Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition – Silver bullet

The Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition is the stuff of my youthful fantasies. I was a young designer dreaming of working with Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic to create digital fantasies. I couldn’t help but notice the ridiculous, bulky SGI workstations they used to manipulate complex animation scenes in real-time. They cost tens of thousands of dollars each. 20 years later, Razer has shrunk those beasts into a skinny laptop.

The Studio Edition packs a frikkin NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 graphics card, the same type used in those aforementioned workstations. It’s paired with quite possibly the best display on any laptop — a 4K OLED with an insane 100% DCI-P3 colour gamut and touch response. Chuck in 10th Gen Intel processor, 32 GB of RAM and 1TB fast SSD drive in sexy body to make Apple fanboys lose it. It’s a dream come true.

But(and there’s always one), at AUD $8,500, the Blade Studio is definitely not for the casual gamer. It’s also not the fastest machine out there — the Zephyrus G14 with AMD Ryzen mops the floor with this in CPU intensive tasks. And at this price, why the hell is there just 1TB of storage? There’s a lot to love with this machine but you may be able to get better value from Razer’s other laptops. Let me explain.

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition Review

The Blade 15 Studio is the Albino twin to the Blade 15 Advanced. In terms of physical design, there’s no difference between the two except for the color. The Studio Edition comes only in Mercury White color which isn’t white but more silver. This makes it look a lot like a MacBook Pro. I think it looks and feels incredible. The Razer triple snake logo on the lid also loses it’s signature green color for a more ‘professional’ silver finish and no backlighting.

The keyboard is white which compliments the silver although dark grey keys would look even better. The white keys fonts are harder to see in certain lighting conditions and lack contrast for the Razer Chroma lighting to shine. For better or worse, it’s the same keyboard in the Blade 15 family. It’s not the best out there nor is it the worst. It’s got all the staples; per key lighting, n-key rollover and full customization via Razer Synapse software. A giant touchpad is still the best on any Windows laptop with great gesture support and precise finger capture.

I’d wish Razer offered alternate colors because the Silver isn’t for everyone. Some might prefer the Quartz or traditional Stealth Black. However, since the company’s new line of Pro business products all use this white color scheme, that might not happen. Despite all the hardware packed into the Studio, it retains the same skinny 0.7-inch chassis and weighs only 2.1 kilos. The body is milled from a single block of aluminum and feels exceedingly well-built and sturdy. Unlike many skinny laptops, the lid on the Studio has zero flex or bend. This thing reeks of quality craftsmanship — something I’ve only linked to Apple.

Portable workstation

Whether you are a video editor, 3d animator or graphic designer, the Studio is designed to give for workstation class performance. Not only did I put it through my usual bench-marking tests, I used it extensively in my other life as a designer. One of the benefits of the Studio Edition is that NVIDIA Quadro RTX 5000 GPU. This GPU has a whopping 16GB of memory — double that of a top end RTX 2080 SUPER Max-Q. This allows it to hold a ton of digital assests in memory, removing redraw and sluggishness in compatible apps. Applications like Adobe Creative Suite, Blender 3D, Unreal Engine, Autodesk Maya and a many other creator apps benefit the most from the additional horsepower.

NVIDIA’s Studio Drivers, like the Game Ready Driver, has special optimizations for many popular creator apps. You can see the full list here. I use Adobe Creative Suite extensively for work and indeed appreciated the enhancements to real time rendering of my art-boards. Everything was smooth whether I was looking at 8K files or panning through hundreds of vector app screen designs. I didn’t have hiccups or redraw when scrolling through heavy files.

I sadly never pursued my dreams of being a Hollywood 3D Animator so I had to find other means to test the Studio’s prowess. Our usual Cinebench and Geekbench scored 3323 and 7267 respectively; respectable scores but nothing mind-blowing. Next, I turned to Blender’s benchmark tool which renders a series of increasingly complex 3D scenes.

For comparison, I used an Aftershock Bolt desktop PC powered by an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 and GTX 1660 SUPER graphics. Here’s how it fared:

Blender BenchmarkRazer Blade 15 StudioAftershock Bolt
BMW271m 34s1m 36s
Classroom4m 12s5m 26s
Fishy_Cat2m 50s3m 8s
Koro4m 36s4m 50s
Pavilion_barcelona8m 13s9m 14s
Victor11m 37s12m 41s

As you can see, the Studio 15 clearly comes ahead which is impressive considering it’s up against a fullsize desktop with more power and better cooling. However, the i7-10875H holds the Studio back in sheer crunching power. Once it gets hot, it begins to throttle performance so I can see why Razer chose it. Still, I can’t help but wonder what an i9-10900 or Ryzen 4900 could achieve in this beast. As it is, the Studio does get rather toasty(and noisy) with the i7 and a beefier processor would likely fry in this chassis.

I recorded highs of 98C under load and then the Studio started throttling back performance. An i9 would probably melt in this tiny chassis so the i7 is probably the wiser choice. The Quadro RTX maxed out at around 70C during several hours of stress which isn’t too bad. Fan noise is noticeable but not distractingly so like many other gaming laptops.

