One of the most powerful laptops I’ve tested is not a MacBook (but it looks like one)


Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

ZDNET’s key takeaways

  • The Razer Blade 14 (2024) is available now starting at $2,200. 
  • The laptop has an impressive hardware configuration with a GeForce RTX 4070 GPU and 32GB of memory.
  • However, its low battery life and high operating temperatures limit its usability.

Razer continues to develop some of the industry’s best gaming laptops, and the 2024 Blade 14 is no exception. Despite its rather understated appearance, it has all of the hallmarks you’d expect to see on a gaming laptop — both good and bad. 

On one hand, the Razer Blade 14 is a solid computer with features gamers will appreciate. But on the other, there are some issues that make it a difficult choice to justify if you’re not a diehard Razer fan. 

Also: I tested Dell’s $3,000 gaming laptop and it spoiled me with unconventional features

Before I get into the meat of things, lets go over what stood out the most, starting with its design. It sports a 14-inch display, making the model quite compact in terms of size. My review unit, in particular, resembled a MacBook with its matte black keys, Mercury White colorway, and thin bezels around the screen. 

View at Razer

Typing on the Blade 14 is enjoyable; the keys aren’t particularly bouncy like the keyboard on the Asus Zenbook 14, but it’s not mushy, either. One impressive aspect of the keyboard was the set of secondary functions. The FN key gives you access to a second set of inputs across the top row, but you’ll also notice that R, T, and P are highlighted as well. That’s because they have their own secret abilities. 

FN + R changes the refresh rate from 60Hz to 240Hz, allowing you to enjoy lightning fast response times when gaming. FN + T toggles the trackpad to avoid accidental inputs. Speaking of which, the trackpad is wonderfully spacious. It takes up a large portion of the wrist rest and is perfect for scrolling since you won’t have to lift your finger when moving the cursor around.  

Also: Lenovo’s new 2-in-1 ThinkPad improves on one crucial feature that pro users will love

FN + P lets you cycle through different performance modes. Turbo mode, for example, sees the Razer Blade 14 firing on all cylinders. You can then customize your own functions to the main keyboard, which adds a lot to the machine’s utility. I enjoyed being able to change how the computer operates on the fly, without having to open an app. However, mode switching only works if the laptop is plugged in. On battery, you’re stuck on Balanced.

Regarding the physical form factor, the Blade 14 is not lightweight, despite Razer’s claims. The machine is quite bulky; measuring almost an inch thick and weighing a little over four pounds. At that size, the Blade 14 is going to take up a lot of space inside a bag, making a potentially cumbersome travel laptop. 

This problem is made even worse since you have to lug around its huge 240W power adapter. And you’re stuck with this brick because the plug ends in a proprietary connection. USB-C adapters won’t work.

Performance-wise, this laptop does great on multiple fronts. It houses an AMD Ryzen 9 8945HS processor equipped with its own integrated Radeon 780M graphics card, resulting in smooth, high-end graphics. There is also a second GPU onboard, a dedicated Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070, and 32GB of RAM. 

Putting everything together, the Blade 14 boasts a powerful hardware configuration, earning high scores on benchmarking tests. On PCMark 10, it got a score of 8,142 which is more than enough for the vast majority of work tasks.


Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

Since it’s a gaming laptop, I played a couple of video games to see how well they ran, and it was a fantastic experience. “Hades 2” was a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors exploding everywhere thanks to the high refresh rate and powerful GPU. “Helldivers 2” felt incredibly immersive, leaving me stunned by the superior graphical fidelity of the 2K resolution (2,560 x 1,440 pixels) display. 

With all this juiced-up hardware, you’re probably thinking the battery doesn’t last for very long. You’d be right. The battery life ultimately depends on which graphic card you use, but you can swap between the two with the onboard Razer Synapse app. If you use the integrated GPU, it lasts about six hours, whereas the dedicated GPU — the GeForce RTX 4070 — lasts a little over 3.5. Either way, the Blade 14 doesn’t last for very long, nor does it recharge quickly. This is a laptop best used while plugged in. 

Also: The best gaming laptops of 2024: Get your game on

If the low battery life wasn’t enough, the computer has a tendency to run hot. While gaming, I noticed the Blade 14 got really warm when there was a lot happening on screen, making using the keyboard an uncomfortable experience. I was forced to switch over to using a controller in order to finish testing. 

Even during regular use, the keyboard retained some heat, although not nearly as bad as during heavy gaming. The cooling vents are located on the bottom, so it seems the heat gets trapped underneath.

ZDNET’s buying advice

The 2024 Razer Blade 14 is a great gaming laptop, but with a starting price of $2,200, it’s hard to justify. Between the low-end battery life and the propensity to run hot, I don’t think the hardware is powerful enough to demand such a high cost. 

If you looking for a portable gaming laptop, the Blade 14 is a middle-tier option. If you’re looking for a more lightweight gaming laptop, check out the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14.

Source link