Now that’s I’ve reviewed both the Razer Blade 15 and the Stealth, I figured I’d complete the spectrum and try out the updated Razer Blade Pro 17. Razer was generous enough to lend me a 2060 version of the Blade Pro 2019, so I could take it for a spin.
Overall, it’s exactly what I was expecting – It’s a 17” version of the Razer Blade 15, which I already own and love. There are a couple of extra features that are nice, but there are also a couple of minor drawbacks. You certainly can’t go wrong with either, but if you’re having trouble choosing between the two, you’ll want to read this article and see my comparison at the end.
Specs as reviewed
|Razer Blade Pro 17 2019|
|Screen||17.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS, 144 Hz, matte, AU Optronics – B173HAN04.0|
|Processor||Intel 9th Gen Coffee Lake i7-9750H CPU, hexa-core 2.6 GHz (4.5 GHz boost)|
|Video||Intel HD 630 and NVIDIA GeForce 2060|
|Memory||16 GB DDR4 2667Mhz (2×8 GB DIMMs)|
|Storage||512 GB M.2 NVMe (Samsung PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ)|
|Connectivity||Intel Wireless AX200, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Ports||3x USB-A 3.2 gen2, 2x USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, Lan, SD card reader, headphone/mic|
|Battery||70.5 Wh, 230 W charger|
|Size||395 mm or 15.55” (w) x 260 mm or 10.24” (d) x 19.9 mm or .78” (h)|
|Weight||2.75 kg (6.06 lbs)|
|Extras||individually lit RGB keyboard, large clickpad, HD Windows hello webcam, stereo speakers, SD card reader|
Design and first look
The overall design of the Razer Blade Pro is nothing but stellar. It’s very reminiscent to the Razer Blade 15, only larger. It’s definitely a little heftier than the RB15, but it doesn’t “feel” like a 17” notebook. In fact, it feels more like the older 15” notebooks from just a few years ago.
The build quality feels consistent with pretty much all the other Razer Blades I’ve ever handled. The palm rest is machined from a single piece of aluminum and is anodized black to a matte finish. The bottom and lid are also made from the same type of metal. The entire construction is assembled nicely and looks uniform, throughout the design.
The level of build quality is apparent in the handling of this laptop. I can hold it one-handed from any corner or edge and experience little to no flex. When carrying it around, I never feel like I have to be too gentle with it. The lid is also very sturdy, both open and closed.
Weighing in at 6lbs, this Blade Pro 17 is by no means a light laptop, but overall, I’m ok with the weight, as it’s nowhere near as heavy as most other 17” laptops I’ve ever handled. It’s a full 1.5lbs lighter than the previous Razer Blade Pro. Yes, there are lighter 17” options available (MSI GS75, for example), but none have the same level of build quality.
Onto the actual design. On the lid, it’s as plain as can be – with the exception of the large glowing green Razer logo in the center. The lid is perfectly flat and the corners are more pronounced on this design than they have been in the past.
I really wish Razer would just do away with this logo and just adopt the embossed look like what they showed me with the Razer Blade Stealth. Glowing logos were kinda cool 10 years ago, but I much prefer something more subtle. If they insist on making it glow, perhaps make the default color something that isn’t green. Either way, if you hate it, it’s totally easy to cover with a Dbrand skin or something (like I did with my own Blade 15).
Lifting the lid is possible with one finger, but it takes about 4-5 lbs of force to do so, thus you’ll probably use two hands most of the time.
Underneath the lid is the same keyboard and trackpad as on the Razer Blade 15 (more on those later) and two front-facing speakers on both sides of the keyboard. Above all that is the 17.3” FHD screen, with some pretty small bezels. I’m so glad Razer was able to update all their laptops with these small bezels because it really makes a difference. This laptop, for example, feels like the older 15” laptops from just a few years ago. In fact, this model is very similar to the MSI GS60, which I used as my daily driver for a number of years.
Above the screen is a very tiny HD webcam. It’s also a Windows Hello cam, so you’ll be able to use it for face unlock, for quicker login options. Something to note of, the webcam is HD and not FHD like the one on the previous Razer Blade Pro.
The front and back edges of the laptop offer no IO. In fact, the front edge is perfectly smooth, with only a single LED indicator light on the right-hand side. The rear is reserved for exhaust, which is hidden within the hinge. On the right-hand side, you have your standard Kensington lock. There’s also a single USB 3.2 Type A port, and a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C. If you don’t own a Thunderbolt 3 monitor, there’s also a HDMI 2.0 port. Finally, there’s a full-sized SD card reader.
