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Razer Book 13 review: A slick laptop with a disappointing keyboard

The Razer Book 13 is a classic example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

This is a gorgeous laptop to behold—a sharp-edged slab of aluminum with a 16:10 display, slim bezels, and a generously-sized trackpad. It has Intel’s latest 11th-generation Core processor, face recognition, and not a trace of pre-installed bloatware. At a glance, you might think it commands every penny of its asking price.

And then you start writing on it, and the whole experience comes squishing down—on its mushy, imprecise, low-travel keyboard. The Razer Book 13 could be a pretty good high-end laptop, but it’s hard to recommend for anyone who spends a lot of time typing.

This review is part of our ongoing roundup of the best laptops. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.

Tech specs

The Razer Book 13 that we reviewed ($1,600 on Amazon, also available from Razer) includes the following tech specs:

  • Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU with Iris Xe graphics
  • 13.4-inch 1920×1200 touchscreen (60Hz)
  • 16GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • 256GB storage
  • HD webcam with Windows Hello
  • Left side: USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, USB-A 3.2, headphone jack
  • Right side: USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.0, MicroSD card slot
  • Weight: 3.09 pounds (3.72 pounds with USB-C charging brick)
  • Dimensions: 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches
razerbook13rightopen Jared Newman / IDG

MicroSD and HDMI ports are a nice touch on the Razer Book 13.

Configuration options are limited. A non-touch model with a Core-i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and matte display is available for $1,200 exclusively from RazerRemove non-product link, or you can opt for a 4K screen and 512GB of storage for $2,000 from AmazonRemove non-product link (or Razer). But if you don’t want 4K, whether for its high price or excessive power consumption, you’re stuck with 256GB of storage, which feels skimpy on a laptop in this price range.

Design and display

With the Razer Book 13’s silver aluminum finish and 16:10 screen aspect ratio, some comparisons to Apple’s MacBooks are probably inevitable. Razer’s laptop has some key points of distinction. The keyboard is white instead of black—I think it’s a better complement to the light-silver trim—and is flanked by speaker grilles.

razerbook13leftclose Jared Newman / IDG

The Razer Book’s sharp edges and aluminum frame give it a sturdy, premium look.

Razer also uses sharp edges all around the laptop, and the rubberized outer display hinge gives the keyboard section a slight lift when it’s open. Of course, there’s no mistaking Razer’s triple-headed snake logo on the Book 13’s outer cover. The laptop is otherwise logo-free, which is a nice change of pace from so many other Windows PCs.

Also nice: The Razer Book 13 is yet another laptop that breaks from the trend of 16:9 screens, with a resolution of 1920×1200 instead of the usual 1920×1080. That means you get a bit more vertical space for documents or webpages. The viewing angles on this IPS display are also excellent, though at times the level of contrast can seem low. (This is more an issue with Intel’s display drivers than with Razer’s hardware, and can be addressed by turning off some power-saving features in Intel’s Graphics Command Center.)