Razer Blade 15 vs. MacBook Pro

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Apple and Razer typically offer rather different products from one another, and they often have different customers, too. However, as Razer has trimmed and tightened its laptops into sleek gaming machines, both companies now offer lightweight, great-looking laptops of various sizes.

That means new buyers may find it increasingly tough to pick which path to go down, which is why we’re pitting the Razer Blade 15 against the MacBook Pro to see which is the better choice.

Design

Dan Baker/

There’s a reason we used to call Razer “the Apple of gaming.” Typically, its hardware looks like black-painted MacBooks, but that changed in the latest design, with the Razer Blade 15 having a more boxy look while maintaining the sleek lines and low-profile of its predecessors. Its bezels have been trimmed down for this generation of hardware, making for a seamless-looking display. Razer had the forethought to keep a larger top bezel, though, which means the webcam remains mounted up top where it belongs.

The MacBook Pro is, as always, a beautiful design, and its silver paint job makes it look starkly different from Razer’s usual black aesthetic (although the Space Gray option is a little closer). It’s also thinner and lighter than the Razer Blade 15. It doesn’t offer quite so much versatility in port selection, though. While some MacBook Pro versions can have up to four Thunderbolt 3 ports, they are all USB-C, whereas the Blade 15 has a single USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port and three USB-A 3.1 ports. It also has an HDMI and Mini DisplayPort for hooking up external displays.

While we found previous generations of the MacBook Pro frustrating in its keyboard design (which has a tendency to fail), the newest versions of the MacBook Pro has a much-improved keyboard. In fact, in our review, we called it “the best Mac keyboard ever released.” The Razer Blade 15, on the other hand, has a fantastic keyboard, though Razer wedged in a full-size up arrow between the shift and question mark keys, which resulted in us frequently hitting the wrong button.

The MacBook Pro has the Touch Bar as an alternative input, but we found it struggled to convince us of its usefulness. That said, you can give it some fun new capabilities with a few handy third-party apps.

Performance

Razer Blade (2018) back lifestyle mouse
Riley Young/

Considering one of the laptops in this head-to-head is designed for gaming and the other isn’t, it’s no surprise to learn that the Razer Blade 15 is the more powerful machine — even if the Pro is the best MacBook available. The entry-level Razer Blade 15 starts at $1,599 and packs a 10-generation six-core Intel Core i7-10750H CPU with 16GB of RAM under the hood. It also has an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB GDDR6 for gaming on its 1080p 144Hz IPS monitor. For those with deeper pockets, there are options for up to a Quadro RTX 5000 Studio Edition (16GB GDDR6 VRAM) with a 4K 60Hz display, though prices weigh in at $4,299 at the top end. There’s also always the option of expanding its graphical capabilities with an external GPU using Razer’s Core V2 external graphics enclosure.

The MacBook Pro 15, on the other hand, starts at $2,399 with a ninth-gen six-core Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a Radeon Pro 5300M (4GB of GDDR6 VRAM). Optional upgrades let users upgrade to an i9 processor and Radeon Pro 5600M (8GB of HBM2 VRAM); the i9 processor will chew up Razer’s i7, but the MacBook’s best graphics card won’t hold a candle to the Razer Blade’s GTX 1660 Ti. One advantage the MacBook does have, though, is in its default display. All Pro versions have a 3,072 x 1,920 display, which looks beautiful. That being said, the MacBook Pro doesn’t support the high-refresh rates found on the Blade 15, but really, that’s less of a concern for a non-gaming system.

The MacBook offers better storage options for potential buyers, too. Where the Blade 15 can only offer up to 1TB of PCIe storage, the MacBook Pro can come with up to 8TB of solid-state space — even if it does come at a costly premium.

Portability

One of the classic problems with gaming laptops is that they aren’t the most portable. Razer’s Blade 15 is its best effort yet, but it still comes in heavier than the MacBook Pro. The Blade 15 is 13.98 by 9.25 by 0.78 inches and weighs 4.6 pounds, while the MacBook Pro is 14.09 by 9.68 by 0.64-inches and 4.3 pounds. The difference there isn’t huge, and you’re unlikely to notice it day to day, especially since you have to accept slightly weightier hardware with the 15-inch model.

The Razer Blade has a 97-watt-hour battery, but its heftier hardware does mean it’s not quite as efficient a machine as the Apple alternative. It managed just five hours in our video loop tests and just under four and a half hours in our web browsing test. Apple claims around 11 hours of general usage for its 16-inch MacBook Pro, which was something that played out in our review, where it hit 10 hours in our video playback test and 7 hours and 37 minutes of web browsing. Much like the weight and size, what you get with the Razer is impressive considering its internal hardware, but it’s fair to say that the MacBook Pro is still a little bit more portable.

Gaming or not, the Blade 15 cuts down the MacBook

Razer Blade (2018) keyboard
Riley Young/

Apple’s 2020 upgrades to the MacBook Pro 16 make it much more capable than it used to be, and its top-end i9 processor surges ahead of the Razer Blade’s i7. Elsewhere, it’s a beautifully designed piece of equipment, with a gorgeous display, decent battery life, and a slightly lighter frame, meaning you get a good amount for your money. The Razer Blade 15 isn’t substantially slower in everyday tasks, though, and it’s much more capable when it comes to gaming and 3D rendering, thanks to its powerful GPU.

Ultimately, the one you should choose depends on what you plan to do with it. If you run processor-intensive tasks or if you just prefer MacOS, the MacBook Pro is the best option. We still feel that the Razer Blade 15 is an all-around better laptop, though, especially when you consider its graphics power, more comfortable keyboard, and high refresh rate display.

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