Razer Blade review

Stronger and longer lasting – and now in 4K

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Our Verdict

The 2017 Razer Blade is stronger and longer lasting than last year’s, making that steep price tag all that much easier to justify. But, as the Blade begins to out-pro the MacBook Pro much less comparable gaming laptops, we'd like to see more original features come to this model.

For

  • Stronger game performance
  • Longer battery life
  • 4K display option

Against

  • Still pricey
  • Trackpad buttons need to go
  • Nothing massively new

Razer seems to be in an enviable position in the gaming laptop scene. While its products are generally pricier than the competition, as of late they tend to absolutely eclipse Razer’s more affordable rivals in key areas – namely, build quality and longevity

The past few 14-inch Blade models have put out consistently improved battery life, and this edition is no exception. Combine that with a chassis design that few, if any, competitors have been able to rival, and Razer’s steep asking prices begin to bring worthy benefits.

The latest Blade is arguably a gaming laptop most deserving of that premium yet, now outfitted with the latest Intel Core i7 processor (Kaby Lake) as well as a new 4K touch display option. However, even with a gaming product this well honed, we’re all the more eager for whatever innovative additions the company has planned for the next Blade laptop.

Spec Sheet

Here is the 2017 Razer Blade configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ (quad-core, up to 3.8GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 VRAM); Intel HD 630
RAM: 16GB DDR4 (dual-channel, 2,133MHz)
Screen: 14-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) matte (16:9, LED backlit)
Storage: 256GB PCIe SSD
Ports: 1 x USB-C Thunderbolt 3, 3 x USB 3.0, HDMI-out 1.4, 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack
Connectivity: Killer Wireless AC 1535 (802.11ac; Bluetooth 4.1)
Camera: 2MP built-in webcam
Weight: 4.16 pounds (1.88kg)
Size: 13.6 x 9.3 x 0.70 inches ( 345 x 235 x 17.9mm; W x D x H) 

Price, availability and value

The Razer Blade continues to start at $1,899 (£1,799, AU$2,799) for a now non-touch Full HD (FHD) screen and 256GB SSD.

To have Razer’s latest primary gaming laptop in glorious Ultra HD (UHD), you’ll have to pay up at least $2,399 (£2,299, about AU$3,154). That buys you 512GB of solid-state storage, one of the latest, highest-end mobile CPUs from Intel, 16GB of memory and the same Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics chip as before behind a super-sharp, 14-inch touch display.

The only available upgrades to this 4K model is a 1TB solid-state drive (SSD) for a cool $2,799 (£2,699, about AU$3,680) total. Once this beast is ready to ship, it shall decimate many a savings account.

(The new 4K Blade is on a notification basis in the US and UK as of this writing, and isn’t yet set to release in Australia.)

By comparison, an Alienware 13 with an OLED touchscreen, though only QHD (2,560 x 1,440), and with double the RAM and SSD storage, meets the priciest Blade in all other regards for $2,449 (about £2,209, AU$3,917) as of this writing.

The Gigabyte Aero 14 may not come close to Razer’s build and screen quality, but it offers a Full HD (FHD) PC gaming machine with the same graphics and processing power for just $1,699 (about £1,361, AU$2,233).

So, with most parts being equal, it’s clear that you’re paying a bit more here for a 4K display wrapped in a gorgeous-looking and -feeling aluminum frame. Knowing that, the big question becomes “how important are those features to you?”

Design

Frankly, absolutely nothing about the Razer Blade design has changed now that it’s packing an optional Ultra HD display and newer processor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it would be cool to see Razer go a little Apple with features unique to only its laptops – especially if they’re going to continue to consistently cost more than similarly-specced competitors.

We’re already seeing this in the Razer Blade Pro’s side-car oriented trackpad and original mechanical laptop key switches. Now, let’s get those fun niceties into the more mainstream models.

At any rate, the all-black, brushed aluminum frame feels as cool to the touch as ever; its matted sheen looks fetching under any light. The keyboard and trackpad remain unchanged, which has its ups and downs. The typing remains excellent – punchy and deep – as per usual, but we’d still like to see rid of those trackpad buttons. (Customer feedback in the other direction must be massive … somehow.)

All in all, this is the same thin and light, lithe-feeling gaming notebook that, by all appearances, shouldn’t be able to play all the games it can. That said, the 4K touchscreen version does come in noticeably heavier at 4.3 pounds (1.95kg) compared to the 4.16-pound (1.88kg) FHD version, thanks in large part to heavier touch display components.

Speaking of which, we find the display quality to be unchanged, which is a good thing. It represents colors accurately and is plenty bright even at low levels. Plus, a matte finish on the FHD version helps tremendously with glare – you don't get that from the 4K touch model.

Regardless, you’re paying for the sweetest-looking gaming laptop around here, and in that department the Blade continues to deliver, easily outclassing the Alienware 13 and Gigabyte in terms of design and aesthetics.

First reviewed April 2017