Razer refreshes its Blade laptop with Skylake and Thunderbolt 3

Razer has refreshed its Blade gaming laptop for 2016. The freshened-up notebook offers upgrades that include a Skylake processor, a high-resolution display, and a Thunderbolt 3 port while retaining the slim and portable all-aluminum chassis from older Blades.

The new Razer Blade is powered by an Intel Core i7-6700HQ, a quad-core, eight-thread chip with 2.6GHz base and 3.5GHz turbo clocks. For graphics, Razer taps Nvidia's Geforce GTX 970M. This graphics chip gets its own 6GB of GDDR5 RAM. This Blade is equipped with Nvidia's Optimus technology, which allows the laptop to seamlessly switch between the discrete graphics chip and power-efficient integrated graphics. The Razer Blade ships with 16GB of 2133 MT/s DDR4 RAM. For storage, users can pick a 256GB or a 512GB M.2 SSD. Razer doesn't specify the drive's manufacturer.

Razer decided to go high-DPI for this latest incarnation of the Blade. The 14" multi-touch display is an IGZO panel with a 3200×1800 native resolution. Razer also includes a Thunderbolt 3 port. Like the company's Blade Stealth, the Blade can use the Thunderbolt 3 port to connect to external graphics enclosures like the Razer Core.

Last but not least, the refreshed Blade gets Razer's Chroma RGB LED keyboard. It's available for preorder now. The 256GB model costs $2000, and it'll ship on March 31. To sweeten the deal, Razer is offering free copies of Tom Clancy's The Division and FL Studio 12 Producer Edition along with the laptop.

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    • Kretschmer
    • 4 years ago

    Oh my god; I just realized that this doesn’t have GSync.

    Why?!

    • Kretschmer
    • 4 years ago

    I hope that Razor continues to offer a 1080P model (as they did for the last generation). In testing, these 3K screens are a huge drain on battery life, yet the pixel “real estate” isn’t useful at 14″. And modern games will choke on 3K with a 970M. It’s a “feature” that’s all drawbacks with no benefits.

    Also, while 256GB was impressive back in 2013 or 2014, there’s no reason to ship a $2K system with such little storage in 2016. I’d rather a 600GB SATA3 SSD than a 256GB M.2 SSD.

      • christos_thski
      • 4 years ago

      Good points. Plus, have windows 10 even resolved the crappy/uneven desktop scaling at ultra high resolutions?

      • UnfriendlyFire
      • 4 years ago

      3K screen is only worth it if someone uses an external GPU enclosure and a high-end 14nm GPU.

    • drfish
    • 4 years ago

    Eh, I’m not sure it’s worth the extra ~$600 over [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834233140<]something like this.[/url<] BUT it's not [i<]completely[/i<] outrageously priced to be fair...

      • slowriot
      • 4 years ago

      My one experience with a Gigabyte laptop was not impressive at all. It felt cheap, it was loud, the touchpad was awful, the power brick annoying, etc. Personally these are things I am happy to spend on a premium on because they’re so rare in the Windows laptop world. But if really all you want is a all-in-one sorta gaming system then I guess the Gigabytes and Clevos of the world are available.

    • southrncomfortjm
    • 4 years ago

    Specs on laptops and even pre-built desktops almost always make me wonder what the manufacturer was thinking and/or how ignorant is the market for these kinds of machines. Mostly, I think computer makers are thinking correctly given how ignorant buyers can be.

    No complaints about the processor – its as high end as most people would reasonably want to go for a gaming laptop. You can buy higher end, but the gains are minimal and I doubt anyone would notice the difference.

    What’s troubling here is the 970M (a good, mid-range mobile GPU) paired with a an 1800p screen. My assumption is that anyone spending $2000 on a new laptop wants to play the newest games at high/ultra settings with a pretty solid 60fps, and a 970M paired with a 1800p screen won’t deliver that. On top of that, it’s also a 14 inch screen instead of a 15.6inch or even 17 inch which would make more sense with the higher resolution. I can’t find pixels on my 1080p 15.6 inch laptop, so I don’t see what benefit shrinking the screen and upping the pixels really gets you. I’d have gone with a 1080p screen and 970M, or an 1800p screen and 980M, or even 980 (non-M).

    Then there’s the SSD. 256 gb is actually fine for most non-high end users. You can get the OS plus 2-4 recent games and tons of indie titles on there. But will a person putting down $2000 be content with only being able to install a few games? Not me if I’m the customer. But, apparently there’s a pretty strong market for this stuff.

      • slowriot
      • 4 years ago

      You want a 17″ mega-behemoth gaming laptop. Not a 14″, thin and light laptop that can also game. The 14″ screen is a selling point, not something that perspective buyers see as a limitation. And you’re not fitting a GTX980M, let alone a desktop GTX980, insides this chassis without really, really annoying fans.

      Also, a really big factor for these Razer laptops is the chassis. IMO its superior to a Macbook. As well things like a good keyboard and touchpad, which are generally awful, are big too. Small stuff like the power brick being a decent design also help.

      I kinda see your point about resolution. Though frankly it’s more of a battery life thing IMO. Games can run at a lower resolution and still look great. Also only 256GB SSD for $2000 is a bridge too far.

        • southrncomfortjm
        • 4 years ago

        Someone with a 1800P screen wants a 17inch screen, yes. I’m very happy with my 15.6inch Dell Inspiron 15 7000 with 960m and i5 quad core.

        I’m mostly pointing out that so many of these systems compromise too much in trying to hit a particular price point while also cramming in a many “features” as possible. They want to hit $2000 and make a profit, and have to have a very high resolution screen to boast about, but can only fit/afford a 970M.

