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Hands-on with the new high-res Razer Blade

The updated 14-inch Razer Blade packs a slim gaming laptop with an amazing 3,200x1,800 screen.

Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
2 min read

For a relative newcomer to the world of laptops, PC accessory company Razer has already put out a couple of very impressive early systems. The original Razer Blade packed a discrete GPU into a very slim, matte black body (reminiscent of the old black MacBook), along with a combo touchpad/second screen that was clever, but ultimately underutilized.

The second version went back to a basic keyboard-plus-touchpad layout, and was the thinnest, sexiest gaming laptop we'd ever seen, but it was undone by a lower-resolution, non-touch screen of dubious quality. Not what you wanted to see in a $1,600-and-up laptop at the dawn of the Windows 8 era.

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The Razer Blade 14 gets a new GeForce GTX 870 GPU and a 3,200x1,800 screen. Sarah Tew/CNET
Razer has taken that weakness and turned it into a strength in the newest version of the Razer Blade. The just-announced gaming laptop looks very similar to the previous version, but includes a stunning 3,200x1,800 touch screen, along with an Intel Core i7 CPU and Nvidia GeForce 870M GPU, all in a slim, lightweight package.

Also new is the 2014 version of the Razer Blade Pro, a 17-inch gaming laptop that sticks with a 1,920x1,080 non-touch display, and also brings back the second screen touchpad, also known as the Switchblade UI, which may become more useful once new features -- such as a set of controls for the Windows 8 Charms bar and other OS functions -- are added. Even though it's a larger laptop, the 17-inch Razer Blade Pro only goes up to Nvidia's new GeForce GTX 860M GPU.

Both the 14-inch and 15-inch models are SSD-only, starting at 128GB, which may be too small for gamers who need to download full games, and going up to 256GB and 512GB from there.

In our hands-on time with both systems, Razer continues to impress with its design savvy, especially for a product line that's newer than nearly anything else on the market. While there are plenty of 13-inch and 14-inch gaming laptops now, from Alienware, Origin PC, Maingear, and others, none comes close to the 18mm thickness of the 14-inch Razer Blade, which the company describes as about as thin as dime standing on its edge.

The 17-inch Razer Blade Pro keeps the Switchblade UI. Sarah Tew/CNET
In the hand, the Blade feels great, too, with a matte finish, bright keyboard backlight, and that eye-popping high-res touch screen covered with edge-to-edge glass. We saw the relatively recent PC/console game Sleeping Dogs running at full 3,200x1,800 resolution at medium settings, for example. In our benchmark tests to date, other laptops from Asus and MSI with new GeForce 800-series GPUs easily outperformed their counterparts from 2013.

The new Razer Blade and Razer Blade Pro will be available to pre-order later in March, and should start shipping in April. The 14-inch Blade starts at $2,199 and the 17-inch Blade Pro starts at $2,299.