Something unusual happened at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Razer managed to deliver something that notebook gamers have wanted for decades: An attractive, thin-and-light notebook for less than $1000 that can be upgraded to desktop-class performance with external graphics via a single hot-swappable cable. The new Razer Blade Stealth and Razer Core docking station promise to deliver all that and more in 2016.
For starters, the Razer Blade Stealth is a sleek-looking, aluminum-clad notebook with 12.5-inch touch display available in both QHD (2560 x 1440) and UHD (3840 x 2160) resolutions. In terms of performance, the Razer Blade Stealth is packed with an Intel Core i7 processor and PCIe SSD technology, but this little laptop delivers desktop-class gaming performance thanks to the Razer Core and a single Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) cable.
External graphics docking stations are nothing new; we’ve had then as options on larger gaming notebooks for several years now. What makes Razer’s solution so impressive is that twofold: Fist, this notebook measures 0.52 inches thin and weighs just 2.75 pounds with a starting price of $999. Second, the Razer Blade Stealth connects to the Razer Core with a standard Thunderbold 3 (USB-C) cable … and you don’t have to restart your PC every time you want to use the external graphics.
The dirty reality of all current external graphics options for notebooks is that they require massive docking connectors and you have to reboot Windows every time you connect or disconnect the notebook from the external graphics card. Razer’s use of Thunderbolt 3 means all a notebook needs is a compact USB-C port that functions at speeds of up to 40 Gbps and the right external graphics card.
We saw the Razer Blade Stealth and Razer Core being connected and disconnected without the need for restarting Windows at AMD’s booth during CES (being demoed with one of the latest AMD Radeon desktop graphics cards). The option to quickly and easily convert an ultraportable notebook into a serious gaming rig is, well, a game changer.
The Razer Core contains four additional USB 3.0 ports as well as Ethernet and can accommodate virtually every popular desktop graphics card from both AMD and Nvidia, but it’s unclear at this time if desktop cards from both companies will support the plug-and-play functionality we described or if only select AMD graphics cards will allow you to avoid restarting Windows. Physical installation of graphics cards takes seconds with the Razer Core since the aluminum housing slides open and a single screw secures the graphics card in place. Razer’s solution truly extends the lifespan of a notebook and lets you upgrade the graphics as easily as a traditional desktop PC.
In addition, the Razer Blade Stealth will be the first laptop in the world equipped with individually backlit RGB keys. This means you can customize the keyboard lights with millions of color options via Razer’s Chroma technology and Synapse software. All Razer Chroma peripherals (mice, keyboards, headsets and a mouse mat) feature 16.8 million customizable colors and a range of effects such as spectrum cycling, breathing, and more. The Synapse app lets you synchronize lighting colors and patterns between the keyboard and other Chroma devices with the click of a button.
The Razer Blade Stealth is on sale now starting at $999 and starts shipping in January 2016. Razer hasn’t set the MSRP for the Razer Core docking station yet (probably because Razer is finalizing the list of desktop cards that are approved for the “plug-and-play” feature), but the Razer Core begins shipping during the first half 2016.
Razer Blade Stealth Specs:
- 12.5 in. IGZO 16:9 aspect ratio, capacitive multi-touch display QHD (2560 x 1440) and UHD (3840 x 2160) options
- Intel Core i7-6500U Dual-Core Processor (2.5 GHz / 3.1 GHz)
- Intel HD Graphics 520
- 128 GB / 256 GB PCIe SSD options (QHD display models)
- 256 GB / 512 GB PCIe SSD options (UHD display models)
- 8 GB Dual-Channel System Memory (LPDDR3-1866MHz)
- Windows 10 (64-bit)
- Wireless-AC (802.11a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth® 4.1)
- Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)
- USB 3.0 port x 2 (SuperSpeed)
- Built-in webcam (2.0 MP)
- Chroma anti-ghosting keyboard with individually backlit keys
- HDMI 1.4b audio and video output
- Built-in stereo speakers
- 3.5 mm headphone/microphone combo port
- Built-in array microphone
- Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) security chip embedded
- Compact 45 W USB-C power adapter
- Built-in 45 Wh rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery
- 0.52 in. / 13.1 mm (Height) x 12.6 in. / 321 mm (Width) x 8.1 in. / 206 mm (Depth)
- 2.75 lbs. / 1.25 kg
- Connection to PC via Thunderbolt 3 using included 40Gbps cable
- Supports single double-wide, full-length, PCI-Express x16 graphics card
- GPU max dimensions – 5.98 in. / 152 mm (Height) x 1.73 in. / 44 mm (Width) x 12.20 in. / 310 mm (Length)
- GPU max power support – 375 W
- USB 3.0 port x 4 (SuperSpeed)
- Gigabyte Ethernet (10/100/1000)
- Chroma lighting (2 zones)
- Built-in 500 W power supply
- 8.6 in. / 218.4 mm (Height) x 4.13 in. / 104.9 mm (Width) x 13.38 in. / 339.9 mm (Length)