NELKINDA SOFTWARE CRAFT

Razer Blade Stealth

At Nelkinda, the Razer Blade Stealth became one of the most loved Ultrabooks. Here's how it behaves, how we like it and how it compares with other Ultrabooks.

Author:
Christian Hujer, CEO / CTO at Nelkinda Software Craft Pvt Ltd
First Published:
by NNelkinda Software Craft Private Limited
Last Modified:
by Christian Hujer
Approximate reading time:

1 Hardware

Figure 1-1: Razer Blade Stealth in Kerala

1.1 Hardware Specs

DeviceRazer Blade Stealth
CaseWidth321mm
Depth206mm
Height13.1mm13.8mm
Weight1.29 kg1.35 kg
CPUModelIntel® Core™ i7-7500U
(7th Generation, Kaby Lake)
Intel® Core™ i7-8550U
(8th Generation, Kaby Lake)
Bits64
Clock2.7 GHz1.8 GHz
Max Turbo Clock3.5 GHz4.0 GHz
Cores24
Threads48
DisplaySize12.5″13.3″
TechnologyIGZO with LED backlight
Resolution3840 × 2160 (UHD / 4K)3200 × 1800 (QHD+)
Aspect Ratio16:9
TypeGlare
Touchcapacitive multi-touch
RAMSize16 GiB (2×8 GiB)
TypeLPDDR3
Clock1867 MHz2133 MHz
ManufacturerSamsungMicron
GPUTypeIntel® HD Graphics 620
RAMShared
Kernel Modulei915
SSDSize1024 GB (953 GiB)512 GB (476 GiB)
ManufacturerSamsung
ModelMZVLW1T0HMLHMZVLW512HMJP
BatteryCapacity4640 mAh
Energy54 Wh
Runtime~5h
SupplyPower45W65W
ConnectorUSB-C
WLANKiller™ Wireless-AC 1535 (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac)
BluetoothBluetooth® 4.1
PortsHDMI1 (HDMI 2.0a)
USB 3.02
Thunderbolt™ 31
CameraYUYV (max resolution)4:2:2, 1920 × 1080, 5 fps4:2:2, 1280 × 720, 10 fps
YUYV (max frame rate)4:2:2, 640 × 480, 30 fps4:2:2, 640 × 480, 30 fps
MJPEG1920 × 1080, 30 fps1280 × 720, 30 fps
H.264n/a
MicrophoneStereo Array
KeyboardLayout80 key US International English
GhostingAnti-Ghosting
BacklightRazer Chroma™
OSShippedWindows 10 Home 64-Bit
Used / TestedKubuntu 17.04Kubuntu 17.10
Table 1-1: Technical Specification of the Razer Blade Stealth

1.2 Tested Setup

The tested setup is with the following additional hardware:

2 System Usage

I use the system for the following purposes:

3 First Impression

The first impression of the Razer Blade Stealth is awesome. Except for one thing, the bezels. It's actually a 14″ Ultrabook with a 12″ screen. The device feels very robust and sturdy. For an Ultrabook it has a good, although not top-in-class, selection of ports (see data). When it comes to ports, the Dell Latitude 7480 totally outperforms the Razer Blade Stealth. The built-in Webcam is of mediocre quality unless you use the proprietary driver, it is glitchy and doesn't encode H.264 by itself. If you need a good quality webcam, go for the Logitech C920 or Razer Kiyo.

4 Remarks

4.1 Positive

4.2 Neutral

4.3 Negative

5 Kubuntu 17.04 / 17.10

5.1 Installation

The installation of Kubuntu 17.04 or 17.10 runs straight-forward the standard way without any problems.

5.1.1 Dual-Boot Installation

To install Kubuntu as Dual Boot with Windows:

  1. Disable Secure Boot in the BIOS
  2. Boot Windows, shrink the main partition
  3. Boot Kubuntu from USB memory, run installation
  4. Pick the space freed in Windows and assign it to / in format ext4
  5. Install
  6. Re-enable Secure Boot in the BIOS

5.1.2 Linux-only Installation

To install Kubuntu as the sole operating system:

  1. Boot Kubuntu from USB memory, run installation
  2. Install

5.2 lspci, lsusb etc.

