When choosing a new laptop, I always tend to look for the best value. To me, value can be a measure of a number of things, such as power, portability, price and reliability. I normally stop looking once the price goes over $2000, but I’ve always wondered what people are looking for when they spend more than $3500 for a laptop.
For almost every extremely expensive laptop out there, the money is usually going towards the power. Dual GPUs in SLI with 3 or 4x SSDs in RAID were what $4000 could buy you in the past. But these machines were usually over 1.5” thick and weighed around 10-14 lbs. In recent years though, some manufacturers have trimmed things down a little. But those laptops usually have poor build quality and also might skimp on other components, such as the screen and speakers.
But what if someone made a laptop that was expensive, but finds a reasonable balance between power, reliability and portability? That might be something I would be interested in. And here is the new Razer Blade Pro to test out. It has an overclockable CPU with a GTX 1080 and it’s all contained in a metallic, unibody chassis less than .9” thick.
But the $4000 starting price? That’s way too much for a laptop, in my opinion. I was immediately put off by the price, so my initial thoughts were that this thing had better be awesome. So, is the mix of power, reliability and portability enough to make up for the cost? Well…that’s ultimately up to you to decide. For me, though, the answer is certainly no. I’ll explain why in the sections below.
The specs sheet
|Razer Blade Pro|
|Screen||17.3 inch, 3840 x 2160 px resolution, IPS, 60Hz, touchscreen|
|Processor||Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7820HK CPU, quad-core 2.9 GHz, 3.9Ghz turbo|
|Video||Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 with 8GB GDDR5X RAM|
|Memory||32 GB DDR4 2666 PC4-21300|
|Storage||2x 256 GB M.2 SSD NVMe in RAID 0|
|Connectivity||Killer 1535 Wireless AC 2×2, Killer E2500 ethernet, Bluetooth 4.1|
|Ports||3x USB 3.0 type A, 1x USB Type-C(Thunderbolt 3), HDMI 2.0, RJ45, mic, earphone, Kensington lock|
|Operating system||Windows 10|
|Size||424 mm or 16.7” (w) x 281 mm or 11” (d) x 22.5 mm or .88” (h)|
|Weight||On average 3.49 kg or 7.69 lb|
|Extras||Chroma keyboard with individually lit keys, backlit trackpad, FHD camera, SD card reader|
Design and exterior
If you’ve seen last year’s model of the Razer Blade Pro, this one looks exactly the same. In fact, the only true differences between this and the 2016 model are with the RAM and CPU. But even if you have seen models prior to that, there are still a ton of similarities.
In fact, the unibody dimensions are almost exactly the same as the 2014 and 2015 versions. At .88” thick, this is a pretty nice 17” laptop to carry around with one hand. It’s not as thin and light as my MSI GS73VR, but the added power inside will make up the difference. I could certainly carry this around on a regular basis. Especially since it still fits nicely in my backpack.
The laptop is almost completely made of black anodized aluminum. The only plastic parts are the keycaps and the hinge housing. The entire body is well balanced from all ends, so there are no surprises when picking it up.
From the top, the lid is pretty much the same as all of Razer’s laptops. It’s solid black with a Razer emblem imbedded into the lid. The logo glows green, but it can be turned off from the Razer Synapse software.
Lifting the lid with a single finger is achievable. The hinge strength is strong enough to keep the lid closed when you want it to and keep it sturdy when you touch the screen. Underneath the lid, there’s a 17” touchscreen with edge to edge glass. Centered below the screen is a very subtle Razer text logo. Above the screen is a FHD webcam and the microphone holes. The bezels are a bit large, just like on the last models. After seeing all the competition having smaller bezels, these are starting to look more and more dated.
On the bottom, there’s a mechanical keyboard with a very large trackpad on the right hand side. More on those later. Centered above the keyboard is a black, unlit power button. The button is a much needed improvement from the Pro’s first models, which looked awful in my opinion. On the sides are some fake speaker grilles. Apple does this too and I don’t really understand why. All they ultimately end up being are dust collectors.
