Gaming behemoth Razer recently hosted an event at Williams F1 Conference Centre to celebrate the launch of the new Razer Blade Pro 17 gaming laptop, and the rest of its 2019 range; which gave me the chance to see, touch and get up close and personal with the Pro 17 and the Blade 15 models for a short while. The Pro 17 will be the leading light in its growing laptop portfolio, packed full of the highest grade specs and components, and achieve a best-in-class status with an innovative design and abundant array of ports. Does it, and the Blade 15, have what it takes to be one of the best gaming laptops?
Embracing the current wave of super-sleek designs for gaming lappies, the new Razer Blade Pro 17 is up to 25% smaller than other 17” laptops of its class, says Razer. Given this, and the components under the hood, Razer is quick to highlight the vapor chamber cooling system and a new multi-fan design present in the chassis that ensure the Razer Blade Pro 17 will remain cool during even the most intense sessions. This was something reinforced to me personally when querying how hot, and loud, such a powerful gaming laptop will get in that minimal design—about as much as you’d expect, but to a safe degree, I was told. This is especially pertinent when the Pro 17 houses a 9th Gen Intel i7-9750H processor, and one of Nvidia’s 20-series graphics cards. Supporting these components will be 16GB of DDR4-2667MHz memory to handle any work session, and a 512GB SSD and space for another 2TB drive for those who need extra storage. Certainly an impressive-looking combination on the face of it.
Speaking of ‘on the face’, the Pro 17 features a 17.3-inch full HD (1920 x 1080p) 144Hz matte panel that is beautifully crisp and clear, and is surrounded by an ultra-slim bezel design measuring in at only 6mm. In fact, the whole design is very compact, stylish and attractive. The screen half of the laptop is wafer thin, and the main body only slightly thicker than the largest ports dictate it need be. It is really quite impressive to get these components neatly into the chassis and to have that body look so aesthetically pleasing. This then translates into weight, or lack thereof, with the Pro 17 being one of the lightest large gaming laptops going (just over 6lbs or 2.75 kgs). Serving the Pro on its sides are a plethora of ports and connectivity options including an SD card reader, and two USB-C ports (one of which doubles up as a Thunderbolt port), along with the usual suspects of ethernet, power port, three regular USBs, and one HDMI 2.0 port.
With all the technical details out the way; what did it actually feel, look and perform like? While I only got a short-ish session with the Pro 17 it was an impressive machine to interact with: the combination of the components produced a predictably slick and seamless gaming experience, hiccup free and buttery smooth highlighted by a few immensely beautiful, crisp, responsive and gleaming rounds of Apex Legends I managed to squeeze in. Not an intensive test, of course, but encouraging nonetheless. And sets it up well for when we get our hands on it properly for a review, where we can accurately benchmark and get full stats.
Blade 15 models also receive a refreshing boost
Also getting a launch at the event was the new iteration of the Razer Blade 15: the ‘middle’ model of Razer’s gaming laptop triumvirate. The Blade 15 model has two variants: the Base and Advanced, both of which have received an update for 2019, each having their maximum ceiling of power and display raised.
Both receive the boost to the processor and have the capacity to house up to a 9th gen i7 CPU, and both will be able to harness RTX 20-series GPUs; though the difference is the Advanced can go up to the 2080 Max-Q card while the base max’s out at the 2060. Still, pretty beastly for a portable gaming machine. Both the laptops will have 16GB of RAM but they differ in storage, where the Advanced will only have an SSD and the base will have dual storage.
However, arguably the biggest reason to get excited are the displays on each, both offering something different but equally attractive to players of games. The Base model has had a screen upgrade to go to a maximum of a Full HD panel but with a 144Hz refresh rate for a terrifically smooth gaming experience, while the Advanced model tops out with either an OLED 4K touch screen (at 60Hz) or a Full HD screen that can reach a blistering 240Hz. The smoothness of a 240Hz screen brings any movement to the smoothness of real life, but the 4K screen is unbelievably beautiful and certainly the best panel I’ve seen on a gaming laptop.
All are available now, with the Pro 17 starting at $2,499.99 / £2,399.99 and available from Razer and online retailers now; and the Blade 15 Base model starting at $1,599.99 / £1,479.99, while the Advanced model will be available from $2,399.99 / £2,299.99.
Particularly with the higher-end specs, these laptops will be on the pricey end of the scale, but such is the case with powerful portable machines. Their value will lie in the ability to play the latest games competently, and without a glitch or hiccup while maintaining a genuine ability to be portable and allow gaming on the go.