Yeah, it’s got game too

Now although the Quadro is designed more for CGI movie work flows, it’s still perfect for gaming. The Studio scored 18,755, 8262 and 4855 in 3DMark11 Firestrike, TimeSpy and Port Royal respectively. These scores are up there with the best of them, only trailing the RTX 2080 SUPER Max-Q.

Whats more, the games look stunning on that 4K OLED panel. It’s simply hard to describe how punchy and vibrant colours are on this panel. Even without HDR activated, games look amazing with deep blacks, sharp details all around. Of course, 4K is still brutal, even on desktop graphics — unless of course you have an RTX 3080. Yet the Studio ran games at an average of 30-40 fps at 4K high settings which is equivalent to an Xbox One X experience.

Turning resolution down to 1080p sees all games go up to more respectable 80-100fps. Remember the OLED panel is only 60Hz refresh, so competitive gamers should look elsewhere. Razer does offer a 300Hz display on the Blade 15 Advanced. Nevertheless, games play smoothly without any noticeable stutters or tearing.

Once you go OLED, you can’t go back

Moving away from games, the 15.6 4K OLED panel is exceptional for content creation tasks. With 100% DCI-P3 color gamut and a low Delta<E, you can be sure that colors are accurate. And thanks to the infinite contrast of an OLED, text on white backgrounds is super crisp and color separation is exceptional. I’m gushing of course, but there really isn’t anything like OLED.Netflix bingers will enjoy watching HDR content on the Studio and even SDR content looks fantastic.

Obviously, you’ll want to feed it 4K content because anything lower than that looks decidedly blurry. Same goes for games. Unlike 4K TV’s, laptops don’t upscale content to 4K. One final thing about the screen — it’s touch enabled. It’s one of those features I can’t get my head around. Lifting my hands off the keyboard to touch the screen is far less efficient than using the touchpad. Some of you may get more mileage from that. Touch is responsive though not as smooth as a smartphone or tablet.

Great battery and loads of ports

Typically, high-powered laptops like the Studio are bound to suffer from horrendous battery life. Not so here. The Studio easily reached 5 hours in my testing with moderate use. That’s productivity work like emails, web browsing, streaming music or video playback. However, if you push that badboy for video editing or rendering some ray-traced scenes in Blender, you’re looking at an hour max.

Thankfully, Razer has finally joined the rest of us in 2020 and enabled USB-C charging on the Studio. This means you can use the same charger for your other USB-C devices here. For intense workloads and gaming, USB charging won’t be powerful enough to keep up. For that you’ll need to stick with the bundled 230W charger.

All you need to connect

Now, as a workstation, the Blade 15 Studio needs all the ports it can get to power external monitors and external hard-drives. With three USB 3.2 Type-A ports and a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C, you should be adequately. Connect up to three 4K monitors using USB, HDMI 2.0 and Mini DisplayPort 1.4. An important addition is the UHS-III SD Card reader which is perfect for transferring photos and videos from cameras.

The Studio has Wi-Fi 6 connectivity for faster and more reliable internet. Sadly, I’m still stuck on lowly Wi-Fi 5 on my home network — something I really need to rectify given the humongous size of CoD: Warzone updates. Regardless, I got strong signal at all times even out in my garden. I was disappointed that the Studio doesn’t have Gigabit Ethernet port but it’s not a deal breaker.

The Studio supports Dolby Atmos but you’ll need a good pair of headphones to enjoy that. Sure, it’s got two large, top firing speakers but like most laptop speakers, they come up short in the bass department. Overall they are loud, clear and not too tinny but nothing to write home about.

Verdict

The Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition is $8,500 and that immediately disqualifies about 90% of the consumer market. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the money because it is. It’s just for a very specific type of user whose work will pay off the laptop in short order. It’s an exceptionally built machine with very well balanced components to give you performance for serious creativity. The screen is beyond compare and as a bonus, you can have loads of fun gaming.

But is the Quadro RTX worth the heavy premium over regular Blade 15 Advanced?

I’m not so sure, at least not for most creatives. A RTX 2080 SUPER Max-Q with the Studio Driver can also give you a ton of performance – and for thousands of dollars less. Also, the incredible Razer Blade Pro 17 has a bigger 4K display(albeit not OLED) and more room for expansion with better cooling for thousands of dollars less. If I had to choose, I’d go with that and bulk up the internal storage to 8TB SSD. Either way, I’d save a ton of money and still get some great performance.

Make no mistake though, the Blade 15 Studio is one hell of a machine and I love it.


Razer Australia loaned PowerUp the Blade 15 Studio for the purpose of this review

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition
LIKE
Exceptional build and design
Pro workflow performance
Excellent gaming
Best display period
Great battery life
DON'T LIKE
The price
CPU Throttles
9.5
A workstation for Hollywood and home

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Kizito Katawongahttp://www.medium.com/@katawonga
Kizzy is our Tech Editor. He's a total nerd with design sensibilities who's always on the hunt for the latest, greatest and sexiest tech that enhances our work and play. When he's not testing the latest gadgets or trying to listen to his three whirlwind daughters, Kizzy likes to sink deep into a good story-driven single player game.

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