Razer Book 13 review: Great little work laptop with some personalityFebruary 5, 2021
Even though Razer’s laptops are generally built for gaming, we regularly recommend them to anyone looking for a high-performance Windows laptop with MacBook-like design and build quality. The Razer Book 13 takes the Razer design we love but skips the gaming vibe altogether (well, almost) and aims for office and school use instead.
Not that you couldn’t open up a spreadsheet with one of the game-centric. In fact, were similar to what you get with the Book 13. But this is more office-friendly, with its 13.4-inch display and a taller, 16:10 aspect ratio, fast mobile performance, long battery life and enough connection options to make working from home easier. But, like an Apple, it’s not necessarily the best deal, even compared to other premium laptops.
- Top-notch performance
- Solid build quality
- Beautiful display
- Configurable per-key RGB keyboard
- Razer Core X eGPU support
- Memory can’t be upgraded post-purchase
- More expensive than competing models
- Unimpressive webcam, and no camera privacy features
The Razer Book 13 currently comes in three configurations, or AU$2,200. The base configuration has an 11th-gen Core i5 processor, integrated Iris Xe graphics, 8GB of memory and a 256GB PCIe SSD.
The SSD is user upgradeable should you need more storage, however, the memory is not since it’s soldered on. This is common for ultraportable laptops now, but for the Book 13, it means you’ll have to buy the $1,600 configuration I tested to get its max 16GB of RAM. You get a faster processor and a touchscreen along with that, too.
Razer Book 13 (late 2020)
|Price as reviewed||$1,600|
|Display size/resolution||13.4-inch 1,920×1,200 touch display|
|CPU||2.8GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7|
|Memory||16GB 4266MHz LPDDR4X (onboard)|
|Graphics||128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics|
|Networking||802.11ax wireless, Bluetooth 5.1|
|Connections||Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (x2), USB-A (3.2 Gen 1), HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm audio jack, microSD card slot|
|Operating system||Windows 10 Home 64-bit (20H2)|
By comparison, the HP Spectre x360 14 — a premium pen-enabled two-in-one with a 13.5-inch OLED display, 16GB of memory and a 512GB SSD — is, while a Dell XPS 13 9310 with 512GB of storage and a UHD-resolution touch display . The Book 13’s top configuration matches the Dell’s components . Does that make the HP and Dell better deals? Yes, if you’re buying by the main component specs alone. But, the Razer Book 13 does have a few extra features that might be worth the extra money for you.
A gaming keyboard for your work laptop
The Book 13 has the same keyboard layout as the company’s, which is almost entirely a good thing. It’s a comfortable keyboard and I like it much more than the Dell XPS 13’s. It does, however, have small Backspace and Enter keys, which may require an adjustment period. On the plus side, it has an extended Shift key on the right (older Stealth 13 models had a small one) and the power button in the top right corner requires 120 grams of force (the other keys need 63 grams) and has a 300ms delay so you don’t accidentally sleep or shut down the laptop.
Beyond the layout and feel, you get the keyboard’s Razer Chroma RGB per-key lighting and support for Razer’s Synapse 3.0 software. With the app, you can configure each individual key’s light, create your own lighting patterns or just use one of several presets. Synapse can also be used for remapping keys or creating macros. You can also use its Hypershift feature to set up shortcuts for doing things like opening a specific application, controlling media or triggering a mouse function.
Staying connected, no hub necessary
Since this is a small, slim premium laptop, you might be expecting to find only USB-C ports and maybe a headphone jack on the Book 13. It bucks that trend, though, by including a full-size HDMI port, a microSD card slot and a USB-A port. It also has a 3.5mm audio jack and two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 are available for wireless connections.
Unlike much of its competition, the Book 13 has four speakers, and they sound good for a laptop this size. It also has a four-mic array to help pick up voices better for video chats. Unfortunately, Razer stuck with a 720p webcam, which is still the standard for laptops, even premium ones like this. The Book 13 doesn’t have any privacy features for blocking the webcam or muting the mics, but it does have an IR cam for signing in with facial recognition.
All the performance for productivity
Of the three configurations, I would recommend the middle-of-the-road option I tested. The faster Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM will give you speedy performance for quite some time. It outperformed other 11th-gen Core i7 laptops we’ve tested recently, including the Dell XPS 13 9310 with a similar configuration. And if you decide you need more than its integrated graphics for gaming or content creation, the Book 13 supports the company’s Core X external GPU box, which is a standalone graphics card unit that can attach for better game performance.
The laptop was coengineered with Intel and is part of Intel’s Evo platform. That means it’s built to start up fast, wake as soon as you lift the lid and stay up to date while you’re away. Long battery life is also a must, and in our streaming video test, it ran for more than 11 hours. Plus, it recharges quickly.
As with the company’s gaming laptops, you’re paying a premium for the Razer Book 13. It’s not a good deal on paper, and you’ll get more pixels, RAM and storage with a Dell XPS 13 or HP Spectre x360 14. So, it’s not the best bargain, but you are getting an excellent laptop. The middle $1,600 configuration will give you some headroom for the future. And although it’s lacking a couple of handy features found on competing laptops, it makes up for it with unique elements of its own.
|Razer Book 13 (late 2020)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 4,267MHz; 128MB Intel Iris Xe graphics; 256GB SSD|
|Asus ZenBook Duo 14 UX482||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 4,267MHz; 128MB Intel Iris Xe graphics; 512GB SSD|
|Lenovo Yoga 9i (14-inch)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 3.0GHz Intel Core i7-1185G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 4,267MHz; 128MB Intel Iris Xe graphics; 512GB SSD|
|Acer AP714-51T Porsche Design Acer Book RS||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-1135G7; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 4,267MHz; 128MB Intel Iris Xe graphics; 512GB SSD|
|Dell XPS 13 9310||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-1165G7; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 4,267MHz; 128MB Intel Iris Xe graphics; 512MB SSD|
|HP Envy x360 13 (2020)||Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz; AMD Ryzen 5 4500U; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 3,200MHz; 512MB Radeon graphics; 256GB SSD|