The front and back lips don’t have much. The front edge has a nice cutout to get your finger under the lid, when closed. The back is mostly a hinge. Behind that hinge are the exhaust vents, which aim upwards when the lid is open and downwards when it’s closed.
The bottom has two long, runner footpads, which extend the entire length of the laptop. In the corners are intake vents for both the CPU and GPU. These vents are pretty small and can easily be covered up by your legs, so be careful when using this on your lap. Along the edges there are multiple Torx screws, but note that in order to get the cover off you’ll need to take care of the two additional screws placed behind some pads in the top foot rest.
On the left side, there is a proprietary power connection, for the power brick. This will make it impossible to find an aftermarket brick, at least for now. Next to that is an Ethernet port, 2x USB-3.0 ports and a mic/earphone combo jack. Towards the front is the real left speaker grille.
On the right side, towards the back is a Kensington lock. The HDMI 2.0 port and another USB-3.0 port are towards the center. Razer also included a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port, which makes up for the lack of a DisplayPort adapter. If you’re wanting to game on an external 120Hz monitor, this is what you’ll use. Finally, there is an SD card reader and the right speaker grille.
Like the previous designs and pretty much all Razer laptops, the build quality is very solid and feels like it’s good quality. I’m overall pretty pleased with the design, but I’m starting to wonder if it’s getting a little dated. Razer has habits of pushing the limits, and while I’m happy they are trying to push it with the top GPU and CPU, I’d almost rather they went in a different route such as a thinner chassis with smaller bezels. Still though, this is what we got and it looks and feels great.
Keyboard and trackpad
Let’s start with the good stuff – the trackpad. I consider Apple trackpads to be the gold standard and this one is pretty darn close to performing as well. It’s very smooth and easy to use. Multi-touch gestures worked flawlessly and tracking the mouse pointer was smooth and precise.
The brand is neither Synaptics or Elan, but is simply listed as a Microsoft precision touchpad. So all of the settings are adjusted in the Windows settings instead of proprietary software. In there, you can change many gestures, including three and four finger taps and slides.
It’s a clickpad type, so there are no buttons, such as those found on the Pro’s 14 inch little brother. I do find either the click resistance or the depth to be a little low – increasing either would help prevent accidental clicks. Another thing I’ve noticed is I sometimes have trouble registering taps on the left edge. It’s random, and I can’t recreate the issue on demand, but it’s extremely annoying at those times. Other than that, the only thing I could possibly complain of would be the trackpad’s location.
And that’s the real deal breaker for some of the left handed folks out there. The trackpad is located where the number pad would normally be, and not in the typical location, underneath the spacebar. As a righty, I’ve adjusted to the new location…sort of. But I can’t imagine a left handed person ever getting used to this. Even after a week, though, I still frequently and instinctively use my right thumb to track where the trackpad should have been.
I read somewhere that Razer’s reasoning for this is due to having the maximum amount of space to ensure that a 99Whr battery can fit into the chassis. I can understand that, I suppose, but I also wonder if minimizing the design changes has something to do with it. Like I mentioned before, the dimensions of the chassis haven’t changed in years, so it’s interesting that the trackpad also hasn’t moved from where the old Switchblade UI was.
One of the major highlights of the machine that Razer boasts of is the low profile mechanical keyboard. It’s not the first mechanical keyboard in a laptop, but Razer claims that it’s the first “low profile” version. Being first isn’t always best though. There are so many things I have to say about this keyboard, it’s ridiculous. Where there are some things about the keyboard I like, there is a lot more that I don’t…
Let’s start with the good. The Chroma lighting is a very nice touch, as it also was with the other recent Razer Blade models. Each key is capable of being programmed with millions of color options. There are also some pretty nice effects that can be programmed through Razer Synapse.
The F keys carry all the multimedia functions that are in the other Razer Blade models as well. Above the Num pad, though, there are some redundant keys: forward, back, play and mute keys. There is also a scrolling wheel that is by default a volume wheel, but can be programmed for other stuff as well. It also can be pressed. That volume wheel is awesome, by the way! I use it all the time and I really hope other manufacturers adopt this idea and integrate it into their keyboards as well.