The following is the output of lspci in the connected setup.

christian.hujer@Nelkinda-Blade-Stealth-1:~$ lspci
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Device 5904 (rev 02)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Device 5916 (rev 02)
00:14.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation Sunrise Point-LP USB 3.0 xHCI Controller (rev 21)
00:14.2 Signal processing controller: Intel Corporation Sunrise Point-LP Thermal subsystem (rev 21)
00:15.0 Signal processing controller: Intel Corporation Sunrise Point-LP Serial IO I2C Controller #0 (rev 21)
00:15.1 Signal processing controller: Intel Corporation Sunrise Point-LP Serial IO I2C Controller #1 (rev 21)
00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation Sunrise Point-LP CSME HECI #1 (rev 21)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Device 9d12 (rev f1)
00:1c.4 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Sunrise Point-LP PCI Express Root Port #5 (rev f1)
00:1d.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Sunrise Point-LP PCI Express Root Port #9 (rev f1)
00:1e.0 Signal processing controller: Intel Corporation Sunrise Point-LP Serial IO UART Controller #0 (rev 21)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation Device 9d58 (rev 21)
00:1f.2 Memory controller: Intel Corporation Sunrise Point-LP PMC (rev 21)
00:1f.3 Audio device: Intel Corporation Device 9d71 (rev 21)
00:1f.4 SMBus: Intel Corporation Sunrise Point-LP SMBus (rev 21)
01:00.0 Network controller: Qualcomm Atheros QCA6174 802.11ac Wireless Network Adapter (rev 32)
02:00.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation JHL6340 Thunderbolt 3 Bridge (C step) [Alpine Ridge 2C 2016] (rev 02)
03:00.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation JHL6340 Thunderbolt 3 Bridge (C step) [Alpine Ridge 2C 2016] (rev 02)
03:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation JHL6340 Thunderbolt 3 Bridge (C step) [Alpine Ridge 2C 2016] (rev 02)
03:02.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation JHL6340 Thunderbolt 3 Bridge (C step) [Alpine Ridge 2C 2016] (rev 02)
04:00.0 System peripheral: Intel Corporation JHL6340 Thunderbolt 3 NHI (C step) [Alpine Ridge 2C 2016] (rev 02)
05:00.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation DSL6540 Thunderbolt 3 Bridge [Alpine Ridge 4C 2015]
06:01.0 PCI bridge: Device 0086:0000
06:04.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation DSL6540 Thunderbolt 3 Bridge [Alpine Ridge 4C 2015]
07:00.0 VGA compatible controller: NVIDIA Corporation GM200 [GeForce GTX 980 Ti] (rev a1)
07:00.1 Audio device: NVIDIA Corporation GM200 High Definition Audio (rev a1)
08:00.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation DSL6540 USB 3.1 Controller [Alpine Ridge]
3b:00.0 Non-Volatile memory controller: Samsung Electronics Co Ltd NVMe SSD Controller SM961/PM961
Listing 5-1: Output of lspci

The following is the output of lsusb.

christian.hujer@Nelkinda-Blade-Stealth-1:~$ lsusb
Bus 004 Device 006: ID 8086:0aa5 Intel Corp.
Bus 004 Device 005: ID 05e3:0616 Genesys Logic, Inc. hub
Bus 004 Device 004: ID 05e3:0617 Genesys Logic, Inc.
Bus 004 Device 003: ID 0b95:1790 ASIX Electronics Corp. AX88179 Gigabit Ethernet
Bus 004 Device 002: ID 05e3:0617 Genesys Logic, Inc.
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 003 Device 009: ID 1532:0e03 Razer USA, Ltd
Bus 003 Device 012: ID 1532:0e01 Razer USA, Ltd
Bus 003 Device 011: ID 05e3:0610 Genesys Logic, Inc. 4-port hub
Bus 003 Device 006: ID 1532:0c00 Razer USA, Ltd
Bus 003 Device 005: ID 05e3:0610 Genesys Logic, Inc. 4-port hub
Bus 003 Device 004: ID 1532:0215 Razer USA, Ltd
Bus 003 Device 002: ID 05e3:0610 Genesys Logic, Inc. 4-port hub
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 009: ID 04f3:2356 Elan Microelectronics Corp.
Bus 001 Device 007: ID 1532:0220 Razer USA, Ltd
Bus 001 Device 005: ID 0bda:579f Realtek Semiconductor Corp.
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 0cf3:e300 Atheros Communications, Inc.
Bus 001 Device 008: ID 1532:0f08 Razer USA, Ltd
Bus 001 Device 010: ID 1532:005a Razer USA, Ltd
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 045e:07a5 Microsoft Corp. Wireless Receiver 1461C
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 05e3:0610 Genesys Logic, Inc. 4-port hub
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Listing 5-2: Output of lsusb

5.3 Runtime Problems and Glitches

5.3.1 Screen Flicker with Intel® Core™ i7-8550U Processor

You might encounter massive screen flickering on the Razer Blade Stealth with Intel® Core™ i7-8550U Processor. That screen flickering is so massive that it seems to render the laptop unusable. But don't worry, there's an easy solution. Just follow these steps:

  1. sudo vi /etc/default/grub, for variable GRUB_CMD_LINE_LINUX_DEFAULT append i915.edp_vswing=2
  2. sudo update-grub
  3. Reboot

After that, the screen flickering is gone.

