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Razer Blade Pro review:

A great 4K gaming laptop -- if you can handle paying $4K for it

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MSRP: $3,699.00

Razer Blade Pro

(Part #: razerbladepro)
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The Good The Razer Blade Pro puts Nvidia's top-performing graphics card in a slim laptop that can pass as a work or gaming system. The premium design, 4K-resolution touchscreen and mechanical keyboard make it a pleasure to use.

The Bad The mechanical keyboard is clicky and loud, and the right-side trackpad placement remains a design misstep. The laptop and power supply get very hot, and the very loud fans start blowing as soon as you boot up a game.

The Bottom Line Razer manages to fit a high-end graphics card into an amazingly thin laptop. Gamers and graphics pros alike will love the performance, but not the loud fans and misplaced touchpad.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 9.0
  • Battery 7.0

You know that feeling when you're trying to do something -- anything -- and it's not going right and you say to yourself, "there must be a better way?" The Razer Blade Pro is that better way. The right tool for the job, as the adage goes, assuming that job requires top-of-the-line graphics performance and a beautiful 17.3-inch 4K-resolution display in a laptop that's less than an inch thick (22.4 mm, to be exact).

However, with a price of $3,700, £3,500 in the UK and a converted price of approximately AU$4,800 in Australia, this is one expensive tool. Between the performance, features and slim design, it doesn't feel overpriced.Since it doesn't necessarily look like a typical gaming laptop either, it would be a fine choice for graphics pros or photo/video editors. Plus, for people still mourning the loss of Apple's 17-inch MacBook Pro, it is as elegant as any Apple laptop.

That said, if you were hoping to save some money by going with a lower-end configuration, you're out of luck. In fact, the only thing you can change is the storage capacity and that only increases the price. There are no options to drop down to a less-powerful graphics card or switch to a full HD matte display like the company's 14-inch Blade laptop -- what you see is what you get. On the upside, what you're getting is pretty great.

Razer Blade Pro (late 2016)

Price as reviewed $3,700 (£3,500, approx. AU$4,800)
Display size/resolution 17.3-inch 3,840x2,160 touchscreen
PC CPU 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ
PC Memory 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz
Graphics 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
Storage 512GB SSD
Optical drive None
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1, Gigabit Ethernet
Operating system Windows 10 (64-bit)

Built for gamers

The keyboard, for example, uses ultra-low-profile mechanical switches -- a world's first according to Razer -- which gives you the clicky response of a full-size gaming keyboard in a mobile design. The keys might require a bit more force than your typical laptop keyboard, they're noticeably loud, and the keys felt ever-so-slightly smaller, but after some adjustment I did enjoy using it.

razer-blade-pro-late-2016-02.jpg

Razer moved the "mouse."

Sarah Tew/CNET

The trackpad might take some adjustment, too. It's an excellent glass trackpad with smooth, responsive performance, and above it you'll find a scroll wheel for volume/mute and media player keys. But with it positioned to the right of the keyboard you might find yourself fighting muscle memory if you've used just about any other laptop ever.

Razer says the positioning is to mimic a desktop setup with the "mouse" being to the right of the keyboard. The company's other, smaller laptops have the trackpad below the keyboard, and while I get the design logic here, it still feels like a bad move. The MSI GT83VR we recently reviewed had a similarly distracting design misstep. If you don't like it or you're a lefty, Razer does include a gaming mouse with the Blade Pro (and, oddly, a Bluetooth speaker).

Each key of the keyboard as well as the trackpad and media controls are individually backlit, and you can select how they're lit from 16.8 million possible colors. Want to light up just the keys you need for a specific game? That's no problem at all using Razer's Synapse software, which makes it easy to set things up the way you want them. There are different preprogrammed options, but the software also lets you set up profiles and key macros and much more.

razer-synapse.jpg

The Synapse software lets you fine-tune your keyboard and trackpad.

Screenshot by Josh Goldman/CNET

Big, beautiful display

If you're going to spend hours gaming, you'll want to be staring at something as nice as the Blade Pro's 17.3-inch touch-screen display. The 4K-resolution screen (3,840x2,160 pixels) produced vivid colors and sharp fine details that pay off when you're taking advantage of the GeForce GTX 1080's capabilities.

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