Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2020) review: The slimmest gaming laptop of all

Razer has made a name for itself producing slim, sleek gaming laptops over the years and the Razer Blade Stealth 13 is the most compact laptop in the range.

The 2020 model doesn’t change much when it comes to design or features over the 2019 variant; but it does add worthwhile performance and display updates – and it remains the only gaming ultraportable worthy of the name.

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Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2020) review: What you need to know

As well as keeping the chassis largely the same as last year, Razer has retained the same CPU. All three models of the Razer Blade Stealth 13 come with the quad-core 10th Gen 1.3GHz Intel Core i7-1065G7, a chip that’s far from the fastest in Intel’s current mobile range.

The 2020 Stealth does, however, benefit from a boost in graphics across the range, from the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 to the GTX 1650 Ti, plus a new 1080p 120Hz display option for those determined to game at higher frame rates.

Models with 60Hz displays at 4K (touchscreen) and 1080p (non-touch) make up the rest of the range and, while there’s no option to change storage and memory from the standard 512GB NVMe SSD and 16GB of RAM, fixed specifications like these do at least make choosing the laptop you want a lot more straightforward.

Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2020) review: Price and competition

For this review, I was sent the 60Hz 4K touchscreen model, which costs £2,099. The 1080p model with the 120Hz display costs £1,899 and with the 60Hz 1080p screen, it’ll set you back £1,699. All of these are pretty high prices for a 13.3in laptop.

There aren’t any other 13.3in laptops we’ve tested that get close to offering the same level of gaming ability that the Blade Stealth does, however. The closest we’ve seen are all bigger and considerably bulkier – the 15in Asus TUF Gaming A15 (from £1,223), the Razer Blade 15 (from £1,800) and the Gigabyte Aorus 15G (from £1,899) – and all have superior specifications to the Blade 13.

Otherwise, you’re looking at thin and light productivity-focused laptops such as the 2020 Dell XPS 13 (from £1,399) or the superlative Samsung Galaxy Book Ion (from £1,250).  Neither of which offer the same combination of compact chassis and powerful, discrete GPU.

Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2020) review: Design

And at 15.3mm thin from front to back and a mere 1.48kg in weight, the Razer Blade Stealth (2020) is a true ultraportable. It’s a laptop you can throw in your bag, knock up the monthly sales report on the way to work and enjoy a spot of Doom Eternal on the way back.

As with all Razer laptops it’s a minimalist, smart-looking thing, only available in matte black and with the Razer logo subtly stenciled on the lid rather than backlit in green as it is on other Razer machines. The laptop’s lid and sides are flat and sharp-edged and the underside is tidy as well, finished in the same, matte black aluminium. A couple of rubber strips run the full width of the chassis at the front and the rear, with two grilles for the system’s fans to suck in cool air.

In keeping with the simple aesthetic, connectivity is limited, although the Stealth is more practical than most. There’s one USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port on the left edge and a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port on the right, plus a pair of USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports for legacy peripherals on either side, with a 3.5mm headset jack on the left. Wireless connectivity, however, is up to snuff and stretches to the latest Wi-Fi 6 tech and Bluetooth 5.

Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2020) review: Keyboard, touchpad and speakers

Open up the lid and you’re presented with a fairly standard-looking keyboard with square, Scrabble-tile keys and a large touchpad occupying roughly a third of the width of the laptop’s wristrest. There’s no fingerprint reader, which is a disappointment, but you do get an infrared Windows Hello camera mounted in the bezel above the display. This works reliably enough for quick logins but it’s only a 720p, 30fps camera and quality lags behind the best laptop webcams.

The keyboard is a backlit RGB unit as it is with most gaming laptops, but the lighting is only single zone so you can’t assign different colours to individual keys as you can with Razer’s more fancy laptops and keyboards. There’s also ten-key anti-ghosting, which means it’s able to register as many keys being pressed simultaneously as you have fingers.

