The Razer Blade has served as the core of Razer’s laptop lineup for years now, but while the compact Razer Blade Stealth and high-end Blade Pro have received recent updates in the past few years, the middle-of-the-road Blade has been largely left out: the basic look has been unchanged since 2013, even as Razer has continued to update internal hardware over time.
But that changes today with the latest revision of the Razer Blade, which completely overhauls the stagnant Blade design. with a new look, a bigger 15.6-inch display, Intel’s latest eighth-generation Core i7 processors, and NVIDIA’s Max-Q architecture that should let the Blade stand toe-to-toe with the best gaming laptops out there.
The biggest change right off the bat is the new design. Razer is jumping from the 14-inch panel featured in the earlier Blade models to a 15.6-inch display (a move that helps differentiate the middle-of-the-road Blade from the Blade Stealth, which got upgraded from a 12-inch to a 13.3-inch model last year). The increase in screen size doesn’t mean that the relatively compact Blade is jumping up in size, too — instead, Razer is killing the massive bezels that dominated the old model of the Blade, with the actual laptop measuring 0.4 inches wider than last year’s model. The company claims that the new Blade is the smallest 15.6-inch gaming laptop on the market, and seeing it in person, it’s easy to believe. Razer is also cleaning out the visual design of the laptop, keeping the black aluminum enclosure, but removing the ridges on the lid bordering the Razer logo and squaring off the rounded corners.
Inside, there are also some big changes. Razer now offers three different options for the new 15.6-inch display — a 60Hz 1080p option, included on the cheapest configuration of the Blade, a 144Hz 1080p version that’s designed for those looking for the absolute best gaming performance, and a 4K touchscreen option with 100% Adobe RGB color support. (Unfortunately, there’s no support for NVIDIA’s G-Sync display tech, which Razer says it cut in order to better focus on power efficiency.) Additionally, the old, two-button touchpad has been replaced with a new, larger version that features integrated buttons and support for Windows Precision Touchpad drivers.
Another welcome addition to the updated Blade: user-replaceable parts. The Blade comes with 16GB of RAM by default, and between 256GB and 512GB of M.2 SSD storage, but users will be able to swap those out with up to 32GB of RAM and 2TB of internal storage if they’d like.
As for the actual internal hardware, Razer is keeping things pretty simple. All models of the new Blade feature the same Intel processor, the six-core i7-8750H, clocked at a base frequency of 2.2GHz with a turbo boost up to 4.1GHz. On the graphics sides of things, there’s the option of either a GTX 1060 or GTX 1070 graphics card, both with Nvidia’s Max-Q design optimizations.
Ports-wise, Razer is offering a Thunderbolt 3 port, a Mini DisplayPort, and HDMI port — the Blade can drive three displays at once through those three ports, in addition to the built-in screen — three USB 3.1 Type-A ports, and a new, proprietary charging port. As for the battery life, the new Blade features an 80Wh battery, which Razer says should offer as good, if not better endurance than the old version despite the larger screen and hexacore processor (although obviously we’ll have to see if that holds up in the real world.)
The new Blade is available today and starts at $1,899.99, which gets you the 60Hz display, GTX 1060, and a 256GB SSD. The 144Hz model opens at $2,199.99 (GTX 1060, 512GB SSD) with some pricier GTX 1070 models on offer as well, while the 4K model (GTX 1070, 512GB SSD) tops out the line at $2,899.99.
All in all, the updated Razer Blade looks like an exciting, fresh take on the existing version, fixing several of the laptop’s longtime flaws and offering a design and specifications that — assuming things hold up in real-world use — might just be the best portable gaming laptop yet.
Photography by Chaim Garternberg / The Verge