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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Notmyusualid - Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - linkLovely machine.
They should hire you for product development!
I'd add only this, the screen: 4k too high, 60Hz too low.
I think I could live with that CPU, but not the screen.
I'm on my 6th DTR, and I'm now longing for something like this...
scook9 - Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - linkOne issue I have with this review is the SUPER light touch when it came to the cooling performance. Razer laptops are super suave for sure and look great but for the last few years their cooling performance has been just about garbage. As you noted with the marketing driven design, cooling also suffers due to the need for "thinness" - I am speaking from painful experience here. I have a 2015 Razer Blade that I really liked except for when I had to use it.... Opening chrome would cause the fans to max and the CPU to throttle. It couldn't play Diablo 3 without my tuning the crap out of the CPU and game settings or else throttling and very unstable FPS would occur, never mind the nearly full speed fans at all times. I had to underclock and undervolt the CPU just to stop the throttling, fans were never great.
When you review a gaming laptop, saying the palm rest wasn't too hot is NOT at all acceptable for a "thermals" section. You should be running stress tests and showing us temperature readings from both software as well as your thermal camera. Then also include sound readings for the fan noise - thought this site used to provide audio recordings as well. And lately in my experience, the CPU throttling has been much more of an issue than the GPU - you mentioned this 0 times well commenting multiple times that the GPU didn't seem to be throttling.
Razer makes an undeniably pretty laptop but for me the thermals came across as an afterthought and that was not acceptable. They are simply trying to do too much in too little space with every laptop model except the Blade Stealth and they need to hear from the market that this is not going to cut it.
jsntech - Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - linkAgreed. I hunted all over for detailed thermal/noise info, and then actually re-checked the article title to make sure this wasn't one of their little previews. Odd that these mandatory metrics are glossed over. Especially important on gaming laptops, since these components produce far greater TDP than anything in non-gaming ones.
Zan Lynx - Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - linkI have a Razer Pro 2016. It is VERY loud. Wear headphones. It does not have throttling problems. It does have to drop the boost clocks but never below the CPU's speed rating.
SkipPerk - Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - linkThanks for the info. Would you say the thinner case is worth the noise or no? I would rather have a thicker case, but it does seem like some people need that thin factor.
yhselp - Friday, March 10, 2017 - link3.54 kg / 7.8 lbs :( That weight alone makes all the improvements irrelevant for users that want a sleeker, more portable premium 17-incher. Both the 17" MacBook and the old 17" Razers were ~6.6 lbs. Such a shame they chose to sacrifice weight the new model after a 2-year wait.
SkipPerk - Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - linkIsn't that all the GPU and cooling? How can you get that much GPU in a light weight notebook?