Review: Razer Blade (3rd generation)

DL Editor's choice

The original Razer Blade was a 17-inch behemoth that has now been renamed the Razer Blade Pro.

It still sports the same anodised aluminium unibody chassis with the cool Razer logo glowing green at the centre of the lid.

But in its third generation, the Razer Blade has shrunk dramatically. The display is now a mere 14 inches. It weighs just 1.88kg and is really thin at a constant 1.68cm thickness - 0.2mm thinner than a MacBook Air at its thickest.

Razer claims that this is the world's thinnest gaming laptop.

Such slenderness is almost unbelievable as it manages to pack in the new Haswell quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M graphics processing unit with 2GB of video memory and solid-state storage (SSD) of up to 512GB. In Singapore, Razer will sell only the 256GB model reviewed here.

To be this thin, it had to sacrifice an optical drive and an Ethernet port.

On the left edge are two USB 3.0 ports and a headphone jack with the power port; an HDMI port and a third USB 3.0 port sit on the right.

Lift the lid and you will find the layout uncannily similar to the Apple MacBook Pro, with two speakers flanking the keyboard, and a trackpad and two clickable buttons below the spacebar.

Gone is the much-touted Razer SwitchBlade, a user interface that consisted of 10 dynamic adaptive keys with a 4-inch LCD touchscreen displaying gaming information, and doubling as a trackpad.

I never quite got used to the SwitchBlade and gladly welcome the return of a conventional trackpad. Unlike those of Apple's laptops, this one is not clickable, but it is by far the best I have used in a Windows laptop.

Smooth and responsive, it allows your fingers to glide effortlessly across it. The trackpad also supports multi-touch gestures, such as a two-finger swipe for lateral movements.

The keyboard looks very cool with the green backlight on. It feels nice to type on and provides great tactile response. Furthermore, it has anti-ghosting - a feature that allows multiple keys to be pressed and registered at the same time - a prerequisite for many gamers these days.

The stereo speakers offer good treble and mid-tones, though the bass lacks punch. But most gamers use gaming headphones anyway.

On the downside, gamers cannot escape a sub-par display with a resolution of just 1,600 x 900 pixels. The display also lacks an in-plane switching function.

Also, unless you view the display directly from the front, you will likely get substantial darkening or washed-out images.

When the Blade is worked really hard during gaming sessions, it gets very hot. Touch the hinge area above the keyboard and your fingers might get scorched.

Performance-wise, it is certainly not the fastest in the market.

But for a laptop this thin, it is outstanding. For the Crysis 3 benchmark, it clocked an average of 31.4 frames per second using High settings.

In our DL video loop battery test with Wi-Fi switched on and at maximum screen brightness, the Blade lasted 4hr 24min - excellent for a gaming laptop.

By reducing the screen size and using the new Haswell processor, the new Razer Blade has finally become a truly portable gaming machine. It still has its flaws but is good enough to be called the MacBook Air of PC gaming.

trevtan@sph.com.sg


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