On the left side, there are two more USB-A ports, as well as a second Thunderbolt 3 USB-C. Furthest towards the user is a standard headphone/mic combo jack. They also offer an Ethernet connection as well.
Furthest to the back, on the left side, is a proprietary power jack, which has an oblong shape to it. It’s reversible, which is good, but odds are you aren’t going to be using the cord in reverse much. The power cord that plugs into it is L shaped, so the cord will either feed away from you or directly towards you, depending on how you connect it.
I typically hate proprietary connections, but this one is actually pretty nice, as it feels very robust. I’ve gone through my share of broken power jacks, from tripped over wires and I don’t see that happening to this unit.
Overall, I’m very pleased with this updated Blade Pro 17’s design. There’s really nothing major to complain about, which is pretty rare in my experience. If I wasn’t already an owner of the smaller 15” model, I’d totally consider using this as my daily driver.
Keyboard and trackpad
This is the one section where I feel I didn’t need to do a lot of soul searching to find the right words to describe. Quite literally, this is the exact same keyboard and trackpad from the Razer Blade 15. So if you want to know how I feel about them in detail, I’d like to refer you that that article – my feelings haven’t changed.
In short, the keyboard is really good, albeit with a strange keyboard layout. After 5 months, I’ve gotten used to the up arrow location between the shift and ? keys. I’ve also adapted to the short key travel. So it was very easy for me to adapt to this keyboard, since literally, nothing is different about it.
But that does bring up a strange thing about this laptop – Nothing is different? There’s so much extra space, so I would think they could have improved the layout a bit better. They didn’t, and I’m guessing it comes down to cost reasons. On pretty much every 17” laptop, you expect to have a Numpad, but on the Razer Blade Pro, there isn’t one. For some of you this will be a deal breaker, but let me tell you that if I’m being truly honest, I’m actually really glad they dropped it. Here’s why.
The keyboard is actually comfortable to type on (even more so than the RB15) because of the central location and the large palm rest. If they included a NumPad, all the keys would shift to the left, which means the trackpad would shift to the left as well and my left palm would likely be hanging on the edge of the laptop. This is the case with the Razer Blade 15 (because it’s so much smaller), but not with this larger notebook, which is why I actually enjoy typing on the Razer Blade Pro better.
Like I said before, the trackpad is exactly the same as the Razer Blade 15. It’s still one of my favorite trackpads on a Windows laptop and I have nearly no complaints about it. One minor issue I have with it is the shallow clicks, which doesn’t bother me though, since I prefer taps. The other issue is the poor palm rejection out-of-the-box, but as I was able to fix it with a registry entry.
All this said, I’m very pleased with the keyboard and trackpad combo in this Razer Blade Pro. It’s a huge improvement from the previous model, with the right-handed trackpad and the mechanical keyboard. Sure, mechanical keyboards are nice, but that one was not.
The 2019 Razer Blade Pro gets a matte 17.3-inch IPS panel with FHD resolution and 144 Hz refresh rate. It’s made by AU Optronics, part number B173HAN04.0. It looks and feels like a standard IPS screen, as the image is sharp even at the sharpest viewing angles, but you do lose a fair bit of the brightness when you get to about 30 degrees, compared to other implementations out there.
The max brightness I was able to achieve was 285 nits, which is a little below average, but good enough for most people. The contrast ratio was great at 810:1. I’m also pleased to say that there was very little backlight bleed on my panel.
I took some measurements on my Spyder4Pro sensor and here’s what I got:
- Panel HardwareID: AU Optronics – B173HAN04.0;
- Coverage: 95% sRGB, 68% NTSC, 73% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.2;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 394 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 810:1
- Native white point: 7100 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.35 cd/m2.
- PWM: No.
Although it’s not the brightest panel, the distribution is pretty good. With the naked eye, you can’t see any brightness difference anywhere on the panel.
This panel comes calibrated by the factory and I was able to verify that with my Spyder4Pro. Besides the white point changing (I calibrate to 6500k), I couldn’t tell any difference in colors changing.
One last thing to note is this panel uses Optimus, and GSYNC is disabled. This is the same as with the Razer Blade 15. It would have been nice to make this a toggle in the bios, but it’s probably for the best that they opted for better battery life.
Overall, this is a fine panel. The colors are accurate, it has a high refresh rate and it’s bright enough. The bezels are also very small, which is a huge plus. I think the only thing I could possibly want more is such a laptop would be QHD resolution. At 17”, you start to really notice the lack of pixel density over a 15” panel.
