Here at CES 2016 there have been plenty of announcements for premium Ultrabooks. However, what has been neat is how every OEM has managed to not only create high-end hardware but devices that have unique traits and selling points as differentiators.
Razer just announced their new Blade Stealth Ultrabook, which features a 12.5-inch QHD or 4K display panel. I think Razer not only created an exciting laptop, but something that is just different than what HP, Dell, Acer, or others are doing. That variety is important, and I dare you to look at this laptop and not think it has a certain cool factor (even if it's not for you).
We spent some time with Kevin Sather, global director of marketing at Razer, who walks us through what makes the Blade Stealth unique.
Razer Blade Stealth
- QHD (2560 x 1440) or 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution 12.5-inch IGZO touch display
- 128GB / 256GB / 512GB PCIe SSD options
- Intel® Core™ i7-6500U Dual-Core Processor (2.5GHz / 3.1GHz)
- Intel® HD Graphics 520
- 8GB Dual-Channel System Memory (LPDDR3-1866MHz)
- Windows® 10 (64-bit)
- Wireless-AC (802.11a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth® 4.1)
- Thunderbolt™ 3 (USB-C)
- USB 3.0 port x 2 (SuperSpeed)
- Built-in webcam (2.0MP)
- Chroma anti-ghosting keyboard with individually backlit keys
- HDMI 1.4b audio and video output
- Built-in stereo speakers
- 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo port
- Built-in array microphone
- Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) security chip embedded
- Compact 45W USB-C power adapter
- 45Wh rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery
- 0.52 in. / 13.1 mm (Height) x 12.6 in. / 321 mm (Width) x 8.1 in. / 206 mm (Depth)
- 2.75 lbs. / 1.25 kg
The specs of the Blade Stealth fall in line with many Ultrabooks, but there are a few differences two:
- Chroma anti-ghosting keyboard with individually backlit keys, which look fabulous
- Low $999 starting price, which still features a Core i7 processor and QHD display
Razer is being aggressive in pricing with this laptop and offering many different skews. Even the "base" model still features a WQHD display and Core i7 processor. For a 12.5-inch device, those are impressive features to have in what is already a fantastic, metal laptop.
Of course, the Blade Stealth has a secret weapon up its sleeve in the form of Razer Core. The Blade Stealth is too thin and light to feature a dedicated GPU, so Razer is letting users add it via a separate station. The Razer Core allows you to swap in and out a single double-wide, full-length, PCI-Express x16 graphics card with just no tools. You connect the unit to the Blade Stealth via one cable through USB Type-C, which not only handles all the graphics but also powers the laptop.
Yes, folks, that Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps cable is one powerful tool.
This configuration to me was revealing: you can now have a laptop when out at work that transforms into a gaming rig when you return. Think of this as Continuum but with a laptop. On your desk, you could have some premium monitors, mouse and keyboard setup and your Blade Stealth as the rest. (Before you ask, the Razer Core only works with the Blade Stealth at this time because you need some fancy BIOS settings to be able to connect and hand-off the dGPU during this process; it's similar to how a Surface Book operates).
The downside is Razer Core is still a few months out. The reason is very likely due to Razer having to work with Nvidia and AMD on driver compatibility along with their own BIOS settings. Keep in mind that a lot of what is being done is still on the fringes of modern computing.
Putting aside the gaming value the Blade Stealth is just a fantastic looking machine with the chops. And that is what is cool about it as it's not only for gamers but for people who just want something a little different and with style. Toss in the Razer Core, however, and you just transformed the Blade Stealth into something else.
Razer will be selling the Blade Stealth through their website starting today as well as Microsoft Stores in the coming weeks. For those who like Microsoft's Signature Series, you'll be happy to learn to that Razer ships with such a barebones image of the OS Microsoft has to add some software before they sell it as a Signature device.
I think with the aggressive pricing, stylized design and unique positioning Razer has brought a compelling device to market. Frankly, I want one and I'm not even a hardcore gamer. The laptop is light, the build quality is excellent and let's face it,that glowing keyboard is whimsically cool.
Let us know what you think in the comments and whether you would want such a laptop.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.