Razer has been making a name for itself in the PC market the past few years, after starting life as an accessory manufacturer with products named after various types of snakes. The company has been behind some far-out proposals for next-generation hardware, worked with Intel and AMD to bring external dock support to market, and has pushed hard to position the Razer Blade (thin-and-light ultrabook) and Razer Blade Pro as high-end systems for enthusiasts who are often spoiled for choice. Reviews of the updated 2016 Razer Book Pro have dropped, so how does the hardware look?
Both PCMag and Engadget have published reviews of the new system and they both agree — this is by far Razer’s strongest offering. As a 17-inch system the Razer Blade Pro is a big laptop, but it still manages to weigh in below 8 lbs (7.77lbs to be exact). It’s also much thinner than competing designs, though Razer compensates for that with some keyboard innovations (more on that shortly). The Razer Blade Pro features a 4K display with 100% Adobe RGB output. The display is based on Sharp’s IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) technology and features support for Nvidia’s G-Sync as well. Keyboard lighting is adjustable via Razer’s Chroma settings.
The trackpad is a major point of differentiation between this laptop and other systems — we can’t recall the last time we saw a company put the pad in a place like this:
Engadget is quite fond of the keyboard, which is built with Razer’s ultra-low-profile mechanical switches. Both PCMag and Engadget like the trackpad as well, though Engadget found it a little odd to use after two decades of putting the trackpad right below the keyboard. Frankly, putting it besides the keyboard does make good sense, even if it also risks making the keyboard area more cramped — there’s much less chance of resting your palm on the trackpad when typing if the trackpad itself sits to the right of the keyboard. The speakers on the Razer Blade Pro are also apparently excellent — more so than one expects from a typical laptop.
Performance is excellent, courtesy of the Core i7-6700HQ, 32GB of RAM, and a GeForce GTX 1080 all packed inside the chassis, though PCMag noted that the system could get quite hot under load, and it lagged some of the other laptops they tested. Engadget, in contrast, thought performance was easily the best they’d ever seen, though they didn’t compare their Razer Blade Pro to any other systems equipped with a GTX 1080). Here’s how I’d split that difference: The Razer Blade Pro probably sacrifices some performance to hit its size target, since the laptop is just 0.88 inches thick (other laptops in the higher-end gaming categories are more like 1.6 – 1.8 inches thick). Run time, according to PC Gamer and Engadget, is just shy of four hours. That may not sound like much compared with a conventional laptop, but gaming systems often contend with sub-two-hour battery life.
The one downside to the Razer Blade Pro is the eye-watering price. System configurations start at $ 3,700 for a machine with 512GB of SSD storage. Storage is provided by a pair of SSDs in RAID 0; a 1TB configuration costs $ 4,000, and a 2TB drive is $ 4,500. It should go without saying that $ 300 for an extra 512GB of storage is a poor deal these days, while $ 500 for a 1TB drive isn’t much better. That’s roughly 2x what such drives cost on the retail market, and you can bet Razer isn’t buying hardware off Newegg.
Still, if you have a lot of cash you can afford to drop on a laptop and you want a system that balances gaming, weight, size, and battery life, the Razer Blade Pro is well-reviewed and well-liked. It’s not hard to find less expensive gaming laptops, even those equipped with a GPU like the GTX 1080, but it’s not easy to think of another system that offers nearly four-hour battery life, is less than an inch thick, and packs a GTX 1080. If you want that combo, you’re going to have to pay for it.