2021 Razer Blade 14
Razer's latest gaming laptop is its most portable yet, but that portability comes at a cost.
With the Blade 14, Razer has finally achieved the ideal balance between power and portability. Even though it has a 14-inch HD display, a powerful processor, and NVIDIA RTX 30-series graphics, it weighs less than four pounds. So, what’s the catch? Despite the fact that Razer’s 13-inch Blade Stealth is even thinner and lighter, I’ve never been impressed with its performance and was surprised at how much it cost. Despite this, the Blade 14 is a great example of what Razer does best: delivering powerful hardware that is more polished than the rest.
The 14-inch Blade is essentially a smaller version of the Blade 15. In terms of design, it’s more reminiscent of Apple’s MacBook Pro than a traditional gaming laptop. A major accomplishment for Razer is that its computers remain the closest Windows users can get to Apple’s polished hardware. In terms of “gaming laptop,” the Blade 14’s RGB LED keyboard is the only major feature that screams “gaming laptop” (something you can also turn off easily, too).
When it comes to laptops with 14-inch displays, the Blade 14’s biggest selling point is its light weight. Because of its own advancements in this area, Razer’s technology is actually starting to work against it. However, the Blade 15 currently weighs in at just over four pounds, while the 14 weighs just over three pounds. Assuming you were to hold each of these laptops in your hands, the difference in weight between them would be noticeable, but it would be less noticeable in normal use. The 15-inch Blade 14 would have seemed more impressive if it weighed more than 4.6 pounds, but now it’s actually a bit heavy compared to competitors like the ASUS Zephyrus G14, which weighs only 3.5 pounds.
The Blade 14 isn’t Razer’s first attempt at a 14-inch laptop, so it loses some of its luster. With a weak NVIDIA GTX 1650 graphics card, the last model was released three years ago. There is a noticeable difference between this new version and its predecessor. When you buy a Blade 15, you get the powerful Ryzen 9 5900HX processor from AMD, as well as NVIDIA’s RTX 30 graphics.
Even so, the Blade 14’s dimensions must be taken into consideration. For thermal reasons, NVIDIA allows each PC manufacturer to fine-tune the wattage of their GPUs, which is a benefit, but it also means that performance can vary greatly. For gaming laptops, RTX 3080s aren’t all created equal, and this is especially true. To understand some of the performance metrics I saw, keep that caveat in mind.
Our review unit was a $2,800 build with the Ryzen 9 5900HX, RTX 3080, 16GB of fixed RAM, 1TB SSD, and a quad HD 165Hz display. The Blade 14 had no problems handling demanding games and torturous benchmarks thanks to its high-end hardware. 120fps was possible while playing at 1,440p with maxed-out settings in Destiny 2. On the laptop’s 14-inch screen, it was smooth and had excellent color and brightness. DLSS and medium ray tracing gave me 60-70fps in Control at 1,440p with maxed graphics and ray tracing, respectively.
|None||PCMark 10||3DMark (TimeSpy Extreme)||Geekbench 5||ATTO (top reads/writes)|
|Razer Blade 14 (AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, NVIDIA RTX 3080)||6,551||4,418||1,443/7,226||3 Gb/s / 2GB/s|
|ASUS ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition (AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, AMD Radeon RX 6800M)||6,992||5,189||1,457/7,691||2.8 GB/s / 1.5 GB/s|
|ASUS Zephyrus G15 (AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS, NVIDIA RTX 3080 Max-Q)||6,881||4,530||1,426/7,267||3.3 GB/s / 2.85 GB/s|
|MSI GS66 Stealth (2021, Intel i7-10870H, NVIDIA RTX 3080 Max-Q)||5,369||4,538||1,247/6,505||3.1 GB/s / 2.9 GB/s|
|ASUS Zephyrus G14 (AMD Ryzen 9 4900HS, NVIDIA RTX 2060 Max-Q)||5,436||2,725||1,189/7,705||1.7 GB/s / 1.67 GB/s|
Razer had to make sacrifices to fit the RTX 3080 into a small case, but it was noticeable. In all of our 3DMark tests and Geekbench 5’s compute benchmark, it was slower than the larger Lenovo Legion 5 Pro, which had an RTX 3070 GPU. Lenovo has clearly been able to get more performance out of a GPU that is supposed to be slower in performance. With Ryzen 9 5900HS and an RTX 3080, the ASUS Zephyrus G15 beats the Blade 15 in all of our 3D tests.
I also noticed that the Blade 14’s CPU could reach 94 degrees Celsius when I was really putting it through its paces. In gaming notebooks today, I’ve never seen processors exceeding 85 Celsius, so that was particularly surprising to me. At times, it was dangerous to touch the bottom of the Blade 14. Under load, I was pleased to see that the GPU’s temperature never rose above 84 degrees Celsius. Although it was running so hot, our battery test found that it lasted 10 hours and 50 minutes on a single charge. However, it’s primarily used for work-related activities. The battery life will be significantly reduced if you’re gaming without an electrical outlet.
Additionally, the keyboard of the Blade 14 is impacted by its larger case. Razer’s current laptop designs look and feel the same, with a satisfying amount of key travel and responsiveness, but the layout is much more cramped than the Blade 15. After long sessions of Destiny 2 and Overwatch, my fingers started to hurt. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older, but I think that could be a dealbreaker for some people. After all, in shooters, you’ll be hammering on the WASD keys a lot.
The Blade 14 has a good selection of ports: two USB-C 3.2 charging ports, two USB 3.2 Type A sockets, a full-sized HDMI port, a headphone jack, and a custom power cable. All of these are included. While it’s convenient to be able to charge with a standard USB-C cable, the current available isn’t sufficient to power the device while gaming. Fortunately, the Blade 14’s bundled power adapter is a fraction of the size of the old-school bricks that used to come with gaming laptops.
However, the lack of an SD card reader is just another reason to consider the larger models of Razer laptops. Additionally, the Blade 14 does not have a RAM upgrade, so you’ll have to stick with the 16GB of memory it comes with. Only 2TB of storage space can be added to your NVMe SSD. It is possible to add more RAM and two NVMe SSDs to the Blade 15 and 17 through the use of an adapter.
At $1,800, the Blade 14 comes with an Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics card and a 1080p 144Hz display. The Blade 15 is a great value at that price point. With a larger screen, more customizable and faster hardware, and fewer thermal restrictions, you’d get more out of your device. The ASUS Zephyrus G14 is a good 14-inch alternative (though Razer has the edge when it comes to long-term reliability).
Still, the Blade 14 has a lot to recommend it. The new Blade Stealth 13 is overpriced, but this new model is a light laptop that will meet most of your hardware needs. So, if you’re set on a Blade that weighs less than four pounds and are willing to accept the trade-offs, you should follow the advice of the gaming gods.
Razer Blade 14
Performance - 8.9
Display - 8.8
Cost - 7.9
8.5/10 Total Points
The Blade 14 is a gaming laptop that packs a punch without sacrificing portability. It's not the lightest gaming laptop, but it's faster and more refined than the vast majority of the 14-inch alternatives. However, having a smaller case does come at a cost.