The 2013 Razer Blade was a great gaming system with a not so great display. For 2014, Razer outfitted the Blade with a Sharp IGZO 3200x1800 display, as well as a faster GPU. The GeForce GTX 870M was a pretty potent graphics card, and the improved display made the Blade one of the best Windows laptops around. But it was not without its faults. For a laptop that was over $2000, it came with just 8 GB of system memory, and although the GTX 870M was a powerful GPU for last year, it would struggle with framerates at the native resolution of the laptop. So for 2015, Razer is back with another updated version of the Razer Blade, hoping to rectify the remaining nits that we like to pick.

The first major upgrade is the GPU. The 2014 Razer Blade was outfitted with the Kepler based GK104 870M. With one SMX disabled, the 870M came in with 1344 cores. But in October 2014, NVIDIA released their new Maxwell 2.0 based GM204 chips, and they showed not only a performance boost, but much better performance per watt. In a desktop that equates into smaller, less expensive cooling solutions, but in mobile, the lower power draw of the new parts is even more important in unlocking performance. Laptops have been getting smaller and smaller, making it harder to keep a power hungry GPU cool. For the 2015 Razer Blade, the new GTX 970M is now pushing pixels, which should give a nice jump in performance as well as keep the temperatures in check while gaming.

The next upgrade is the CPU. For 2013 and 2014, Razer outfitted the Blade with a quad-core Intel Core i7-4702HQ. This was a 37 watt Haswell CPU, with a 2.2 GHz base and 3.2 GHz turbo frequency. It offered good performance for day to day tasks on the Blade. However, for 2015, there is a substantial upgrade here as well. Although Razer has not said, it is likely that the decreased power draw of the 970M GPU allowed for more of the system TDP to be allocated to the CPU, so the new Blade comes with the Intel Core i7-4720HQ CPU, which is a 47 watt part. The increased TDP allows higher clock speeds, with 2.6 GHz as the base and 3.6 GHz as the turbo, and the ability to keep more cores at a higher frequency under load. It also allows for a higher boost frequency for the integrated HD 4600 GPU.

The last major upgrade is system memory, which is now 16 GB of DDR3L-1600 on the 3200x1800 version of the Blade. Here it is important to specify the model, because for 2015, Razer has introduced a different version of the Blade as well. They are now offering a 1080p version of the Blade, which will come with an anti-glare IPS display, a 256 GB SSD, and only 8 GB of system memory. With the 970M and updated CPU, this model should be plenty fast to run games at native resolution, and the lower resolution panel should help with battery life as well. We will try to get one in to test it against its 3200x1800 IGZO outfitted brother.

Razer Blade 14-Inch Specifications
  2014
(Last Model)
2015
(New Model)
Processor Intel Core i7-4702HQ
(4x2.2GHz + HTT, Turbo to 3.2GHz, 22nm, 6MB L3, 37W)
Intel Core i7-4720HQ
(4x2.6GHz + HTT, Turbo to 3.6GHz, 22nm, 6MB L3, 47W)
Chipset Intel HM87 Intel HM87
Memory 8GB DDR3L-1600 16GB DDR3L-1600
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce GTX 870M 3GB GDDR5
1344 CUDA cores,
941 MHz core
5 GHz memory clocks
192-bit memory bus

Intel HD 4600 Graphics
(20 EUs, up to 1.15GHz)
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M 3GB GDDR5
1280 CUDA cores,
924 MHz + Boost
5 GHz memory clocks
192-bit memory bus

Intel HD 4600 Graphics
(20 EUs, up to 1.20GHz)
Display 14" Glossy 16:9 3200x1800
Sharp LQ140Z1JW01 IGZO
Multitouch with LED Backlight
Optional
Anti-Glare Matte 16:9 1920x1080
LED Backlight non-touch
Hard Drive(s) 128/256/512GB
SATA M.2
256GB Only on 1080p model
Optical Drive N/A
Networking Intel Wireless-AC 7260HMW
Dual Band 2x2:2 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.0
Audio Realtek ALC269 HD audio
Stereo speakers
Combination mic/headphone jack
Battery 150 watt power adapter
70Wh Lithium-Ion Polymer
Front Side -
Right Side USB 3.0
HDMI 1.4a
Kensington Lock
Left Side AC adapter
2x USB 3.0
Combination mic/headphone jack
Back Side -
Operating System Windows 8.1 64-bit
Dimensions 13.6" x 9.3 " x 0.70"
345mm x 235mm x 17.8mm
Weight QHD+ Model:
4.47 lbs
2.03 kg
1080p Model:
4.19 lbs
1.9 kg
Extras 2.0 MP Webcam
Razer Synapse 2.0 Software
10-point Multitouch Display on QHD+ Model
Backlit anti-ghosting keyboard
Warranty 1 year limited
Pricing $2199.99 for 128GB QHD+ Model
$2399.99 for 256GB QHD+ Model
$2699.99 for 512GB QHD+ Model
$1999.99 for 256 GB 1080p Model

