Hands on: Razer Blade Stealth 13 Review

Razer claims this is the first genuine "gaming ultrabook"

First Impressions

Gaming without a graphics card really is a mind-blowing innovation. If the Razer Blade Stealth 13 can produce a performance worthy of a gaming laptop, while offering an extended battery life, this may well become one of the best Ultrabooks on the market.

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £1499
  • 13.3-inch Full HD / 4K display
  • Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU
  • Integrated Intel Iris Plus graphics
  • 16GB RAM
  • Weight from: 1.32kg

What is the Razer Blade Stealth 13?

The Razer Blade Stealth 13 is the company’s entry-level laptop, prioritising portability but still providing a decent gaming performance. The Razer Blade Stealth 13 is not a new product, but Razer did confirm during IFA 2019 it will update its Ultrabooks with all-new gubbins to make it more powerful and battery efficient.

The biggest change is the integration of Intel’s 10th Generation Ice Lake processor. While a CPU refresh generally only means a smoother performance and reduced loading times, that’s not the case this time round thanks to Ice Lake’s integrated graphics engine.

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Razer Blade Stealth 13

The baseline Razer Blade Stealth 13 doesn’t feature a graphics card at all, exclusively relying on the Ice Lake CPU for its GPU grunt. Intel and Razer claim the absence of a dedicated graphics card means battery life can be extended, while also suggesting performance remains consistent whether the Blade Stealth 13 is plugged into the mains or on the move, which truly is a game-changing feature.

I went hands-on with Razer’s Ultrabook at IFA 2019 to see whether the Razer Blade Stealth 13’s mind-boggling features are as legitimate as Intel and Razer say.

Razer Blade Stealth 13 price – How much will it cost?

The new Razer Blade Stealth 13, featuring Intel’s 10th Generation processor, will have a starting price of £1499. This model will have no discrete graphics card but will still be able to run select video games thanks to Intel’s Ice Lake integrated graphics.

If you fancy a more powerful version of the Stealth 13, capable of a stable performance for AAA games, then there’s a more expensive model, priced at £1799, that features a GTX 1650 GPU. And then if you want to upgrade from Full HD to 4K, you can opt for the £1999 version.

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Razer Blade Stealth 13 release date – When will it be available?

The Razer Blade Stealth 13 is already available in the US but UK customers will have to wait a little longer, with Razer suggesting its updated Ultrabook will hit stores towards the end of this month (September).

Razer Blade Stealth 13 preview – Gaming without a graphics card

Gaming laptops have long had multiple flaws. Performance drops significantly when detached from a power supply, battery life is limited to a few hours and they usually weigh more than the entry-level dumbbell at the gym.

Razer has long tried to tackle these issues with the Blade Stealth 13, opting for low-performing GPUs to keep the laptop as skinny and lightweight as possible, while still being able to game on the go.

However, by Razer’s own admission, the Blade Stealth 13 was so meek in terms of performance it could hardly even be called a gaming Ultrabook – you’re basically limited to multiplayer titles such as Apex Legends and Overwatch, or indie titles that aren’t demanding of the GPU.

This looks set to change with an upcoming updated model featuring Intel’s new 10th Generation Ice Lake processor, which boasts an integrated graphics engine. This means the entry-level Razer Blade Stealth 13 doesn’t require a processor to game, and yet still sees a stable high performance.

Razer Blade Stealth

I spent some time gaming on the Razer Blade Stealth 13 and the performance was quite surprising as it ran Halo: Reach remastered, which is arriving soon on The Master Chief Collection.

The frame rate fluctuated between 40fps and 60fps – such a performance isn’t good enough to please ultra-competitive gamers, but it’s still perfectly playable and appeared smooth to the naked eye. To see a laptop running an AAA game at this frame rate without a graphics card is groundbreaking – make no mistake about that.

Razer also claims the Blade Stealth, using Intel’s Iris Plus Graphics, will be able to run Overwatch at 60fps (albeit with detail set to low) and CounterStrike Go at 60fps (with mid details). I can’t confirm such figures, but Razer disclosed enough information that I trust the data.

This does suggest the Razer Blade Stealth 13 will still struggle to run AAA games at 60fps, but you have the option to upgrade to a GTX 1650 graphics cards if you’re desperate to play the likes of The Witcher 3 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, although bear in mind that you’ll likely still have to lower graphics settings.

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Razer Blade Stealth Ice Lake

There is a big benefit to keeping with the baseline Stealth with the 25W Intel Lake processor though, and that’s battery life. With no dedicated graphics card gulping down all the juice, Razer claims the baseline Stealth 13 will see a superior stamina. No exact figures could be confirmed, but I see the reasoning behind this bold claim and I’m excited to see how much extra battery life you can squeeze out of it.

Razer also told me the new Stealth 13 will see the same performance away from the mains as when plugged in. I personally think this is incredibly exciting, as I’ve been dissuaded from gaming on the go on a number of occasions due to the performance sacrifice.

Away from the performance, what else has changed with the Stealth 13? Not a lot to be honest, but that’s actually a good thing.

In order to accommodate all the new gubbins, the Stealth is slightly chunkier but only by an increase of a measly 0.5mm. The entry-level Intel Iris Plus Graphics Stealth 13 is now also available in Mercury White and it looks incredibly good. I’m concerned whether such a colour option may look grubby after months of use, but there’s no questioning its beauty straight out the box.

Thanks to Intel’s 10th Generation CPU, you also see improved connectivity with Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 3, but Razer has importantly still kept two USB-A ports available so you can easily plug in your old peripherals.

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Razer Blade Stealth

Elsewhere, you’re still getting the same quality design, sharp and colourful display, and fantastic RGB keyboard as the previous Razer Blade Stealth 13, which is genuinely one of my favourite Ultrabooks currently available.

My only reservation is the price: at £1499 it’s not exactly cheap, costing the same as Razer’s previous Stealth 13 model with a Nvidia GeForce MX150 discrete GPU.

I’m yet to see how much of a performance jump you’re getting with the new Iris Plus Graphics engine over the GeForce MX150, but if it’s enough of a leap and battery life really is noticeably better, then Razer really has been true to its word by boasting it’s created the world’s first gaming Ultrabook.

Initial verdict

Gaming without a graphics card really is a mind-blowing innovation. If the Razer Blade Stealth 13 can produce a performance worthy of a gaming laptop, while offering an extended battery life, this may well become one of the best Ultrabooks on the market. 

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