The other unfortunate thing is they neglected their 4k option on this model. It’s kind of strange too, because this is their “Pro” model and professional content creators would probably have opted for the Full Gamut 4K 60 Hz model like on the last version of the Razer Blade Pro, but I’m assuming Razer is expecting those folks to purchase the Razer Blade Studio Edition instead.
Hardware and performance
The Razer Blade Pro comes equipped with a hexacore i7-9750H processor and 16GB of RAM. The Ram comes in two 8GB sticks and is upgradable if needed. The CPU is very snappy and most applications open and operate very quickly with this CPU/Ram combo.
Paired with the CPU is an Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU, as the entry-level option, and there are also RTX 2070 and RTX 2080 Max-Q versions available on other configurations.
The NVMe drive on this model is 512GB and is also upgradable. It’s a Samsung PM981 and it’s actually a pretty good drive to have. See my Crystal disk mark benchmark for the speeds. There’s an extra M.2 slot on this laptop, so you can also add a second M.2 NVMe or SATA drive, if desired. For the purpose of ease of testing, I merely dropped in my drive from the Razer Blade 15. To my surprise, after a couple of driver updates, everything worked seamlessly.
Upgrading the drive is very easy. The bottom cover is held in by Torx screws and is easily removed. Once opened, you have easy access to both M.2 slots and the Ram.
I can’t complain at all with the performance of this laptop with normal day to day tasks. The CPU is really overkill for almost anything besides games and truly demanding work-loads. Even batch processing is very fast, so content creators would be pleased.
I took a number of synthetic benchmarks. For these tests, I left the fan on Auto and the profile in Synapse was set to max CPU and GPU. Here were my results:
- 3DMark 11: 17999 (Graphics – 21186, Physics – 12690);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 14750 (Graphics – 16215, Physics – 16484);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 6536 (Graphics – 6512, CPU – 6680);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 3560
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 3926;
- PCMark 10: 5475 (Essentials 8535, Productivity 7637, Content 6835);
- GeekBench 4.3.3 64-bit: Single-Core: 5127, Multi-core: 20128;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 113.29 fps CPU 1248 cb, CPU Single Core 181 cb;
- CineBench R20: CPU 2765 cb, Single Core 246 cb
This is the first 2060 laptop I’ve tested, so I can only compare with what Andrei has tested, and others online. From what I see though, these results line up with the competition pretty well.
I also ran some testing on games. All gaming tests were also done on the Auto fan profile with CPU and GPU settings maxed in Synapse.
|Battlefield V (DX 12 OFF, Medium Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)|| 81-89 fps|
|Battlefield V (DX 12 ON, Medium Preset, Ray-Tracing ON)|| 75-83 fps|
|Battlefield V (DX 12 On, Medium Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF) || 110-125 fps|
|Battlefield V (DX 12 On, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF) || 95-107 fps|
|Battlefield V (DX 12 On, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF, Synapse in Balanced mode)|| 80-93 fps|
|Final Fantasy XV (High)|| 67-81 fps|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks Off)|| 80-102 fps|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On)|| 70-84 fps|
As you can see, this laptop handles even AAA titles very well. You aren’t maxing out the 144Hz screen with this GPU, but you should be able to do so with older titles. If you’re looking for more performance though, you can opt for the 2070 or 2080 version.
Emissions (noise, heat), Connectivity and speakers
The cooling system on the Razer Blade Pro utilizes a vapor chamber, similar to the one used on the Razer Blade 15. I took the laptop apart to take a look, and as you can see, the vapor chamber pretty much covers all the components that typically heat up.
Flanked on both sides of the chamber are two large fans. What’s interesting is that there are also two more fans below the trackpad. All these fans are intakes and push the air through the exhaust vents at the hinge.
As fancy as it is, you still can find a way to hit the thermal limits on the CPU. I reached temps as high as 96C on cores 2 and 4 and also experienced thermal throttling in a couple games. Unfortunately, this is pretty typical for this CPU in a thin form factor. The GPU fares better, as the temps only hit 73C in all of my testing.
The good news is Razer has a pretty simple tool to keep your temperatures under control: Razer Synapse. In the performance tab, you have a balanced option and a custom option, which allows you to tweak the CPU and GPU manually.
All of my testing was done in custom with the CPU and GPU maxed out. I did this to give the best case performance and the worst case temperatures, but if you stick with balanced mode, the performance isn’t bad at all. The temperatures are significantly better too.
