Razer Blade Gaming Laptop: Quick Review

By Mike Fahey on October 19, 2012, 12:30 PM

The first Razer Blade was not a high performance gaming laptop, nor was it meant to be. It was designed with a balance of portability and power in mind, and the allure of a 17 inch gaming laptop that weighs less than seven pounds was enough for the unit to sell out at every turn, paving the way for a second edition.

The second generation Razer Blade is not quite a high performance gaming laptop, but it's getting better.

Appreciating the original Razer Blade required a dramatic shift in the way I thought about portable gaming machines. Form factor always took a back seat to performance. When the initial Blade specs were revealed alongside the unit's $2800 price tag, I openly scoffed. I could buy a much more powerful laptop for half the price. Aside from the dangerously sexy look I could think of no reason to shell out that much money.

It's amazing the difference four pounds can make.

The average gaming laptop is not a particularly portable thing. It's self-contained, certainly, but I wouldn't slip one into my backpack for a weekend wandering around E3 or San Diego Comic-Con. I tried it once, and wound up exhausted with an incredibly sweaty back. Since then it's been the Macbook Air for me, not a particularly game-friendly system.

The Razer Blade can run games, it's got a 17-inch 1080p screen, it's made of metal and weighs 6.6 pounds. I can carry it comfortably with one hand.

The second revision of the hardware is all of that, only it runs games better and costs a little less.

Externally not much has changed between the first and second versions of the Razer Blade; without looking closely one would be hard-pressed to tell the two apart. First there are the vents on the underside of the system, now wide open as opposed to the shark-gill slits of the original.

The bottom still gets uncomfortably hot to the touch during extended gaming sessions. I'd imagine the vents were modified to keep the more powerful hardware within from burning grill marks on the user's thighs, Burger King style.

The only other significant exterior change is the buttons beneath the Switchblade UI.

They're a raised a little higher and a bit more clicky, making the touchpad a much more viable control option. I still prefer an external mouse, but I'm not incredibly inconvenienced if one isn't available.

Razer Blade (late 2012) - $2,500
  • Intel Core i7-3632QM 2.2Ghz (3.2GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M 2GB GDDR5 (Optimus capable)
  • 8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 Memory
  • 17.3-in. LED Backlit Display (1920x1080), HD Webcam
  • 500GB 7200RPM HDD (Primary Storage)
  • 64GB SSD with NVELO Dataplex (Cache)
  • Wireless 802.11 a/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0
  • Integrated 60Wh Battery
  • 6.6lbs (Weight) - 16.81" (Width) x 10.9" (Depth) x 0.88" (Height);

Support for the interface's programmable buttons is growing slowly—there are now premade profiles for Battlefield 3, Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike Go and Star Wars: The Old Republic. The more support it gets the less gimmicky it feels, but let's face it—it's still pretty gimmicky. I'd drop cash on a slightly smaller version of the Blade with a regular track pad in a heartbeat.

And I still love the damn keyboard. Those flat keys go against everything I've ever believed a keyboard should be, but they are just so damn responsive and easy to hit, just as they were on the Star Wars: the Old Republic Gaming Keyboard Razer put out. I'm seriously considering investing in the non-branded Deathstalker Ultimate just so I can touch them on a regular basis.

The key changes between Razer Blade the first and Razer Blade the second are hidden deep within its striking outer shell. The overly ambitious 250GB SSD drive of the first unit has been replaced with the more reasonable combination of a 500GB SATA / 64GB SSD combo. The NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M has been replaced with a GeForce GTX 660M—not a particularly powerful mobile video card but a step in the right direction.

By far, the coolest upgrade is the processor and Intel Core i7-3632QM 2.2Ghz (3.2GHz with Turbo Boost)—so new that I couldn't write about it a week ago without making Intel incredibly angry. Razer introduced the second generation of the Blade with the tagline "The Beauty is now the Beast". This CPU is what they were referring to. It's blazingly fast, able to juggle several dozen browser windows and various applications without breaking a sweat.

