you combine and Ice Lake processor from Intel with this GPU? Let’s find out.
Design & Keyboard
All right, so I just want to get some things out of the way before I talk about performance. First is design and it’s essentially the same as the previous model. Razer hasn’t changed anything here because it still features the matte black anodized aluminum chassis that looks and feels amazing, but it is a fingerprint magnet. This is still one of the best designed Windows-based 13-inch notebooks that I’ve looked at.
The keyboard layout remains the same, I really wish to Razer spent a bit more time reevaluating their choice for implementing this confusing arrow key placement. It’s actually pretty annoying if you asked me, also Mike had some trouble with the enter key, he thought that it was too small. The keys still feel the same. Not the greatest feedback on a notebook but respectable. It does feature Razer Chroma Lighting, but just like the old model it’s not per-key rather it’s single zone across the board. The trackpad is still excellent, one of my favorite trackpads on any Windows-based PC. The glass surface really makes a world of a difference when you’re navigating through the UI and it also comes with Windows Position drivers, so gesture commands work flawlessly on this laptop. Seriously, it is amazing.
Ports & Display
Port selection is pretty limited, so on the left-hand side you get a USB Type-C 3.1 Gen2 port that also acts as power-in, a USB Type-A port, and a headphone/mic jack. Switching over to the right side, you’ll find the USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 port that also functions as a power port and another USB Type-A port. The speakers sound great, they are front facing which means you get good audio projection, and they also have good fidelity in the higher ends. However, I will say that it does lack a little bit of bass, but these speakers are still some of the best compared to some expensive gaming laptops out there. The webcam quality is also pretty decent, it’s not the greatest but I think it’s passable.
The 13.3-inch display is 1080P IPS at 60Hz. It has beautiful color reproduction since it covers 100% of the sRGB color spectrum. These panels are individually calibrated out of the factory, which is awesome. One thing that I did notice is that the display is a lot brighter compared to last year’s model. Also, I did run my backward bleed test and I did not notice any on the new Blade Stealth, which is nice. My only gripe is that I wish that Razer offered a higher refresh rate display on the newer model, just because it features a GTX 1650 graphics card and in some titles it can push over a 100FPS and that’s something that I missed when I was actually gaming on this laptop. That 60Hz definitely starts becoming a little bit of an eyesore in my opinion.
Power & Internals
The included AC adapter is bigger than last year’s model, and that has to do with the power delivery because it’s a 100W versus 65W. That makes sense because this notebook has a powerful GTX 1650 graphics card versus a MX150 in last year’s model… which is actually an early 2019 model, so let’s describe the newest model as a late 2019 edition. In terms of upgradability, the only possible thing that you can upgrade is the SSD since the RAM is soldered onto the motherboard. The NVMe SSD itself is very fast, in fact it’s one of the fastest drives that I’ve tested so far.
The battery size remains the same as the previous model. However, it actually lasted longer than the older model thanks for the power efficient Ice Lake processor. In our light load test, which consists of refreshing Chrome for 15 seconds over and over, the notebook lasted over 7 hours. In our heavy load test running RealBench on a loop the system lasted for 2.5 hours. I think that’s very respectable considering the hardware that this thing packs.
And now the moment that you’ve been waiting for: Performance. Surprisingly it’s really bad, but let me break it down for you. You see as per Intel’s spec sheet the Core i7-1065G7 has 4 cores and 8 threads, comes with a base clock of 1.3GHz, and it boosts up to 3.9GHz on a single core, and the all core boost is supposed to be 3.5GHz. However, as I was running my test multiple times, I noticed that the clock speeds were only hitting 2.0GHz under a full multi-core workload. To give you a little bit of context, the previous model featuring the 8th Gen CPU was boosting to 3.0GHz on all cores and reaching up to 4.5GHz on a single core. Therefore on paper the 8th Gen CPU should be faster than the 10th Gen CPU because of its sustained high clock speeds, and that’s exactly what happened. As you can see, in Cinebench R15, R20, and even Blender the i7-1065G7 is slower than the Whiskey Lake i7-8565U. Look at those single core results! Heck even take a look at the Blender run. The 10th Gen CPU took more than three minutes to render compared to the 8th Gen CPU. The higher Geekbench 4 score on the newer Stealth is likely due to the insanely fast memory speed, because it’s clocked at a whopping DDR4-3733. These results are low and that’s because Razer needed to use the 1065G7 in its lower 15W spec to fit into a thin chassis with the GTX 1615 Max-Q. That means it’s actually performing at much lower speeds than the 25W version.
