Review: The Razer Blade Pro works hard, plays hard
For a gamer, getting new hardware is like being a child on Christmas morning. That warm feeling of excitement runs through your body as you race down the stairs, across the hall, and into the foyer as you open the door and grab your package from FedEx. With your week-long battle against Fed-Expectant over, you quickly open the package and admire your plunder. In this case, it’s the Razer Blade Pro, the latest in the Razer Blade series of gaming laptops.
When Razer first introduced the Blade, they touted it as the world’s first gaming laptop. If that’s the case, then the Blade Pro is the world’s first work laptop that can also do gaming. Yes, Razer still is, and probably always will be, a gaming company, but they’re pushing the “work” card a lot when it comes to the Blade Pro. They’re doing it for good reason, too. The laptop is able to pack quite a punch in a small design, and think of all the dreams come true when professionals won’t have to buy a second laptop just to play games when travelling for business. But do all the improvements over the traditional Blade laptop make it a must buy? In order to answer that question, we’re going to take a good hard look at the Blade Pro.
There’s no better place to start than with the laptop itself. As is the case with many Razer products, the Blade Pro is absolutely gorgeous. Its simplistic design is easy on the eye; an all-black color with the exception of Razer green found on the logo placed on the laptop’s back, the back-lit keys, and the power button. Equally as impressive is the laptop’s size. Despite coming with a 17.3 inch display, the laptop doesn’t take up an enormous amount of space, nor does it weigh too much. The thin and lightweight design makes it easy to carry around, which comes in handy when you’re often on the go.
That design, however, does come at a cost. Yes, the laptop is incredibly thin, but that comes at the price of an optical drive. To most, this can easily be shrugged off, but I’m one of those people with unreliable Internet; it takes me a few days to download most big-budget games. Being unable to install my PC games from a disc means I spend more time downloading and less time playing. In addition, I can’t help but wonder if there could have been improvements to the laptop’s storage and cooling system. Again, the compact design may have compromised bigger storage solutions (your options include 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB) and/or more cooling fans. The laptop runs so hot that even my girlfriend noticed without even touching it.
Any economic gamer knows that they’ll enjoy their late-night sessions more if they got their work done beforehand. So with that in mind, let’s examine how the Razer Blade Pro handles as a work laptop. A lot of Razer’s advertising for the laptop has featured video editing software. There’s a good reason for this: The Blade Pro is great for editing videos. There was very little, if any, difference between using Premiere on my desktop and the laptop. The only exception is the fact that I have a 2 TB storage drive in the desktop and the Blade Pro has nothing even close to that. The ability to edit videos on location, however, almost makes up for that.
The Switchblade UI comes in handy for editing videos as well. The system’s Premiere Pro app is a handy feature that makes switching tools more convenient. By allowing my cursor to stay on the toolbar, it saves a few seconds of time here or there, but it adds up. While the app marketplace for Switchblade isn’t anywhere close to, say, Apple’s App Store or Google Play, there’s plenty of potential.
Equally as important for working is the laptop’s keyboard. After all, I’m writing this review, aren’t I? Thankfully, Razer has made one of the best keyboards on a laptop ever. Normally, there’s a learning curve with any new laptop, but that’s completely non-existent here. For once, I adore typing on a laptop and no longer have to excuse my cryptic messages on Facebook chat. That being said, it is a bit weird that the Razer Blade Pro’s mouse pad is on the far right of the laptop’s surface. In theory, it makes total sense: rest your wrists freely without accidently hitting the track pad. But it still takes some getting used to.
So the Blade Pro matches my desktop when it comes to work, but what about gaming? Can it go toe to toe with my custom built tower?
Well, kind of.
Part of me feels like the Razer Blade Pro performs a little bit better when it comes to games, but I’m not sure if it’s my imagination or not. It handles Crysis 3 without breaking a sweat, runs SimCity smoothly and without a hitch (other than the issues caused by the game itself, of course), but falters on Civilization V. Yes, you read that right. As it turns out, there’s reportedly an issue with Civilization V on higher end video cards. I tried to find a suitable driver, but there weren’t any available for the NVIDIA GeForce GT 765M. If I wanted to play Civ, I’d have to play in Direct X 9 mode. That’s not something I’d want from a gaming laptop.
It’s worth noting that originally, I thought the Civilization V issue was related to Windows 8. Yes, that Windows 8. It comes with the Razer Blade Pro and isn’t going away, but it’s not the end of the world. After getting used to the new OS, Windows 8 isn’t all that bad. Do I still prefer Windows 7? Without a doubt, yes, but Windows 8 shouldn’t be a deterrence here.
The elephant in the room is the price of the laptop. At around $2,500, the Razer Blade Pro isn’t exactly cheap, and it’s storage issues are magnified even more. That being said, it performs its role as a laptop that performs work and gaming exceptionally well. It won’t replace your desktop, but will make a fine companion. If anything, it’s more aptly comparable to a MacBook.
Only, you know, it can play all those PC games you want to play.
The writer was given a review unit by Razer.