Workstation or Gaming First?
I’ve worked with a number of dedicated gaming notebooks as well as my fair share of business-oriented laptops. Each category comes with its own set of requirements that manufacturers must address to fill the needs of the intended audience. Razer is pitching the Blade Pro as a jack of all trades, designed for play and work, and while I believe they got close to that sweet spot, I can't help but feel that Razer compromised and fell short on the GPU side.
The speedy CPU, loads of RAM, separate SSD / HDD storage as well as the large screen are great for gaming and productivity. But the GTX 960M will leave serious gamers looking for more.
Although it's not unreasonable to expect the larger Blade Pro model would be the higher-end gaming system, the fact of the matter is that this is less of a gaming powerhouse and more of a svelte workstation laptop that's decent at playing games while retaining Razer's aggressive chops and cool looks. We are dissapointed Razer didn't opt for the GTX 980M, or even the GTX 970M as it did with the 14-inch Blade.
Our gripes about the 1080p panel are less of a concern when you consider there are no other 17" 3k/4k laptops in the market and when it comes to it, not even a desktop GPU can comfortably handle these resolutions for gaming yet. We'll just have to wait for GPUs to catch up some more.
The Razer Blade Pro (2015) starts at $2,299 for the model with a 128GB SSD + 500GB HDD. The model we tested is the top of the line version which is identical but upgrades storage to a 512GB SSD and 1TB HDD for an additional $500 which is definitely on the steep side.
If gaming is your main concern but like what you see here, then spending a similar amount of money for the high-end 14-inch Razer Blade is probably your best bet.
If you can deal with a slightly chunkier and heavier notebook, the Asus ROG G751 packs a GTX 980M and 24GB of RAM for $2,300 although you do get half the SSD storage and, of course, you lose the Switchblade UI. The Alienware 15 is another cool system that can also be had with a GTX 980M and a 4K screen starting at around $2,200. If you must have a 17" system though, the Blade Pro is a niche item considering how well it's been built, the closest competitor we could find is the MSI GS70 Stealth Pro that we reviewed last year, though it's since been updated with a faster GPU.
The Razer Blade Pro is a solid all-around desktop replacement laptop, it has one of the most interesting designs out there and the Switchblade UI is not a gimmick. But if you're after the best gaming performance for the buck then we recommend looking elsewhere.
Pros: Beautiful design. The keyboard + Switchblade UI is quite unique and works very well. Speedy CPU, loads of RAM and storage.
Cons: We would have hoped for a higher end GPU considering the high-end price. Somewhat limited port selection.