Skip to main content

Apple's new MacBook Pro isn't the 13-inch 'pro' laptop king — Razer Blade Stealth is

Razer Blade Stealth
Razer Blade Stealth (Image credit: Windows Central)

MacBook Pro

Source: Apple (Image credit: Source: Apple)

While the world is staying home in quarantine, the tech companies have at least been keeping us entertained with hardware launches, and today, once again, it's Apple's turn with a new 13-inch MacBook Pro. And while some corners of the internet will go wild, as you'd expect, those of us that follow the Windows scene can look again and wonder just why folks are eager to throw piles of cash at the Cupertino giant.

There was a time when Apple led the way in making desirable, high-end laptops, but those days are gone. In the world of the 13-inch laptop, there is a new king of the hill for professional class hardware, and it comes from Razer, not Apple.

What you get with the new MacBook Pro 13-inch

Apple Macbook Pro 13

Source: AppleIt plays Dota 2, cool. (Image credit: Source: Apple)

Make no mistake, the hardware on the MacBook Pro 13-inch is excellent. Much is unchanged, like the Retina Display with True Tone which will continue to look eyewatering good. Apple's sticking with the Touch Bar, too, even though it's pretty weak compared to something like ASUS' ScreenPad, and while there are no legacy ports, there are still four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 connections which are more than you'll find on most Windows machines.

The MacBook Pro is, well, underwhelming.

The new stuff sounds good, too. 10th Gen Intel processors with Iris Plus graphics, a better keyboard and a higher base storage capacity from its SSD. Apple's also using fast LPDDR4X RAM, and even though the design is pretty dated at this point, you at least know it's going to be well built.

There are some flies in the ointment, though, the first is that the 10th Gen models only start at $1,800, not the $1,200 entry point that you see in the store. Yes, Apple really did just launch two "new" versions of the MacBook Pro 13-inch with 8th Gen Intel processors. Sly dogs.

There's also no dedicated graphics, and to me, that's the biggest omission from a laptop which calls itself "Pro" in 2020. Apple and NVIDIA don't work together, OK, and maybe AMD's new RX 5500M just won't work in the MacBook Pro chassis. I'm not claiming to be smart enough to figure it out, but Apple really should be. Especially when you're having to fork out $2,000 just to get a Core i7.

After all ... Razer figured it out.

The Razer Blade Stealth is the king

Enter stage left, the Razer Blade Stealth. Swooping in like a wrecking ball to rewrite the rulebook for a 13-inch Ultrabook. High resolution and high refresh rate displays? Check. Dedicated graphics? Check. 10th Gen processors? You bet.

Obviously, it's never black and white, and the rumors of Apple's switch to its own design, ARM-based CPUs continues to swirl, but those don't exist yet and what does exist is, frankly, underwhelming. Razer, by comparison to Apple, is a small company, but a company that is continually pushing innovation. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

The Blade Stealth costs MacBook Pro money and has so much more to offer.

The latest refresh to the Blade Stealth is mind-blowing. There's no other way to describe it. Sure, it's targeted at gamers like the rest of the Blade lineup, but as we've come to see in recent times, the crossover between gaming machines and other fields like content creation are continually blurring.

The base model has a MacBook Pro-matching 16GB of 3733MHz LPDDR4X RAM and 512GB of storage. Razer pairs these, though, with a Core i7-1065G7, and in this case a full HD display but with a 120Hz refresh rate. Because gamers want fast refresh rates.

Where Razer really pulls ahead is that the Blade Stealth doesn't rely on Iris Plus graphics. It has a GTX 1650 Ti 4GB inside from NVIDIA. And let's not beat around the bush, it annihilates the Iris Plus G7 integrated GPU. And the price for all this? $1,800.

You see where I'm going. If you'd like a more content-creation friendly 4K touch display, it's another $200 on top. Pretty good, right?

Why buy Apple anymore?