For more humdrum pursuits like typing emails (and gaming laptop reviews), it’s reasonably comfortable. Although there isn’t much travel, the key action has a nice thunk to it, the base is nice and firm and the layout is largely sensible, with a tweak to the positioning of the Shift keys this year that means there’s less likelihood of pressing a cursor key by mistake.

The large glass-topped diving-board style touchpad is a pleasure to use, too. It works well for single-fingered mousing and multi-fingered Windows 10 gestures alike, although you’ll likely be connecting a mouse for gaming sessions.

The speakers flanking the keyboard are the same quad speaker array as on the 2019 Stealth and are passable. They’re loud enough for listening to podcasts and radio and fine for video calls and the like. Turn up the volume all the way, however, and distortion starts to creep in, plus there’s a harshness to the mids and higher frequencies that makes audio sound brittle and thin.

Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2020) review: Display

The model I was sent for review came with the top of the range 60Hz IPS 4K touchscreen and it’s a lovely thing to behold. At 13.3in it has a pixel density of 331ppi, so it’s incredibly sharp, and there’s no likelihood that even the most eagle-eyed laptop user will see any pixelation anywhere. I’d argue, in fact, that the resolution is a little too high for a screen this size. Even with Windows 10’s scaling settings at 200% I found text too small to read comfortably in some apps and had to bump it up to 225% before I was comfortable with Windows text and menus.

And while it’s nice to have touch compatibility for general use, at its heart this is a gaming laptop and, as such, I’d advise choosing the 120Hz Full HD screen instead, especially as you’ll save some cash in the process.

Nonetheless, it is a decent quality display. Measured with our colorimeter, the Stealth 13’s 4K screen peaked at a brightness of 439cd/m2 while delivering a contrast ratio of 1,272:1 and reproduced 91.1% of the sRGB colour gamut out of a volume of 96.5%. With a highly respectable average Delta E score of 0.82, this is one laptop that won’t let you down if you need to use it to do a spot of photo or video editing.

Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2020) review: Performance

As highlighted above, the Razer Blade Stealth (2020) doesn’t offer customers a choice of CPU, GPU, RAM or storage: every model has an Intel Core i7-1065G7 and an Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti, backed up by 16GB of RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD. There are other options on the Razer website but these are last year’s models.

The CPU and RAM configuration goes a long way to explaining why the Stealth’s performance is similar to last year’s model in CPU benchmarks and our in-house 4K tests, which focus on image and video conversion and multitasking rather than gaming.

With a GTX 1650 Ti in tow, where you’d expect a bigger advantage in games, there’s certainly a bigger boost here, with the Stealth 13 stretching out a decent lead in real-world game benchmarks and synthetic graphics tests:

I’ve also played a few other games and it’s clear that the Blade Stealth 13 has easily enough juice to comfortably play most AAA titles at 1080p at 60 fps without having to knock down quality settings to medium or low. It struggles at native resolution but there’s really no need to play at 4K on a 13.3in screen since you will unlikely be able to see much benefit over 1080p at normal viewing distances.

Alas, battery life, as you might expect given the fact that the battery in this model has the same 51.2Whr capacity, is much the same as last year’s Stealth 13. That is to say, it’s pretty disappointing. Even with Razer’s Battery Saver profile selected and the display refresh rate dropped to 40Hz, it only lasted 5hrs 12mins in our video rundown test, which as you can see from the graph below, is pretty poor even by gaming laptop standards.

Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2020): Verdict

All of which means the Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2020) is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s the slimmest, lightest gaming laptop around and packs a phenomenal amount of punch in a very compact frame.

However, that slim and light package comes at a cost, both to the wallet and to certain aspects of performance. Battery life suffers from a lack of capacity and the CPU and GPU can’t match the high-performance parts included in bulkier gaming laptops of equivalent price.

In the end, the Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2020) is a laptop for a very specific set of people: those who travel a lot and won’t want to give up any portability or gaming prowess. For everyone else, it’s too much of a compromise at too high a price.


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