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

Razer updates its 14-inch Blade laptop for a higher-end take on slim gaming.

Xiomara Blanco Associate Editor / Reviews - Tablets and monitors
Xiomara Blanco is an associate editor for CNET Reviews. She's a Bay Area native with a knack for tech that makes life easier and more enjoyable. So, don't expect her to review printers anytime soon.
Xiomara Blanco
5 min read

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.


Razer Blade (14-inch, 2017)

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.

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.  

Razer Blade 2017
Enlarge Image
Razer Blade 2017

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.  

Razer Blade 2017

The Razer Blade has updated graphics from last year's model.

Josh Miller/CNET

Handling the graphical heavy lifting is the Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card with 6GB of video RAM. That's the best price-versus-performance card in the current Nvidia lineup. It also comes with 16GB DDR4 RAM, which is pretty standard for a laptop of this caliber. The Blade kept up with the game Doom at high settings when frame rate was locked at 60fps, with almost no dropped frames, even in chaotic situations. The Nvidia 1060 will also support VR headsets like the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, which is a relatively new feature for laptops.

The newer Intel Core i7-7700HQ is also a big plus. One big advantage of Intel's latest CPUs is better battery life, and the Razer Blade's battery lasted 8 hours and 15 minutes in our CNET Labs battery testing, up from 5 hours and 41 minutes in the previous model. Note that gaming off the battery will give you much shorter battery life, usually a couple of hours at most in our experience.

Razer Blade 2017

The Blade is a portable gaming powerhouse.

Josh Miller/CNET

The Blade doesn't have a huge storage hard drive in its default config, but thanks to high-speed ports, using external storage isn't a big hassle. Quick transferring is available via the Thunderbolt 3 port and three USB 3.0 ports. There's no Ethernet port on this bad boy, which can be an issue if you want to download 25GB or larger games from Steam or other online game stores.

It can competently double as a workstation in a professional environment, though it's overpowered as a work or family computer. While running Chrome, I had about 20 tabs open, while streaming HD video, before it started to show any signs of lag.

The Blade's aluminum chassis gets hot easily when gaming, making it uncomfortable to have on your lap. It does cool down pretty quickly after you're done playing. It has two fans on the bottom that deal with the heat the graphics card generates. They can get very loud. The fans spin up a frenzy for all tasks, not just gaming, though they're a little quieter in those cases.

Razer Blade 2017

The matte screen is easily visible in bright environments.

Josh Miller/CNET

All-matte everything

The Blade's 1080p display has a matte finish that's sharp and bright. Just because it's matte doesn't mean it's lackluster. The Blade's full HD screen displays clear details, vibrant colors and satisfying brightness, no matter if you're playing Doom or watching the "Black Panther" trailer for the 89 millionth time. It's visible in direct sunlight and doesn't reflect a lot of ambient light in bright environments.

Built-in stereo speakers produce decent sound without much distortion at max volume. The top-mounted speakers aren't as loud as I'd like but they are clear and crisp, with warm soundscapes during gameplay.

Razer Blade is a high-end but stylishly subdued gaming laptop

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Any way you slice it

While the Razer Blade is a gorgeous gaming laptop, it lacks the customization of a full-size gaming laptop or desktop, and costs more than other gaming laptops with similar specs. That makes it hard to recommend for either very serious or very budget-minded gamers. But if portability and style are top priorities, the Razer Blade hits those marks while still playing most of today's games at high settings and full-HD resolution.  

Razer Blade performance charts

Razer Blade
Price as reviewed $1,899
Display size/resolution 14-inch 1,920x1,080 display
PC CPU 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ
PC memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz
Graphics 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
Storage 256GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)

Multimedia multitasking test 3.0

Razer Blade 178HP Omen (17-inch) 184Alienware 13 R3 (OLED late 2016) 195Dell XPS 15 (2017) 197Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 200Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (2017) 335
Note: Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Geekbench 3 (Multi-Core)

Razer Blade 14516Dell XPS 15 (2017) 14161Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 13708HP Omen (17-inch) 13362Alienware 13 R3 (OLED late 2016) 13093Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (2017) 10247
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

HP Omen (17-inch) 3816Alienware 13 R3 (OLED late 2016) 2609Razer Blade 2593Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (2017) 1871Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 1822Dell XPS 15 (2017) 1242
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Bioshock Infinite

HP Omen (17-inch) 137.56Razer Blade 119.97Alienware 13 R3 (OLED late 2016) 116.69Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 89.35Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (2017) 89.34Dell XPS 15 (2017) 83.81
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (in fps)

Video playback battery drain test

Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (2017) 578Razer Blade 489Dell XPS 15 (2017) 432HP Omen (17-inch) 270Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 262Alienware 13 R3 (OLED late 2016) 226
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (in streaming minutes)

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

HP Omen (17-inch) 75.8Razer Blade 52.7Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (2017) 38.4Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 36.1Dell XPS 15 (2017) 30.9
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (in fps)

System configurations

Razer Blade Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060; 256GB SSD
Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming (2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti; 256GB SSD
Alienware 13 R3 (OLED late 2016) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060; 512GB SSD
Dell XPS 15 (2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHZ Intel Core i7-7700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050; 512GB SSD
HP Omen (17-inch) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD

Razer Blade (14-inch, 2017)

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 8Battery 8