Razer Blade Stealth

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

We've written many comparisons with Apple's laptops because whether they run Windows or not, they're in direct competition to a number of the best and brightest from this side of the OS ocean. And we'll always try to be as fair as possible, but one question always comes back around.

Why should anyone buy a MacBook Pro?

Razer is the king of the small "Pro" laptop now.

Ultimately, we settle on the same answer. Apple's software and services are locked-in. While you can enjoy much of what Microsoft makes on a Mac, you can't reverse that. And for folks entrenched in apps like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro, there's no comparable product on Windows. Apple's control of the hardware/software mix results in an incredible, optimized experience, and it's totally understandable that those who use them wouldn't be able to leave them behind.

But for everyone else, Apple isn't the king anymore. The Windows family continues to innovate, benefitting from advances made by Intel and AMD, NVIDIA, Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo, Razer, ASUS and so many more. The ecosystem is thriving, and aside from a small group, there really is no "must buy" reason to get a Mac anymore.

If you're looking for a 13-inch Pro laptop, give the Razer Blade Stealth a try.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

47 Comments
  • There's no reason to fixate on comparing this laptop with the MacBook Pro 13", other than to drive clicks. MacBook buyers know why they buy them, and neither this laptop nor this review will change their minds. I own a MacBook primarily to do iOS development, since the world decided iOS and Android are the only two mobile platforms worth supporting. Maybe try comparing this laptop to its actual competition: other Windows laptops, such as the Dell XPS 13.
  • If you're happy, then that's fine. But saying the MacBook doesn't have competition from another 13-inch laptop just sounds like you drank the Cupertino Kool Aid my friend.
  • > just sounds like you drank the Cupertino Kool Aid There is no reason to be condescending -- to quote one of the prominent writers on this site "MacBook doesn't have competition from another 13-inch laptop" *for him* and rightfully so, because iOS development tools are not available on Windows (don't bother telling me about VS 2019, I am familiar with it).
  • Pure for iOS compilation most could also just buy a cheaper/older Macbook, no need for a new overpriced one.
  • You are absolutely right. Even though compiling large project on the 6-year old device with the rotational drive is nobody's idea of fun :) This said, if you need modern laptop and do iOS development, Windows-based laptops are not on the radar as a competition. My only point was, that article author decided to be condescending towards the reader that represents a non-trivial segment of the population.
  • Sounds like fun developing on such an older hardware. Don't treat software development in general is just typing bunch of codes in a text and clicking Build button and you are done, oh no there is way way more than that and compiling huge project actually taxing on system resources. Programming may not need beast gaming PC to develop something, but that doesn't mean you can simply write code on a huge project on a potato computer. This applies to MacBook as well even making iOS apps. There is a reason why several companies purchase MacBooks when they do multi-platform mobile app development instead of Windows simply because of XCode. I have a friend who use MacBook given by his company whether he likes it or not, because this is their only way for cross-platform development. Yes Xamarin is there, but that is not still not enough, because if it is, there will be more developers using it and also its also about familiarity as well. If you don't do iOS app development, then Windows machines are perfectly fine and you won't need Macs at all, unless you simply prefer its environment and its Unix subsystem, which some developers do prefer. Which is also why Microsoft started integrating WSL to Windows 10
  • When you use Xamarin you can link your Windows laptop to the Macbook, hence no need for a new Macbook unless compilation time is of essence. Pure iOS app developers are out of luck though I think. For your last paragraph: of course if people prefer MacOS than that they should of course use that. But to say Windows laptops are never competition to Macbooks is something I don't agree with. People mention Macbooks as alternative for Windows laptops so why isn't the reverse possible?
