Razer’s Blade 16 serves up the latest Intel processor and Nvidia RTX 40-series graphics, but the mini-LED display is its more alluring feature.
About the Razer Blade 16
Here are the specs of the laptop we tested:
- Price as configured: $3,200
- Processor: Intel Core i9-13950HX
- Graphics: Nvidia RTX 4070
- RAM: 32GB LPDDR5
- Storage: 1TB NVMe PCIe SSD
- Display: 16-inch IPS mini-LED dual-mode display: 3840 x 2400 at 120Hz or 1920 x 1200 at 240Hz
- Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
- Ports: 1x Thunderbolt 4 / USB-C with 100 watts power delivery and DisplayPort Alternate Mode, 1x USB-C with 100 watts power delivery and DisplayPort alternate mode, 3x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, HDMI 2.1, SD card reader, 3.5mm combo audio jack
- Weight: 5.4 pounds
- Dimensions: 13.98 x 9.61 x .87 inches
- Warranty: One-year limited laptop warranty, two-year limited battery warranty
The Razer Blade 16 configuration I tested is the least expensive model with the optional mini-LED dual-mode display. Those on a budget can snag a Razer Blade 16 with a QHD+ 240Hz screen and Nvidia RTX 4060 for $2,700 which, though less expensive, is still towards the high end of the market. The 4080 model, which uses the same QHD+ 240Hz screen, is $3,600.
Pricing for the top-tier Blade 16, which includes the dual-mode mini-LED display and an RTX 4090, rises to $4,300.
What we like
The dual-refresh display is a treat
There’s a lot of new features in this year’s Razer Blade 16, including Intel’s 13th-gen processors and Nvidia’s mobile RTX 40-series graphics, but the surprise standout is the optional mini-LED dual-refresh display. It’s available in several configurations and, wow, it’s glorious.
The mini-LED backlight can dynamically turn off sections of the backlight that are needed, which boosts the display’s contrast ratio to 22316:1. That’s not quite as good as OLED laptops, such as the Dell XPS 15 and Razer Blade Advanced, but it’s much better than a typical IPS LCD display without mini-LED. Most struggle to exceed a contrast ratio of 1500:1.
Razer achieves excellent contrast through deep, inky shadows in dark scenes and outrageously eye-searing highlights in bright content. I measured a minimum brightness of .01 nits and a maximum brightness of 669.5 nits in SDR content. In HDR, brightness further increases to beyond 950 nits, which is the maximum brightness my colorimeter will register. It’s so bright that you’ll find yourself blinking back stars if you stare into a max-brightness HDR image, so setting a brightness limit in games might be a good idea
The display also offers a unique “dual-mode” feature, which can be used to flip the display between 3840 x 2400 resolution at a refresh rate of 120Hz or 1920 x 1200 resolution at 240Hz. Making the switch requires a restart, which is a tad annoying.
You might be wondering what the point is, and, if you only plan to game, there’s not a great answer. 4K resolution is overkill for most laptops on the market, including this one. The perceived boost in sharpness is noticeable but nowhere near as stark as upgrading from 1080p to 4K on a larger display, and many games will prove challenging to run at 4K and 120Hz.
Who will use the dual-mode feature? Content creators. 4K resolution is extremely useful for anyone who works with photos, videos, and digital art. It’s a bit difficult to master for 4K on a 1080p display, after all. The 4K mode provides extra pixels when they’re needed and extra refresh rate when they’re not.
Mini-LED dual-mode display aside, the Razer Blade 16 aced everything I threw at it. Motion clarity is excellent, especially at 240Hz. The color gamut is massive, spanning 100 percent of sRGB and DCI-P3. Color accuracy is similarly impressive. Razer even applies an anti-glare coating, which makes the display more comfortable to use in bright rooms.
The catch? The dual-mode display model is more expensive, adding $300 compared to a similar configuration without it. That’s a lot, but I recommend it if you can afford it. The benefits are worth the price.
Game performance is outstanding
The Razer Blade 16 I tested had Nvidia RTX 4070 mobile graphics. It’s a step up from the RTX 4060 in the base model and quite far behind the RTX 4090 and RTX 4080 models. These top-tier configurations aren’t yet available, however.
Far Cry 6 averaged 116 frames per second at 1080p with ultra detail settings. That’s a bit behind the larger Asus ROG Strix G18, also equipped with RTX 4070, which achieved 121 fps. But the Blade 16 defeats many older laptops, including last year’s Razer Blade 14 (which we reviewed with RTX 3070 Ti graphics). That Blade 14 averaged just 88 fps. The Blade 16 also defeats the Acer Predator Triton 500 SE with an RTX 3080 Ti that averaged 87 fps.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider also performed well, averaging 151 frames per second at 1080p and the highest detail setting. The Asus ROG Strix G18 was again slightly quicker at 165 fps, but the Blade 16 defeated the Razer Blade 14 and Acer Predator Triton 500, both of which averaged 116 fps.
