Razer has been manufacturing gaming laptops for several years, expanding their product line from the Stealth to include the Blade 15 and Blade 17 Pro models (and the RTX Studio editions too). The opportunity to observe how Razer improved its design and corrected mistakes has been a rewarding aspect of my job, as the company clearly values the opinions of both fans and reviewers.
One unintended consequence of the popularity of Razer’s laptops has been the demand for them among non-gamers. With Book 13, the company has finally listened to its customers, a name that also implies that we may see a Book 15 at some point in the future.
The Book 13 is an outstanding achievement that rivals the Dell XPS 13 in terms of performance and design. It is aimed at regular laptop users, creatives, and anyone else who requires an excellent premium Windows Ultrabook (and, in some areas, surpasses it).
Given my recent experience with it, here are the reasons why I believe it is so excellent.
Razer book 13 specs and options
The Razer Book 13 is equipped with the latest 11th Generation Intel processors, as well as Intel Iris Xe graphics, which provide a performance boost of nearly 70% over the previous 10th Generation.
For the time being, there are three different models to choose from, with the most affordable starting at $1,200 and featuring a full HD non-touch matte display, as well as an Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor (3.8GHz), 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. Not cheap, as it will cost you between $100 and $200 more than an XPS 13 with the same configuration, but it is also not prohibitively expensive.
A faster Core i7-1165G7 (4.7GHz), 16GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage are included in this review sample, which is the one that the majority of people should purchase. Even though the display is still in full HD, it is now non-matte (anti-reflective) and has touch support. That particular model is priced at $1,600.
When it comes to pricing, the most expensive Book 13 sells for $2,000, but you’ll get a full 4K touch display (with anti-reflective coating), the same Core i7-1165G7 (4.7GHz) processor with 16GB of RAM, and twice the storage space with 512GB. That’s nearly $400 more than what Dell is going to ask for the computer.
|OS||Window 10 Dwelling (64-bit)|
|Show||13.4-inch 16:10Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) Non-TouchFull HD+ (1920 x 1200) TouchUHD+ (3840 x 2400) TouchGorilla Glass 6Anti-reflective|
|Processor||28W 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 (2. Four GHz / 3.Eight GHz)28W 11th Gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 (2. Eight GHz / 4.7 GHz)Vapor chamber cooling|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe|
|RAM||Eight or 16GBLPDDR4X 4267MHz|
|Storage||As much as 512GB PCIe M.2 (upgradeable to 2TB)|
|Safety||Home windows Hi there (face)|
|Ports||1x microSD card reader1x HDMI 2. Zero port2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) (energy, Four lanes of PCI Specific)1x USB-A 3.2Headphone/mic jack|
|Keyboard||Razer Chroma w/ per-key RGB backlightingAnti-ghosting|
|Digital camera||720p webcam windows Hi there, infrared digital camera|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6 Intel Wi-fi AX 201 (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac)Bluetooth 5.1|
|Audio||2x upward-facing audio system + Good AmpTHX Spatial Audio|
|Dimensions||0.60″ x 11.6″ x 7.8″ (15.15mm x 295.6mm x 198mm)|
|Battery life||As much as 14 hours (complete colors the hions)As much as 11 hours (UHD)|
|Weight||2.95 to three.11lbs (1.34 to 1.4kg)|
|Colors||Mercury WhiteT6 CNC Aluminum, anodized|
Fortunately, despite the higher-than-average price, you will receive a substantial amount of laptop with this purchase. The choice of port is the factor that makes the most significant difference. Unlike many 13-inch Ultrabooks, which ship with only a handful of Type-C Thunderbolt ports, Razer takes a page from business laptops and includes a slew of additional ports.
It has full HDMI 2.0 support as well as a microSD card slot, both of which are uncommon amongst prosumer Ultrabooks these days. Moreover, in addition to the two Type-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, there is a standard Type-A 3.2 port included as well. All of this combines to make Book 13 a dongle-free laptop, which is not a frivolous purchase. While I am willing to do without many ports, if there are no other alternatives, I will gladly accept what Razer has to offer.
