The 2016 Razer Blade Pro Reviewby Brandon Chester on March 6, 2017 8:00 AM EST
- Posted in
- Razer Blade Pro
When I first heard about Razer, they were a company that strictly made gaming peripherals. I mostly associate them with their DeathAdder mouse, with the version from 2010 still being one of the best mice I've ever used. Razer has also made audio equipment like gaming headsets for quite some time, as well as a line of gaming keyboards. As time went on, some of these products gained features that were unique to Razer, such as the use of Razer-designed mechanical switches in their gaming keyboards, and RGB backlighting in various products with the Chroma branding.
Razer has made a number of attempts to move beyond the world of gaming peripherals. Some have been more successful than others. For example, some gamers may remember the Razer Edge Pro, the gaming tablet that never seemed to catch on with consumers. Razer also made a fitness band called the Nabu, but it also appears to have missed the mark and has seen some pretty heavy discounts in recent times. With Razer's recent purchase of NextBit, many have begun to speculate on whether Razer plans to move into the mobile industry.
While it would be fun to speculate on Razer's plans for the future, they do have one area beyond peripherals that has been an undisputed success. Their line of laptops, which started with the unveiling of the original Razer Blade in 2011, have shown that it's possible to build gaming laptops without the bulky plastic bodies and poor quality displays that traditionally characterized high-performance laptops from other vendors. As time has gone on, Razer has iterated on the original Razer Blade, and introduced both a smaller model in the form of the Razer Blade Stealth, a 14-inch model to carry on the name of the original 17-inch Razer Blade, and the Razer Blade Pro to fill the 17-inch space. That latter model is the laptop I'll be looking at today.
Prior to the launch of this new model in late 2016, the Razer Blade Pro was last updated in 2014. That model was put in an awkward position right from launch. It came with NVIDIA's GTX 860M GPU, which was actually a step down from the GTX 870M in the 14-inch Razer Blade that was updated around the same time. It also only used a 1080p display due to limitations in what 17.3-inch panels were available on the market, while the 14-inch Blade Pro clocked in at 3200x1800 despite being $100 cheaper. The headline feature of the 2014 Blade Pro was its SwitchBlade touchpad, but it again suffered from unenthusiastic reception in the market. Ultimately, the Blade Pro ended up being a more niche machine, which didn't really offer advantages compared to its little brother except for users who really needed such a large display regardless of resolution.
With the 2016 Blade Pro, Razer is changing up their strategy. When I think about gaming laptops, it seems to make sense to me that a larger model will have fewer power and thermal limitations, and so it should be even more powerful than the smaller versions. For example, a 13-inch MacBook Pro is less powerful than the 15-inch model. The 2016 Blade Pro follows that line of thinking, and pushes the performance of Razer's gaming laptops farther than ever before. I've outlined its specifications below.
|2016 Razer Blade Pro|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-6700HQ
|GPU||NVIDIA GTX 1080 8GB
2560 CUDA Cores
1556 - 1733 (Boost) MHz
|Memory||32 GB 2133MHz DDR4|
|Display||17.3" 3840x2160 60 Hz w/G-SYNC|
|Storage||512GB (2 x 256GB) M.2 PCIe SSD
1TB (2 x 512GB) M.2 PCIe SSD
2TB (2 x 1TB) M.2 PCIe SSD
|I/O||3 x USB 3.0 Ports
1 x Thunderbolt 3
1 x HDMI 2.0
SD Card Slot
1 x Headset Jack
1 x Killer E2400 Ethernet (10/100/1000Mbps)
|Dimensions||22.5mm x 424mm x 281mm (HxWxD)
0.88" x 16.7" x 11" (HxWxD)
|Weight||3.54 kg / 7.8 lbs|
|Battery||99 Wh, 250W AC Adapter|
|Wireless||Killer Wireless-AC 1535
2x2:2 with Bluetooth 4.1
$3999.99 1TB (Model tested)
As you can see, the Razer Blade Pro is quite the laptop. It's certainly not the bulky, heavy, tank-like device that you get when you buy a desktop replacement (DTR) from Clevo or MSI, but it doesn't compromise on performance in order to do so. Inside is NVIDIA's fastest GPU, the GTX 1080. There's also a pair of PCIe SSDs, Intel's i7-6700HQ CPU, 32GB of 2133MHz DDR4 memory, a UHD display with Adobe RGB color support, and an assortment of ports so you can connect all of your existing devices without issues.