In fact, the highest CPU temperature I got in balanced mode was 90C and that was while playing a pretty demanding AAA title for a long period. That’s still high, yes, but with most other games the temperature peaked at 85C. More importantly, regular productivity apps won’t make the laptop unnecessarily hot in this mode.
You can even improve temps more by selecting custom and switching the CPU setting to low. I didn’t do much in this mode though, as it noticeably affected my performance in the games I was testing.
Another nice thing about the balanced mode is the fan noise is limited. During normal use, I barely hear the fans. Of course, I live in Florida and it’s July, so my air conditioning is pretty much on all day. But I did make a point to listen for the fans when I was using it in a quiet room, and I didn’t really notice anything.
If you’re still worried about temperatures, you can also undervolt. I didn’t spend too much time finding the perfect stable voltage, but I was able to get a sustained -110mV undervolt on my test sample and shave a few degrees off the CPU temperature. For the most part my temps stuck in the low 80s while in balanced mode.
I took some measurements during my testing. For reference, the ambient noise levels are around 30dB. With moderate use, the fans ramp up to 35dB at ear level and about 40dB at the exhaust. In custom mode, with the CPU maxed, you’re looking at 40dB/48dB with the same testing.
During heavy gaming, the laptop gets significantly louder, with the noise level hovering around 50dB at ear level and about 62dB at the unit itself. If you’re focused on cooling and want to max those fans out, expect the levels to increase to 55dB. Again, if the noise bothers you, you can always switch the settings in Synapse to your liking. You can also use Nvidia’s whisper mode, which pretty much does the same thing, but this comes at a price of performance though.
I took some readings on the outside of the casing, top and bottom, while under normal loads and also while gaming. Here’s what I got:
*Daily Use – Netflix clip in EDGE for 30 minutes
*Load – playing Battlefield V for approximately 30+ minutes on ultra FHD settings
I wasn’t surprised at all with these readings, as they are very similar to my Razer Blade 15, which has a similar thickness, components and chassis. One thing to note of is the temperatures at the palm rest.
They’re pretty average for normal loads, but for the gaming loads, they are actually pretty good. I was expecting to get temps about 5C higher than I actually read. Those fans under the palm rest are likely responsible.
For connectivity, the Intel Wifi 6 AX200 module gives us an excellent connection to Wifi and Bluetooth 5.0. My internet connection was maxed out at 480Mbps even while 30 feet away from my router. I didn’t experience a single drop in connection the entire time I used it. This is a newer Wifi module than in the Razer Blade Stealth or 15, but the performance is the same from what I’m seeing – all excellent.
For audio, there’s an upward facing speaker on each side of the keyboard. They’re pretty decent sounding and reach 80 dB on my sound meter. The sound isn’t as full as I’d like though and the bass is only audible higher than 100Hz. I think they could have found a way to add a small subwoofer somehow. Still, these are better than many other gaming laptops I’ve used and at least they aren’t downward facing.
Above the screen is a small HD webcam that doubles as a Windows Hello webcam. Like I said before, this is actually a downgrade from the FHD webcam that was in the previous Razer Blade Pro. The picture and audio are just ok – not horrible but not great either. Low light graininess is very apparent. It’s a small bezel though, so Razer obviously was looking to keep it that way by limiting the webcam size. At least face unlock is available, which works most of the time. I do struggle with face unlock in dark rooms and with the sun behind my head – the IR blaster just isn’t strong enough to work in those conditions.
This Razer Blade Stealth has an 70.5 Wh battery, a huge downgrade from the previous model and even a downgrade from the smaller Razer Blade 15. What? I guess Razer decided it was more important to have those extra fans under the trackpad, instead of having a larger battery. I’m not so sure that was the right call.
I did some testing to see how long the battery would last in certain scenarios.
- 13.6 W (~5 h 11 min of use)– idle, Best Battery Mode, screen at 0%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 21.1 W (~3 h 20 min of use)– text editing in Google Drive, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 18.1 W (~3 h 54 min of use)– 1080p Youtube fullscreen in Chrome, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 17.6 W (~4 h 0 min of use)– 1080p Netflix fullscreen video in Chrome, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 16.2 W (~4 h 21 min of use)– 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Better Battery Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 25.9 W (~2 h 43 min of use)– heavy browsing in Chrome, Better Performance Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 56.0 W (~1 h 16 min of use)– Gaming – Witcher 3, Maximum Performance Mode, 60fps, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON. 70.5
These results aren’t all that great in my opinion. Even though Optimus is enabled, it’s clear that the 70.5Whr battery isn’t enough to give you more than 3-4 hours of typical use.