The entire chassis is constructed of anodized T6 CNC aluminum. While it appears to be white in some photographs, it is actually a shimmery silver that is both professional and effective at hiding fingerprints. Razer’s perfectly symmetrical “block” design for its laptops is something I appreciate. It has a fantastic feel to it and is perfectly balanced.
Everything about the Razer Book 13 is perfectly symmetrical and precise in its design.
There are also some small features, such as a pinhole-sized LED on the front right that illuminates when the laptop’s power is on (white) or when it is charging (green), and which has a slow breathing effect when it is charging.
In fact, depending on the light, Razer’s three-headed snake (THS) logo on the top changes color from light silver to dark silver. Some people are put off by Razer’s THS, but I think it’s fine here. Razer makes up for it by not including any Intel stickers of any kind on the keyboard deck, as well as by designing an immaculate, minimalist layout.
Seriously, that THS logo is the only thing that distinguishes this laptop — Book 13 is the epitome of immaculate condition.
Razer Book 13 display with built-in webcam
When Razer decided to use the same Sharp IGZO displays that Dell uses in the XPS 13, it was a brilliant move. The IGZO display technology, in my opinion, is the ideal laptop display technology because it approaches the color saturation and contrast of AMOLED while maintaining the natural look of IPS/LED.
The full HD touch model is recommended for the vast majority of people. When it comes to display quality, the 13.4-inch screen is one of the best I’ve seen, and the advantage of 4K at this size is reserved for professionals who require such a high resolution for work-related tasks. Full HD at this size, aspect ratio, and quality level doesn’t even show the pixels that make up the image.
Razer claims that these have the thinnest bezels of any 13.4-inch laptop on the market (a small field of competition, to be sure), and they do look fantastic. In part because of the taller 16:10 display aspect ratio (rather than the 16:9 layout), the bezels are thin on all four sides rather than just three as they are on a 16:9 layout.
It has particularly good color accuracy when working with 100 percent sRGB, 76 percent AdobeRGB, and 80 percent DCI-P3. That is almost exactly the same as the XPS 13 in terms of performance.
The brightness of the display is similar to that of the XPS 13, with a maximum of 550 nits at the highest setting and as low as 13 nits when the display is turned off. Because of that last number, working in Book 13 in a dark room is ideal because you won’t accidentally blind yourself while working late at night.
Given that this is the same display as the XPS 13, you’ll get one of my favorite features, anti-reflective coating, on top of it. Anti-reflective displays, which are not to be confused with matte anti-glare displays (which are found on the entry-level model), use the same technology as modern eyeglasses to disperse and reduce glare while maintaining the sharpness and contrast of glossy displays. The treatment provided here is excellent, and staring at this screen for extended periods of time is a breeze with little eye fatigue.
The webcam, which is only 720P, is nothing special, but it performs admirably in low light and is located at the top of the device’s bezel. Another feature of the Razer Blade is the Windows Hello IR sensor, which worked flawlessly for instant logging into Windows.
Razer Book 13’s keyboard, trackpad, and audio are all top-notch.
The typing on Book 13 is particularly impressive. A lot of the same gaming-keyboard expertise is employed by Razer to create a very satisfying keyboard experience that has plenty of travel and generously sized keys.
One trick that Razer did not include in its gaming line was per-key RGB illumination. With Razer Synapse, you can program your keyboard to cycle through all of the colors in the spectrum, react to typing (or audio), and perform a variety of other effects. For example, whereas other keyboards use a two- or three-stage backlighting system, Razer’s RGB uses a toggle switch for precise control, which is an improvement over previous implementations.
If you’re concerned about having a rainbow-flickering keyboard during a meeting, don’t be concerned about it. Set the lights to static and choose any color you want, including plain white, if you want to keep things simple.
Microsoft Precision Drivers are installed on the trackpad, which is enormous, smooth, and perfectly centered. It’s fantastic, and I have absolutely no complaints about it.
