Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Review: Razer’s Blade is a sleek, smart ultraportable gaming machine

Razer’s second-generation Blade is an ultraportable, high-performance Windows 8 laptop packed into a slim body that any Apple engineer would envy. It’s better than the original Blade in just about every respect: It’s sleeker, lighter, and more powerful, thanks to a fourth-generation Core processor. And it loses the obtuse Switchblade LCD touchpad that made the old Blade—now rechristened the Blade Pro—so quirky.

Thinner, lighter, faster

The Blade is two-thirds of an inch thick and weighs roughly 4.25 pounds. Toss it in your bag along with its diminutive power adapter and the whole package tops out at just over five pounds. Although the Blade is a pound and a half heavier than the 13-inch MacBook Air, it is thinner than the Air by 0.02 inches at its thickest point. In practice, however, Apple’s ultraportable feels skinnier because of the way its unibody chassis tapers down to such a knife edge—a design that leaves me with the irrational feeling that I’m going to cut myself.

Despite being remarkably thin, the Razer Blade feels solid and comfortable to type on.

Razer’s emerald-and-black design aesthetic is in full effect here, with a green-backlit keyboard sitting atop a matte black aluminum chassis. Inside this literally hot piece of hardware is a quad-core Intel Core i7-4702MQ processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M GPU, and 8GB of DDR3/1600 memory. The chassis gets very warm when the GPU kicks in, despite the best efforts of an intake fan on the bottom of the unit that exhausts heat through vents near the sturdy display hinges. Still, you’ll want to keep your fingers off the aluminum strip between the keyboard and screen while playing StarCraft II.

We applaud the inclusion of a 256GB SSD, HDMI output, and three USB 3.0 ports (we’ll even forgive their garish pigment), but the absence of hardwired ethernet means you’ll be downloading all your software via Wi-Fi. That will be no fun considering that many modern PC games push 10 to 20GB.

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