        I’m all for a sleek and capable gaming machine, but make sure the resolution matches the GPU. I know you can set the resolution lower, but why am I going to pay $2000 for a machine to upscale the image and get something softer and blurrier?

          • slowriot
          • 4 years ago

          [quote<]Someone with a 1800P screen wants a 17inch screen, yes.[/quote<] Maybe you do, but I quite like the 1800P screen on my 13". And its a popular enough option for reasons beyond gaming that many high end laptops are offering it. Like the Dell XPS 13 I'm testing for work right now, or my current Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro. Plus beyond just resolution the screen Razer is using here is outstanding quality, it alone could interest people who want a laptop to do on-the-go photo/video editing. The downsides to scaling are significantly decreased when your panel is such a high resolution too. I mean honestly statements like "but make sure the resolution matches the GPU" are arbitrary and only meaningful if to someone if they too hold your arbitrary requirements.

      • tipoo
      • 4 years ago

      1800 horizontal resolution would be an integer scale of 900 horizontal. You could play games at 900p with no artifacting and it would look good. The higher resolution is for everything else you want to do on a laptop,including just looking at this text.

      • BillyBuerger
      • 4 years ago

      Just a thought, 1800p scaled 200% looks great on the Windows desktop. Then run it at half-resolution for 900p gaming which I’m guessing the 970M could handle at reasonable frame rates. Then if you want 1800p gaming, plug in an external graphics with a 980ti. Done, done and done.

        • Kretschmer
        • 4 years ago

        Except that 3K screen is increasing your price and sapping your battery while not being in use for…ya’know..gaming.

          • EndlessWaves
          • 4 years ago

          Yes? And what was your point?

          I haven’t looked at them yet but I’d certainly take the initial approach of wanting a double DPI screen for text rendering and avoiding it for gaming.

          The former seems like it’ll get a bigger benefit for a smaller trade-off. Gaming is the last thing I’d want high resolution for given the huge performance penalty.

            • Kretschmer
            • 4 years ago

            My point is that you’re paying a premium for a feature that hobbles battery life, and that feature is a waste at 14″.

    • TEAMSWITCHER
    • 4 years ago

    I would probably get more excited about this, if the Razor DeathAdder gaming mouse I purchased still had working LED lights. Also, I tried a Razor DeathStalker keyboard that was retuned immediately because it was a plastic POS. I can’t see me separating with $2000 after my experience with their other products.

    • Airmantharp
    • 4 years ago

    I have to say that I find Razer’s Blade series interesting- they’re taking Apple’s approach to laptop hardware quality and applying it to gaming.

    While that M.2 slot isn’t going to be enough for a dedicated gaming box, as this system could be, and the GTX970M is most certainly underpowered for the the given display resolution, this isn’t a bad compromise- it’s not like there are any good ones, so quality hardware (as not seen from the likes of Clevo) might as well make for a good base, with real expansion options coming on line thanks to Thunderbolt.

    I could easily see something like this as being excellent for all-around mobile computing, with a ‘dock’ of sorts with an external GPU and extra storage, or even a full desktop equivalent with a larger display and discrete input devices.

    • tipoo
    • 4 years ago

    Even with a decent laptop GPU I’d hope most gaming laptops going forward have Thunderbolt 3. Good thing this one does, especially with Razers own core. The CPU will probably last for years to come, but the GPU upgrade part is what usually held me away from gaming laptops, with Thunderbolt 3 external GPUs finally taking off I’d love to consolidate my computing life into a single system.

    • DragonDaddyBear
    • 4 years ago

    Is this compatible with AMD XConnect/their external GPU?

      • chuckula
      • 4 years ago

      It’s got the hardware and theoretically Nvidia released drivers in January that support using Thunderbolt 3 in the same way that XConnect does.

      Basically: The hardware is all there, but the next step is to test the software side to see how it works.

        • DragonDaddyBear
        • 4 years ago

        What would be really cool is pairing this with a desktop GPU and getting some kind of SLI going.

          • tipoo
          • 4 years ago

          An external GPU on Thunderbolts bandwidth works surprisingly well (like 80% of an 780TIs performance on TB2), but I wonder if SLI/Crossfire require a lot more cross talk that the limited bandwidth would compromise. 40Gb/5GB per second is still miles away from what SLI cards usually play in.

          And perhaps equally or more importantly than bandwidth would be the latency of each such round trip of communication.

    • deruberhanyok
    • 4 years ago

    $2000 for 256GB of storage and a free game that requires 40GB of drive space.

    I think we’re going to need to re-examine what we consider “enough” storage for the base models of these expensive systems, especially gaming-focused ones. Because with the rest of those specs, a 256GB SSD seems like a bit of an oversight.

      • superjawes
      • 4 years ago

      In general, I would agree, but I have to imagine that any “gamer” using a portable machine is probably getting it for a specific purpose, like keeping his/her main games handy when traveling. I could see people picking this up as their mobile League of Legends station, for example.

        • tipoo
        • 4 years ago

        Right, or plugging in a cheap USB 3 external hard drive for the more numerous games that don’t get played as often. That’s what I do. Fast internal storage for a few choice items, external storage for the rusty stuff.

          • Airmantharp
          • 4 years ago

          Not sure why you were voted down for this, as I’ve done this myself- with a 5400RPM spinner that was yanked out of a laptop in favor of an SSD, itself too small for most games.

          Today, USB3/TB3 provide more than enough bandwidth for an external gaming solution. No, it’s not optimal, but it most certainly will work, and one can put a 512GB-2TB SSD into an external enclosure relatively cheaply for this purpose.

        • brucethemoose
        • 4 years ago

        It’s a bit overkill for League.

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