Razer’s audio system is comprised of two top-firing amplified speakers that flank the keyboard. Everything is, once again, perfectly symmetrical and precise in its design.
Those speakers are quite loud, but it is the inclusion of THX Spatial Audio that makes this system stand out. We’ve seen simulated surround sound in Windows 10, mostly when using headphones, but this spatial audio is applied to the speakers, and it’s absolutely stunning to hear. When you’re sitting in front of Book 13, the sound seems to have a massive presence that defies the size of the laptop. It significantly improves the experience of watching movies (or any other video) on a computer.
Power, benchmarks, and battery life of the Razer Book 13.
Intel’s 11th Generation processors represent the most significant improvement in processor performance from the company in several years, and it shows off its capabilities here.
Because of its gaming heritage, Razer is well-versed in laptop cooling, and the Book 13 has two nice-sized but quiet fans, as well as a superior vapor chamber cooling system, which makes for a very pleasant experience. I’m not aware of any non-gaming laptops that use vapor chamber cooling, as the vast majority of laptops today rely on copper heat pipes for their cooling.
While you can use the Book 13 in its default balanced mode or bump it up to high performance in Windows 10, Razer Synapse allows you to push it even further. When plugged in, users can set it to “Performance” and even manually control the fan speed, allowing them to crank up the CPU to its maximum capacity if they so desire. Those performance modes, which include balanced and battery saver, can be configured independently for use with an alternating current or with a battery.
When it comes to benchmarks, the Book 13 (when in performance mode, similar to Dell) receives the highest possible score in this category. In 3DMark Night Raid, when combined with the new Intel Iris Xe graphics, this laptop is approximately twice as powerful as the Surface Book 3 15-inch.
When it comes to PCMark 10, which tests primarily the CPU, the Dell XPS 15 (5,160) is only a hair behind the HP Book 13 (5,100), which is remarkable.
SSD performance is also at the top of our list, with reading speeds of 3,500 MB/s and writing speeds of a respectable 2,350 MB/s when performing a sequential task.
The Razer Book 13 has been certified by Intel Evo, which is a list of Intel’s ideal specifications for modern laptops. This is not a marketing ploy in any way shape or form. Making Bluetooth 5, Wi-Fi 6, touch display, fast wake from sleep, nine or more hours of real-world battery life with full HD, Thunderbolt 4, and other features requirements is a great step forward. More information on this can be found in our Intel Evo laptops: What you need to know article, which takes a detailed look at the certification process.
What I was most impressed with was how quickly this laptop recovered from sleep/hibernation and was able to log in to Windows. Instead of hibernate, which is an extremely low power state that kicks in after a few hours of the laptop being closed for the greatest amount of battery saving, I’m talking about standby to wake, which is instantaneous (next to being off). Dell’s XPS 13 typically takes 15 to 20 seconds, but the Book 13 completes the task in approximately 9 seconds.
The battery life is also quite good, though it is the one area where the Book 13’s 56 WHr battery falls slightly short of the XPS 13‘s battery capacity. Razer Book 13 managed 11 hours and 50 minutes in PCMark 10’s synthetic battery rundown test. The test loops through office productivity apps, video calls, and web browsing. The Dell managed 13 hours and 45 minutes. Both had the display set to a brightness of approximately 150 nits or higher.
Moving on to the Windows battery report, which measured my real-world usage, I found that I could get around 10 hours and 30 minutes out of a single charge, which is comparable to the battery life of Dell’s latest XPS 13. In this case, the battery life is sufficient for the entire day, exceeding Intel’s requirement of a minimum of nine hours for the Evo designation.
Alternatives to the Razer Book 13
According to what should be obvious at this point, Dell’s outstanding XPS 13 (9310) is the most compelling alternative to the Razer Book 13. Although these are similar laptops aimed at the same audience, there are some significant differences between them. The port selection on Book 13 is improved, with full HDMI, Type-A, and microSD support. It also performs better in terms of audio when using top-firing THX speakers rather than the angled-bottom firing speakers found on the XPS 13. The keyboard is also marginally better, and the RGB lighting is entertaining. However, Dell’s pricing is significantly more favorable than Razer’s, with Dell frequently being a few hundred dollars less expensive than Razer, which is not insignificant. The XPS 13 is also slightly lighter at 2.8 pounds (1.27kg) compared to the Book 13, which weighs 3.1 pounds (1.4kg) (1.4kg).
