The Bottom Line
Feb 5 2013 - Razer's New Blade system corrects many of the performance issues that plagued the original model of thin gaming laptop. In particular, the graphics and processor and now much closer to a full gaming system than the past model. The drawback still is the extreme price tag that is nearly a thousand dollars more than many similarly performance equipped systems. Sure, they may not be as light, thin or feature its unique trackpad and customizable keys, but price still is a mjor factor for many buyers.
- Very Thin And Lightweight
- Improved Performance Over Original Version
- Customizable Trackpad Display And UI Keys
- Very Expensive
- No Optical Drive
- Intel Core i7-3632QM Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 500GB 7200rpm SAA Hard Drive With 64GB Solid State Drive Cache
- 17.3-inch WUXGA (1920x1080) Display With 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M Graphics With 2GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Three USB 3.0, HDMI
- 16.8" x 10.9" x .9" @ 6.6 lbs.
- Windows 8
Review - Razer New Blade RZ09
Feb 5 2013 - Razer's revision of the Blade 17-inch gaming system looks pretty much no different than the first revision as all of the changes are internal rather than external. It still keeps that incredibly thin profile which only compared to the Apple MacBook Pro 17 which has since been discontinued. Construction is still superb with a very premium feel which is to be expect of such as system even with its new lower $2500 price tag.
The New Blade features an updated Ivy Bridge processor which brings it more in line with the gaming systems that it was competing with compared to the Sandy Bridge model before it. The Core i7-3632QM quad core processor offers almost the same level of performance as the i7-3630QM found in most of the competing gaming laptops but this one sacrifices a little bit of clock speed for lower power and thermal requirements of the thin profile. Most users won't necessarily notice a difference but it can mean a few frames in some of the more CPU dependent games on the market. The processor is matched up with 8GB of DDR3 memory for a smooth overall experience within the Windows operating system.
While the original blade relied on a solid state drive which offered some superb performance, it had limited space. Because of this, Razer has redesigned the system to match up a 500GB 7200rpm hard drive for primary storage of all applications, data and media files along with a 64GB solid state drive that is used for caching frequently used data through the NVELO Dataplex caching software. This allows the system to boot relatively quickly but slightly behind the dedicated SSD version of the original. Since most gaming laptops still rely on just a hard drive, it is still noticeably faster than the competition. Also updated is the peripheral ports from the single USB 3.0 to a full three of the high speed ports that can be used for high speed storage if you need more space. The thin profile has the slight downside of no optical drive which may be discouraging for some but not necessarily a problem with the proliferation of digital PC game distribution systems.
The 17.3-inch display remains the same as the original with the native 1920x1080 resolution and the anti-glare coating which is great for reducing glare and reflections in challenging lighting conditions. It certainly is one of the better screens on the market. The big change is in the graphics. The original Razer has the issue of using a previous generation GeForce processor that rarely could reach the full native resolution in PC games. Now the system has been updated to use the GeForce GTX 660M graphics engine which gives a big boost to its gaming capabilities. For most games it should be able to reach the panel's full 1920x1080 resolution although more often at the 30fps minimum threshold many gamers have. There are some demanding games though that will have to have detail levels turned down or else reduced to a lower resolution. For those looking to use the system for more than gaming, it also does a good job of accelerating non-3D applications as well.
The keyboard and trackpad design still remains very unique on the New Blade as it was in the original. It has the standard keyboard but in the place of the numeric keypad is the customizable touch sensitive display (trackpad) and buttons. The location actually makes the trackpad a bit more functional for gaming as it moves the surface away from below the keyboard to the side but most gamers will still opt for a dedicated mouse and instead use the trackpad for its specialized Switchblade UI interface. The software has been improved to allow for a bit more functionality it terms of programming any key on the system. The one downside is that it is reliant on the software so if it closes or crashes all macro functions are lost until relaunched.
The battery pack for the New Razer remains an internalized 60WHr capacity battery pack. Now this is smaller than some of the other gaming dedicated laptops on the market but it is too be expected from the thin and lightweight profile of the system. The new internal components seemed to have improved the running time slightly though as the system now can go for three and a quarter hours of digital video playback before going into standby mode compared to the previous three. Of course gaming on the battery will result in much low overall running times such that you will still need a power cord nearby quite quickly. For comparison, Alienware's M17x R4 which offers similar features but with a larger body and battery pack can run for over five hours in the same digital playback test.
Price still remains the biggest obstacle for the Razer Blade to overcome. While the system is now $300 cheaper than the original Blade when it was released, it is still hundreds more than the competition. Alienware's M17x R4 features the rough same level of performance but in a larger system and a lower resolution screen for $1500. It can be purchased with 1920x1080 display and SSD drive and still be cheaper than the Razer. The MSI GT70 also is around $1500 but offers a Blu-ray drive and faster graphics but also in a much larger and heavy platform. Finally, the Samsung Series 7 Gamer is roughly $1500 for an AMD based graphics system that is comparable but with more storage and Blu-ray drive.