Razer Blade (14-inch, 2017) review: Razer Blade is the MacBook Pro of gaming laptops

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MSRP: $1,899.99

The Good The Razer Blade has an attractively slim chassis, sharp display and terrific keyboard. It packs Intel's latest-generation i7 processor and great graphics. It's VR-ready.

The Bad It's expensive, and configuration options are limited. The fans are loud and it gets hot when gaming. There's no Ethernet port.

The Bottom Line The Razer Blade is an elegantly subdued mainstream gaming laptop with great performance.

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8.3 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 8

The Razer Blade is like the MacBook Pro of gaming laptops. It's an attractively slim and portable high-end machine that's packed with gobs of gaming power. By updating it with the latest high-end components, Razer's kept the Blade relevant in a world where PC gaming hardware keeps making major leaps.

The major changes for the 2017 version are a new processor from Intel's 7th-generation of Core i-series, Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1060 GPU and 16GB of faster 2,400MHz DDR4 memory. It's also cheaper, starting at $1,899 (£1,799.99 or AU$2,799.95), and a tenth of a pound lighter, weighing 4.1 pounds (the 4K screen version weighs a bit more).

The stock model has a Full HD screen with 256GB of solid-state storage, upgradable to 512GB ($2,099, £1,999.99, AU$3,099.95) or 1TB ($2,499, £2,399.99, AU$3,699.95). There's also the option of a model with a 4K touchscreen variant with either 512GB ($2,399, £2,299.99, AU$3,499.95) or 1TB  ($2,799, £2,699.99, AU$4,099.95) of SSD. The model reviewed here costs $1,899. 4K screens look cool, but they can really knock down your battery life. The CPU and GPU (really the most important things for a gaming PC) remain the same in each of these configurations.

Razer Blade 2017

The Razer Blade looks like a badass black MacBook.

Josh Miller/CNET

Dignified design

To fit a full graphics card in a small frame understandably requires compromises. However, the Blade is smaller and more portable than almost any other PC gaming machine. Its design is also elegantly restrained in comparison with current gaming laptop aesthetics, which can have a lot of overblown logos, glowing lights and, yes, alien heads.  

The green accents are tastefully demure, unlike my manicure.

Josh Miller/CNET

Just like last year's model, it's compact enough to bring on a daily commute, but powerful enough for gaming, video editing and other serious tasks.

The Blade has a minimalist matte-black shell and slim profile with smoothly rounded edges. Razer's unmistakable green logo on the lid and matching accents are bold, but not too in-your-face. I'd say it looks inconspicuously cool. Unfortunately, the matte black finish attracts a lot of fingerprints.

Cool keys

The 14-inch Razer Blade's keyboard is part of the company's Chroma line, and is similar to other Razer laptop keyboards and standalone desktop keyboards. The Blade colorfully provides more backlighting flexibility and features than any other comparable laptop.

The included Chroma app allows specific sections of the keyboard to be programmed to show different colors -- such as highlighting WASD keys in a different color than the rest of the keyboard. There's the option to program your own custom keyboard backlight scheme, but most people will be able to find a solid preset that works well.

Razer Blade 2017

The colorful Chroma keyboard is comfy to type on.

Josh Miller/CNET

The keyboard not only looks cool, it feels great for typing, with the right amount of spring and travel time. The multicolored flat keys are well-spaced and touchpad movement was smooth movement with accurate gestures, including two-finger scroll and three-finger swipe.

Gamer's delight

The Razer Blade performs as we'd expect a high-end laptop with these components to. The last Razer Blade we reviewed in 2016 used older 900-series Nvidia graphics, which have been brought up-to-date here.