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Razer Blade Pro review: A great 4K gaming laptop -- if you can handle paying $4K for it

Top performance matched with stunning design, Razer's 17-inch gaming laptop is impressive and at nearly $4,000, Razer must think so, too.

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Joshua Goldman
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Joshua Goldman

Managing Editor / Advice

Josh Goldman helps people find the best laptop at the best price -- from simple Chromebooks to high-end gaming laptops. He's been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software for more than two decades.

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4 min read

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).

razer-blade-pro-2016-0746-001.jpg
8.0

Razer Blade Pro

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

It also has Nvidia's G-Sync technology, which helps eliminate tearing by syncing the display's refresh rates with the GPU. If you've never seen it in action, the difference can be impressive, making fast action look remarkably smoother.

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The Blade Pro's 4K touchscreen pairs perfectly with the GTX 1080 GPU.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Performance worth paying for

This system doesn't seem to struggle at all, even when playing demanding games set to high at its full 4K resolution. Drop your resolution to full HD and you still get playable frame rates with settings at ultra.

However, as soon as you start up just about anything that engages the graphics card, the system's fans kick in, loud and clear. With the laptop being as thin as it is, it's to be expected, but that doesn't make it any less distracting. You'll either have to crank the system's speakers, which have no problem thoroughly drowning out the sound, or get yourself a headset.

Also, despite the cooling system, the laptop gets plenty hot, as does the 250-watt power supply. Basically, I wouldn't keep this on your lap under load, and you'll want to make sure nothing's blocking its narrow vents and the fans on the bottom.

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Razer's $3,700 17-inch gaming laptop is a standout as much for its performance as its beautiful thin design.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Razer increased the battery size to 99Wh -- the largest possible while still allowing for air travel -- but on CNET's streaming video battery test, it reached just 3 hours and 49 minutes. Doing anything more demanding will certainly cut into that time and to be fair most gaming laptops can run maybe an hour or so at most with the GPU engaged. We've found that 4K displays, versus FHD ones, are one of the major drains on laptop battery life.

The Blade Pro can easily replace a desktop, and if that's your goal, there is an HDMI 2.0 output that handles video and audio. It's joined by a Thunderbolt 3 port that can also handle display output in addition to three USB 3.0 ports, an SD card slot and Killer E2400 Gigabit Ethernet.

A slim showpiece of a gaming laptop

The Razer Blade Pro is a genuine premium gaming laptop and, judging by its price, Razer definitely thinks it has something special. You can find other systems with similar configurations for less or that can be configured to meet your specific needs and budget. (Here's a good place to start, in fact.) But at the moment, the Blade Pro seems to be the only one with its performance and features in a slim design. Now, if they could only put the trackpad back where it belongs.

Multimedia Multitasking test 3.0

Origin PC Eon-17X 131Razer Blade Pro 176HP Omen (17-inch) 184Alienware 13 R3 (OLED) 195Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 200
Note: Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Geekbench 3 (Multi-Core)

Origin PC Eon-17X 18,961Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 13,708HP Omen (17-inch) 13,362Razer Blade Pro 13,313Alienware 13 R3 (OLED) 13,093
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test

HP Omen (17-inch) 270Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 245Razer Blade Pro 229Alienware 13 R3 (OLED) 226Origin PC Eon-17X 121
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Origin PC Eon-17X 4,919Razer Blade Pro 4,456HP Omen (17-inch) 3,816Alienware 13 R3 (OLED) 2,609Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 1,822
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Bioshock Infinite gaming test

Origin PC Eon-17X 214Razer Blade Pro 161.31HP Omen (17-inch) 137.56Alienware 13 R3 (OLED) 116.69Asus ROG Strix GL753VE-DS74 89.35
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

System configurations

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
Origin PC Eon-17X Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); (oc) 4.5GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080; 512GB SSD
Alienware 13 R3 (OLED) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060; 512GB SSD
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 1050; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Razer Blade Pro Microsoft Windows 10 Home; (64-bit); 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ; 32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080; (2) 256GB SSD RAID 0
razer-blade-pro-2016-0746-001.jpg
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Razer Blade Pro

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Performance 9Battery 7Support 0
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