The Return of Switchblade
Razer Blade Pro
With the introduction of the 14-inch Razer Blade, the 17-inch gaming notebook from Razer is now known as the Blade Pro. In terms of looks and design, the “new” Blade Pro has not changed much from the original 17-inch Blade that was launched about two years ago. Even now, at just 22.4mm thick, it is still one of the thinnest 17-inch notebooks around and is a testament to the original Blade’s design.
Like its predecessors, the Blade Pro has an all-black anodized aluminum chassis with no notable design flourishes save for the Razer logo proudly emblazoned on its front lid. Despite being such a large notebook, the Blade Pro feels solidly constructed.
The 17-inch display is Full-HD but uses a TN panel, which is of reasonable quality, though colors do look a bit washed out and viewing angles are not very good. Certainly, an IPS display would suit a notebook of this caliber better.
The keyboard features antighosting technology and green backlights, which are very cool in the dark. It even offers a slight “click” noise, not unlike mechanical keyboards. Overall, the keyboard is one of the best we have used on a notebook, and our only gripe is that the up and down cursors keys are far too small to be used comfortably.
The Blade Pro does not have a traditional trackpad, but it does have Razer’s unique SwitchBlade UI, which is a highly customizable interface which consists of 10 keys and a 4.05-inch LCD screen which doubles as a touchpad.
As a touchpad, the SwitchBlade UI worked well and we can have no complaints. However, its strengths lie in its customizability and its ability to function as a secondary display. With it, users can quickly check Facebook, Twitter or even their emails without leaving their game. There is also a “mirror mode” that lets users duplicate a selected portion of the main display on the SwitchBlade UI. All in all, this is a very cool and useful feature to have.
Finally, the Blade Pro features three USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet jack and also Killer Wireless technology, which ensures the lowest possible latencies, for superior multiplayer gaming over Wi-Fi.
Features aside, the Blade Pro is powered by the latest Intel fourth-generation Core processor, specifically the quad-core Core i7-4700HQ, which runs at 2.4GHz and sports a 6MB L3 cache. This is accompanied by 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for storage. Graphics processing duties are handled by NVIDIA’s new and very capable GeForce GTX 765M.
This means that the Blade Pro will run the latest games without a hitch. It managed to run Crysis on “Very High” settings at an impressive 45 fps, and scored 2,298 points on 3DMark 2013’s very demanding “Fire Strike” benchmark.
Sadly, despite being well-built and an overall decent performer, the Blade Pro is prohibitively priced. At $3,599 for the 256GB model that was reviewed here, the Blade Pro costs substantially more than its rivals, particularly MSI’s GS70 Stealth.
In the past, when the Blade Pro was the only slim 17-inch gaming notebook available, this premium would have been more or less justified, but this is no longer the case. Razer needs to acknowledge that it is not the only ultra-slim and portable 17-inch gaming notebook around now, and needs to be priced accordingly to remain competitive.