Whoever coined the phrase "a jack of all trades, master of none," clearly hasn't seen the new Razer Blade Pro 17 ($2,499 starting, $3,199 reviewed). The 17-inch stunner is the epitome of sleek with its 0.8-inch thick black aluminum chassis. But the Blade Pro is more than just a pretty face. It boasts an Intel 9th Gen processor and an RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU, making for a formidable gaming laptop and content creation system.
A pair of lightning-fast SSDs and a surprisingly effective cooling system only sweeten the proposition. The Blade Pro's screen could be a touch brighter and more vivid for the price, but overall this system earns a spot on our best gaming laptop list.
Razer Blade Price and Configuration Options
The Razer Blade Pro 17 starts at $2,499 for a 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD and Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU. The $2,799 model steps up to a RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU.
I tested the $3,199 configuration of the Blade Pro 17. The laptop comes equipped with a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-9750H processor and 16GB of RAM, a pair of 512GB PCIe NVMe SSDs, an Intel UHD 630 Graphics GPU and a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU with 8GB of VRAM. Each variation of the Blade Pro has additional space for up to 2TB of m.2 storage.
Like its smaller cousins, the Pro 17 is an obsidian dream. Constructed from black anodized aluminum, Razer's new laptop ditches the curved corners and lid flanges of 2017 for the retro-boxy design of this current generation of Blades. But no matter how much the shape changes, one thing remains the same -- the tri-head snake. Since the rest of the frame is black, the logo glows in that alluring, yet eerie, green.
In the future, I'm hoping Razer will consider letting owners customize the color of the Razer logo using the Chroma software, like you can with the keyboard. It'd also be cool if we can get a Mercury White version similar to the upcoming Studio version, and I definitely wouldn't mind a Quartz Pink 17-inch or some other funky color.
Weighing 6.1, the 15.6 x 10.2 x 0.8-inch Blade Pro 17 is only slightly lighter and somewhat slimmer than the Alienware m17 R2 (6.2 pounds, 16.1 x 11.5 x 0.7~0.9 inches). But the MSI GS75 Stealth is still the lightest and slimmest in the land at 5 pounds and 15.6 x 10.2 x 0.7 inches.
A gaming/workstation combo needs to have plenty of ports to accommodate the many doodads you might want to attach to it.
Along the left, you get a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, a 2.5GB Ethernet jack, a headset jack and a proprietary power port.
Big, beautiful and fast. The Blade Pro's 17.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 display offers bold color with a fast 144Hz refresh rate, which will come in handy for gaming. But it's just as good for watching movies, as I learned while I watched the trailer for The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Actress Tichina Arnold's bronze skin shone, which only played up her ruby-red lipstick and royal-blue blouse. Details were fine enough that I saw the gentle wave pattern of her slicked-backed hair.
Far Cry New Dawn, with its bright pink flowers, lush green forests and bright splashes of blood, is beautiful on the Blade Pro's display. I happened to look up during a night mission and was shocked by the hazy pinkish-green glow of the Northern Lights accentuated by thousands of tiny white points of starlight. Details were clear enough that I saw the individual wiry hairs of a wild boar as it charged at me.
The Blade Pro can reproduce 109% of the sRGB gamut, which is above our 100% minimum. That's good and means the screen is indeed vivid. However, it's below the 147% premium gaming laptop average as well as the 122%, 140% and 161% put up by the Y740, m17 and Stealth.
When we measured for brightness, the Blade Pro averaged 267 nits. That's better than the Y740, which registered only 247 nits, but it's still below the 294-nit category average as well as the Stealth (339 nits) and the m17 (395 nits).
Thank you, top-mounted speakers! When I used the Blade Pro in my lap to watch movies or listen to music, I didn't have to assume any uncomfortable position to avoid muffling any poorly placed bottom-mounted speakers. Instead, I just sat in my recliner as Rose Royce's "Wishing on a Star" played, enjoying the delicate violins as they swelled and faded, the rhythmic pitter-patter of the bongos and the strong piano supporting a lilting soprano. The pair of speakers aren't the loudest I've heard on a gaming laptop, but they offer a clean, warm performance.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Blade Pro's island-style keyboard is well-spaced and serves up a nice amount of pop -- and I'm not just talking about the captivating sparkle of color from the Chroma lighting. Despite having only a key travel of 1.1 millimeters (1.5 mm is our minimum) and an actuation of 79 grams (60g is our minimum), the keyboard allowed me to hit 71 words per minute on the 10fastfingers typing test, which is slightly above my usual 70.
But the best part about Razer's keyboard is the customization. This time around, the company's kicked things up a notch, revamping Razer Synapse to allow for some serious customization. Not only can you set color and functionality for every key, but there's also a new Pen feature that lets you essentially draw the light pattern you want in editor. Or, you can use the Paint feature and color large sections of the board at once. But if you don't want to go that in-depth, you can also use the presets. And of course you can create macros for different games with specific profiles.
At 4.1 x 3.1-inches, the Blade Pro's touchpad is absolutely massive, which means I never had to worry about inadvertently hitting an edge. Windows 10 gestures' pinch-zoom, two-finger scroll and three-finger tap and swipe were quick and responsive.
Graphics, Gaming and VR
Rocking a Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU, the Razer Blade Pro 17 is primed and ready for a brawl. Despite its focus on low-power consumption and quiet fans, the Max-Q chip has plenty of power to ensure you get high frame rates as you're kicking ass and taking names.
