HANDS-ON WITH THE RAZER BLADE PRO
Earlier this week, I met with Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan to talk about a secretive new Razer product in the pipeline. On social media, Razer had been teasing a silhouetted desktop PC, and I was sure Razer had finally made the segue into desktop gaming. It turns out I was right, but not in the way I had expected.
Today, Razer announced the Blade Pro, a powerful laptop that the company hopes will deal a killing blow to overwhelmingly large gaming laptops and desktop PCs alike. It’s a notebook, but it’s loaded with top-end desktop components that guarantee supreme graphical prowess and, more importantly, VR compatibility.
First off, you’re getting a 17.3-inch 100% AdobeRGB touchscreen, with a 4K/Ultra HD display resolution (3,840 x 2,160 pixels). And if that wasn’t enough, it also features Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, which attempts to get rid of screen-tearing.
And the rest of the components are equally impressive. You’ll get 32GB of dual-channel DDR4 2,133MHz memory, a 2TB PCIe (or 512GB/1TB) solid state drive, and Intel’s 6th-gen i7-6700HQ processor (2.6GHz, boostable to 3.5GHz). It’s a laptop processor that’s not as powerful as equivalent Core i7 desktop chips, but it’s a decent performer all the same.
And to top it all off, the Razer Blade Pro comes with a full desktop-class Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card with 8GB of GDDR5X VRAM. We gave the Nvidia GTX 1080 a 4.5/5 score in our review, praising its fantastic performance, and the impressive, highly-overclockable design.
But what’s most staggering about all of this is the design. The laptop borrows the design from the standard Razer Blade, sporting a slim, black chassis that puts rival gaming laptops to shame. In fact, it’s only 22.5mm thin, which is just 4.5mm thicker than an Apple MacBook Pro, and just 5.5mm thicker than an Apple MacBook Air. It’s genuinely astonishing. And at 3.5kg, it’s heavy, but not nearly as weighty as the 4.8kg Asus ROG X700VO, which requires water-cooling to keep the temperature down. “The Razer Blade Pro has the highest performance per-cubic-inch of any laptop on the planet. It’s insane,” Razer’s CEO reckons.
Razer says that they’ve gone to great lengths to keep the Blade Pro cool, designed a completely bespoke thermal management system that includes the thinnest vapor chamber on any gaming laptop.
“Five years ago, they said it was impossible to do what we’re doing,” said Min. “Everybody has been copying our earlier generation thermals. Every single therm generation is ripped apart by the other OEMs to see how we do it. The other OEMs will be ripping this one open on the very first day.”
The keyboard is also unique, with the Razer Blade Pro debuting what it’s calling the world’s first ultra-low profile mechanical keyboard. At first glance, all of the keys appear to be a traditional chiclet affair, but each button is mechanical. I had a chance to try the buttons, and they feel genuinely delightful to type on – I’ll have to wait for a review sample before I can measure their gaming worth, mind. The mousepad has been shifted to the right of the keyboard, which feels much more comfortable.
Excitingly, all of the Razer Blade Pro’s keys are individually backlit too, and fully supported by Razer’s Chroma platform. This means you can choose to have individual keys set to any one of 16.8 million colours, and select certain lighting patterns like ‘breathing’, or ‘reactive’, where keys will glow immediately after being pressed.
And finally, you’re getting the following connectivity options: Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI 2.0 video and audio output, an SDCX card reader, an Ethernet port, and Bluetooth 4.1.
“We’ve completely blurred the line between a desktop and a laptop,” said Min. “There are other laptops with half the power that are thicker and heavier than this.”
The Razer Blade Pro is going on sale in the UK, US, Germany, and France for £3,499, $3,699, or 4,199 euros.
The Razer Blade Pro is genuinely one of the most impressive laptops I’ve seen this year. To squeeze such top-end components into a device not significantly bigger than an Apple MacBook genuinely boggles the mind. The design is gorgeous, and while the price is very high, if the technical specs live up to their on-paper potential, there’s no reason why it can’t be justified.
But I’m not without concerns. Although I didn’t get to play with the Razer Blade Pro, I did get to touch a sample model that was plugged in and charging. It felt warm, despite the fact that it wasn’t actually running any games. I’ll be very interested to see whether a full review sample can keep cool while running intensive games, because if heat management isn’t well implemented, it could completely ruin the experience.
That said, previous Razer laptops have impressed, so I have high hopes for the Razer Blade Pro. It’s immediately obvious that this laptop has been built by people with a genuine passion for gaming, and that will certainly appeal to gamers who are flush with cash. But until I can test out performance for myself, I’ll reserve final judgement for later.