Apple and Razer typically offer rather different products to one another and as such, typically have rather different user bases too. However, as Razer has trimmed and tightened its laptops into sleek gaming machines, today both companies offer low weight, great looking laptops of various sizes.
There’s a reason we call Razer the “Apple of gaming” in our review of the Blade 15 — because typically its hardware looks like black-painted MacBooks. That’s changed up in the latest design though, with the Razer Blade 15 having a more boxy look while maintaining the sleek lines and low-profile form factor of its predecessors. Its bezels have been trimmed down for this generation of hardware too, making for a seamless-looking display. Razer did have the forethought to retain 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 does make it look starkly different to 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.
Keyboards are also noticeably different between the two. We found the latest generation of MacBook Pro frustrating in its keyboard design (which has a tendency to fail). While better than its predecessors, the low-profile “butterfly” switches are not something we were enamored with. 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 does have the Touch Bar as an alternative input, but we’ve found it’s struggled to convince us of its use. That said, you can give it some awesome new capabilities with a few handy third-party apps.
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 $ 1,800 and packs an eighth-generation six-core Intel Core i7-8750H CPU with 16GB of RAM under the hood. It also has an Nvidia GTX 1060 Max-Q graphics card for gaming on its 1080p IPS monitor. For those with deeper pockets, there are options for up to a GTX 2080 Max-Q graphics card, a 240Hz 1080p display, and a 4K option, though prices weigh in at $ 3,300 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-generation six-core Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a Radeon Pro 555X graphics chip. Optional upgrades let users upgrade to an i9 processor and Radeon Pro Vega 20 graphics; the 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 2080. One advantage the MacBook does have though is in its default display. All Pro versions have a 2,880 x 1,800 display, which looks beautiful. It doesn’t support high-refresh rates, but that’s of less benefit on a non-gaming system anyhow.
The MacBook offers better storage options for potential buyers too. Where the Blade 15 can only offer up to 512GB of PCIe storage, the MacBook Pro can come with up to 4TB of solid state space.
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 x 9.25 x 0.7-inches and weighs in at 4.63 pounds, while the MacBook Pro is 13.75 x 9.48 x 0.61-inches and 4.02 pounds. The difference there isn’t huge and you’re unlikely to notice day to day, especially since you have to accept slightly weightier hardware at the 15-inch form.
The Razer Blade has the larger battery by the numbers at 80-watt hours, but its heftier hardware does mean it’s not quite as efficient a machine as the Apple alternative. It managed just over seven-hours in our video loop tests and just under four and a half hours in our web-browsing test. Apple claims around 10 hours of general usage for its 15-inch MacBook Pro, which was something that played out in our review, where it hit ten hours in our video playback test and seven hours 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.
Bang for buck
Apple’s 2019 upgrades to the MacBook Pro 15 make it much more capable than it used to be, and its top-end i9 processor surges well clear of the Razer Blade’s i7. Elsewhere, it’s a beautifully designed piece of kit, with a gorgeous display, decent battery life, and a slightly lighter frame, meaning you get a good amount for your money. That said, the Razer Blade 15 is just so much more capable when it comes to graphics. Its battery life and weight are close enough to not be major factors, it looks stunning, and has a better keyboard.
Ultimately, what you choose depends on your use case. If you run processor-intensive tasks, or if you just prefer MacOS, the MacBook Pro is the best option. But we still feel the Razer Blade 15 is an all round better piece of kit, especially when you consider its graphics power and more comfortable keyboard.