Razer Blade Stealth: Performance

March 4, 2016 by Charles P Jefferies Reads (38,614)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 8
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 5
    • Usability
    • 6
    • Design
    • 9
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Features
    • 7
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 6
    • Total Score:
    • 6.86
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Performance

When the word “Razer” comes up among tech enthusiasts, the first thought is about gaming. However, the Razer Blade Stealth isn’t about gaming … at least when it’s by itself. Based solely on its hardware, this notebook is more or less the definition of a premium Ultrabook. The heart of this computer is an Intel “Skylake” Core i7-6500U dual-core processor. Its base clock is 2.5GHz, and it can burst up to 3.1GHz, thermal and power conditions permitting. It’s a potent CPU, but has at most half the total processing power of a mobile quad-core CPU like the popular Core i7-6700HQ. The “baby i7” has ample performance for most tasks, however, including more demanding ones like photo editing.

Internally, the Stealth has 8 GB of LPDDR3 memory running in dual-channel. It’s incapable of being upgraded, as we mentioned earlier. We’d like to see Razer at least offer an option to upgrade this notebook to 16GB at the time of purchase.

No need to restart Windows!

Razer currently offers SSD storage in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities. The model we’re reviewing has a fast Samsung NVMe 256GB SSD. Aside from the display, the storage is the only configurable option on this notebook. The base model with 128GB of storage and the QHD+ display is $999 as of writing. The top-end $1,599 model has the 4K display and 512GB of storage. Our $1,399 review unit falls in the middle, with the 4K display and 256GB storage.

The integrated Intel 520 graphics are sufficient for casual gaming, though forget about today’s demanding titles. What you can look forward to, however, is the Razer Core. In short, this external docking station for the Stealth allows you to connect any full-size desktop graphics card via the Ultrabook’s USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 port, thus turning this little notebook into a full-fledged gaming machine. We’ll be revisiting the Stealth with the Core when it becomes available.

Our Razer Blade Stealth (2016) 4K review unit has the following specifications:

  • 12.5-inch 4K touch display (3840×2160 resolution, IGZO panel, glossy surface)
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Intel Core i7-6500U dual-core processor (2.5GHz, up to 3.1GHz Turbo Boost, 4MB cache, 15W TDP)
  • Intel HD 520 integrated graphics
  • 8GB LPDDR3-1600 dual-channel RAM (non-expandable)
  • 256GB M.2 SSD (NVMe SAMSUNG MZVLV256)
  • Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 wireless network adapter
  • Internal Bluetooth 4.1
  • Built-in 720p webcam
  • Dimensions: 12.6 x 8.1 x 0.52 inches
  • Weight: 2.75 pounds
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • Starting price: $999
  • Price as configured: $1,399

Benchmarks

wPrime processor comparison results (listed in seconds – lower scores mean better performance):
wprimechart

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
pc8homechart

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
pc8workchart

3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
3d11chart

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance tests:
CrystalDiskMark

Heat and Noise

The Razer’s single cooling fan remains off for most general usage, only occasionally spooling up. At low speeds, it’s practically noise-free. When stressed, however, the noise level can become noticeable across a small room. There’s not a large volume of sound, per se; rather, what it does emit tends to carry. This is mostly due to the fan whine, which is nearly inevitable with such a small, thin fan design. The noise could probably be ignored in an office environment with background noise, though it might draw some looks in a meeting.

The fan noise coming from these vents was greater than we anticipated.

The fan noise coming from these vents was greater than we anticipated.

The fan is located in the back of the chassis, aimed at the display hinge. The warm air escapes mostly under the hinge, with some going above. We didn’t test how it would fare if the lid were closed, however.

The Stealth remains generally cool, temperature-wise, save for the back left center of the chassis. We suspect the processor is located there, as that’s where all the heat appears to be concentrated. It can get warm to hot after running strenuous applications, though it didn’t reach the “too hot” threshold. The bottom of the chassis, oddly enough, remained cooler than the top. It’s unlikely there would be an issue using the Stealth on your lap; just be careful not to block the fan intake if you’re running anything demanding.

Battery Life

We use Futuremark’s Powermark benchmark in “Balanced” mode to evaluate battery life. This test is far more demanding than a typical battery run-down. It runs a continuous series of tasks, including automated web browsing, office productivity, video playback, and 3D gaming, while at approximately half display brightness.

The Razer had some serious trouble here, producing a time well short of what we expect from an Ultrabook. A business-class Ultrabook like the Lenovo ThinkPad T450s gets twice the Blade Stealth’s battery life. We’d like to see an hour and a half more from the Blade Stealth at the very least. In real life, its Powermark showing of two hours and 40 minutes would translate into roughly three and a half to four hours. As we don’t run this test at minimum display brightness, you should be able to extract more at lower brightness settings. Don’t expect this Ultrabook’s battery to last a full workday, though.

One of the likely reasons for the Stealth’s brief unplugged life is the 4K display, which demands considerably more from the graphics. We suspect the Blade Stealth configured with the standard QHD+ display will deliver noticeably longer battery life.

Powermark battery life benchmark test results listed in minutes (higher scores indicate longer battery life):
powerchart

Power Adapter

The intriguing part about the Razer’s power adapter is that it connects to the Stealth via USB Type-C, instead of a traditional AC power jack. The diminutive size of the power adapter is especially appealing; it can easily be enfolded in one hand. It’s also just three-fifths of a pound, including the cables. We like the fact the one side of the cable is braided, not plastic. The adapter provides 45W (20V x 2.5A) of power. It measures an even 10 feet end to end, including the length of the brick.


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3 Comments

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  1. Meowmix

    Someday Razer will learn they need 16gb of ram, and more appropriate frequencies for the machine. The bump in cost even over mass production is marginal, and it greatly increases the overall capabilities of the machine, especially now that Windows 10 has a more aggressive pre-caching mechanism It would also put it on par with other machines in the same market (MSI GS30, Aorus X3 Plus V5-cf2, Gigabyte P34, etc). As it stands the only thing this has going for it is case build quality, not holding my breath on the display as the failure rates on previous displays were high.

  2. stitans

    I’m using exactly same model. I think it should use quad core processor in the next model. i7-6500u(in desktop class, it has similar performance to i3-4130) is insufficient for today’s most demanding games.

  3. xitongzou

    What’s the battery life on the FHD model? We all know the 4K model is going to suck up alot of juice (which is why I try to avoid high res models as much as I can)