Razer have updated their gaming laptop lineup with some impressive hardware, but have they finally made the jump to AMD? Well, no. But I’ll discuss why, and there are some other changes worth talking about.
Improvements to 15” base and advanced models
In terms of 15-inch gaming laptops, Razer still have their base model and higher tier advanced models, though with some welcome improvements. Both have been updated with Nvidia’s latest RTX 3000 series graphics.
The main changes in these laptops seems to be in the panels. The advanced model is available with a 240Hz 1440p screen, or a 360Hz 1080p screen. I’ve seen other companies at CES start taking advantage of that new 360Hz 1080p screen, but this is the first time I’ve seen a mention of a 240Hz 1440p, because up until now I’ve only heard of 165Hz 1440p panels.
The lower tier and cheaper base model on the other hand has 1080p 120Hz or 144Hz options, as well as that 1440p 165Hz option that I was just talking about. Razer are claiming some pretty low response times for all of these panels.
Apart from the panel options, the lower tier base model doesn’t really seem to have that many other changes. The advanced model on the other hand has received quite a few quality of life improvements. G-Sync is now available too, but only with the 1440p 240Hz option. Last year Razer’s laptops had one M.2 storage slot, which made storage upgrades annoying as you either need to clone the existing Windows installation, or install a fresh version of windows and all your programs. The new models now have two M.2 slots, with one stacked on top of the other to make the most out of the available space. Razer has also stopped offering the advanced model with a 512gb NVMe SSD.
1 TB is the baseline, so you’ll be able to install Call of Duty four times instead of twice. The advanced model has also been updated to the latest Wi-Fi 6E. This isn’t a huge deal just yet as not that many access points yet support this new standard, but that will be more useful in the future, and it does make sense to include latest and greatest features like this in a more premium laptop.
The advanced model is now also available with up to 32gb of memory. You can of course upgrade either the base or advanced model up to 64gb yourself, but prior to this, Razer only offered 32gb with the Studio models, so now you can buy 32gb from the get go with the advanced.
It will be interesting to test out thermals with the new RTX 3000 series graphics, especially as the advanced model is now almost 1 mm thinner, so slightly less space for cooling. I asked Razer if the advanced model was still capped to a 45 watt TDP in a CPU only workload, and they advised me that they’ve raised it up, so that should help boost multicore performance compared to last generation despite using the same processors.
Improvements to 17” Razer Blade Pro
Moving up from the 15 inches, Razer still have the larger Blade Pro 17. Again with some nice updates, particularly in the screen options. Like the smaller 15” models, the 17” is also available with 165Hz 1440p, 360Hz 1080p, and like last generation, 4K 120Hz touch screen too. It’s great to see all these new panel options for both 15” and 17” gaming laptops, though those three panels that I just mentioned aren’t exclusive to Razer, and we will be seeing them from other laptop companies too.
Outside of the upgrade to Nvidia RTX 3000 and those screen options just mentioned, there doesn’t appear to be that many changes to the 17” model.
Razer Blade Stealth 13”
There was no news on the 13 inch Razer Blade Stealth, probably as that was only just refreshed with Intel’s 11th gen U series processors a few months ago. So this means it’s probably not going to get another update until something like Intel 12th gen comes out maybe at the end of the year.
Why aren’t Razer using AMD Ryzen 5000 processors?
Now let’s talk about the CPU situation. Razer are still making use of Intel 10th gen processors here. No AMD, and Intel 11th gen H series is probably still a couple of months away. So with that in mind, it’s hard to say whether these 10th gen CPUs are still worth considering. If it’s just a couple of months to wait for 11th gen, I’d probably just hold on.
I did ask Razer if they had considered using AMD’s Ryzen 5000 processors, but unfortunately I didn’t get a response in time.
From what I’ve heard from others, it sounds like Ryzen 5000 might be limited to PCIe 3.0 x8 for the GPU, while Intel is able to go to x16. Depending on the game, resolution, and settings, this could mean an Intel still does better in AMD in some CPU heavy games. I’ll definitely be comparing them once they’re all available.
Pricing and availability
The new early 2021 blade 15 goes on sale later this month and will be shipping next month in February. But again I can’t really see why it’s not worth waiting just a little bit more to see what 11th gen is like.
When I compared 10th gen and 11th gen U series processors the performance difference was actually fairly large. So yeah, if it were me and I really wanted a Razer laptop, I’d wait just a little bit more.
These are the prices we’re looking at for different configurations of the blade 15 base model, so starting at $1500 USD for the 1660 Ti model, or $2200 for RTX 3070. The advanced model on the other hand starts at a higher $2500 price, but it also uses a higher tier 8 core CPU and can go up to higher RTX 3080 graphics. The Blade 17 pro is a little pricier, and has 3060, 3070 and 3080 configurations.
All things considered, there’s no major changes to the Razer lineup here. RTX 3000 is definitely a nice refresh, and the 15” advanced model does also have some nice extras, and all models now also have better screen options, but for the most part the base model and 17” versions seem pretty unchanged.