Cyberpunk 2077 tightens the results. The Blade 16 averaged 89 fps at 1080p and ultra detail, once again behind the Asus ROG Strix G18, which averaged 98 fps. The Blade 16 beat the old Blade 14’s average of 74 fps, though, and isn’t far off the Acer Triton Predator 500 SE’s average of 96 fps.
Ray-tracing is a viable option, too. The Blade 16 averaged 36 fps in Cyberpunk 2077 at 1080p with ultra settings and ultra ray-tracing enabled. It’s a playable result, though only just; I observed dips below 30 fps. Turning on Nividia’s DLSS 3 boosts the average above 60 fps.
The Razer Blade 16 also has an outrageously quick 1TB PCIe gen 4 solid-state drive from Solid State Storage Technology Corporation. It delivers rockstar performance despite the generic name, scoring a storage read speed of 6869 MB per second and a write speed of 4786 MB/s. Both scores are the highest we’ve ever recorded, beating the prior record-holder by over 1,000 MB/s.
I expect this performance is not unique and will start to appear in other laptops tested through 2023, but it’s still an excellent result. Content creators who often move or open extremely large files (such as 4K video) will appreciate the laptop’s snappy response. The internal storage is upgradable, with space for a total of two 2280 M.2 drives.
Powerful connectivity, and lots of it
The Razer Blade 16 packs a healthy selection of ports that will cover the needs of most people, with one notable exception.
The laptop has one Thunderbolt 4 port, which also supports USB-C, and a second USB-C port. Both ports can provide video output over DisplayPort Alternate Mode and deliver up to 100 watts of power. That’s not enough power to use the laptop under load (Razer uses a proprietary power connector for that), but it’s fine for light-duty use.
You’ll also find three USB-A ports, all of which support USB 3.2 Gen 2. They’re useful for connecting a wide variety of devices, from fast, modern USB 3 thumb sticks to older wired USB peripherals. An SD card reader is also included, which should please photographers and videographers.
There is one important port missing, however: Ethernet. Wired Ethernet can still be used, but you’ll need a USB-C hub or adapter.
Wireless connectivity is excellent, however, with support for Bluetooth 5.3 and the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard. Wi-Fi 6E can readily deliver speeds in excess of Gigabit Ethernet but you’ll need a compatible router to see maximum performance.
Stellar look and feel
Razer’s original Blade, released in 2012, was a revolutionary laptop. The modern Blade 16’s all-black chassis is a bit mundane by modern standards, but the details of its construction still put it ahead of the alternatives. This is a hefty, rigid, solid laptop that doesn’t flex or groan when handled. The display lid warps slightly when opened, but it’s minor and still superior to most gaming laptops.
There’s also something to be said for Razer’s particular shade of black, as well as its aluminum chassis. Occasionally a ray of light will catch the laptop’s inky black surface at just the right angle, revealing a brilliant glint that provides an aura of luxury most gaming laptops lack. Touches like this set a standard for design that Razer’s competitors try, and frequently fail, to imitate.
A competent 1080p webcam sits atop the display and captures reasonably good video in most situations. It can appear a bit noisy in dim lighting but properly adjusts exposure to a usable level in tough situations. It supports Microsoft’s Windows Hello facial recognition login and includes a physical privacy shutter.
The dual-array microphone is excellent with good volume, excellent clarity, and effective background noise reduction. I wouldn’t recommend podcasting on it, but listeners on the other end of a video call will receive crisp audio.
Audio quality also hits the mark with a detailed presentation that keeps a clear mid-range while producing some hints of low-end oomph. Volume is a bit low even at maximum, so the speakers won’t fill a room, but they’re well suited to playing games while your wireless headset charges.
What we don’t like
The processor is fast, but the price hurts its value
Every Razer Blade 16 model available right now ships with Intel’s Core i9-13950HX processor, a 24-core, 32-thread CPU with 8 performance cores and 16 efficient cores. It’s an extremely powerful processor hamstrung by the Blade 16’s default power settings and high price.
The Blade 16 achieved a Geekbench 5 score of 1962 in single-core and 14733 in multi-core. That’s firmly behind the Asus ROG Strix G18 with a Core i9-13980HX: it scored 2064 and 18248, respectively. However, these scores still make the Blade 16 the second-fastest laptop we’ve ever tested with this benchmark.
It’s a similar story in Cinebench R23, though the spread of results is wider. The Blade 16 scored 18167 in the multi-core test which, once again, is the second-best result ever. However, the Blade 16 is quite far behind the Asus ROG Strix G18’s score of 27464. The Blade 16 also delivered a score of 852 in PugetBench’s Adobe Premiere Pro benchmark. Though better than most laptops, it lags behind several others, including not only the Asus ROG Strix but also last year’s Acer Predator Triton 500 SE and 2021’s Asus ROG Strix G15 AMD Advantage Edition
The Blade 16 offers an optional overclocked mode in Razer’s Synapse software. It has a significant impact on performance, increasing the Geekbench 5 multi-core score to 20483 and the Cinebench R23 multi-core score to 28998. Those are record-setting results.