5.3.2 Caps Lock Key Crash

The kernel crashes when pressing the Caps Lock key a second time (light off). The Caps Lock key should be disabled anyway. In KDE, the Caps Lock key can be disabled the following way:

  1. Go to System Settings
  2. In section Hardware, open Input Devices
  3. On page Keyboard, tab Advanced,
    1. Enable Configure keyboard options
    2. In the table, under Caps Lock key behavior, check Caps Lock is disabled

Note that this only changes the Caps Lock key behavior of the session of the user that made the change. SDDM (the login screen) is not affected by this. So, be careful not to press Caps Lock when logging in.

5.4 Razer Drivers

Tim Theede and Terry Cain have developed razer drivers for Linux [RAZER-DRIVERS]. The installation of the razer drivers on Kubuntu is performed with a set of typical commands described on the page about the drivers.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:terrz/razerutils
sudo apt update
sudo apt install python3-razer razer-kernel-modules-dkms razer-daemon razer-doc
sudo modprobe razerkbd
Listing 5-3: Commands for installing the razer-drivers

6 Extra Stuff

6.1 Getting the Razer Wallpaper onto Linux

If you haven't erased your Windows partition, you can copy the wallpaper from Windows. Otherwise, you can download the wallpaper from the Razer website. If setting the wallpaper as a background for Konsole, you need to scale it.

6.1.1 Copying the Wallpaper from Windows

To copy the wallpaper from Windows, you need to execute the following steps:

  1. Mount the Windows partition
  2. Copy the file from Windows to Linux
  3. Umount the Windows partition
sudo mount /dev/nvme0n1p4 /mnt
cp /mnt/Windows/Web/Wallpaper/Wallpaper.PNG ~/Pictures/Wallpaper.png
sudo umount /mnt
Listing 6-1: Copying the wallpaper from Windows

6.1.2 Downloading the Wallpaper from Razer

Razer has published a lot of wallpapers on their website. This includes the Chroma wallpaper that comes with the Razer Blade Stealth.

wget -O ~/Pictures/Wallpaper.png http://assets.razerzone.com/eedownloads/desktop-wallpapers/RazerChroma_3840x2160.png

6.1.3 Scaling the Wallpaper for Konsole

Konsole expects the background image in the size of the down-scaled window, which is a bit sad. For example, let's look at a Razer Blade Stealth 4K and scaling factor of 2.5. The native resolution is 3840×2160 pixels. With a scaling factor of 2.5, Konsole thinks and expects 1536×864 pixels. Also, for Konsole we want the image to be darkened. We will use NetPBM to darken and scale the image.

The following shell command will create a scaled version of the image as background for Konsole.

<~/Pictures/Wallpaper.png pnmtopng |
pnmgamma 0.2 |
pnmscale -xysize 1536 864 |
pnmtopng >~/Pictures/Wallpaper_Konsole.png
Listing 6-2: Preparing the wallpaper for Konsole

7 Competitor Models

In our environment, the Razer Blade Stealth competes in the Ultrabook league against the following competition:

8 How a Desk looks like

The Razer Blade Stealth makes it into a full-blown developer workstation and with the Razer Code even for 4K gaming. This is what the desk looks like, with all the other stuff.

Christian's Desktop
Figure 8-1: Christian's Desktop

9 Support

There is a forum in the Razer Zone dedicated to using Linux on/with Razer products. It's called The Linux Corner.

I've seen Razer reacting quickly and nicely to support questions on Twitter. Getting a response on social media is one thing. Getting a broken laptop replaced quickly as a company is quite a different thing. Some companies need 24h or 48h replacement options, internationally. In that case, you're probably better off with Dell, HP, or Lenovo.

10 Watch out for more!

We also have a 17" Razer Blade Pro for video production.

11 Conclusion

With its black case, slick design and Chroma™ keyboard, the Razer Blade Stealth is an eye-catcher indeed. But more than that, it's just really a lovely device that is serious fun to use.