  • They assume everyone buying a laptop is platform partisan, and that switching goes only in one direction. I definitely moved to Windows PCs from Macs, even as I moved all of my mobile devices to iOS. If you develop for iOS, that's just something you have to deal with. Apple has a closed ecosystem. You have to buy their hardware to get a laptop that runs the only platform that their developer tools run on. For Content Creation, that blade annihilates the 13" MBP. It isn't even close, and it's even a better option than the 16" IMO. The only selling point of these MacBooks is macOS itself (if you fancy it) and the fact that if you're a developer you don't have a choice at all on what type of Laptop to buy (if you want to be able to do that stuff with mobility).
  • Other than availability of programs/apps (a gap which has been narrowing rapidly due to proliferation of web apps and increase in Mac support for many software services including Office 365), what exactly is Windows better at than MacOS at this point in terms of the actual OS itself? Please be specific.
  • You are feeding the troll :(
  • Admittedly Incanter, you’re right. I’m really not trying to start a flame war here though, just trying to understand a different point of view. I’ve thoroughly used both Windows 10 and MacOS (I even used Windows Phone at one point, owned a Lumia 920, 925 and 950 until Windows 10 Mobile died). Honestly, after using both in depth, I can’t imagine saying that, purely as an operating system (not taking into account hardware, pricing or anything else), Windows 10 is better in any practical way. In fact, it’s almost overwhelming how much more polished OS X is (or MacOS, whatever). After countless hours of dealing with Windows 10 problems (even on Microsoft’s own flagship Surface hardware), the overwhelming inconsistently and lack of polish makes me feel like every time I go back to using MacOS I’m stepping into 2020 again and Windows is like some relic of the past trying its best to be modern and cool-looking but underneath it’s this ancient, hampered mess that you constantly have to deal with. I can understand disagreements about the pricing and hardware and all that, but comparing them as operating systems, I really do want to understand how Windows 10 is better in even one meaningful way.
  • Windows 10 supports much more games (and better optimized), vr, Vulkan & opengl support is much better (Metal is not enough), active pen support (I use it all the time in Office too), much better legacy support. People are just still butthurt because of WP (coming from a WP user).
    Windows 10 is perfectly fine as a laptop and desktop OS and even ok as tablet OS (which Macbook does not even give the option for). And Windows 10 does not have any real disadvantages compared to MacOS besides for pure iOS developers (/not Xamarin ones). Security is good with Windows 10 (Malware Bytes even reported that they found more malware on MacOS relatively than on Windows 10 with first scans). Stability is good as a non-beta user. Most of the interface is modern and works both with mouse, keyboard and touch.
  • I can see the point about touch support. Although I use a Surface Pro 6 every day for many hours and I can tell you that the pen support stutters and lags constantly behind the pen itself, it’s annoying and again just yet another quality and refinement issue. That being said, it definitely does come in handy so I can see how that is legitimate advantage that you have pen support without extra hardware unlike MacOS.
    Interesting regarding the security element you mentioned. It is nice that Windows 10 finally has decent antivirus and malware baked in by default. The thing is that MacOS malware accounts for a tiny fraction of Malware compared to Windows. McAfee’s statistics puts MacOS malware at about .04% of all new malware in their 2019 quarter ending in August 2019. MacOS had about as much new malware as Windows powershell alone (about 30,000), Windows malware was in the millions. Part of this is obviously the target size issue obviously, but the difference is definitely not proportional to the difference in market share which suggests other factors are at play.
    Thank you for your good response!
  • Your welcome.
    Hmm my pen never lags (only stutters when I manually save while drawing I think). What software do you use? I use Office/Word and UWP apps and in some legacy apps. (hardware is Envy and HP pen) . Word does have someone strange issues though, like partly breaking an undo or such. UWP inking on the other hand gives me no issues. MacOs is now more of a target than it was a few years ago, so it might worsen slightly over time. I am also not so sure if I trust McAfee (it is a crappy virus scanner that can even damage Windows installations). Still Apple is generally very good with security, so whatever the case it is good enough. I feel the same with W10 but I do have anti-ransomware protection by enabling Controlled Folder Access (it protects my documents :) ) and an ad blocker to block malware etc from (hacked) ads.