Now onto the bad stuff… First, let me say that I have had three mechanical keyboards in the past, two of them actually made by Razer. Needless to say, between that and all the glowing reviews I’ve read on the 2016 model, I had some pretty high expectations on what this keyboard was going to be like to type on. Like all my other reviews, I force myself to type the review using the laptop I’m reviewing, and I intentionally save this section for last. At the end of the day, all I can say is it hasn’t been a very good experience so far.
To start, the key travel is pretty shallow in my opinion. It’s not as shallow as on the other two Razer Blade models at least, but it certainly could have been better. The actuation force is pretty good though. Razer states it takes 65g of force for an actuation and I was able to measure 60g. I got 60g on other laptops that I type very well on, so this should be easy to type on as well, right?
Wrong. After 10 days, I’m frequently missing keystrokes and it clearly shows when I take my typical typing test. I took it when I first got the laptop and scored 42 wpm, with 9 errors in 5 minutes. After a week I only improved to 45 wpm but still had 10 errors in 5 minutes. My typical score on a good keyboard is 50-55 wpm with little or no mistakes. On top of that, I intentionally didn’t correct any typos when typing this review. I have nothing to compare it with since I don’t normally do that, but I ended up having 156 errors out of over 6600 words(over a 2% error rate).
I really found this troubling, because I can’t believe how badly I struggled when other reviewers have given it their gold seal of approval. I decided to do some testing, a LOT of testing, to find out what the problems might be. I found most of the problem is the keys themselves. The problem lies somewhere in the mixture of having the island style keys and the 60-65g of actuation force.
Yes, it takes 60g of force to depress a key but, after some testing, I’ve found that merely depressing the key doesn’t always actuate a keystroke. Many keys, such as the M and L keys, don’t always register a keystroke unless I hit them in the dead center of the key. It’s really deceiving too because it makes an audible click sound, being the mechanical keyboard it is, but no output occurs.
To prove it out, I tested a number of keys by hitting them in the center 10 times, and subsequently hit them in the corner another 10 times. Most keys were fine, but many were not. The worst offenders for me were the L, F, R and M keys. P, U, B / and Space were also problematic sometimes. Imagine how frustrating it is to not have a reliable Spacebar… About 15% of my typos were missed spaces, and I know for sure the spacebar made a clicking sound. See my video for a small taste of what I’m talking about.
The solution? Type hard…very hard. By doing so, I can minimize my errors, but it’s not the most comfortable thing to do all the time. It’s definitely not something I would want to do permanently, especially with such loud keys as it is anyways.
Another part of the problem is the feedback on the upstroke. This is also something that only affects some keys and not others. I have no way to measure it but I can say for sure it’s most obvious to me on the left Shift key. When I’m playing games, I really struggled to know when I was letting go of it. Pressing it was a satisfying click, but letting it go felt like nothing and there was no sound either.
Frankly, I’d rather have scissor switches then these “mechanical” ones. The past few laptops I’ve tested (Alienware, MSI Steelseries) have had really good scissor switches and have worked perfectly fine to me (and also had 60g of actuation force). The only advantage to having a mechanical keyboard is for increased robustness and more consistent actuation. But if you make it low profile, it seems that you lose those advantages.
To be fair, I did do the same testing (from the video) to the keyboards on the Alienware 17 r4 and the MSI GS73VR I have on hand. I missed a single keystroke on the MSI and none on the Alienware. I also did a slow motion test to see how many times I could press a key in a 10 second period. All three laptops were within a couple keystrokes, showing there’s no speed advantage either.
To add to my struggles, the key layout is normal for the most part, but there are a couple peculiarities that drove me nuts. The most painful thing I’ve had to deal with is the up arrow being between the right shift key and the /(?) key. I can’t count how many times I’ve accidentally hit the up arrow while trying to hit the shift key. And then after adjusting my hand accordingly to compensate, I then hit the up arrow when trying to make question marks.
