(Pocket-lint) - For a long time, the Mac was the place you went if you wanted a powerful computer for editing videos, recording music or any other manner of professional creative work. But over the past few years, highly capable Windows machines have been popping up that are sleek and portable too.
One company consistently delivering those good-looking but well-equipped machines is Razer - the company so often seen as a gaming brand - and with the 4K version of the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, it's got powerful internals and a 4K OLED screen too.
Could this be enough to draw eyes away from the 16-inch MacBook Pro? Or will the price just make eyes water instead?
- Dimensions: 17.8 x 235 x 355mm / Weighs 2.2kg
- Per-key RGB Razer Chroma backlit keyboard
- Large precision glass trackpad
There are few laptops on the market that are as thoughtfully designed as the Razer Blade 15 Advanced. For a 15.6-inch laptop, it's relatively compact, although being a near 16-inch laptop it is undoubtedly large. But unlike some laptops designed for pros, you don't have to compromise on the number and type of ports you get, as it has them all (well, pretty much).
Up the left side, you'll find the proprietary charging port, positioned next to two USB 3.2 Type-A and a USB 3.2 Type-C ports. On the right side, there's a USB-C (with Thunderbolt 3 speeds), an SD card reader, a full-sized HDMI port, plus another USB 3.2 Type-A port. This particular model is missing an Ethernet port, but it has pretty much everything else you could need. There's even a secure Windows Hello compatible face scanner near the camera on the top bezel.
The actual laptop casing is milled out of a solid piece of aluminium and finished in the classic anodised matte black finished we've come to know and love from Razer. It's all stealthy and great to look at. No crazy angles or accents, no go-faster stripes. Just a solid, matte black slab. The only downside is that it seems to take no time to develop dark patches where you've leaned on it with your palms and it attracts fingerprint smudges on the cover.
Of course, you do get the splash of Razer colour, but it's relatively subtle. There's the green glowing three-headed snake logo on the back and then the keyboard which features individually controllable RGB lighting under all the keys.
For the most part, the keyboard is great to type on. The keys are well spaced apart and have a good amount of travel when pressed, and the Enter key is nice and big, so really difficult to miss when you aim at it with your pinky while touch-typing.
It did take a little while to get used to touch-typing on it, however, mostly because of the precision glass trackpad below it. One slight brush on that and the cursor is somewhere else in the document and you're continuing a sentence where you really didn't want it to be.
With that said, the trackpad itself is marvellous. It's big and super responsive, so it's great for pretty much any task you could want to undertake. It supports multi-touch too for a variety of multi-finger gestures.
On each side of the keyboard, you'll find a speaker, giving the laptop a great stereo sound when combined. That means your music and any audio from games and movies will sound good. Granted, it's not the same as plugging it into a decent speaker or headphones, but it's far from being the usual tinny, nasty speaker quality you get on a lot of laptops.
One of the few real downsides that impacts its portability is its power brick. It's a huge cuboid that plugs into a 3-pin kettle lead. That means if you do want to take it around with you in your bag, you have to carry a bulky charger and cable with you. It is worth noting at this point that the laptop can charge through a USB-C port (we had it charging while plugged into a Type-C monitor) - but it won't charge as quickly as it will when charged using its proprietary charger.
- 15.6-inch 4K OLED touch display
- 60Hz refresh rate
- 100% DCI-P3
- 6mm bezel
As displays go, the 4K panel on our unit is sublime. It's unbelievably crisp and the OLED tech ensures that colours are vibrant, brights are really bright and dark areas are truly dark. It's fantastic to look at.
Being a 4K display the biggest draw - as well as being a large 15.6-inch panel - is the sharpness. Editing photos and getting to see details that are crisp is invaluable. Similarly, watching 4K videos back can ensure you get the full effect. It's a joy to watch and use.
In games with 4K support, you'll get to enjoy those same fine details. So if it's raining in Forza Horizons 4, you'll see the little droplets of rain on the car paint. Use a classic car in that game and you'll see the flattened rivets in the bodywork, plus you get the texture of the asphalt and the trees around the landscape.
