Razer Blade Pro review: A more affordable FHD higher-end Razer gaming laptop

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Razer-Blade-Pro-review

The Razer Blade Pro FHD is a more affordable option with great performance with a sleeker design than is normally seen in gaming laptops.

TA-ratings-91Razer is well known for their Razer Blade and Razer Blade Pro lineup of gaming laptops. However, not everyone can afford to shell out $4500USD for the new Razer Blade Pro and that’s where the more affordable Razer Blade Pro FHD version comes in with lower, but still suitable specs for most of your gaming needs.Our Razer Blade Pro review takes a look at the FHD version and sees if the more affordable version can still offer the top-tier gaming performance for the on-the-go gamer.

Specifications

The Razer Blade Pro (as tested) has the following features and specifications:

  • Display: 17.3″ Full HD (1920×1080) 1PS, 120Hz, 16:9 aspect ratio, matte screen
  • Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5 VRAM)
  • Processor: Quad-Core 7th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-7700HQ Processor with Hyper-Threading 2.8GHz/3.8GHz (Base/Turbo)
  • Memory: 16GB dual-channel memory (DDR4, 2400MHz), slotted
  • Storage: 256GB SSD (PCIe M.2) + 2TB HDD (5400rpm)
  • Operating System: Windows 10 (64-bit)
  • Communication: Killer™ Wireless-AC 1535 (IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth® 4.1), Killer™ E2500 (Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000)
  • Keyboard: Anti-ghosting with individually backlit keys
  • Input & Output
    • Built-in webcam (2.0MP)
    • Multimedia keys with scroll wheel
    • Multi-touch touchpad
    • SDXC card reader
    • Thunderbolt™ 3 (USB-C™)
    • USB 3.0 port x 3 (SuperSpeed)
    • HDMI 2.0 audio and video output
  • Audio: Built-in stereo speakers, built-in array microphone, 3.5mm combo audio port, Dolby® Digital Plus Home Theater Edition, 7.1 Codec support
  • Power & Battery: Compact 165W power adapter, built-in 70Wh rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery
  • Additional Features
    • Keyboard and trackpad lighting powered by Razer Chroma™
    • Razer™ Synapse enabled with programmable keyboard, trackpad, backlighting, and fan control
    • Kensington™ Security Slot
    • Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) security chip embedded
  • Dimensions: 0.88”/22.5mm (Height) x 16.7”/424mm (Width) x 11”/281mm (Depth)
  • Weight: 6.78 lbs/3.07 kg

What’s in the box

  • Razer Blade Pro gaming laptop
  • Power cord
  • Microfibre cloth
  • Product Information Guide
  • Razer stickers

Design

If you’ve never seen a Razer Blade Pro before, at a glance it definitely doesn’t strike you as a gaming laptop, most of which are thick, large, heavy, and not very portable. The Razer Blade Pro isn’t your typical gaming laptop. The first thing I definitely noticed was the thinness of it, coming in at a mere 0.88″ thick. While there are plenty of thinner laptops out there, for a gaming laptop with these specs, this is definitely one of the thinnest configurations you can get.

The Razer Blade Pro has a nice, simple, sleek black design, housed in a CNC aluminum unibody chassis. Centered on the lid is, of course, the Razer Snake logo which lights up in green when the laptop is powered on.

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The lid on the Razer Blade Pro.

Starting with the left side of the laptop, going from front to back, you’ll find a side speaker, 3.5mm audio/mic jack, two USB 3.0 ports, LAN port, and power port. On the right side, you’ll also find a side speaker near the front, as well as an SD card reader, USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 port, a third USB 3.0 port, HDMI 2.0 out, and a Kensington lock.

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The ports on the left (top) and right (bottom) sides of the Razer Blade Pro.

Centered at the front of the laptop is a beveled edge which allows you to easily lift the lid. Upon opening the lid, you’re greeted by the full-size keyboard, minus number pad, and the screen. The keyboard has an interesting layout as in place of a number pad is a 4″ x 3 ¼” trackpad. Due to the placement of the trackpad, the up arrow key is sandwiched in between the / and shift keys, while the left, right, and down arrow are on the bottom row between the CTRL and Fn keys. Centered above the trackpad is a volume rocker with two media playback control keys on either side. The media control keys can be set to act as mouse buttons as well if you wish. The keyboard is backlit, as is the outside edge of the trackpad and the edges of the volume rocker.

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The Razer Blade Pro keyboard and trackpad layout.

