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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  • tipoo - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    I'm guessing it would be the same as the internal display - the discreet GPU just poops its output into the integrated GPUs memory so it can be output to the monitor, which only has one physical connection to the internal GPU. Reply
  • voicequal - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    This would be great for my application, except the Intel mobile chipsets don't support the number of devices I need from the USB3 controller. You'd be lucky to get more than 10 external devices working off the xHCI controller before the dreaded Not enough USB controller resources error. http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/forum/s...

    For what it's worth, I find DisplayPort preferable over HDMI because DP is more flexible for splitting to multiple monitors.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    The accepted answers on that link cite the problem as one of maximum power the port can put out; just because the port can address 127 devices doesn't mean it can provide them all with power. Non-charging USB3 ports are limited to 0.9 amps of 5v current; which ports (if any) get extra power for charging stuff is upto the motherboard OEM to decide if they want to provide extra power to it or not. Reply
  • voicequal - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    Unfortunately the accepted answer on that thread isn't the issue. The error is due to the limited number of USB devices/endpoints supported by the Intel xHCI controller. I'm curious if more devices are supported on the Broadwell chipsets, but don't have one to test yet. Reply
  • ruthan - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    I dont believe whole conclusion.. if this is truth:
    " When the fans are running though, the laptop is very loud. We measured 55.0 dBA at 1 inch from the system after one hour of gaming. It is very loud, and very noticeable. In my opinion, any gaming on the Razer Blade would necessitate headphones.."

    For me it means that whole laptop design failed - too much hoursepower for cooling system, good experience and performance only on paper or for deaf people..
    Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - link

    agreed. They should have stuck with the 37 watt i7 and put the 965m in instead. Reply
  • ingwe - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    This looks so great. I wish they would have actually gone with a lower power CPU to get better battery life. I also wish that there would be DP in addition to HDMI. These are relatively minor gripes. Now to come up with $2700 for this... Reply
  • HiTechObsessed - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    Again, why don't y'all ever look at Sager laptops? The Sager NP8651 is less than an inch thick, packs a dual-fan-cooled 970m, the same quad-core i7 CPU, but has a starting price of $1,225 as opposed to $2k. Essentially, the Sager offers the same performance, while only spending a little over 60%?

    Even when adding an SSD to the Sager and Windows, you're still substantially cheaper.
    Reply
  • awlllwa - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    I have had my NP8652 (980m model) for about a month now and it is awesome. All said an done, the same price as this here Razer, but with a 4k Sharp screen, 2x 512gb SSDs, 1tb HDD, and the chaise is not that thick. Like .2-.3" more, for way better internals, and I still have one more m.2 slot and 2 empty sodimm slots.

    I did strongly consider the 2014 Blade, but couldn't swallow the 870m for that price, this new one feels much of the same.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, February 12, 2015 - link

    Because neither Sager, nor anyone who rebadges Sager laptops and sells them under their name is willing to send a review sample. Reply

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