  • I totally understand your point, rolandoblomblando117. I've not used a Mac for a while now, but recently I've checked a few videos showing the interface of the new Mac OS. Coming from Windows 10, the look of modernity and the consistency of the interface is just astounding. I was blown away. So, Mac OS is more modern...or is it? When I use my Surface Pro, with excellent touch and ink support, there I feel that using a non-touch clamshell laptop (like a Mac) would feel extremely backward to me. MacOs does not support touch and for me that's a no-go. Yes I could probably do with a Macbook + an iPad (the one with the pen, pro maybe?) for the same usage, but I don't want to do that when my Surface Pro does everything. I'm not answering your question 100% probably, because I introduced some hardware in the discussion, but in conclusion for me, Mac OS is much more modern because of the look and the polish of the interface (and yes in 2020 you still spend more time fiddling with Windows than with MacOS in 2017...), but on the other end, I like the live tiles, and the native touch+inking support is now a "must" in what I would consider as a modern OS. I'd gladly get your opinion on this.
  • Thanks for a well thought out response.
    To be honest, even as a graphic designer, I don’t much miss direct pen and touch support on MacOS because I can achieve similar results with a relatively inexpensive Wacom pen. But I fully see that’s a matter of preference and for some people the inclusion becomes essential. I don’t really think that pen support alone really overcomes jarring UI issues that I constantly deal with in Windows. It’s almost like Microsoft has 10 different GUI teams working on Windows 10 and they don’t even talk to each other. It’s mind boggling.
  • @rolandoblomblando117 > I’m really not trying to start a flame war here If that's how my comment sounded, I do apologize -- I meant one specific troll, who responded promptly with as much informational content as it usually does. To the meat of your question, the answer is dual-pronged. One side is that, since 2015, Windows became much more coherent and solid operating system running *on much more varied hardware* than OSX ever did or ever will. So the argument there is more of: "I can buy a piece of hardware wildly different from Apple's narrow range of offerings and still have solid and reasonably well working OS on top of it. That, incidentally, includes Apple's hardware.". The other side is a few decisions Apple made in the last few years that undermined the user experience -- the elephant in the room there is APFS (several things, reported to Apple through the proper channels quietly died there), another being 32-bit support discontinuation. HTH
  • Good response, thank you.
    APFS was somewhat annoying in the transition, but the benefits for SSDs are pretty significant. I really haven’t had much issue with APFS except when working with data between Windows and Mac.
    Apple sunsetted 32 bit support over something like 10 years I think. Well worth it since even cheap computers nowadays almost all have more than 4GB of RAM. Microsoft has dragged their feet on the transition and instead often offloads this decision to the user (how many ordinary people even know whether they should install 32 bit or 64 bit?! Why should the user ever have to make that decision?).
    Honestly, most of the issues I have with Windows has to do with the overwhelming amount of legacy software they keep dragging along and the seeming inability to create a consistent user interface, smooth experience, smooth animations, and with decent subpixel rendering like OS X has had for 15 years (try looking at two regular 72dpi screens, one running OS X and another with Windows and you’ll see what I’m talking about). I do admit that it has gotten better, but it still is pretty bad overall. I do agree that the wide variety of hardware windows has to run on is a factor, but a company with the resources of Microsoft should have been able to deal with that more gracefully after all these years. One example is printers, there are thousands of different printers (same as on Windows), but the experience with using printers on Mac vs Windows is completely different even though Windows’ functionality is supposed to be similar. Printers and scanners almost always work seamlessly on a Mac and with Windows it’s this disastrous mix of attempted modern OS and then crap legacy software when things go wrong or installing stuff manually from the manufacture website and then also using old control panel. It’s just crazy.
