Over the past few years, gaming laptops have focused on looks around the screen just as much as they have on looks within the screen. Naturally, Razer helped spur this trend with the Blade, its line of incredibly attractive gaming notebooks with price tags to match.
The peripheral maker’s latest iteration, however, stands put the laptop under a new – or, at least broader – light. While not much has changed visually about the new Blade, lots of change has gone on inside, like a Skylake processor, more video memory (VRAM) and Thunderbolt 3.
All the while, Razer managed to slash prices by the hundreds. With a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), the Blade goes for $1,999 or AU$2,999 (about £1,499), while double the storage will cost you $2,199 or AU$3,299 (about £1,649). Nothing else changes – not even that gorgeous screen.
Many, perhaps even us, have compared the Blade to Apple’s MacBook Pro line in the past. With this iteration, though, that comparison is more apt than ever.
So, the Blade’s appeal to you relies just as much on its design as it’s ever have, perhaps even more so.
At first glance, the Blade’s design has gone unchanged in the past year. Largely speaking, you’re absolutely right, but it’s always the small details that have the most impact.
For instance, the Razer Blade is now lighter than ever, albeit slightly so: from 4.47 pounds to 4.25 pounds. It’s tough to say whether you can feel the difference, especially since the Blade laptops have been historically thin and light.
Not much, if anything, has changed about the Blade’s shell. It’s still built from a sheet of aircraft grade aluminum put through a CNC mill that’s anodized and coated in a slick black paint.
All of the logos and buttons are in their respective places and look or feel exactly the same. Inside, however, Razer must have upgraded the logic board, as it made room for a USB-C port in addition to the existing three USB 3.0 ports.
The device maker is also touting an improved thermal design with this Blade, allowing for the firm to pack in a Nvidia GTX 970M graphics chip with double the amount of VRAM. That said, this thermal upgrade also makes using the laptop on your, well, lap while under heavy load singe a little less.
Among the coolest keyboards yet
OK, so we may have omitted something when saying that not much has changed about the Blade externally. In bringing tech from its line of seriously slick desktop keyboards, the Blade now has the coolest keyboard of any gaming laptop – if not any laptop – period.
Razer has finally broke past Alienware and MSI’s laptops in introducing its Chroma lighting system for PC keyboards to the Blade. Loaded with the same software that owners of Chroma desktop owners use, the keyboard now sports all individually-lit keys that can display any of 16.8 million colors.
You can assign a unique color to each key on the board through this software, allowing you to highlight your most-used keys (i.e. WASD) or color code them for specific scenarios (e.g. in strategy and MMO games). You can save these assignments across profiles, and soon they’ll be playing directly into your games, should game developers adopt Razer’s kit available to them.
And, to think this is all said before the fact that, mechanically, this is by far the most improved version of Razer’s keyboard yet. While travel doesn’t feel any deeper than before, feedback feels as if it’s been improved for a punchier typing experience. (The glass-coated trackpad feels just fine, though we wish Razer would drop the separate mouse buttons already.)
Improving the keyboard was an indisputably smart move on Razer’s part, considering how essential it is to the whole product. With little else to stop it, let’s see how this Blade cuts the mustard. (So sorry.)