However, Razer warns that the system may be unstable when this mode is on. The overclock mode also increases fan noise. It’s mildly noticeable at the default setting, but ramps into a whirlwind when overclocked. These downsides are worthwhile in exchange for a significant boost in performance, but the prominent warnings make me hesitant to recommend it.
Overclocked or not, the Blade 16’s real problem is price. The model I tested retails at $3,200, which places it in the upper tier of laptops with similar hardware. The Asus ROG Strix G18 is $900 less expensive, and the same is true of many similarly configured laptops including the $1850 Lenovo Legion 5i Pro and $2,200 Alienware M16.
The Razer Blade 16 will absolutely do the job but, if processor performance tops your list of needs, you can find similar (or better) results at a much lower price.
The keyboard and touchpad need a re-think
Razer’s keyboard looks great on paper. The company brags about its anti-ghosting capabilities, the ability to recognize up to six simultaneous key presses, and a customizable RGB LED backlight. Unfortunately, these extras can’t disguise its fundamental problems.
The Blade 16 is not a slim laptop, measuring .87 inches through most of its chassis, but this thickness doesn’t translate to excellent key travel or feel. Keys respond with a shockingly short throw and bottom out with a dull, wooden feel that lacks tactile feedback. I occasionally found myself missing keys because I thought that a key was activated when, in fact, it wasn’t. This is a rare problem for a modern laptop and certainly not what I’d expect for the price.
It’s not all bad news. The layout feels spacious, keys are large, and the palm rest provides gobs of space. These factors make long typing sessions comfortable. Razer also opts to exclude a numpad and instead chooses a layout that keeps the keyboard and touchpad centered. Those who need a numpad won’t like this choice, but I think it makes for a more ergonomic experience overall. You won’t find yourself hunching towards one side because of an offset keyboard.
Touchpad quality is mixed. The pad is extremely large, measuring over six inches wide and about four inches deep. That’s among the largest touchpads available on any Windows laptop today. I noticed occasional problems with palm rejection, however, which caused windows to resize or close unexpectedly.
Still, the Razer Blade 16 is an expensive laptop, so I expect a seamless experience that’s among the best available on any Windows laptop. The keyboard and touchpad don’t hit that mark.
Razer should optimize Optimus
The Razer Blade 16 turned in a disappointing battery life result of just three hours in our standard battery benchmark, which uses a browser extension to simulate non-stop web browsing. That’s an astounding bad result, and hard to explain at a glance. The laptop has a 95 watt-hour battery that should provide plenty of juice.
So, what gives? Nvidia Optimus isn’t well optimized.
Optimus is a switchable graphics technology that disables the Nvidia RTX 4070 when its beefy (and power-hungry) hardware isn’t needed. When enabled, the laptop can swich to Intel’s integrated graphics to conserve power. The problem? That didn’t always happen. Several applications, including Spotify, kept the laptop’s GPU active.
There’s plenty of blame to go around. Windows app developers shouldn’t be leaning on a discrete GPU if it’s not required. Still, Razer should take a more active approach. The company’s Synapse software could monitor apps that are using the GPU and suggest disabling them while on battery power. Asus ROG Strix 18 has a great software interface that does exactly that.
Users who manually monitor the laptop’s battery life can achieve better results. I saw up to five-and-a-half hours of battery life while using the laptop to write in Microsoft Word, browse the web, and watch YouTube. That’s far more usable. Still, it’s unreasonable to burden the user with the task of actively watching for apps that switch Optimus off. A better solution is sorely needed.
Should you buy the Razer Blade 16 (2023)?
Maybe, if you’re willing to pay for the power you get
The Razer Blade 16 is a handsome laptop with a unique mini-LED display that’s both versatile and attractive. It’s a solid all-around performer, scoring well in a variety of gaming and productivity benchmarks. Connectivity is a high point, with support for Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, two USB-C ports, and an SD card reader.
It’s far from flawless, however. Razer needs to rethink the keyboard and touchpad, both of which are more finicky than those found on many competitors. Battery life is disappointing, as well.
The real question is this: How much are you willing to pay for an awesome display and slick design? The Razer Blade I tested retails near $3,300, which is up to $1,000 more than an Alienware M16 with an RTX 4070 or the Asus ROG Strix 18 with a similar configuration.
Whether the Blade 16 is worth its premium depends on your needs. Gamers who just want to play at high frame rates can find faster hardware for the price. If you want to both game and create content on the same laptop, however, the Blade 16’s killer display and MacBook-like style might be worth the extra scratch.
Razer Blade 16 (2023) Gaming Laptop
The new Razer Blade 16 has a stunning optional mini-LED dual-refresh display, excellent gaming performance, and a nice design.
$2,999 from Amazon
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Matthew S. Smith
Matthew S. Smith is a veteran tech journalist and general-purpose PC hardware nerd. Formerly the Lead Editor of Reviews at Digital Trends, he has over a decade of experience covering PC hardware. Matt often flies the virtual skies in Microsoft Flight Simulator and is on a quest to grow the perfect heirloom tomato.
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