The Razer Blade laptop series brings even more raw horsepower to gamers with their second generation model.
As technology improves and the desire for battery performance increases, laptop manufacturers have taken to reducing the size and weight of laptops at the cost of weakening performance. For a gamer, this is the worst situation to find themselves in, as for decades, gamers have wanted to move away from carrying their giant towers and CRT monitors to having their entire gaming setup in a portable carry-able setup.
With their second generation Blade, Razer eschews the notion that battery life is king by creating a behemoth of a machine with performance that tops anything in the market.
The new Blade upgrades its internals to a 2.2Ghz Intel Core i7-3632QM, a brand new high performance quad core CPU that still manages to pull it a mere 35 watt profile. Combined with a Kepler GeForce GTX 660M, the Blade’s core systems will provide any gamer the performance they need to rank high on the leader boards while managing to fit inside a shoulder bag (despite the hefty 6.6 pound weight).
Additional features include a default 8 Gigs of RAM, a full compliment of USB 3.0 ports, a webcam, a 17.3 inch 16:9 LED screen, an HDMI port, built-in WiFi and gigabit, and most notably, a 64 Gig SSD cache combined with a 500 Gig hard drive. The hybrid drive works as a cache storing recent and often-accessed data such as frequently launched games on the speedy SSD drive.
Boot times are stellar, and game loading after the initial first time are quick.
The Razer Blade follows the recent trend of sleep, minimally thick, aluminum bodies with its own black anodized shell. Though it only measures at 0.8 inches thick, the Blade is still a 17-inch laptop, and as such is fairly weighty while being very sturdy.
All the ports of the Blade are situated on the left side with the other sides of the laptop left blank or vented. Notably missing is a DVD drive, though with today’s move towards online distribution, it shouldn’t be an issue.
The star feature of this blade though is the LCD screen based glass trackpad and buttons. This touch-based screen works with Razer’s Switchblade software (featured in their line of Razer keyboards) to assign macros, commands, and launchers to the LCD buttons.
Using the Switchblade system also allows you to run specialized companion applications, such as a Star Wars : The Old Republic combat logger, or its own specialized apps such as a Twitter and Gmail display.
While the trackpad can function as a mouse, its very sub-par in that regard, but it’s a moot point as no gamer would be caught dead using a trackpad as their pointing interface.
Sadly though, the biggest thing holding the Switchblade app system back is the seeming lack of developers and support. There are very few supported games, and I don’t really see a rush of developers working to bring additional support to it.
The End of the Day
While fancy features and sleek design appeals to the elegance lost in computer design, the real key note of the Blade is its performance.
The 2.2GHz Quad i7-3632QM (with turbo boost up to 3.2GHz) is quite handy, and combined with the Kepler GPU, easily handles top-tier games at the highest settings. Though, if you want to run games at the silkiest smooth frame rates, you’ll have to make some compromises with settings.
As a gaming device, the Blade performs admirably running games at settings that are hard to imagine even on some desktops. As a laptop though, in the strictest sense of the word, it leaves something to be desired.
As you can imagine, running high-end games that brutally draw processing power won’t give you much battery life to spare. I found the Blade only lasts about an hour running BF3 on a full charge of battery. As a gamer though, I wouldn’t expect to be fragging people while sitting at the coffee shop waiting for a latte.
Also, as physics dictates, running these calculative intensive games requires a high amount of power that also translates to a high amount of heat generated. Under a full load gaming session, the Blade’s heat management does a great job of dissipating the heat in the small form factor it has available, but this heat has to go somewhere. I would not call this machine a “laptop” by any stretch of the imagination, at least not without some heavy and thick pants to protect your lower regions.
At a price tag of $2500, the Razor Blade is defiantly not your every day device, fitting squarely in the luxury category. Fortunately, Razer also understands its audience, providing a system with a completely clean install of merely Windows and their own Synapse management software.
Despite the high sticker price, the Razor Blade fills a great and somewhat forgotten space of gaming laptops. Like any laptop, you can’t expect to easily upgrade to the latest and greatest hardware the moment it comes out as you can with a desktop machine. Rather, the Blade provides a powerful and portable machine that should fill your gaming needs for the near future.