Razer Blade Pro review: Safe but still sharp
- Great performance
- Awesome build quality and design
- Might be too bulky for some
- The best don't come cheap
The new Razer Blade Pro doesn’t exactly to solve any of the underlying or enduring drawbacks to the gaming laptop experience, but that’s not to say it can't find a way to thrive within those limitations.
Although a relatively-young (at least, compared to their headsets, mice and keyboards) branch of the larger family tree, Razer’s Blade gaming laptops have rarely struggled to find a following in the years since their introduction.
This time around, the new Razer Blade Pro comes with a higher price-tag and beefier build and slicker set of specs. However, it’s gunning a pretty similar pitch to its predecessors all the same. The staples are all here - from good specs and slick matte-black design to an edgy-sounding moniker. As with the company’s previous Blades, the Pro lives up to its promise to marry the grunt of a gaming laptop with the polish and build quality of an Apple Macbook.
Some might call it “the best Razer Blade ever™”.
The specs for our Razer Blade Pro review unit were as follows:
Processor: 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7700HQ Processor
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForceTM GTX 1060
RAM: 16GB RAM
Storage: 256GB SSD (PCIe M.2) + 2TB HDD (5400rpm)
Display: 17.3-inch, Full HD 120Hz matte screen
Ports: SDXC card reader, USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), 3x USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed), HDMI 2.0 audio and video output, Killer E2500 Gigabit Ethernet jack and a 3.5mm combo audio port.
Weight: 3.07 kg
Battery: Built-in 70Wh rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery
Dimensions: 22.5mm x 424mm x 281mm
Connectivity: Killer Wireless-AC 1535 (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac) + Bluetooth® 4.1.
Speakers: Stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus Home Theater Edition 7.1 Codec support
In terms of design, the Razer Blade Pro really is the same story as its predecessors rewritten in a slightly bolder font. It’s simple, it’s clean, it’s matte-black and it wears its emerald emblem with pride. Sure, the Razer Blade Pro looks yet another prototypical neon-lit-glowing-metal-death-machine. But it is - admittedly - a very nice one at that.
There's a quality to the craftsmanship of the thing that sets it aside from a lot of other gaming laptops occupying the same niche. Much like Apple’s own Macbooks, there’s a tangible feel-factor to the device that’s difficult to find elsewhere.
That said, there is one unique inclusion here that sets it apart from both the competition and its predecessors. The trackpad. Rather than sit front and center, this mouse substitutes in for the number pad on the keyboard.
The Razer Blade Pro isn’t the first to attempt this kind of unorthodox design. However, in my experience, it’s definitely a contender when it comes to how successful it is. In practice, the trackpad is pretty much as responsive as it needs to be - and the repositioning felt like it sometimes made for a much more ergonomic experience than the usual formula would have delivered. Not always - but sometimes. There's a good chance your mileage may vary here.
[Related Content: How do I decide between a Core i3, i5, i7 or i9?]
The Pro isn’t quite as slimmed-down as some of its predecessors and rivals either. As far as Razer’s own efforts go, the laptop is a little more on the heavy-side. It’s also undeniably bulkier than a lot of the Max-Q gaming laptops going around at the moment.Of course, with that extra bulk, comes plenty of extra grunt. More on that later.
As for the display, Razer give you the option of going with either a Full HD 120Hz matte screen or a 4K one with a more conventional refresh rate. Though we’ve only had first-hand experience with the former, both of these options are solid picks as far as we’re concerned. It’s always nice to have options - and the choice between prioritising the level of detail or the speed of your refresh rate is a welcome one.
In terms of benchmarking, the Razer Blade Pro outperformed most, if not all, of the gaming laptops we’ve reviewed in the recent past. Whether we’re talking about 3DMark, PCMark or VRMark, it skated past a lot of its competition - with the exception of MSI’s high-performing GE73VR.
In terms of our own first-hand gaming experiences with the Razer Blade Pro, we came away pretty satisfied by what it offered. When it came to Kingdom Come: Deliverance, PC gaming’s latest beast of burden when it comes to gaming benchmarks, it didn’t miss a beat. Even when we cranked all the advanced graphical bells and whistles up to ultra high, the game’s Bohemian landscapes and medieval minutia kept to a perfectly playable 40 FPS. That said, this feat did come with an audible cost from the fans inside the Blade Razer - which whirred to life even before we had made it to the settings menu for the game.
When subjected to the Battery Eater testing tool, the Razer Blade Pro took 1 hours and 10 minutes to dissipate its entire charge.
Since everyone’s ordinary usage patterns - and the impact that those patterns will have on your battery life - are going to naturally vary, this is generally a good way to gauge how the battery on one gaming notebook compares to another but won’t necessarily reflect your exact everyday experience with the machine.
In context, however, this isn't a particularly strong result. That said, it's more-or-less in line with the majority of gaming laptops out there.
The Bottom Line
As with both its predecessors, the sell for the Razer Blade Pro comes surprisingly close to the sell its Apple-branded counterparts employ. As far as gaming laptops go, it’s kind of "the safe option™".
Razer are as far from unproven as gaming brands get, and if you need to buy a gaming notebook right this second, the Razer Blade Pro is a strong choice. It nails the necessary looks, it’s got the right specs and there’s not a lot of games out there it can’t handle.
Trackpad aside, Razer Blade Pro doesn’t exactly to solve any of the underlying or enduring drawbacks to the gaming laptop experience, but that’s not to say it can't find a way to thrive within those limitations.
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