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Razer Blade 16 review: the RTX 4090 is a powerful, very expensive chip

Here’s what you get when you throw out any idea of a reasonable budget for a gaming laptop in 2023.

Photography by Amelia Holowaty Krales

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The Razer Blade 16 displaying the desktop.
This could be the future of gaming, if you’re rich.

The Razer Blade 16 is exciting. It’s exciting because it has one of the best displays I’ve ever seen on a gaming laptop. But it’s also exciting because it’s our first look at the mobile version of the RTX 4090, the chip that will power some of the beefiest and most expensive gaming laptops that we’ll see this year. 

The results I’ve gotten from our test unit are unsurprising: this is a beast of a device with some serious power and a panel that makes games pop. It’s also a luxury product that few will be able to afford. But it is nice — and the frame rates it’s displaying are giving me hope we might see a similar uptick in performance from more affordable RTX 40-series laptops this year.  

The Blade 16 unit I have includes a Core i9-13950HX, 32GB of RAM, 2TB SSD, and a top-end RTX 4090. Both storage and RAM are upgradeable. At 5.4 pounds, it’s not too much noticeably heavier than the 16-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Max — which is impressive for a full-tilt gaming laptop considering the massive frame rates the Blade will deliver. It’s certainly thinner than any number of other monstrous laptops that will include the RTX 4090 chip. (The 330W charger is also fairly compact, weighing just under two pounds — you could probably fit two of them into the bricks that power some bigger RTX notebooks.)

Now, brace yourself: this particular model costs $4,299.99. You could buy this, or you could buy four dishwashers. For many people, that’s multiple paychecks. It’s a lot. 

The Razer Blade 16 facing away from the camera.
The familiar Razer logo remains.

But damn, can this thing game. Check out the chart. Overall, I’m seeing a 20 to 30 percent increase from the RTX 3080 Ti machines we’ve reviewed on some titles and an even bigger jump on others. The 1080p MSI GE76 Raider, for example, got 143 frames per second on Shadow of the Tomb Raider and 415 on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive compared to the Blade’s 169 and 548, respectively. The QHD Acer Predator Triton 500 SE got 79fps on Tomb Raider with ray tracing enabled and 67fps on Red Dead Redemption 2 with ray tracing enabled. The Blade pushed out 118fps and 103fps on those titles with the same settings. Those are some serious (and noticeable) jumps in performance.

The only title where I was able to push this model below 60fps was, and this should not surprise anyone, Cyberpunk 2077. When I shoved ray tracing all the way up to its highest setting, the Blade started having trouble. It was almost satisfying to watch the laptop stumble and bluster its way around Night City after blazing through everything else I’d thrown at it that day. (Cyberpunk was, of course, much more playable when I turned ray tracing off, though it still didn’t quite hit 60fps at native resolution.) 

The Razer Blade 16 half closed seen from above.
Look closely at the palm rests, and the shadows of fingerprints are there.

Razer Blade 16 Benchmarks

TitleFrames per second
Assassin's Creed Valhalla
1920 x 1200136
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Native (ray tracing on)68
Native (ray tracing on, DLSS to Quality)101
QHD (ray tracing on)118
QHD (ray tracing on, DLSS to Quality)140
1920 x 1200169
Red Dead Redemption 2
1920 x 1200118
Cyberpunk 2077
Native (ray tracing on)18
1920 x 120096
CS:GO (run on FHD / 240Hz display)

All games were run at their highest possible settings. Because, come on. This is a 4090.

If you really want to max out titles like Cyberpunk with no compromise, Nvidia now has a solution for you in its DLSS 3 feature using its new Frame Generation technology, which we’ve seen improve frame rates by more than 50 percent. I used this on Tomb Raider with ray tracing on, and it also delivered close to a 50 percent increase. Basically, it improved the Blade’s frame rates to the point where you would expect to see them if ray tracing weren’t on at all. That’s a solid option to make hefty titles more accessible as long as you don’t mind a bit of additional latency.

The ports on the left side of the Razer Blade 16.
Two USB-A, USB-C, and headphone jack on the left.
The ports on the right side of the Razer Blade 16.
HDMI 2.1, USB-A, USB-C and lock slot on the right. The SD slot is down on the bottom.

I also can’t overemphasize how good games look on this Mini LED display. While the ample port selection, which includes HDMI 2.1 as well as Thunderbolt 4 and a UHS-II SD slot, should make it easy to plug in external monitors, the Blade’s Mini LED panel delivered incredibly rich and vivid colors, with crisp details that were a pleasure to view. Turning the resolution down from UHD Plus to FHD Plus was honestly painful; everything looked visibly grainy in comparison. The new display also has a 16:10 aspect ratio, which is a welcome change after previous years of 16:9 on Razer’s machines. (That new aspect ratio is what pushes the screen to a 16-inch diagonal over the 15-inch screens of prior models.) The bottom bezel is now dramatically smaller, which makes the entire laptop look more refined and less blocky overall. 