And let me explain how severe that is when typing a review or a report. To make a question mark, you have to hit shift and the / key. But if you hit shift-up instead, it highlights the whole row. And if you’re typing fast and don’t notice, your next keystroke will delete that entire row and merge it with your last sentence. Very frustrating…
Another obnoxious issue is the lack of backlighting on the secondary keys. Dark grey lettering on black keys makes it impossible to see the symbols without a backlight. So, unless you memorize the location of where symbols and multimedia keys are, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes through trial and error. As with the previous Blades, I color code the F keys for the multimedia functions I use most.
When I step back and look at all these issues, it makes perfect sense why I’ve struggled so much with the keyboard. I would like to point out though that this is just my findings, and it’s incredibly subjective and likely differs with others. There are people out there who think this keyboard is the most amazing thing they have ever typed on.
I don’t know if they have just had too horrible of keyboards in the past, are defensive of their expensive purchase or they legitimately have just had better experience than me, after they got used to it. I personally have had a very difficult time and have yet to get used to it though and $4000 is a steep price to pay for something that I have to learn to get used to or just simply tolerate. Seriously, I want to like this keyboard, but I just don’t.
The configuration I have has a 17.3-inch 3840 x 2160 px IPS IGZO panel, made by Sharp (part number CRX1200, model SHP145A). It’s glossy and absolutely beautiful.
The viewing angles are excellent, showing crisp text at even the extremes. The brightness tapers off a little after you get to 45 degrees, but that’s pretty typical of any panel. Colors remain consistent at the horizontal viewing angles, but the vertical viewing angles have a slight shift. It still looks better than most other panels out there.
Speaking of colors, this panel has 100% aRGB coverage. Using my Spyder4Pro I measured color spaces to be 100% for sRGB, 98% for NTSC and 100% for aRGB. It doesn’t get any better than that.
This is the first laptop to be THX certified, which basically means that the visual colors and speaker sound are tuned to be as good as possible by THX standards. I’m not sure what those standards really are, but keep in mind that Razer owns THX and this should be taken with a grain of salt.
I personally found the out of the box calibration to be adequate, but the colors were way too saturated for my liking. In one of the games I played, the sunset lighting looked almost neon and very unnatural. For photography purposes, it’s completely unacceptable as it is. After a calibration, everything looked much better though, so it can be undone.
I also measured the brightness distribution of the panel, which can be seen in the chart. The maximum brightness I measured was 330 nits, which is good for outdoor use, although the glossy touch panel will certainly make glare a big problem. At the lowest brightness setting, the measurement was only 17 nits, which is great for night time.
The contrast ratio was 700:1 at max brightness, which is pretty good. I measured .47 nits at full brightness, so blacks still look pretty black.
- Panel HardwareID: Sharp SHP145A (CRX1200);
- Coverage: 100% sRGB, 98% NTSC, 100% AdobeRGB;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 330 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 710:1;
- White point: 6900 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.47 cd/m2;
The panel is GSYNC capable, but unfortunately, I could not get it to work properly. Every game I launched with GSYNC enabled had jumpy frames and an annoying flicker that would start happening over time. There was also some obvious screen tearing, since Vsync was also off. I’m not sure what the problem is, but according to the forums, I’m not the only one. It could be software related and hopefully will be fixed in a future driver update.
Being GSYNC though, there is no Optimus. So the laptop is always using the GTX 1080 to display the screen properly. This kills your battery life, which isn’t a huge issue for most people when buying a gaming laptop. But this being a laptop intended for professional use as well, the battery life might matter to you. You’ll see in the section below that this bright and beautiful 4k panel sure does take up a lot of valuable battery life.
