There’s no doubt that Razer makes some of the most beautiful gaming laptops in the world. But those supreme builds come with price tags that can render them unattainable for many. And this is why Razer’s decision in 2018 to split its “Blade” series of laptops into two models — an “Advanced” and “Base” version — was so exciting.
Since then, the original Razer Blade 15 is now referred to as the Advanced model, and sits at the top of Razer’s offerings with a starting price of $2,000. Meanwhile, the new Base model — updated for 2019 with an RTX 2060 GPU option — delivers the same sort of premium fit and finish expected from the best of Razer’s creations, but served in a slightly modified package that starts at a far more wallet-friendly $1,499.99.
Sure, that’s still not exactly a “budget” laptop, but it represents an opportunity for more people to buy into the sort of ultra-premium builds that the Razer Blade family is known for. And what’s surprising is the less expensive Razer Blade Base model might actually be the better option, even for some who can easily afford the Advanced model.
Let’s get into the details.
Razer Blade 15 Base Model Technical Specs (As Tested)
- Intel Core i7-9750H 6 Core (2.6GHz/4.5GHz)
- NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 (6GB GDDR6 VRAM)
- 15.6″ Full HD 144Hz, 100% sRGB display, factory calibrated
- 512GB SSD (NVMe) + empty 2.5″ (SATA, 7mm max. thickness)
- 6GB Dual-Channel RAM (8GB x 2) DDR4 2667MHz
- 65Wh Battery
- Single-zone RGB keyboard powered by Razer Chroma
- Gigabit Ethernet
- USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), USB 3.1 Gen 1 (USB-A) x3, HDMI 2.1a, mini DisplayPort 1.4, 3.5mm audio jack
- Intel Wireless-AC 9560 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5
- Built-in HD webcam (1MP / 720P)
- Quartz Pink
- Dimensions: 0.78″ x 9.25″ x 13.98″ / 19.9mm x 235mm x 355mm
- Weight: 4.63 lbs / 2.10 kg
Base Versus Advanced
Build quality was certainly not on the list of concessions for the Blade 15 Base Model; Razer has done an excellent job of maintaining the same premium materials that we’ve come to expect from its ultra high-end laptops.
The gorgeous Quartz Pink, all-metal chassis with the Razer logo tastefully etched in, a super thin bezel, a nice click-y keyboard and a huge, responsive touchpad gives the Razer Blade a look and feel that’s not unlike Apple’s expensive MacBook Pro.
So if the Base model looks and feels this good, what’s the big difference? Well, it’s thicker than the Advanced model, but at 19.9mm thin, the difference is only a measly 2.1mm. To put things into perspective, despite the added heft, it’s still smaller and lighter than the equivalent Alienware m15 from Dell, which is itself an impressively slender laptop.
Another differentiator of the Base model is that it can’t be configured with the highest graphics card and display options. If you want an RTX 2070/2080 or a 4K screen, the Advanced model is your only choice.
Battery life is also a little less on the Base model, with a 65Whr cell that will start to struggle with gaming after around an hour and 20 minutes, but most laptops hover around this time-frame anyways. And as with all gaming laptops these days, you’ll need to be plugged in to get acceptable frame rates and graphics quality from games. And the Razer Chroma keyboard lighting is simplified from per-key lighting to single-zone control, meaning the whole keyboard will glow the same user-defined color. But that’s hardly a big deal.
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In Pursuit of Value
While not quite as “unleashed” as the Advanced variant, the Blade 15 Base model comes with a few advantages, and they’re significant. Its slightly thicker profile has allowed for the inclusion of a built-in Ethernet port that’s not present on the Advanced, and that’s a big deal for those who are serious about competitive online play without having to carry an adapter for a wired connection. In fact, the selection of ports is excellent overall, with three USB-A, one USB-C/Thunderbolt, full size HDMI 2.0b, mini-DisplayPort and 3.5mm audio jack ports included.
The smaller battery means its slightly lighter than the Advanced model, which is nice. This also opens up enough space inside for the installation of a conventional SATA hard drive for inexpensive mass internal storage — something not possible with the Advanced model.
And even though the fancy vapor chamber cooling of the Advanced model is not featured on the Base version, the extra chassis space allows for the more conventional twin-fan heat pipe system to do the job just fine. During extended play, GPU and CPU temps hovered around mid-80 degrees Celsius, and while the metal chassis gets hot (as expected), the keyboard remains suitably cool for comfortable use.
But the biggest advantage I’d argue for the Base model is that it’s simply the better value package with the most ideal combination of specs.
A Total Gamer’s Package
The six-core Intel Core i7 CPU is ample for gaming, and the ray tracing-capable GeForce RTX 2060 graphics card in our review unit is perfect for a 1080p display. I put this laptop through its paces with Gears 5 and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order — both incredible-looking games and both able to run at 1080p with ultra settings at between 60-80 fps. Perfect.
The screen on the Base model is bright and vibrant, runs at a slick 144hz, and is relatively color accurate for those with productivity needs. And 1080p, I’d also argue, is still the most ideal resolution for gaming on a 15-inch laptop. Higher resolutions just add extra demand on your hardware for barely any noticeable difference.
Meanwhile, the speakers flanking the keyboard — again, much like a MacBook Pro — are loud and crisp, for those moments when you don’t have your headphones in hand. And the 720p camera, mounted above the screen where it should be, yields decent video quality for calls. All things considered, the Blade 15 Base model is a complete package for a core gamer, and offers a more competitive price point than the Blade 15 Advanced model.
Should You Buy the New Razer Blade 15 Base Model?
Yes. In fact, unless you have your heart set on getting an RTX 2080, I’d even argue that you should buy the Base model over the Advanced, regardless of your budget. The pairing of a gorgeous 144hz 1080p screen with a powerful yet efficient RTX 2060 is the perfect configuration. But even if you have to settle for the entry-level GTX 1660 Ti GPU with the lower starting price of $1,599.99, that combo still makes for a great machine for gaming at 1080p resolutions. Plus, we’ve seen this version go for as low as $1,299.99.
The Base Model’s thicker profile isn’t nearly as burdensome as you might imagine, yet what you gain is a relatively light, well-equipped, powerful laptop that’s every bit as sexy as its over-$2,000 counterpart.
Sure, $1,600 isn’t quite a “budget PC,” and cheaper laptops with similar specs can be found. But being cheap is not what this is about — it’s about being able to buy a laptop with the type of ultra-premium build that Razer is known for, at a price that is far more competitive than was previously offered.
That’s an exciting proposition, and if I were buying a laptop today, it’d be this one.
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