Even the component efficiency is different than the RB 15, perhaps because of the bigger screen and fans. Across the board in all my battery tests, there’s a 5W difference, which also contributes to the poorer battery life.
In the end, I really think Razer should have stuck with the 99 Whr battery and maybe shrunk those extra two booster fans under the trackpad. I’m not really sure how useful those fans contribute to the overall thermals, but I’d rather have a warmer palmrest and 1.5 extra hours of battery. Or at least make it optional like Dell did with their XPS 15.
I reached out to Razer about this and they did respond with a pretty valid argument as to their reasoning. In short, they believe that the target user for the 17″ model is going to be less concerned with portability and being on the go and more concerned with comfort and usage, since this would ultimately be their desktop replacement. In general, the target audience is likely going to be near a power source more often, so battery life was less of a concern. In a way, I can see their reasoning.
Another thing they mentioned was that those fans help keep the Razer Blade to stay within Max-Q specifications for surface temperatures. I don’t have the max-q model to test, but it’s understandable that those fans would be present on all the models since the only thing different is the GPU.
Price and availability
The Razer Blade Pro is available at many retailers, including Amazon, Newegg and their own Razer store. There’s only one color model, however in the future there will be a silver model with their Razer Blade Studio.
There are three graphics card options for the Razer Blade Pro: the 2060 version (this model) is listed at $2499. The 2070 model will cost you $2799 and the 2080 version will run you a steep $3199, with both of these later versions being Max-Q.
Across the board, you’re looking at a $300 to $500 premium when comparing to the same model in the 15” version. Whether or not it’s worth the extra cost is going to heavily depend on how badly you want the 17” version, because the difference in internal components and features is marginal, and even favors the 15-inch variant in some cases.
Blade 15 vs Blade Pro 17
As I stated at the beginning, I wanted to include a special section that compares Razer’s two gaming laptops directly, as I think the choice might be a tough call for some of you. To make things easier, I’ve gathered my impressions on the two in a separated side-by-side article. If you aren’t deciding between these models, feel free to skip to my final thoughts section.
To sum up, I really like the new Razer Blade Pro. Razer has eliminated the things I hated with the older version (poor keyboard and awful trackpad location) and found ways to make it so much better.
Really, you’re looking at a 17” gaming experience crammed into a traditional 15” laptop form factor. The screen, keyboard, and trackpad are all great. The laptop itself is well built and is actually pretty portable considering the screen size.
Like it’s smaller brother, I can hardly find things to complain about. There still is the weird keyboard layout, which I’ve gotten over, I think. It also gets kind of hot, but that seems to be the norm with these thin and light gaming laptops.
The only relevant complaint I have is with the battery size. With a bigger form factor, I would have expected Razer to at least put the same, if not a bigger battery in it over the 15” version, especially since the internals are not as efficient.
The other thing I’d like to harp on is the lack of a full-gamut 4k screen option. I didn’t really care for the 17” touch screen, but professional content developers are not going to want a 144Hz FHD screen with only 100% sRGB. They are going to want options on the pixel density and they want more colors. Not having this option is a shame – especially since this is Razer’s Pro model.
But perhaps Razer is giving up on this model being for work and play, and is expecting content creators to get the upcoming Razer Blade Studio instead. That device reportedly has a 4k full gamut screen and also includes a Quadro RTX 5000. That’s certainly something I’d be interested in and hopefully, I’ll be able to review it as well.
As far as the competition goes, if you’re worried the Razer Blade Pro might not be for you, perhaps you might be interested in the MSI GS75. It also has similar configurations, with the equivalent model going for roughly $2200. I haven’t seen it in person yet, but the reviews are pretty favorable. However, that model has had complaints of an overly flexible chassis, similar to what I experienced on the GS65. There’s also no Windows Hello cam.
Another good alternative is the Asus Zephyrus GX701, which Andrei has already reviewed. The same specced model is even cheaper, at $2100, which makes it a very tempting buy. The thermals are a little better and it has good speakers, but you have an awkward keyboard and track placement that you’d have to get used to. And not only is there no Windows Hello webcam, there’s literally no webcam on this model at all.
In the end, the Razer Blade Pro is the most expensive in its class. It does have some advantages over its competitors, but you’ll have to do some thinking about whether or not it’s worth the extra price. So that wraps up my review of the 2019 Razer Blade Pro 17. I’m happy to answer questions if I missed something – please leave a comment in the section below.
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