Another issue I’m having with my panel is the backlight bleed. It’s not bad on the top and sides, but it’s pretty noticeable on the bottom edge. The panel is definitely getting pinched too hard in that spot, because when I adjust my lid from the top, you can visibly see backlight ripples on the bottom portion of the panel. I have no idea what this does, long term – it may do nothing. It’s not something that annoys me too much because I hardly notice it unless it’s dark and I’m adjusting my lid. But it’s a flaw nonetheless, and it’s something to be aware of. It could just be a defect on my unit as well.
The last thing to mention is the fact that this 17” panel is also touch enabled. I can’t say that I ever wanted a 17” touchscreen, but I’m not totally against it either. It might be nice for professional use I suppose, but I honestly prefer that my touchscreen devices are more practical if they are 13” and under. It’s there if you need it though, and it works well.
To sum it up, the screen is very nice – probably one of the nicest ones out there, unless you need something higher than 60Hz. If Razer can get GSYNC fixed, it would be even better. Until then, know that although this is a great looking screen, it’s incredibly power hungry and would be better off having Optimus if that flaw never gets fixed.
Hardware and performance
The Razer Blade Pro comes with some of the best internals that can currently go into notebooks, namely an Intel Core i7-7820HK quad core CPU and an Nvidia GTX 1080 GPU with 8 GB of VRAM. The Blade Pro also comes with 32GB of DDR4 2667 RAM. This was upgraded from the 2016 model, as the speed has been increased.
As stated, the CPU is an i7-7820HK, which has a 2.9Ghz base clock and a 3.9Ghz turbo. It’s oveclockable, so you can use Intel XTU to overclock it as you desire. You can also overclock it with Razer Synapse, but it’s not really configurable and there aren’t any other options. I’ll touch on this in the heat section, but I’ll tell you right now, it’s pretty much pointless to overclock this CPU.
The configuration I chose has 2x 256 PCI-e SSDs in Raid 0, for 512GB total. Unfortunately, these are the cheapo Samsung PM951 drives that they use in their other Razer Blades. This is unfortunate and I’m pretty disappointed that they have these in such an expensive laptop. If you’re looking for a 1TB model, it would actually be cheaper to just buy the 512GB model and purchase a 1TB Samsung 960 Evo drive to replace one or both of the drives. That drive alone is faster than the PM951 in RAID 0. See my Crystal disk benchmarks for the speed levels I measured.
I ran all the typical benchmarks to test both the CPU and GPU on this unit. My results were a little lower than other laptops with the same configuration. Here they are:
- 3Dmark 13: Fire Strike – 14352; Time Spy – 6021; CPU: 92C, GPU 78C;
- CPU OC Firestrike Scores: 15228 with CPU: 99C, GPU 79C. Thermal throttling on all 4 cores;
- 3Dmark 11: P18050;
- PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 3562, Home Accelerated – 4165; CPU: 87C;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 112.80 fps, CPU 780 pts, CPU Single Core 157 pts.
The lower than normal results are definitely because Razer has the GPU slightly underpowered. The power adapter they included is only 250W, so it clearly doesn’t have enough juice to fully load it. That’s OK though, because not only do they want as small of a power brick as possible (that’s their thing, right), but they also don’t want to be hitting thermal limits on the GPU. You always have a little room to overclock the GPU, if you want some more performance.
But that’s the thing, right? Why not just put a 1070 in there, which can be fully powered and is still overclockable? I’m guessing it’s for marketing, although it’s true this 1080 is slightly faster than most of the OC 1070s out there. Personally I’d like the sticker price to come down a little, so I would rather have seen a 1070.
I tested out a number of games as well. The performance was great overall, but the numbers were still slightly lower than on other similarly configured machines, while CPU temperatures were extremely high. Here were my results:
- Fallout 4– There’s a particular battle near Corvega which takes place in a foggy thunderstorm. It’s a typical spot where the framerates dip the most for me.
- Ultra settings at 4k – 45-65fps with dips as low as 37fps.