  • > I really haven’t had much issue with APFS except when working with data between Windows and Mac. Two major things with APFS the actually bit me hard were: * Inability to restore TimeMachine backup of the APFS to the non-Apple SSD (Yes, yes, I should only buy Apple parts, I know :) )
    * Snapshot management, e.g. when you ran out of disk space because you have plopped a huge file into your filesystem, removal of the said file *would not* bring the free space back. Admittedly, the timing needs to be lucky, but I have spent a few fun evenings dictating snapshot management commands to the moderately-computer-literate friends. To be fair, I have moved my personal device from OSX to Windows in late 2018, so neither of the above might be the case any more. One would hope so, since both were repeatedly reported to Apple, including by yours truly.
  • Not all people buying a Macbook do iOS development.
  • I would say most do not
  • > Not all people buying a Macbook do iOS development. Fair enough, but those who do, don't view Windows laptops as the competition and for a good reason.
  • So that is like 5-10% of macbook users? Why is this even relevant in this discussion? I am sure there are people that would never consider MacOS yet macbooks can still be competition for Windows laptops for the masses.
  • > So that is like 5-10% of macbook users? Why is this even relevant in this discussion? What percentage of the Windows users would you expect to tote around Razer hardware?
  • Not entirely sure why that is relevant (or maybe I am understanding it wrong :+). What I meant was for eg 95% of MacOS users there is an alternative of the apps they are using on Windows (arguably worse or better quality etc). And that seems the group where this comparison by Richard might be interesting for. (ignoring investments people made in OS specific software for a minute and ignoring diehard fans of course)
  • > Not entirely sure why that is relevant (or maybe I am understanding it wrong :+). Or maybe I am not explaining it well enough. What I was trying to say that, IMHO, among people who would be weighting $1800 configuration of the MacBook Pro vs. Razer Blade, developers would constitute much higher percentage than among all of the MacOS users, making it more relevant to the discussion. This is not to say that I haven't been wrong before...
  • Yeah that is a good point. I think the percentage is still relatively low though cause a there is a very large group of video editors & audio makers & writers & artists & designers that spend a lot on Macbook Pro's / Imacs. I think they don't care about iOS app development but do care about nice hardware and high quality screen panels (something that only recent Windows Laptops have been offering too) etc. Could be that Razer is still too gamey for some of them (others might like it maybe).
  • Telling us why YOU bought your MacBook doesn't nullify the argument and suggestion made by this article. These devices are in competition with one another because consumers will mostly buy devices based on factors other than development environments. I bought my MacBook Pro because it was the "superior" device at the time... and primarily did Windows development on it. I think the article rings true. I know quite a few users that have MacBooks because of the keyboard, reliability, and perceived superiority, while spending most of their time working in Windows-based environments.
  • > Telling us why YOU bought your MacBook doesn't nullify the argument While it is true, it does illustrate the fact that there's a swath of consumers for whom the argument is null and void, which IMHO is what the comment section is for. > These devices are in competition with one another because consumers will mostly buy devices based on factors other than development environments. You are right and one of the factors is the investment into the software licenses -- when you have a few hundred dollars worth of software, that you will have to re-buy if you changing OS, you do tend to continue using what you already had whether it is "superior" or not. When I had to move from macOS to Windows for the personal needs, the licensing expense was around $500. Of course, if all you use is the web browser, OS (mostly) doesn't matter...
  • They thank you for your click, read and comment.
  • What I think the Razer misses is an 16:10 screen option. 16:9 on a 13 inch screen feels cramped to me.
    It is a nice clam-shell laptop otherwise.
  • Still this Razer has nVidia Optimus, so that means no Windows UI rendering on dGPU. If you have 27" 4K display with UI scaling 150% (to actually 1440p) in desktop the performance is equal to PowerPoint presentation. So anyone using their laptop for professional use other than gaming would waste their money with Razer lapotop, because you cannot utilize dGPU in many applications.