Being a 16:9 aspect ratio means it's perfect for watching movies and videos on too. Usually, we'd complain that it's an elongated panel, but being this large ensures you get plenty of surface area for all manner of tasks, even menial ones like browsing the internet or shooting off a bunch of emails.
Those skinny bezels just help to set off that gorgeous, expansive display. It's touch-sensitive too, so you can interact using your finger on the odd occasion that you feel the need to do that.
Mobile creativity powerhouse
- 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H 8-core processor
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q
- 1TB M.2 NVMe storage
- 16GB RAM
Being one of Razer's Studio lineup of devices, the internal design and components chosen for those models were selected to optimise the laptop for creatives. So if you're a video editor, animator or photo editor this seeks to bring you all the power you need to get your tasks done.
Inside, you'll find one of Intel's 10th Gen 8-core i7 processors, plus the powerful and compact GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q GPU. There's also 16GB DDR4 RAM and a useful 1TB solid-state NVMe storage. All in all, that means speed. Lots of it.
We tested it predominantly using Blackmagic's Davinci Resolve video editing software and found it to be almost as reliable and smooth as using our desktop PC. There weren't any real hangups. It would sometimes drop frames when previewing the timeline, especially when we had the timeline preview window in full 4K, but once we lowered the res of the preview screen it was smooth as butter.
It was a tiny bit less smooth when we had it hooked up to an external 4K monitor, driving its own 4K screen at the same time, but it didn't particularly make us less productive or able to edit accurately.
More importantly, though, is that the export times were quick. We didn't have to sit around waiting for ages just because we were exporting on a laptop rather than a PC. Exporting a 6 minute, 4K timeline set to 24fps took somewhere around 12 minutes to do, which isn't terrible at all.
Now, while it's not designed as a gamer's laptop specifically, you can obviously play games on it. Those who want the fastest, smoothest refresh rates won't get those here, but if you like your graphics looking crisp and realistic, there are are fewer better laptops out there. As we've already mentioned in the display section. Just staring at the quality of the moving images in Forza Horizon 4 loading screen is enough to make the knees go week.
Once you get into the action though, it performs admirably for a laptop. Running Forza Horizon 4 at 1080p, it barely stuttered at all and in the games benchmarking tool was able to hit the full 60 frames per second through the entire simulation. Switching up to the 4K test it still reached 59 frames per second and counted 17 stutters. Not bad going at all.
During actual gameplay with ultra settings selected it gave us no trouble at all. Graphics remained sharp and smooth, although it has to be noted that the fans are pretty loud. And it doesn't seem to take much to get them going to begin with, so you do need to grow accustomed to hearing fans. Like, a lot. Maybe just stick some headphones on and pretend it's not happening.
This in turn means the laptop can get quite hot to the touch, so it's best not to have it on your actual lap for long periods or you could get uncomfortable.
Then there's the battery life which - once you start doing the power-intensive stuff this laptop is designed to do - is fine. After all, it's powering a crazy sharp display and trying to keep its cramped internal space cool while keeping everything running smoothly. It's an 80WHr battery and in our testing, using it away from the cable while editing video, will drain it in less than five hours. For that reason, we found - at least while home - that we'd default to just plugging it into its massive power brick whenever we were sat at a desk. Still, that's better innings than you'll find from most gaming/creative laptops.
With the 4K Advanced version of its 15-inch laptop, Razer is saying it's not just for gamers. This is an ideal platform for creators who want lots of power on the go and a brilliant display. There's no denying that it's pricey, though, on account of its epic specification.
Overall build quality and design is among the best available from any manufacturer. It's a stunningly well-made and good-looking piece of kit, and you'd expect that for the premium. Our review model has one of the nicest screens you'll find on any laptop and has the power to keep up with all your most demanding tasks.
Yes, it gets quite warm during use, the fans are quite loud, and it needs a chunky proprietary power brick to keep it charging as quickly as it's able to, but looking at the most important elements: it's hard to imagine a better all-round laptop than the Razer Blade 15 Advanced.
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With its 300Hz screen this is much more aimed at gamers, but without foregoing on the high-end spec at all. It'll cost less as a result, without really needing to level down the loadout.