- Default high settings at 4k – 53-72fps
- Ultra settings at FHD – 85-125fps
- Peak CPU temp 93°C, peak GPU temp 82°C
- Doom– Played through the opening mission for 15 minutes
- Default Ultra settings at 4k – 55-65fps
- Default High settings at FHD – 135-150fps
- Peak CPU temp 86°C, peak GPU temp 82°C
- Peak CPU temp 96°C, peak GPU temp 91°C after an hour
- Witcher 3– Walking back and forth through the opening scene and the first tutorial.
- Default ultra settings at 4k with hairworks on – 31-35fps
- Default ultra settings at 4k with hairworks off – 35-38fps
- Default medium settings at 4k – 43-49fps
- Default ultra settings at 1080p – 63-70fps
- Peak CPU temp 97°C, peak GPU temp 82°C
So as you can see, although the performance is really good, it certainly comes at a cost. The CPU temperatures are pretty much at the thermal limits, even with no overclock. And if you do overclock all you do is hit those thermal limits and experience throttling. Overclocking isn’t worth it if you ask me.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, Speakers and others
The cooling system on the Razer Blade Pro is small, but somewhat efficient considering the size. It’s a vapor chamber, rather than the typical heatsink and heatpipes that are typically used. This is probably a contributor to how they are able to cool a 1080 in such a thin chassis.
Air is drawn in from the bottom vents and blown out through the vents underneath the screen. These are small, so you’ll want to make sure they are clear while putting the machine under load. A cooling pad would certainly help matters.
But the CPU choice appears to be too much even for a vapor chamber heatsink. Truth be told, it runs way too hot. As you saw in the previous section, I was hitting close to the thermal limits while gaming, even with no overclock. And if I did overclock, all the CPU did was throttle when it hit the thermal limits.
Honestly, they should have just put the i7-7700HQ in there. That CPU runs .2GHz slower, but also a lot cooler. Rerunning my 3Dmark benchmark with the CPU set to 3.4GHz (using Intel XTU) resulted in a max CPU temp of 89C, which is a few degrees cooler.
It’s more likely that they skimped on something with the cooling system though. Likely some missing contact with the heatsink or some poor thermal paste, etc. Razer has been guilty of this in the past, so there’s no counting that out. Unfortunately I haven’t seen any guides on taking the cooling system apart, so it’s still a mystery.
I took some measurements on the top and bottom of the laptop, both during normal use and during a 30 minute gaming session. The results were pretty high, as you can see.
* Daily use – watching Netflix on Edge for 30 minutes
* Load use – Gaming with Doom for 30 minutes – power brick: 54 C
I was pretty surprised to see how hot it got under just normal loads. It’s not very comfortable at all. Because the laptop is so thin, there’s very little airflow in the areas containing the battery, SSD and other components. So the heat just builds up over time and it radiates through the metal. It’s a little too hot to use on your lap for normal use, unless you like sweaty legs.
For heavy gaming, it’s near impossible to keep on your lap and you should pretty much look to have a cooling pad, or at least a tray, to provide a barrier. Temps as high as 55C were measured, which is pretty darn hot for skin to touch.
As for the fan noise, it’s also pretty loud. But that’s what I would expect from a small laptop. In order to get more heat out, those fans need to work overtime, compared to the fans on much thicker laptops. Here’s what I got:
- Ambient noise in the room: 25dB;
- Light use with lowest fan speeds 35dB;
- Heavy Gaming: 53dB;
It’s not so much the sound the fans make, but how quickly they are needed. I notice that this laptop ramps the fans up to high speed very frequently, even during normal use. In games, it’s fully blowing in the first few seconds.
You can use Razer Synapse to adjust the fan speed. Normal is the default, but you can switch the setting to low. It comes at a cost though, because although the noise is a little lower, the heat just builds up. I tested this while typing this article and got CPU temps as high as 73C while only having Word and Chrome open.
You can also set the fans to high, but I don’t think that they go any faster. They merely just ramp up even quicker than before. When you select the high performance setting, the CPU OC is enabled and the CPU gets even hotter than before. This also forces the high fan speed profile. My advice? Just leave it at normal.