As far as the keyboard is concerned, this is probably my only issue with the laptop. While the keyboard works great for keyboard/mouse gaming and typing is responsive with the low travel keys, the placement and size of the trackpad make it feel like the keyboard is off-centered while typing. Additionally, by moving the up arrow key between the / and right shift key, I frequently found myself moving up a line while typing or selecting an entire row of text instead of typing a / or ? as I intended. Even after a few weeks of use, I still run into that happening more than I’d like. The backlighting is nice as well, however, when playing in a darker environment, you can’t see the additional markings like punctuation and the Fn key functions due to the way the keys are lit. It’s not a huge deal but made it a bit of a pain when trying to find the screen brightness keys (F8/F9) while in a game trying to turn down the brightness.

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Not a fan of the arrow key placement, especially when using the laptop for word processing.

On either side of the keyboard is a thin ½” x 4″ speaker grille. The power button is centered in the top third of the area above the keyboard rounding out the pretty minimalistic looking palm rest/keyboard portion of the laptop.

As far as the screen is concerned, the Full HD IPS matte screen display panel is framed by ¾” bezels on the side and 1″ bezels on the top and bottom. Centered in the bezel above the screen is the 2.0MP webcam with dual microphone holes, one on either side. The lid is attached to the base of the laptop with a 10″ centered hinge which offers nice stability and rigidity when the screen is open.

The bottom of the laptop is pretty minimal as well, with two rubber feet that run the width of the laptop from left to right at the front and back. Just below the back foot are a pair of three vents for cooling on either side of the laptop.

The power adapter is equally slim, especially for its 165W size. While the main wall cable is your typical rubber finish, the cable from the power adapter to the laptop is nicely braided cable. Overall, the Razer Blade Pro is a very sleek and thin gaming laptop given the specs.

Display

As mentioned above, Razer has placed a Full HD IPS matte screen display panel in the Razer Blade Pro FHD version. The matte finish is great for pretty much any lighting condition and greatly reduces glare that you may encounter. Viewing angles are pretty decent as well. In addition, the screen supports 120Hz refresh rate from the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 video card which offers smoother gameplay.

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The 1080p, IPS, matte screen is crisp and clear.

While there is a 4K Razer Blade Pro available, affordability is the name of the game here and as far as 1080p displays go, this one is nice and crisp, has a high refresh rate for gaming, and is relatively glare free.

Software

As far as software is concerned, it’s pretty standard fare here with 64-bit Windows 10 Home running things under the hood. As is the case with Windows installations these days, there are a few pre-installed games like Candy Crush Soda SagaDisney Magic KingdomsBubble Witch Saga 3, and a few others. While some people might enjoy these, they are easy enough to uninstall if you don’t want them on your system. Still, it’d be nice to go back to the days when a clean Windows install meant just that. That being said, fortunately, two of the biggest — in my opinion — pain in the butt pre-installed software items that are usually found on systems — McAfee or Norton — are thankfully missing from the Razer Blade Pro.

The Razer Synapse 2 software is also installed and lets you remap keys, set up profiles, change the primary behaviour of the Fn keys, adjust trackpad settings, set profiles, enable/disable gaming mode, set power options, view keystroke/heatmap stats, and control the lighting. You can also create macros and load Chroma Apps for custom in-game lighting. There are plenty of games and apps that are supported and some will pre-install while others require you to download the profile and add it in manually which is easy enough to do. What these profiles do is modify keyboard lighting based on the game or app you’re using. For example, in Diablo III, the 1/2/3/4 and Q keys are lit in white while the rest are red. While this looks kind of cool, unless you’re in the habit of looking at your keyboard while playing, it isn’t very useful in my opinion.

http://www.razerzone.com/chroma/workshop

Razer Synapse 2 screenshot.

While the Razer Synapse 2 software is great for adjusting lighting and keyboard or trackpad behaviour and profiles, unfortunately, you may have to also install the Razer Synapse 3 beta software if you’re using a newer Razer peripheral like the Razer Naga Trinity gaming mouse. The Synapse 2 software doesn’t recognize the mouse, and likewise, the Synapse 3 software doesn’t recognize the Razer Blade Pro. The biggest issue with this, aside from having two versions of Synapse installed, is that you can’t sync your lighting between the Blade Pro and your Synapse 3 supported Razer peripheral. Razer did mention when asked that “Synapse 3 will eventually replace the existing Synapse 2 once features are complete and all devices are supported,” so at some point you’ll be able to adjust your Razer Blade Pro from within the Synapse 3 software as well.

In addition, for all you music creators out there, Razer has partnered with  Image-Line to give every Razer Blade Pro owner (2016 and newer models) a free copy of FL Studio 12 (a $199USD value). If you’re into playing around with music creation, this is a pretty sweet deal.