Video editing performance is okay. I took a 10 minute 4K project exported it in Davinci Resolve to H.265, and the system took a little over 10 minutes to complete that task. I’m actually impressed by how well the GTX 1650 gets utilized because the difference is huge compared to the MX150 found on the previous model. Considering the size, this is very impressive. Above is a screenshot of CPU utilization with this program. The CPU is maxed out, but check out those clock speeds, they’re just really low.
I also ran our standard Premiere Pro rendering test on the new Stealth, and this system took close to 19 minutes to finish that. And as you can see with the CPU and GPU utilization, Adobe still isn’t optimized for the new Ice Lake processors. The CPU utilization is fairly low, so is the new Gen11 graphics. They probably still have to update the program to take advantage of the new compute units on the integrated graphics with Ice Lake. Potentially maybe a software update could help fix that, but for now it’s really not optimized for content creation.
Moving on to gaming performance, it’s pretty good provided you’re comfortable playing demanding titles at medium to low settings. The GTX 1650 Max-Q is a great GPU for 1080P gaming and it’s a welcome upgrade over the MX150. Titles like Battlefield 1, Apex Legends, Overwatch, all ran really well at low settings. Far Cry V and Shadow of the Tomb Raider were playable, but it makes me wonder if the CPU is bottlenecking the GPU. How does it compare to the old model featuring the MX150 GPU? Well it’s pretty significant if you ask me. It’s amazing to see this kind of performance coming out of a compact design.
Taking a look at temperatures, well the system ran very cool, but that’s not surprising since the CPU isn’t boosting very high. The GPU only peaked at 68°C and the max clock I noticed was 1830Mhz, so that’s really good. Fan noise is very minimal right now, and in its idle state it’s completely silent. And even if I were to push a gaming scenario, this system doesn’t sound like a jet fan so that’s really great.
I guess this brings me to the conclusion. I had high hopes for this laptop, because as soon as Razer announced that they were going to implement a GTX 1650 Max-Q in a 13-inch notebook my excitement level just sparked crazy high. I was so excited to get this in the studio and test it out for myself. I was also thinking maybe this could replace my editing workstation, which is the Blade 15 Advanced, because the form factor is just perfect for traveling and all that kind of stuff. I think the biggest drawback for this notebook is that Ice Lake processor, it is just really slow compared to the Whiskey Lake processor. I was expecting the IPC improvements to sort of make up for that, but that wasn’t the case because those boost clocks just aren’t high enough. I’m also wondering what the story would be like if Razer switched to Comet Lake, because the specs on that lineup look a lot more promising than Ice Lake because you get more cores and they boost higher. Again, I’m dreaming, I don’t think that’s ever going to happen, but that’s just my take.
I don’t think it’s a smart choice to invest $1,800 USD on the new Blade Stealth, because you can spend a lot less and get a lot more performance in other gaming laptops that are in the market right now. I feel like the new Blade Stealth is really targeted towards a specific type of demographic, people who actually need that gaming horsepower in a smaller form factor. Then again, I would actually wait because Razer is the first to come up with a notebook in this form factor with pretty good specs, except for that Ice Lake processor. I will just wait to see what the competition has to offer in the upcoming months, but until then hold off on this laptop.