Razer Blade Pro review: A great 4K gaming laptop -- if you can handle paying $4K for it
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)
|17.3-inch 3,840x2,160 touchscreen
|2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ
|32GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz
|8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080
|802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1, Gigabit Ethernet
|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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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