HP also has the new Spectre x360 14, which features a 3:2 aspect ratio display that is both taller and more attractive. It also has quad speakers (two top-firing and two bottom-firing), a fingerprint reader in addition to Windows infrared, and the same port selection as the previous model, with the exception of a full-length HDMI port. A 3000×2000 OLED display with a resolution of up to 1600×1200 pixels is available for $1,690, and you can choose from three different chassis colors, including silver, blue, and black. The starting price is similar, at $1,250 for a Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, with many more configuration options available for the higher-end models.
The Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 is also a good alternative to the MacBook Air. The lack of a MicroSD reader, Thunderbolt 3, or an anti-reflective display is a significant disappointment, given the high price. However, you can order the Surface Laptop 4 with AMD Ryzen 4000 series CPUs in addition to Intel 11th-Gen processors, which may be a worthwhile upgrade for some. Furthermore, it starts at only $999, which is a few hundred dollars less than the Razer Book 13.
Check out our Best Ultrabooks 2020 guide for even more inspiration, including a list of the other products we recommend and why.
Is Razer Book 13 the new king of the castle?
Who is it intended for?
- If you’re looking for the best 13-inch Ultrabook, look no further.
- You appreciate a clean, minimalist design that incorporates high-quality materials.
- You’ll require a large number of ports, including Type-A and HDMI.
- You like the idea of using an RGB keyboard for some light entertainment.
- The quality of the speaker audio is critical.
It is not intended for the following individuals:
- You’re looking for a 2-in-1 convertible with ink.
- You’re looking for 4G LTE or 5G.
You’re looking for the most affordable option.
This is something I don’t say very often, but the Razer Book 13 is so fantastic that I’m tempted to purchase one for my own personal use (as this review unit must go back). I don’t require a new laptop, but I enjoy using the Book 13 so much that it would be difficult to part with it.
Some combination of the impeccably balanced and clean design, the outstanding sound and screen, the entertaining RGB keyboard, and the overall feel, including the ability to open it with one hand, appeals to me. Razer took my wish-list of must-have features for a 13-inch laptop and turned it into a reality with the help of their engineers. Even if I were to complain about the lack of a 4G option – which is the one thing I would want next – that would be nitpicking, and I’ll be the first to admit that this is a niche (but growing!) market.
At ten hours, the battery life is more than enough for the entire day. The charger that comes with the device is small and convenient (though three-pronged, so not great on planes). In terms of performance, this laptop can compete with 15-inch workstations, and it is one of the fastest laptops I have used to wake up from hibernation.
It is superior to the Dell XPS 13 in terms of performance. A coin toss, and it all comes down to personal preference. Both are excellent choices, though I prefer the look and feel of Razer’s a little bit more. In addition, you’ll get more ports, better audio, and a faster resume time. However, it is understandable that not everyone will be willing to pay the Razer-tax in exchange for the privilege.
Leaving aside the high price, the Razer Book 13 is an impressive achievement, especially considering that it is a “first-generation” product. Although I’m not sure where Razer will go from here for the following year’s model, other than a processor bump (and perhaps 5G? ), I think these are good problems for the company to have going into 2021.
Another minor nitpick would be for Razer to follow HP’s lead and place the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas near the top edge of the display rather than the lower back hinge, as the company has done in the past. While Razer’s approach is more visually appealing, HP’s approach results in superior Wi-Fi and Bluetooth performance due to the antenna being placed higher on the device.
Overall, if Book 13 appeals to you and you are comfortable with the price, it is a straightforward recommendation that is highly encouraged. I’m now trying to talk myself out of purchasing one. It’s not the first time Razer has persuaded me to part with my hard-earned money.
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