Oh, and it’s a dual-mode display, too. That means you can swap between native UHD Plus / 120Hz and FHD Plus / 240Hz “modes” with a single click. Well, kind of. What you actually have to do is dive into Razer’s Synapse software, dig up the Display panel, then flick the switch. Once you’ve done that, you have to reboot the computer in order for the change to take effect. So, if you’ve heard about this feature and were envisioning hopping back and forth all the time, that’s not quite the experience. If I owned this laptop — which will happen if and only if I win the lottery — I would probably stay in high-res mode the majority of the time (because come on — if you don’t want high resolution, why are you buying this?) and swap to FHD if I wanted to play a competitive shooter. 

The Razer Blade 16 seen from above.
Those are the speakers on the sides there.

The Blade is a gaming laptop first and foremost, but if you’re interested in using it for editing and other GPU-heavy workloads, you can certainly do that, too. This device took just over two minutes on our 4K video export test, which is over a minute faster than our model of last year’s Razer Blade 15 with an RTX 3060 for the same test — and one of the fastest scores we’ve ever seen. It even beat Apple’s M2 Pro Mac Mini desktop, though it’s still well behind the 16-inch MacBook Pro with M2 Max, which hangs on to the record.

The Blade scored a 1,296 on PugetBench for Premiere Pro, which tests live playback and export performance at 4K and 8K. That’s well over a 50 percent increase from our Blade 15 Advanced Unit last year and actually beats the M2 Max MacBook Pro, though the 3080 Ti GE76 Raider got a slightly higher score.

The webcam and shutter on the Razer Blade 16.
It’s hard to see from far away, but there’s a little webcam shutter on the left there.

One caveat to all of this: the Blade gets hot. While I was gaming or doing other GPU-intensive work in Premiere Pro, it was very toasty — to the point where I avoided touching the area near the hinge and would certainly not have used it on my lap. Inside, the CPU was spending quite a bit of time in the mid-90s (degrees Celsius) and even hit 100 now and again. Oh, and it’s loud. During benchmarking, its fans could be heard from across The Verge’s office. 

Now, this was with all the various settings maxed out and the discrete GPU powering everything. If you don’t want to hear fans, there is a silent mode you can turn on in Synapse. But again, if you’re not trying to get the absolute maximum power out of your games, why are you buying this? 

But a $4,299 device is not something people are going to want to buy very often. An investment of that size should pay off for quite a few years. Razer Blades are already notorious for not lasting as long as their buyers might hope, and we’d expect constant overheating only to make components like the CPU, GPU, and motherboard degrade faster.

Again, I know that nobody buys a Blade with an RTX 4090 inside and expects it to be silent. Blade laptops are thin, light, and hot. That’s been their reputation for years. This is just a reminder that thinness has a price in the PC space — and if you were hoping this year’s generation would buck that trend, you’re in for some disappointment.

The rest of this device is standard Razer Blade fare. If you’ve used a Blade 15, you’ll know what to expect from it. The speakers sound quite decent and do an admirable job of making game audio audible and clear over noisy fans. Even with volume at less than 20 percent and fans blazing, I could hear what I needed. The trackpad remains one of the biggest you can find on a laptop (seriously, it’s huge) and has a satisfying click. Those with small hands like mine should note that you may need to reach further than you’re used to in order to left-click on a trackpad of this size.

Battery life is also not great (in case you had the naive hope that it would be on an H-series Intel machine). I averaged three hours and 43 minutes of continuous use — meaning multitasking in 20ish Chrome tabs with Slack and Spotify running overtop, not gaming — with battery saver on, the external GPU disabled, the keyboard backlight turned off, and resolution at 1920 x 1200.

My one real complaint about the design is that it’s still a fingerprint magnet. I know Razer has claimed to be making improvements in this area, but they haven’t been enough. I took the Blade out of the box, and it was immediately covered in fingerprints. When our photographers were preparing to shoot the device, they complained that they couldn’t get it completely clean even after they wiped and wiped. I know a ton of you don’t care about this. But this laptop costs over four thousand dollars. If I’m paying that much, I would like the lid not to look completely gross.

The Razer Blade 16 displays The Verge homepage.
Looks like a Blade, games like a Blade.

With that nitpick aside, the Blade 16 is an incredibly impressive package. There’s really very little to criticize about it (which is, of course, the most important thing about this laptop). It’s hot, it’s loud, and it picks up fingerprints — which are, at this point, just things to expect when purchasing Razer Blades. It certainly delivers one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had on a laptop (which, it really should, considering the price). 

Still, this device is so far out of the stratosphere of most people’s budgets that it’s hard for me to be too excited about it. What I do hope is that lower-priced variants of these chips, as well as new features like DLSS 3, will bring great performance to price points that are a bit more… of this world. Largely, I’m taking this machine as confirmation that Nvidia did its job and that, as the RTX 4000 series starts to roll out, gaming will be more fun for everyone.