Razer Blade Stealth vs. Apple MacBook Pro

Can Razer's Blade Stealth laptop pull Apple fans away from the MacBook Pro?

Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2019) review

Long gone are the days when Apple was the only company producing good-looking, powerful mid-range laptops. Today it has many competitors, including the likes of Razer. But what if we pit the Razer Blade Stealth vs. Apple’s MacBook Pro? Which is the better laptop for the money?

Design

MacOS Catalina Hands-on | Macbook Pro
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One of the biggest differences between mid-range and entry-level laptops is that over $1,000, they tend to look a lot nicer and have much better features. That’s certainly the case with both the Razer Blade Stealth and MacBook Pro. Razer’s new laptop sports a sleek, aluminum exterior in an attractive, compact package, that comes in at an almost identical size and weight to Apple’s MacBook Pro 13.

Both devices sport acceptably thick bezels — while the Razer Blade Stealth’s are far slimmer on the sides, its bottom bezel is much chunkier than that on the MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar is also something that differentiates the two, although it’s not fully convinced us of its usefulness just yet.

In terms of connectivity, there’s quite a stark difference between the two notebooks. Where the Razer Blade Stealth has a single Thunderbolt 3 port, alongside a pair of USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports and USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 port, the MacBook Pro goes all-in on the future with either two or four USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports (depending on the model). That means you get a greater number of super-speed ports on the MacBook Pro, but you’ll need a dongle or two if you’re using legacy USB-A devices.

While we can debate the need for different USB ports, one area where the MacBook Pro clearly under-performs compared to the Blade Stealth is its keyboard. We found the low-travel distance uncomfortable for typing over long periods, while the Blade Stealth’s RGB backlit keyboard was fantastic in comparison. However, with the MacBook Pro 16 getting a new Magic Keyboard that is a vast improvement over its butterfly cousin, there’s hope Apple will bring its all-new keyboard to the smaller MacBook Pro in the near future. Both laptops feature excellent touchpads, however, with the MacBook Pro just edging the contest in this area.

Performance

Despite the more mainstream marketing of the Razer Blade Stealth, its internal hardware is impressive. Its entry-level model sports an eighth-generation, quad-core Intel Core i7 8565U CPU with UHD 620 onboard graphics, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe M.2 SSD, and a 1080p display. Right now Razer has it on sale for $1,000, down from $1,400.  There’s also the option of an external graphics card through the use of Razer’s Core v2 graphics enclosure.

If you want to go all out, the top-end Razer Blade Stealth comes with a tenth-generation quad-core Intel Core i7-1065G7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 4K display, plus a discrete Nvidia GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics card. Right now that can be yours for $2,000.

As for the MacBook Pro, at the entry-level $1,299 price point you get yourself an eighth-generation quad-core Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of SSD space and a 2,560 x 1,600 Retina display. Like the Razer Blade Stealth, there is no discrete graphics chip, as the entry-level MacBook Pro 13 instead has Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645. However, its Thunderbolt 3 ports mean you can hook up an external graphics enclosure should you want to.

The high-end MacBook Pro 13 costs a lot more than the top-end Razer Blade Stealth, but in most areas it’s a lot more powerful, too. It can be customized to come with an eighth-generation quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD, although you’ll need to fork out $3,099 for it. It doesn’t have a discrete graphics card, but the integrated graphics are upgraded to Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655.

When Apple updated the entry-level MacBook Pro 13 earlier in 2019, it made it a far more compelling option. The update brought with it the Touch Bar, plus eighth-generation quad-core processors, all without increasing the price. Still, the base Razer Blade Stealth comes with an i7 chip, which will handily outstrip the MacBook Pro’s i5 processor. In most other areas the two devices trade blows — the Razer pulls ahead with its storage, while the MacBook’s high-resolution, color-accurate screen is better — but the Razer’s better processor and lower price gives it the edge.

Portability

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In our review of the MacBook Pro, we found one of its biggest disappointments to be the reduction in battery size over its predecessor. Cutting it back by almost 35 percent resulted in a drop in overall life, though it still managed more than 10 hours in our video loop test. In comparison, the Razer Blade Stealth only managed eight hours. While it does have higher-powered hardware that no doubt contributes to the shorter battery life, the noticeable drop does make the Blade Stealth less useful when away from a charge point.

Physical portability of both laptops is comparable. Where the MacBook Pro measures in at 11.97 x 8.36 x 0.59 inches, the Blade Stealth is 11.99 x 8.27 x 0.6 inches. Even the weight of each device is almost identical — the Razer Blade Stealth weighs 2.99 pounds vs the MacBook’s 3.02 pounds — but neither that nor the dimensions are disparate enough to make much of a difference.

What’s more important, power or software?

Razer Blade Stealth 13 (2019) review
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The question of whether to buy one of these laptops over the other is both easy and hard to answer. When you’re comparing entry-level models, Razer’s Blade Stealth is more attractive — it comes with a much better processor and more storage space, all for a lower price. Neither laptop is ideal if you’re into games, but the high-end Razer Blade Stealth’s Nvidia chip will outperform the MacBook Pro’s integrated graphics — although you’re better off using an external graphics card or opting for different laptops if you’re serious about gaming.

But none of that really matters if you want an Apple laptop running MacOS. That’s still the biggest selling point of the MacBook Pro in this head to head, even if its battery life does outstrip the Blade Stealth’s by a noticeable margin. You will certainly pay a premium for it, though, as even the entry-level MacBook Pro 13 is $300 more than the base Razer Blade Stealth.

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