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Razer Blade 18 (2024) review: Useful upgrades

Razer Blade 18 (2024) review: Useful upgrades

Razer Blade 18 (2024)

Depending on where you're coming from, the Razer Blade 18 (2024) is either a good upgrade over last year's version or a middling one. There's a new Intel Core i9 chip, but the graphics options remain the same, which translates to similar gaming performance. The design is mostly unchanged. But the new Blade 18 does come with one potentially significant upgrade: Thunderbolt 5, which promises twice the bandwidth of the previous version. In addition, there's now an option for a Mini-LED screen, which looks great, and offers a competitive refresh rate (300Hz). But if these latter two features don't excite you, then the 2023 version is just as good. Personally, I like it.

Quick specs

  • 18-inch 2,560 x 1,600-pixel Mini-LED display (300Hz)
  • Intel Core i9-14900HX chip with Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop graphics
  • 3x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, Thunderbolt 5, HDMI 2.1, 2.5Gbps Ethernet port, SD card reader, audio jack
  • 3.1kg

The Razer Blade 18 makes a great first impression, thanks to its excellent 18-inch Mini-LED screen. It looks vibrant and bright with a peak brightness of up to 1,200 nits. Razer says the display has 2,000 dimming zones, which accounts for the deep blacks. The screen is factory calibrated — colours look suitably lush, but not overly saturated. However, I feel an OLED would outperform this Mini-LED screen. I noticed some splotches and uneven illumination when looking at a pure white background.

On the other hand, this Mini-LED screen has a 300Hz refresh rate, which is probably more important to gamers than perfect blacks. Its 2,560 x 1,600-pixel resolution ensures that games look crisp and sharp. And when you're not playing games, the display's 16:10 aspect ratio fits slightly more screen content than a traditional 16:9 display, and is hence better for tasks like browsing, and other office productivity tasks.

Razer Blade 18 (2024)
This is the Thunderbolt 5 port that promises twice the bandwidth of the previous version. Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

One of the key features on the refreshed Razer Blade 18 is Thunderbolt 5. With twice the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 4 (80Gbps bi-directional and 120Gbps uni-directional), Thunderbolt 5 lets you connect even more displays. For example, you can have three 4K displays at 144Hz, up from two 60Hz 4K screens. It's backward compatible, which is important since I didn't have any Thunderbolt 5 devices or docks to test it.

The speakers are great, with THX's spatial sound effects and a wide soundstage. Razer seems to have prioritised audio over the keyboard, which is sandwiched between front-firing speakers, and feels cramped. There's no numeric keypad. The touchpad is huge, but I'm not a fan. I found it more iffy to do a left or right mouse click because of the touchpad's size.

The Razer Blade 18 looks svelte for an 18-inch gaming laptop. In fact, Razer calls it the thinnest 18-inch notebook with an Intel HX processor at just under 22mm. But bear in mind that at 3.1kg, it's not as light as it looks. Design-wise, it's like older Razer gaming notebooks, and is solidly built using CNC aluminium. Razer did make one positive tweak. The 5MP infrared webcam, which supports facial recognition, and is pretty good, now has a physical privacy shutter. I mentioned the lack of this feature when I tested last year's Razer Blade 18, so I'm glad it has been rectified.

Razer Blade 18 (2024)
Now with a physical privacy shutter. Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

Razer upgraded the Blade 18 with the latest Intel Core i9 chip, but kept the same GeForce RTX 4090 graphics. As a result, the PCMark 10 score (8,902) is the highest I have seen on a notebook. But the 3DMark Time Spy Extreme score (9,646) is similar to last year's Blade 18 (9,781). In fact, there were only minor difference in game benchmarks between the two. The older laptop actually produced several more frames in Watch Dogs: Legion (119fps vs 113fps, Very High, 1080p), though the newer Blade 18 was slightly faster in Metro Exodus (104fps vs 94fps).

When it comes to thermals, the Razer Blade 18 still runs really warm. It narrowly failed 3DMark's Time Spy Extreme stress test, with CPU temperatures hitting 99 degrees Celsius in some benchmarks. It goes without saying that parts of the chassis, like the bottom and the area above the keyboard are too hot to touch. The fan, too, becomes relatively loud during games, though the speakers help to mitigate this.

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The Razer Blade 18 starts from S$4,499 with a GeForce RTX 4070 graphics chip. My review unit with an Intel Core i9 chip, GeForce RTX 4090 graphics, 32GB memory, and 2TB SSD costs S$6,499. Maxing out the upgrades (64GB memory, 4TB SSD and a 4K display) would bring the price to S$7,099, which is, believe it or not, cheaper than the S$8,699 for last year's maxed-out Blade 18.

In other words, this year's Blade 18 seems like a better deal, especially with Thunderbolt 5 and an improved display. Of course, we're still talking about a premium gaming laptop, so look elsewhere if you're interested in getting the best value for money. But if you have the spending power, the Blade 18 is available on Razer's website. Alternatively, the Razer Blade is also available at the RazerStore Funan for those who prefer a hands-on experience.

Note: Review unit provided by Razer.

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Still expensive but now with Thunderbolt 5

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