So is there any fix to the CPU overheating? Repasting will void your warranty according to Razer, but there are a couple others things you can try to cool down the CPU a little. Both rely on launching Intel XTU at bootup and doing one or both of the following. First, you can undervolt the CPU (details in here). With a simple 110mV undervolt, I was able to reduce my CPU temps by 5C and had no performance loss at all.
The other thing you can do is underclock the CPU. This can also be done using Intel XTU. By limiting my CPU to 3.4Ghz, I reduced my CPU temps by 3-4C. But it came at a cost of CPU performance, since it’s .2Ghz slower. This is equivalent to the i7-7700HQ. By doing both changes at once, I got a max CPU temp of 84C when running Firestrike.
Radios – The Razer Blade Pro comes with a Killer 1535 wireless AC module. I’ve had issues in the past with Killer wireless cards, but this one is working pretty good so far. I haven’t had any drops in connection yet, but I have had some low points with signal. I think it might be because the entire lid is made of metal.
Close to my router within 10 feet, I was only getting 60Mbps. At 50 feet from my router, outdoors, I reached download speeds of about 45Mbps. Bluetooth 4.1 is also embedded in the Wifi module.
Speakers – If THX certification is the reason why these speakers sound as good as they do, I’m impressed. Even at full volume, the sound coming out of these two side facing speakers was loud and clear. Usually I have to mess with some sound settings to get things right, but in this case everything was fine out of the box.
Playing my typical song that I test with, I was able to measure amplitudes as high as 75dB. I also did a bass test and was able to detect bass levels as low as 40Hz. Pretty good considering there’s no subwoofer.
I know I just reviewed the Alienware 17 r4 and confirmed that those were my favorite speakers on a gaming laptop. If these aren’t my new favorite, they are definitely a close second best.
Webcam– This laptop comes with a standard FHD webcam. It’s nothing special really. It takes decent shots in the light, but if you have low light conditions, the image is very grainy. It would have been nice to see Razer put better webcams in their laptops in the future. Especially since the Windows Hello cameras are becoming more and more popular.
The configuration I received has a 99 Whr battery, the maximum allowable on a laptop in order to be allowed to take it on an airplane. This and the glass panel are the reasons why this laptop weighs so much more than the 2015 Razer Blade Pro, .
I ran my typical battery test which consists of using the stock “Power Saver” power profile, 25% brightness (100 nits), WiFi off, Bluetooth off, and running a 720p movie in a continuous loop at full screen with the volume muted. I start the clock when it’s unplugged and stop it when the unit performs a self- shutdown. The Razer Blade Pro 2017 lasted only 3 hours and 13 minutes before shutting down. This is a lot lower that I had expected. A 99Whr battery should offer better battery life than this, but the 4k screen appears to be a battery hog.
Using HWinfo, I was also able to test the discharge rate at certain conditions and estimate how long the laptop would last in those cases. Wifi and Bluetooth were on for all situations and the volume was set at 20%. Here are my results:
- 20.6 W (~ 4 h of 48 m use)– idle, Power Saving Mode, screen at 0%, Wi-Fi OFF34.;
- 34.1 W (~ 2 h 54 m of use)– very light browsing and text editing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 39.6 W (~ 2 h 30 m of use)– 4k fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 32.3 W (~ 3 h 4 m of use)– 1080p fullscreen video on Amazon Instant Video in Chrome, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 35.6 W (~ 2 h 47 m of use)– 1080p fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 49.3 W (~ 2 h of use)– heavy browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 80.7 W (~ 1 h 14 m of use)– gaming, Witcher 3 4k High
The battery life is pretty low in some situations, and I can say from experience that those estimates above are pretty legit. It doesn’t help that Optimus is disabled, but to make matters worse, the screen is a huge power hog as well.
I really saw the difference when I tried to use the laptop on battery to type this review, with the screen at full brightness. I was lucky to get 2 hours out of it. Unfortunately, if you need better battery life, there are no other options when it comes with the Razer Blade Pro. 4k and GYSNC is the only option available.