  • So I think the Razer is fairly nice, but I can't really agree that it's a slam dunk. Looking at their website configurator I came up with three main drawbacks (for me) - 1) No 32GB RAM option (and only 512GB SSD)
    2) 6 hours of battery life, far less than my XPS13 or any MBP
    3) 16:9 screen, that simply isn't workable for content creators who need at least 16:10 for their tools to have places for info (3:2 is even better) It's a nice laptop no doubt. And if gaming locally (vs streaming) is an important use case I'd agree. But I can easily see why people would choose a XPS13 or MBP over the Razer for a lot of use cases.
  • Razed has been making some really good hardware. I like their stuff, I really do. It is pretty derivative of the Mac design though and, overall, I think it’s a little bit exaggerated to say Razer is the “king” of 13” laptops at this point when Apple made $25 billion from Mac hardware sales alone in 2019 which is 4 times more than all of Razer’s services and products combined for that year. I welcome the competition to Apple, but let’s be honest about the reality of the situation. Razer is still just beginning and it’s going to be a while until they’re a major competitor much less being called “king” in the laptop market.
  • I'm pretty sure he's talking about features, not marketshare.
  • "derivative of the Mac design", not really. Some Chinese laptops really resemble/clone Macbooks in design.
  • Does the author of this article really think the Surface Pro X is a “Pro” device?
  • To be fair it can be. Eg its an almost perfect Office tablet in a premium package. Its perfect for some artist programs. As a pro device it is still a niche device though. Than again it depends on someone's workflow whether a device is pro enough. For example a workstation laptop might be pro performance wise but if it lacks a digitizer than it is useless for active pen users (which can also be professionals).
  • > To be fair it can be. I think you just nailed it. Before discussing monikers it is useful to define terms. For me, "Pro" device is something that could be pressed into service in the mass deployment environments. YMMV.
  • I will stick to my Alienware Area 51-M with i9-9900k, NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 2080 8 GB GDDR6, 64GB,2+1 TB ssd/sshd for the fun part and to my Dell Precision 7740 mobile workstation with Nvidia Quadro RTX 3000, Intel® Core™ processor i7-9850H and 4HDDs for serious work.
  • That's cool but none of those two options are a 13" ultrabook...
  • What Cyril said but I do have to say Alienware Area 51-M is pretty badass device. :)
  • Does it run macOS? Lol.
  • What can be argued here is whether all MacBook owners bought a MacBook because of macos. I actually think part of them bought it because windows laptops kindy sucked years ago and with certain things like audio and 16:10 screens MacBooks still offer something special that only just recent Windows laptops began to offer too.
  • “Razer’s latest "Pro" laptop refresh is expensive and doesn't (officially) support running a Unix-based OS natively. Seems fine.” “Pro” means different things to different people. I’ll take a laptop whose manufacturer supports a Unix-based OS (whether that’s macOS or Linux) over one who doesn’t. Which I guess is why I consider my Dell XPS 13 and 16” MacBook Pro to be more “pro” than any Razer laptop out there. Others may have different criteria for “Pro”. But honestly, I could care less that it doesn’t have a GPU. And no, WSL doesn’t make up for the lack of native support (WSL 2.0 is nice, but still not a substitute for a well-supported native Unix-like OS).
  • > I’ll take a laptop whose manufacturer supports a Unix-based OS (whether that’s macOS or Linux) over one who doesn’t. Far from arguing your definition of the "Pro" -- as I have mentioned above -- well defined terms are The Good Thing... Would you mind elaborating on the contrasts between WSL and "native Unix-likeness of the OSX". Note: you do not need to educate me on the FreeBSD/Darwin *history* of OSX -- I am well familiar with the subject and more interested in the actual experience. As the multi-platform developer, I find WSL to be much easier target than OSX, especially OSX 10.15. As the sysadmin, well, neither walks or quacks like UNIX, but then again no two UNIXes are alike in that regard.
  • I'm a content creator and a 16:9 display (not to mention Full HD) is a no go for a "pro" machine in 2020, I'm afraid, discreet graphics or not. Razers are good machines (I'm a former Blade owner), but I think Apple knows its target audience well.