The biggest question about the Blade Stealth 13 isn’t about the Blade Stealth 13. It’s the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14, the best ultraportable gaming laptop ever made.
For a while, that name belonged to the 2019 Blade Stealth 13. Until last year, it was unusual to see a GPU more powerful than the MX 150 in a thin and light device. .
This is no longer true, thanks to the Zephyrus, which packs a powerful GPU (up to RTX 2060 Max-Q) and CPU (up to eight AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS cores) in a chassis that weighs only 3.5 kilograms, but also has. Aggressive price tag: tricked model only $1444. After spending some time with the device, it’s hard to imagine recommending anything else for on-the-go gaming. Razer has his work cut out for him.
In a vacuum, the $1,799 Blade Stealth 13 is an improvement over last year’s model: the chip is more powerful, there’s a faster screen, and Razer has made some requested tweaks to the keyboard. But thanks to Asus and AMD, this year’s competition is tougher. The blade is no longer an obvious choice (just, really) it used to be. But there are definitely people who have better options than Blade Zephyrus. Whether you are one of them depends on what interests you the most.
Where the Zephyrus beats the Blade is the webcam, specifically the webcam. (Asus didn’t put it on the Zephyrus.) Some people will care, some won’t. But part of the appeal of a laptop with this form factor is that it can easily double as a drive for everyday work or meeting friends on Zoom. It also supports Windows Hello facial recognition, which is ideal for quick and easy login.
Another factor that sets this apart from the Zephyrus is the design. Don’t get me wrong: the Zephyrus looks great. But not only is the Blade Stealth 13 one of the best-looking gaming laptops out there; one of the best looking laptops out there. chassis is light (3.11 pounds) and compact (11.99 x 8.27 x 0.6 inches), which makes it close to the size of the 13-inch MacBook Pro (11.97 x 8.36 x 0.61 inches, 3.1 pounds). If I didn’t know anything about laptops, I’d be surprised to hear that they were designed for gaming.
You can adjust all kinds of effects, colors and speeds in Razer’s Chroma Studio software. The keys aren’t special on the back, so you can’t do much. But I think the subdued lighting adds to the Blade’s professional aesthetic. Where dark RGB settings like the Gigabyte Aero 15 evoke a disco club, this keyboard has a high bar.
Razer has made some significant updates to last year’s Blade Stealth 13 model. The first feature to notice is the display. Now you can set up with a 120Hz Blade panel, which is the highest refresh rate for 13 inches. (There is also a 4K touchscreen version. Of course, you won’t want it for the best gaming results.) I measured the brightness at 357 points, covering 99 percent of the SRGB spectrum and 74 percent of Adobe RGB. The screen has bright colors and sharp details. The response time was decent, but I saw more stuttering than I’d like to see on a high-end gaming laptop.
Like the other Blade models, Razer has changed it to a Stealth keyboard. This makes it easier to accidentally hit an arrow while trying to press Shift. No more: Razer has lengthened the Shift key and squashed the arrow keys half its height below. As someone who uses the shift key more than I use the up arrow, I like it this way. The control panel is also very nice and very comfortable to press with incredible silence.
Another peripheral worth mentioning is the speaker. Like last year’s Blade, this laptop has speakers that pop up on each side of the keyboard. The sound it produces is impressive for a laptop of this size, although it lacks strong bass (as laptop audio often does). Using the Blade, I feel comfortable playing music in my bedroom and living room without external speakers. It’s better than the G14 and comparable to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, but the Pro does a better job with bass.
In addition to the Intel Core i7-1065G7 quad-core processor, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD, I tested the Blade model with a GTX Nvidia 1650 Ti with Max Q design. The GTX 1650 Ti is a small step up from the latest Blade Stealth, the GTX 1650. But we didn’t expect has the same power as the RTX 2060 that can come in the Zephyrus G14. It showed up in our tests. Incognito runs Shadow of the Tomb Raider at an average of 45fps on the highest settings. It’s pretty playable, if you want to lower the settings you’ll definitely hit 60. However, that’s a worse frame rate than the G14, which clocked in at 74fps in the same benchmark.
The Blade also performed well in our Premiere Pro tests, which included exporting 5 minutes of 4K video. This unit completed the task in 5 minutes 50 seconds. This is a better result than we got from the MacBook Pro 13 (without a dedicated graphics card), as well as the Surface Book 13 inch 3 with GTX 1650 Max Q.
Of course, on a laptop of this size and screen, most people spend more time on daily productivity than heavy media editing. For typical office work, the Blade works well. I’ve used it for 12 to 16 Chrome, Slack, Spotify, and Zoom apps, as well as jumping in for various tasks like downloading files, copying folders, and batch image processing. All in all good, I haven’t noticed any difference in performance between the Blade and larger devices like the G14.
Blade fans are often spinning, but only when running a large number of Chrome applications or other demanding programs (like games) make annoying noises. The base of the chassis is usually warm in his lap, but not hot enough to move him.
Battery life is good, but the profile you choose has a big impact on results. I got over seven hours on the Windows Better Battery and Battery Saver profiles, as well as Razer’s Battery Saver profile. Our battery test involved running the laptop at 200 nits of brightness during our typical workday (mine is detailed above). I only got five and a half hours in the better Windows performance profile with Razer Balanced settings. I haven’t seen a huge performance difference between the battery presets (you’re going to plug it in when you play anyway), so I’ll use it over Battery Saver if I need juice for the day.
As gaming laptops go, battery life is pretty good. Seven hours is comparable to what I got from the XPS 13 through the same workload, and better than the MacBook Pro 13.
Razer’s 2020 Blade Stealth 13 is a powerful and beautiful computer. Almost everything about it is good. The problem is that when it comes to gaming – the main attraction – there is only one 14-inch device out there. Because of this, I can’t recommend the Blade as the best portable gaming laptop for most people. Asus and AMD have the crown now.
That said, there’s a reason why everyone wants a Razer laptop. One of them is the built-in webcam. Another is the Blade Stealth aesthetic, including a gorgeous color keyboard. Another is the form factor. The G14 is too big and too heavy. If you’re willing to sacrifice some gaming performance for other laptops in this category, the Blade Stealth 13 is for you.