Negative Experience with Razer Blade Stealth 13 + Razer's Support
mark last edited by mark
So I purchased a Razer Stealth 13 specifically do work on issues related to the Nvidia Optimus technology, which can cause various problems with Isadora in certain configurations. (There is some detail below about the Optimus issue below if you don't know about it.)
While the machine didn't do what I expect, it was my terrible experience with their customer support I wanted to share with you all, in case any of you are thinking about buying one of these machines.
About the Machine
Many of you know who use PCs know Razer machines, because they come with powerful GPUs in a nice form factor.
The first issue with this particular machine is that, even though it contains a GeForce MX150 discrete GPU, the slower, integrated GPU is used drive the display outputs. (At least as far as I can tell.. see my notes about support below.)
External video displays are connected to the Razer using a single thunderbolt 3 output, which means you must use an adapter to get connect this output to HDMI cable. I tried numerous configurations, but not matter how I set up Optimus, Windows reported to me that the integrated GPU was being used for rendering to the external display. I was frustrated to discover this, because we know that @DusX's Razer -- which is a higher end model -- uses the slower integrated GPU for the laptop display and the faster discrete GPU for any external monitors.
Admittedly, I didn't do enough research and I bought a machine that didn't have the capabilities I needed -- 100% my bad. But what I cannot understand why there is a discrete GPU when there is no way to actually make use of it for rendering video to a display. If someone reading this knows more about how programs take advantage of the faster GPU when it isn't even linked to a display, I'd love to hear more.
About Razer's Support
I figured I must be doing something wrong, so I contacted Razer support. What followed was a four email exchange that spanned two weeks, where the support person kept asking for me for information I'd already given, and -- to my great frustration -- never actually answered my simple question: is there any way to use the discrete GPU via the single Thunderbolt 3 output.
One thing that astonished me was the unbelievable volume of information requested in the second email from them -- it was like writing a book! While I understand that PC's are kind of a mess because of drivers and other third-party stuff and having as much detail as possible is important, I don't really think giving the serial number to the power supply dongle is really a necessary thing to know to answer my question!
In the end, my support experience with them terribly frustrating. Because they were so slow and never actually answered my question, I had no choice but to return the machine before the expiration of the 30-day no-questions-asked return period offered by the store.
Based on my experience with Razer's support, I certainly cannot recommend these Razer machines.
Detail about Nvidia's Optimus
The issue with the Optimus technology itself, which is not limited to the Razer: for laptops with this feature, the less-powerful integrated GPU (usually Intel) is used for the laptop display, while the external displays are run by the faster/more powerful discrete GPU. The goal is to save power and extend battery life. But under OpenGL this causes issues when attempting to draw (for example) a thumbnail of a video link in the user interface on the main laptop display. This is because the actual texture is on the discrete GPU, and so it has to be transferred over to the integrated GPU because they are two separate pieces of silicon. Unfortunately, there is no way to opt out of this behavior, run everything from one GPU, and thus get rid of the issue.