That constitutes the majority of the changes over last year. One other minor change that is worth mentioning here is that the Samsung PM851 SSD has been replaced with the LiteOn L9G, but those hoping for a PCI-E based SSD in the Razer Blade for this year will be disappointed. This is still a SATA based model in M.2 form factor. LiteOn specifies the L9G model to have 520 MB/s sequential reads on all versions, and 310 MB/s sequential write speeds on the 128 GB model, and 440 MB/s sequential writes on the 256 GB and 512 GB models, and 85K read IOPS and 75K write IOPS at 4K random workloads. There has not been a degradation in performance with this year’s model, and it even nudges past the PM851 on our PCMark Storage benchmark. We reached out to Razer to inquire about the SSD change, and was informed that they source from several manufacturers, so the PM851 in last year’s model was possibly luck of the draw.

Design and Chassis
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  • peterfares - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    There are lots of issues with HDMI 1.4 and 2560x1440. Most don't seem to be able to do 2560x1440 at 60Hz.

    http://www.notebookcheck.net/2560x1440-or-2560x160...

    Most of these tests were able to get 55Hz after setting a custom resolution. I tried once to get 2560x1440 60Hz out of a laptop with only HDMI and I couldn't do it whereas my laptops with DisplayPort I can just plug in and it works.
    Reply
  • close - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    It doesn't mimic anything. It's just a good design. It's like saying that all cars mimic the Ford Model T or something. It is a shame indeed that it lack some connectivity but if they actually did study the market and most of their potential customers wanted this it sounds reasonable enough. Reply
  • Jaisah - Thursday, September 3, 2015 - link

    The body is almost identical to the rMBP and even the inside (fan positioning, soldered ram and location, speaker position, battery position) looks very similar to the rMPB. Maybe they didn't copy the rMBP but they certainly used it for inspiration :P Reply
  • Uplink10 - Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - link

    Why do people buy laptops with pricey gimped i7 CPUs, which cost the same as ungimped CPUs. They should make laptop with i5 desktop CPU which is much cheaper but it is not gimped and has the same performance. Reply
  • dragonsqrrl - Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - link

    ... and a far higher TDP.

    Oh and the answer to your question: TDP (probably package size as well)
    Reply
  • anactoraaron - Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - link

    What? Did you just start reading AT? They analyzed this not too long ago. http://www.anandtech.com/show/7287/analyzing-the-p... The higher end quad w/ht i7 laptop chips hold their own against any desktop i5... and at a much lower tdp. I'm not sure how you define gimped Reply
  • Uplink10 - Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - link

    They could have higher clocks but also a little higher TDP. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    Because at about the same TDP the mobile i7 is faster than the desktop i5. The 47W i7-4720m has a base of 2.6ghz and can turbo to 3.4-3.6. The 45W i5-4690T only has a base of 2.5GHz and tops out at 3.1-3.5 for turbo. The overall TDP between the two chips is closer because the desktop chipset is 4.1W vs 2.7 for the mobile one. To get faster than a baseline mobile i7 you need to go to the 65W S series i5s. Normal laptops don't do that because an extra 20W of TDP will give much better returns most of the time with a faster GPU. You'll occasionally see a desktop CPU it in an 18-19" luggable; but other than in form factor those machines don't really qualify as laptops because they're too big, too heavy, and have too little battery life even at idle to be usable away from a desk.

    And even at that, in turbo mode the top end end mobile 47W i7-4980HQ is faster than the 88w desktop i5.
    Reply
  • Uplink10 - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    I thought you generally have laptop plugged in when playing games. And when you do not play games for few hours, you can use a CPU with little higher TDP. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    It's not about battery life. You have to get the heat out. On a desktop PC, the headsink and fan combo is 3-4 times thicker than the entire laptop. Next, look at the cooling solution on a GTX 970 desktop part and then look at the laptop. Reply

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