Luxury probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think about gaming laptops, especially with some looking, shall we say extra, with flashy light bars and dot matrix displays embedded in their lids. But with its excellent performance, superb build quality, understated design and a very luxurious price, the Razer Blade 15 really feels like it’s crossed the line into portable gaming opulence.
Now it’s true the 2022 Blade 15 looks almost identical to previous models, which has some folks feeling like it’s in need of a facelift. But even after all these years, I still love the Blade 15’s clean lines and sturdy aluminum chassis. That said, I do wish Razer would add full RGB support to the backlit logo on the lid. I know neon green is sort of Razer’s thing, but on a premium machine like this, it just seems weird you can’t set it to whatever color you want.
Inside, the Blade has a large glass trackpad that’s one of the best you can get on a Windows laptop. New for 2022 are larger keycaps along with Razer’s signature per-key Chroma lighting. Another subtle design tweak is that instead of having a distinct cut-out for the laptop’s up-firing speakers, this year Razer used lasers to etch the grille directly into the deck which improves rigidity while maintaining that minimalist aesthetic. There’s also a new 1080p webcam for 2022, which is a welcome upgrade from the 720p cams on older systems. And finally you get a plethora of connectivity, including two USB-C ports (including one with Thunderbolt 4), three USB-A ports, HDMI, headphone jack, and even a full-size SD card reader.
On our $3,700 review unit, there’s a 15.6-inch 240Hz QHD display, which offers a great balance of size and resolution. I just wish it was a tiny bit brighter. Razer says all of the Blade’s LCD displays are supposed to pump out around 300 nits of brightness. But using a lightmeter, I measured closer to 275 nits. That’s fine for most situations, though if you’re in a sunny room, colors may appear slightly washed out. Alternatively, Razer offers 144Hz and 360Hz panels on other models. And just this week, Razer announced a new 240Hz OLED option, so there’s a wealth of displays to choose from.
Performance and gaming
Moving onto performance, Razer offers the latest 12th-gen Intel H-series CPUs and Nvidia RTX 30-series GPUs. The downside is that these components don’t come cheap, with the 2022 Blade 15 starting at $2,500 for an i7-12800H, 16GB of RAM and an RTX 3060 Ti, before topping out at a wallet-quivering $4,000 for a fully-loaded model with an i9 chip, 32GB of RAM and a 3080 Ti.
Now, I should point out that configs top out at just 1TB of storage. But for those who want even more room, the Blade 15 features two M.2 slots, only one of which is populated out of the box. So if you’re willing to remove the laptop’s bottom panel and SSD cover, tossing in another drive should be pretty straightforward. Just remember to use single-sided modules, because double-sided M.2 sticks won’t fit.
You get what you pay for, though, because the Blade 15 can game with the best of them. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the highest graphics settings at 1920 x 1080, our Core i7, RTX 3080 Ti unit hit 124 fps, which is just a touch lower than the $1,800 Asus Flow Z13, and that’s with its optional $1,400 mobile graphics dock. (That’s a grand total of $3,200 for those keeping count.) Results were similar in other titles too, with the Blade 15 hitting 86 fps in Metro Exodus on high settings, and 81 fps in Forza Horizon 5 on Ultra.
Really, the Blade 15’s biggest weakness (aside from its price) is battery life. On our local video rundown test, it lasted just 5 hours and 42 minutes. That’s similar to what we got from the Asus Flow Z13 (5:38), which if you’ll recall is a PC gaming tablet. But compared to more traditional rivals, the Blade 15 lasted than three hours less than the Alienware x14 (7:57) and four hours shorter than the Asus Zephyrus G14’s (9:45). And in the real world, it’s not much better. The Blade 15 struggled to make it through two games of Teamfight Tactics back-to-back, which entailed about an hour and 15 minutes of relatively light-duty gaming. I should also note that when you’re running off the battery, the Blade’s performance takes a hit too, with framerates in Shadow of the Tomb Raider dropping down to around 45 fps.
The other annoyance is Razer’s charging brick. While the proprietary connector is forgivable given its 230-watt power adapter, its right-angle design means if you plug it in wrong, you’re going to block at one or possibly two of the laptop’s USB-A ports. Honestly, high-wattage power delivery over USB-C can’t come soon enough.
While the Blade 15 isn’t quite as sleek or portable as the latest breed of 14-inch gaming machines, there’s something to be said for having a big, luxury alternative. Sure, it’s really expensive, and its 15.6-inch screen and 4.4-pound body mean you might not be able to throw it in your typical messenger bag. But it’s got top-notch components, a strong frame that exhibits basically zero flex, and impressive performance in a slick and (comparatively) subdued design. Well, aside from that big glowing logo.
In a way, the Blade 15 is a fantastic take on a modern desktop replacement, especially for people like me who don’t want to lug around a giant 17-inch rig. Unlike the ROG Flow Z13, you don’t need to worry about a separate graphics dock to get peak framerates. And thanks to a wealth of ports, you can leave all of your dongles and adapters at home. So while the Blade 15 doesn’t make sense for anyone on a budget, if you’ve got the funds, this thing is a real treat.