Despite all that power under the hood, the second generation blade still chugged a bit with our standard benchmark games running at the unit's native 1920x1080 resolution with all the bells and whistles enabled.

That Total War: Shogun 2 score made me cringe. The game itself was playable, but not particularly enjoyable. Arkham City didn't give me too much trouble, and frankly I was surprised the Metro 2033 score was so high—it's rather brutal.

Taking things down to 1280x720 made each game much more playable, but I'd rather play games in 1080p on a display that's natively 1080p.

While there's definitely room for the Razer Blade to improve, particularly in the graphics card department, the second generation of the surprisingly portable, seductively stylish gaming laptop is a marked improvement over the original. The $2500 price tag is still too much for my blood, but it's getting markedly more difficult to repackage and return to Razer once the reviewing is done. If the Blade's success continues and Razer's part costs continue to drop, who knows? Maybe I'll flee the country once they get around to releasing the Mk3.

Republished with permission. Mike Fahey is a contributing editor at Kotaku.




User Comments: 12

Got something to say? Post a comment
psycros psycros said:

I wonder who buys these things? Macbook owners who secretly long to play games?

treeski treeski said:

It looks *great*... but the price vs performance is just terrible when performance is everything for a gaming laptop.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

For that price it needs a GTX 670M and a 128GB SSD for the OS drive.

My 144 shader GF116 GT550M overclocked 10% keeps up with a GT555M, its a good little GPU to play Borderlands, Dragon Age, BioShock, Left For Dead 2 etc at 900p on high settings 40-60FPS but again, a laptop like this should have more then a 660M.

sasrob said:

"!!!The bottom still gets uncomfortably hot!!!"

If this is the case on a new machine after a good 6 months of gaming dust will start to build up and increase the heat which in turn will burn out the system!!! The vents are no way big enough to cool i7 cpu plus 660m GPU. A very expensive laptop with very poor cooling system. leave well alone.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"!!!The bottom still gets uncomfortably hot!!!"

If this is the case on a new machine after a good 6 months of gaming dust will start to build up and increase the heat which in turn will burn out the system!!! The vents are no way big enough to cool i7 cpu plus 660m GPU. A very expensive laptop with very poor cooling system. leave well alone.

Every normal component heats up to a degree that you can't touch and feel comfortable with your skin, that does not mean by any chance the hardware will burn up, its made to work at higher temperatures than your skin can handle =P

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

I thought about getting one of these but I had an issue with the price vs graphic options(or lack there of)

sasrob said:

Razer Blade Gaming Laptop: Quick Review

Every normal component heats up to a degree that you can't touch and feel comfortable with your skin, that does not mean by any chance the hardware will burn up, its made to work at higher temperatures than your skin can handle =P

In my experience working in a computer shop I see many laptops that has heat issues duo to dust build up on the heat-seek laptops. some people are lucky and it just slows the laptop others not so lucky. If the case of a laptop gets uncomfortable to hold this is not something I would support. In gaming laptops this is even more important as the laptop will be used for many hours of gaming.

Sarcasm Sarcasm said:

So has anybody actually bought any of these? I would imagine since they came out with another one. Definitely looks like a product only for the very wealthy.

dawei1993 said:

"!!!The bottom still gets uncomfortably hot!!!"

If this is the case on a new machine after a good 6 months of gaming dust will start to build up and increase the heat which in turn will burn out the system!!! The vents are no way big enough to cool i7 cpu plus 660m GPU. A very expensive laptop with very poor cooling system. leave well alone.

Every normal component heats up to a degree that you can't touch and feel comfortable with your skin, that does not mean by any chance the hardware will burn up, its made to work at higher temperatures than your skin can handle =P

But anyhow it is true that this has a poor cooling system.