During a mission to free a key character in New Dawn, I crept toward the enemy stronghold. Sneaking up on an unsuspecting sentry, I triggered a stealth kill and buried my hunting knife into his throat at a smooth 83 frames per second on Ultra settings at 1080p. The frame rate jumped to 102 fps once I dropped the settings down to high.
The laptop delivered 72 fps on the Rise of the Tomb Raider benchmark at 1080p, beating the Stealth's (RTX 2080 Max-Q) 65 fps, the Y740 (RTX 2080 Max-Q) and the premium gaming average, which reached 64 fps. However, the m17 and its own 2080 Max-Q GPU achieved 102 fps.
During the Hitman test, the Blade Pro produced 110 fps, which was better than the average, the Y740 and the Stealth (105, 106 and 96 fps), but not the m17, which edged it out at 111 fps.
The Blade Pro got the upper hand on the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark, scoring 92 fps. That was enough to top not just the 79-fps average, but the Y740 (78 fps) and the Stealth (77 fps) as well as the m17 (82 fps).
On the Middle-Earth: Shadow of War test, the Blade Pro obtained 106 fps, surpassing the 92-fps category average along with the m17 (100 fps) and Y740 (65 fps).
The Blade Pro scored 11 on the SteamVR Performance test, matching its competitors and besting the 10.9 average, so feel free to whip out that Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
With a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i7-9750H processor and 16GB of RAM, the Blade Pro can multitask with the best of them. I streamed an episode of the DuckTales reboot on DisneyNow with 20 tabs in Google Chrome running Twitch, TweetDeck and YouTube. I also had Far Cry New Dawn running in a separate window, but the Blade Pro kept chugging along unbothered.
On Geekbench 4.3, our overall performance test, the laptop notched 19,217, missing the premium gaming laptop average. The Stealth and the Y740, which have their own Core i7-9750H CPUs, delivered higher results of 20,843 and 22,287, respectively. The m17 with its overclockable Intel Core i9-9980HK CPU reached a score of 30,267.
When we ran the Handbrake test, the Blade Pro took 10 minutes and 39 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, which is slower than the 9:32 average, the Y740's 9:30 and the m17's 6:55. However, the Blade Pro did perform faster than the Stealth's 11:00.
The Blade Pro's dual 512GB PCIe NVMe SSDs duplicated 4.97GB of mixed-media files in a lightning-fast 4 seconds. That's a blistering transfer rate of 1,272.3 megabytes per second, which is much faster than the 772.5 MBps category average. It's also got more get-up-and-go than the competing systems, including the m17 (1,018 MBps), which has two 512GB m.2 PCIe SSDs of its own.
As slick as the Blade Pro is, it suffers from the Achilles' heel of every gaming laptop -- short battery life. The laptop lasted only 3 hours and 12 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery test, which consists of continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 degrees of brightness.
The Blade's time is several minutes short of the 3:18 premium laptop average, but still better than the 2:30 and 2:29 put up by the Y740 and the Stealth. But the m17 lasted the longest at an even 4 hours.
Whether it's a behemoth or a slim little minx like the Blade Pro, cooling is a continuing issue in gaming laptops. Razer managed to combat the problem somewhat by adding a full vapor chamber and a redesigned hinge that vents the hot air away from where your hands would touch.
I spent 15 minutes raising hell in Far Cry New Dawn, and when I was done, I measured the touchpad, center and undercarriage of the notebook. I saw temperatures of 88, 105 and 115 degrees, respectively. The last two scores are above our 95-degree comfort threshold, but I still used the system in my lap comfortably while wearing shorts.
After the laptop cooled down, we measured everything again. The touchpad was a cool 88 degrees, while the middle of the keyboard and bottom registered 100 and 107 degrees, respectively.
The Blade Pro's webcam is nothing to write home about. The 720p shooter did a surprisingly good job of capturing the color of my lilac shirt.
I think it could have gotten the purple in my locks if the visual noise wasn't so bad. The camera's fine for video calls and a quick selfie, but if you're looking to stream, you'll want to invest in an external webcam.
Software and Warranty
Razer runs a fairly tight ship when it comes to software. The Razer Synapse software is the only branded utility preinstalled on the system. Outside of that, you have Nvidia GeForce Experience, which offers a suite of apps designed to optimize your gaming. From there, you have Windows 10 bloatware such as Dolby Atmos, Plex, Candy Crush Saga and Asphalt: Street Storm.
Need to rain down hell upon your enemies, travel to the far reaches of space and human understanding, or maybe crank out a spreadsheet or two? The Razer Blade Pro 17 has you covered. The laptop deftly straddles the line between gaming and creative professionals, delivering strong overall and gaming performance, a swift pair of SSDs and a nice display to get it done.
However, for $3,199, I wish the display was brighter with better color reproduction, and a longer battery life couldn't hurt. If your wallet can stand it, check out the $3,579 iteration of the Alienware m17 R2, which offers an overclockable Core i9 processor paired with an Nvidia RTX 2080 Max-Q GPU. It also has a longer battery life and a screen that's both brighter and more vivid. But if you're looking for an elegant laptop that can seamlessly switch from work to play, the Razer Blade Pro 17 is a great choice.
Credit: Laptop Mag