With all that power in a relatively thin and light chassis, it's not a surprise that the Blade Pro comes at such a high price. The 2014 Razer Blade Pro launched at a price of $2299, although it was lacking in the spec department in many ways, and the 14-inch Blade, with better hardware, was cheaper at $2199. Now that the Blade Pro sits at the top of Razer's laptop line for both size and performance, a price gap is actually justified. For the model with 512GB of internal storage, the Blade Pro costs 3699.99 USD. Moving to 1TB brings the price up to 3999.99 USD, and the 2TB model is the most expensive at 4499.99 USD.
As I mentioned before, the 2014 Blade Pro definitely had room for improvement. The 2016 Blade Pro also comes after two years of technological improvements, and it has great potential as both a gaming machine and a mobile workstation. To start things off I'll go over the Blade Pro's design, before moving on to performance testing.
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fanofanand - Monday, March 6, 2017 - linkI just wanted to agree with the author on one point, I also have the deathadder and it is the greatest mouse I have ever used for any purpose. It has been beaten on relentlessly and still operates flawlessly. The rest of Razer's products are overpriced garbage (I say that from experience) but their mice are top notch.
BrokenCrayons - Monday, March 6, 2017 - linkI hope the current model deathadder chroma lives up to all the hype. I'm buying one as a gift for a certain mmo addict living in my home that's used a cheap Dell mouse to the point where the left mouse button isn't working anymore. I'm genuinely surprised the Dell lasted for so long (5 years) considering how much rage-clicking, grunting, and anger it endured. Even my son wasn't as hard on his mice back in the day when he was young and prone to gamer outbursts.
colonelclaw - Monday, March 6, 2017 - linkPlus one for the Deathadder. I've been using them for, I think, over 7 years. In my office I let anyone choose any mouse they like, and over half the staff have gone for a Deathadder. Conversely, for keyboards, no two people have chosen the same (I went for a Corsair K70)
BrokenCrayons - Monday, March 6, 2017 - linkAh thanks for the insight! It's kind of funny this even came up here since I was planning to order one today. It's great to have a few thumbs up on it since it's a present...kind of makes it matter more that it works really well.
Don't bury the keyboard yet. :) It's also an OEM Dell board and it's holding up pretty well so far with no complaints. Unlike the mouse, I've not yet heard a complaint about it. I suppose if I ask, I might be opening the door for the next gift though. Haha, it's got to be timed well so it can fall relatively in line with a birthday, Christmas, or Baby Daddy Day yet not close enough to any of those so it can stay a surprise.
SkipPerk - Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - linkI have a death adder and love it as well. I do hate the branding though.
Barilla - Monday, March 6, 2017 - linkI'd love to see a review of the Koenigsegg One:1 and the journalist making a comment "but the bulk of the chassis is carbon fiber reinforced polymer, which is still plastic no matter how you put it." ;)
I mean, come on. This plastic bashing needs to stop. There are some products made of cheapo plastic that are absolutely terrible, and completely deserve to be called out, but it's not like every plastic product is bad and especially if the plastic we're talking about is carbon fiber.
We use carbon fiber to replace aluminium in hypercars, planes, and spaceships, but suddenly it's not premium enough for a laptop?
Sorry if this reads like an angry rant, but I'm really tired of this notion that everything needs to be made of metal and glass or is otherwise inferior.
Brandon Chester - Monday, March 6, 2017 - linkLet me know when the sensibilities of cars apply to laptops. It's not a coincidence that Razer is the only OEM who can pull off these thermal designs and are also basically the only one making gaming laptops out of aluminum. The material used for the chassis has a significant impact on the thermal profile.
BedfordTim - Monday, March 6, 2017 - linkYou are right that aluminium is great from a thermal point of view but Barilla has a point that, as long as the thermal are OK, plastic is not inherently a bad design choice. Glass is a terrible material for everything except displays and yet reviewers never criticise it.
Murloc - Monday, March 6, 2017 - linkplastic always cracks at some point.
BrokenCrayons - Monday, March 6, 2017 - linkPlastic laptops usually survive long enough to provide an adequate service life to the owner. Cracks from fatigue and abuse that do happen sooner often don't adversely impact functionality enough to make a laptop unusable. Its not an ideal material for longevity, but computers have historically been produced with a limited useful lifespan in mind anyway. Although I'd also prefer some metal, in lower priced machines (certainly not the Razer Blade Pro in this review) plastics are a good enough solution.