PC EliTiST PC EliTiST said:

Razer reminds Apple. I've these 2 companies in the same cauldron. You just pay a lot extra for the name. And... well, laptop. A saw a guy on Battlelog asking why his old Notebook does not run well the game...

@amstech, no... For that price it should have the GTX680M and the 128GB SSD.

Guest said:

Why not choose a better one?cheaper and high quality

CrowesPeak CrowesPeak said:

"!!!The bottom still gets uncomfortably hot!!!"

If this is the case on a new machine after a good 6 months of gaming dust will start to build up and increase the heat which in turn will burn out the system!!! The vents are no way big enough to cool i7 cpu plus 660m GPU. A very expensive laptop with very poor cooling system. leave well alone.

I wonder who buys these things? Macbook owners who secretly long to play games?

For that price it needs a GTX 670M and a 128GB SSD for the OS drive.

My 144 shader GF116 GT550M overclocked 10% keeps up with a GT555M, its a good little GPU to play Borderlands, Dragon Age, BioShock, Left For Dead 2 etc at 900p on high settings 40-60FPS but again, a laptop like this should have more then a 660M.

It looks *great*... but the price vs performance is just terrible when performance is everything for a gaming laptop.

I thought about getting one of these but I had an issue with the price vs graphic options(or lack there of)

"!!!The bottom still gets uncomfortably hot!!!"

If this is the case on a new machine after a good 6 months of gaming dust will start to build up and increase the heat which in turn will burn out the system!!! The vents are no way big enough to cool i7 cpu plus 660m GPU. A very expensive laptop with very poor cooling system. leave well alone.

Every normal component heats up to a degree that you can't touch and feel comfortable with your skin, that does not mean by any chance the hardware will burn up, its made to work at higher temperatures than your skin can handle =P

"!!!The bottom still gets uncomfortably hot!!!"

If this is the case on a new machine after a good 6 months of gaming dust will start to build up and increase the heat which in turn will burn out the system!!! The vents are no way big enough to cool i7 cpu plus 660m GPU. A very expensive laptop with very poor cooling system. leave well alone.

Every normal component heats up to a degree that you can't touch and feel comfortable with your skin, that does not mean by any chance the hardware will burn up, its made to work at higher temperatures than your skin can handle =P

But anyhow it is true that this has a poor cooling system.

Razer reminds Apple. I've these 2 companies in the same cauldron. You just pay a lot extra for the name. And... well, laptop. A saw a guy on Battlelog asking why his old Notebook does not run well the game...

@amstech, no... For that price it should have the GTX680M and the 128GB SSD.

Why not choose a better one?cheaper and high quality

So has anybody actually bought any of these? I would imagine since they came out with another one. Definitely looks like a product only for the very wealthy.

Razer Blade Gaming Laptop: Quick Review

Every normal component heats up to a degree that you can't touch and feel comfortable with your skin, that does not mean by any chance the hardware will burn up, its made to work at higher temperatures than your skin can handle =P

In my experience working in a computer shop I see many laptops that has heat issues duo to dust build up on the heat-seek laptops. some people are lucky and it just slows the laptop others not so lucky. If the case of a laptop gets uncomfortable to hold this is not something I would support. In gaming laptops this is even more important as the laptop will be used for many hours of gaming.

True it would get hot over time but you should be able to use the machine without the heat this puts off. Our Blade has been cleaned and sent to Razer Support with no solution. We had major issues with excessive heat and being burned by the Razer Blade. Sent it to Blade Support and was told they updated everything and tested it. When it was returned to us nothing had been done and we had to update everything we were told they had done. With minor game play (Guild Wars 2 or Team Fortress 2) the temperature exceeds 186 degrees F on the side and underneath. The trackpad area gets very hot and was documented at being over 160 degrees F, skin can get burned at 130 degrees. Razer stated this machine was fine. Attached is a link to a site we provided to Razer for documentation http://www.hideyourasterisk.com

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