Performance

Given the specs on this laptop — Quad-Core 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7700HQ,  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB GDDR5, 16GB dual-channel memory, 256GB SSD PCIe M.2, and Killer Networking — you’d expect pretty decent performance, and you wouldn’t be wrong. For day-to-day tasks like word processing, photo editing, streaming video, and browsing the internet, the Razer Blade Pro performs admirably with no hesitation, lag, or slow down.

But hey, the Razer Blade Pros are gaming laptops so how does it fare for gaming? While the GTX 1060 isn’t the top of the line NVIDIA card, at the price point and other components of the FHD version of the Blade Pro, it does just fine. For games like Heroes of the Storm, the system ran at about 80fps with everything set to Ultra. For more CPU/GPU intensive games like Forza Motorsport 7, with the settings set to Ultra (1920×1080) we saw a consistent 60fps. As mentioned in the Display section, the 120Hz refresh rate really adds to smoother gameplay as well.When hooked up to a 4K monitor, the Razer Blade Pro keeps up pretty well, although you may have to drop down from Ultra or Extreme settings in some games to get a decent framerate.

The addition of a 2TB hard drive, albeit a 5400RPM drive, makes it easy to keep the precious space on the SSD for games and apps with all your data like photos, videos, and other files on the 2TB drive. Should you choose the 4K route, the Razer Blade Pro is also available with a 512GB or 1TB SSD as well should you wish to pay a bit.

I’ll cover this more in the Price/Value section below, but really, for the price, you’re getting great specifications and performance with the FHD Razer Blade Pro for both gaming and day-to-day computing use.

Sound Quality

Laptops are notoriously not that great for sound. In the case of the Razer Blade Pro, the sound is crisp and clear and gets quite loud but, unfortunately, still lacks the required bass and lower end for more enjoyable and immersive gaming. Most gamers have solid gaming headphones anyways, but in a pinch, the onboard sound on the Razer Blade Pro will do just fine.

The Razer Blade Pro is also equipped with Dolby Digital Plus software which can be used to select pre-tuned sound for music, gaming, movies, or create your own presets to tweak the sound more to your personal preferences.

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The volume rocker is a nice touch for controlling volume.

Camera/Microphone

As with most laptops, there’s not much to say here. The front-facing 2MP webcam is decent for video conferencing or broadcasting while streaming games and provided a clear enough image. In addition, the dual-array microphones were good enough for the other party to be able to hear clearly without having to ask me to repeat what I had just said.

Battery Life

Again, laptops — especially gaming laptops — are notoriously bad for battery life. The Razer Blade Pro isn’t too bad as far as gaming laptops go and during testing, we saw between 4 ½ – 5 hours while doing basic tasks like word processing, browsing, or Photoshop. Of course, while gaming this dropped down to between 2 ½ and 3 hours depending on the game and settings. It’s not the greatest, but it is better than some other gaming laptops and given the specs, to be expected.

Price/Value

With an MSRP of $2299.99USD ($2899.99CAD), the Razer Blade Pro FHD version is a bit on the pricier side considering the components used. However, if you’re looking for a thinner gaming laptop that can handle most of what you can throw at it, you might be willing to shell out the extra cash. Razer is currently offering $300USD off this price so you can snag it for an extremely reasonable $1999.99USD. The company is also offering a lesser discount of $350 for Canadians, bringing the price down to $2549.99CAD.

Wrap-up

Decent gaming laptops are usually notoriously huge and expensive. The Razer Blade Pro FHD is a more affordable option with great performance with a sleeker design than is normally seen in gaming laptops. Even though there are still a few minor issues like sound and battery life, these are pretty standard when it comes to gaming laptops, especially with specs like the Razer Blade Pro has under the hood. Overall, given the price — and the current sale price at that — coupled with the specs, if you’re looking for a decent gaming laptop at a decent price, the Razer Blade Pro FHD nicely fits the bill.

*We were sent a review unit of the Razer Blade Pro for the purposes of this review.

Razer Blade Pro (FHD)

$2299.99 USD
Razer Blade Pro (FHD)
9.1

Design

9.0 /10

Display

10.0 /10

Software

9.0 /10

Performance

9.5 /10

Sound

8.5 /10

Camera/Microphone

9.0 /10

Battery Life

8.0 /10

Accessories

9.5 /10

Price/Value

9.0 /10

Nailed it

  • Thin, sleek design given what's inside
  • Pretty quiet, even when full on gaming
  • Great performance
  • Decent sound
  • Plenty of ports
  • USB Type-C Thunderbolt
  • Matte screen
  • Includes free FL Studio 12 music software
  • Plenty of storage with 256GB + 2TB hard drives
  • Slim power adapter given its 165W size

Needs work

  • Not a fan of the keyboard/trackpad layout
  • Backlighting doesn't extend to extra markings on keys
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Bit on the pricey side given the components
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