Price and availability
The model I purchased is $4000 and is available on Amazon over here. Careful about the user reviews, because the listing also includes the 14” GTX 1060 model. You can also purchase the Razer Blade Pro directly from Razer, if you desire.
The base model is 512GB, but you can also buy a 1 TB model for $4400 and a 2TB model for $4900. Like I mentioned before, if you’re handy with a screwdriver and don’t mind installing your own OS, it’s a little more economical to just buy the cheapest model and put in some better SSDs. A pair of Samsung Evo 960 1TB drives (available here) will run you around the same price and will be much, much faster drives than the ones included in Razer’s system. Don’t forget, you’d also have two spare drives to either keep for another system or sell to your neighbor.
To be blunt, I’m very disappointed with how much this system costs. Like I said at the beginning, it’s all about value to me. But I just can’t see myself spending $4000 on this machine. To me, the thin form factor isn’t enough to warrant the added cost, especially since the performance is slightly gimped because of the laws of physics.
Another thing that bothers me is the mysterious extra $300 added to the cost of the machine over last year. The only difference between the 2017 and 2016 models are the slightly slower RAM and new CPU (i7-7820 HK vs i7-6700HQ). Do those two changes really cost an extra $300? If so, they’re not worth it if you ask me… The Skylake version didn’t hit the thermal limits near as much as the Kaby Lake version, so to me, there’s more value in last year’s model than this one.
All that said, there are going to be plenty of people out there willing to shell out that kind of money for such a thin laptop with a GTX 1080 in it. That’s really the selling point, because to honest, there’s really not any competition out there when it comes to those specs in such a thin laptop with superior build quality.
The closest competitor to the Razer Blade Pro(at least in terms of thinness) would probably be Gigabyte’s Aorus x7 DT v6. It’s .1” thicker, but costs about $900 less. That model is still the Skylake CPU though and there are other build quality differences that might not be OK for you. That new Acer Predator Triton 700 is sure worth keeping an eye one though.
Other than that, if you want the GTX 1080 in a laptop, there are plenty of thicker and heavier options out there, such as the Alienware 17 I just reviewed and the Acer Predator 17X that Andrei just checked out. Both of those laptops are significantly cheaper and perform better with the same internals. But all these options are a lot chunkier.
Size comparison: MSI GS73 (top), Razer Blade Pro (middle) and Alienware 17 (bottom)
So there you have it. The Razer Blade Pro is definitely a mixed bag for me. There are some things I really like, such as the screen, build quality, trackpad and design. And those speakers sure sound great! But even some of those nice things have a couple tid-bits I don’t like.
My screen having weird backlight bleed ripples while moving it, for example. Also GSYNC isn’t working. The dead spots in my trackpad. And the same old, large bezels on the screen.
If it were just those things, I’d still probably have a nice grade for the Razer Blade Pro. But when you add in the keyboard that I struggled with, the overclockable CPU that can’t be overclocked without throttling, the high surface temperatures, poor battery life and the very high price? Well…I have to draw the line somewhere.
But remember, this is just me and my perspective. Others certainly will think differently. In fact, I have a feeling I’m going to get a lot of flak for this article, mainly because of the defensiveness I’ve seen from Razer Blade Pro owners on the forums. Sure, some of them are just huge Razer fans, but a reasonable number of people really like their machines (at least the 2016 version).
And rightfully so, because there really isn’t another thin GTX 1080 machine out there at this time. At least not one built as well, with a nice screen and speakers. And many of them actually like the keyboard. That’s their perspective and I accept that.
But I cannot, in good conscious, recommend this laptop to anyone unless they have a lot of money to throw away and absolutely must have the thinnest GTX 1080 laptop available. If it were $3000, I’d say go for it, but there are way too many things wrong to warrant their asking price, in my opinion.
So that’s about it for this one. I would certainly like to hear what you all have to say about this 2017 Razer Blade Pro – especially from current owners. For something this pricey, I’d like to know if some of the issues I had were isolated to just me. I won’t have this unit on hand anymore, but I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have in the comments section below.
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