Following on from Intel’s launch of its new 9th Gen Mobile processors, we’ve seen a slew of new laptops announced from the likes of ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte. We’re still waiting for widespread availability of these new machines, so when Razer offered us the chance to get an early hands on with its new Blade Pro 17 (2019), we couldn’t say no.
Over the last 12 months, Razer has been essentially re-launching its entire range of laptops. First we saw the new Blade 15, with slim bezels and a more ‘professional’ design than the previous Blade 14, and sure enough six months later the Blade Stealth 13 got the same treatment. The final piece in the puzzle is the Blade Pro 17, and now Razer has a complete product line-up where each laptop is immediately recognisable as being from the same Blade family.
With the new Blade Pro 17, that again manifests itself with slimmer bezels and a smaller overall footprint, while it’s also lighter than ever – this machine weighs 2.7KG, while the first Blade Pro from 2016 came in at 3.5KG. You will also notice the new, large trackpad – similar to that of the Blade 15. I have to say, having used both, the glass surface and Windows Precision driver makes for one of the best, if not the best, trackpads on any laptop around.
The headline feature of the new machine, however, is definitely the new hardware. Razer waited until Intel’s 9th Gen Mobile announcement to re-launch the Blade Pro, and it has outfitted the machine with the hexacore i7-9750H (2.6GHz base/4.5GHz Turbo). I asked Nicholas Dembowski, Razer’s Product Marketing Manage for Europe, why Razer stuck with a 6-core CPU, instead of the new 8-core i9, and he told me they feel ‘at the moment, it’s the perfect fit for the 17-inch and it delivers enough power to not be a bottleneck for the RTX cards – even the 2080.’ Interestingly, Nicholas didn’t rule out a future iteration with the i9, but for now Razer seems happy with 6-core CPU.
As for graphics, here we find the only differentiating factor between the new Blade Pro 17 models. Razer is introducing 3 SKUs, but they are all exactly the same bar the graphics chip – there are options for RTX 2060 Max-P, and then RTX 2070 and 2080 Max-Q. I got to play with a 2070 Max-Q model, and after about 15 minutes of 1080p Ultra gaming in Battlefield V, the GPU was running at 70c with the core clock hovering around 1600MHz, while the CPU bounced between 3.6-3.7GHz across all cores, with temperatures around 87C.
That’s not bad at all for a machine that’s only 19.9mm thick, and part of the new model’s gaming prowess comes from its cooling configuration. Razer has stuck with the vapour chamber used in the Blade 15, but it has also added two extra fans to the underside of the laptop – so four in total. We did run into some thermal issues with our Blade 15, so it will be interesting to test this further in a full review.
Other features to note include the display, and I have to say here I do find some of Razer’s decision making a little confusing. The Blade Pro 17 obviously has a 17.3in panel, and it’s a 1920x1080p resolution with a 144Hz refresh-rate. That sounds like a great combination for gaming, but at this screen size I think a higher resolution option is really going to help things – especially for any professionals who might want to buy this machine to get work done on the go.
What makes things confusing is that both the new Blade 15 and the Blade Stealth – a 13-in laptop – have 4K options, but the Blade Pro 17 does not. Nicholas didn’t get too drawn on this subject, saying Razer was focusing on providing the 4K OLED for the Blade 15 and FHD 144Hz for the Blade Pro – but he also didn’t rule out a 4K panel for the 17in model in the future. We’ll have to wait and see.
Elsewhere, Razer has implemented a generous I/O selection, with 3x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports and then 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports – one of which is also a Thunderbolt 3 port. Impressively, there is still an Ethernet port and this is even a 2.5Gb connector instead of the more standard 1Gb. Professionals will also be glad to see a full-size SD card reader and HDMI 2.0b video output.
Rounding things out, there’s also Wifi 6 – 802.11ax – support, courtesy of Intel’s AX200 adapter, while storage defaults to a 512GB NVMe SSD, though Nicholas was keen to stress there is a spare M.2 slot inside which can support up to 2TB PCIe or SATA drives. This sits alongside 16GB of DDR4 2667MHz memory (upgradable to 64GB). Lastly, the battery is a 70.5Whr cell.
All in all, I have to say the new Blade Pro 17 is looking quite impressive. It still packs a punch, despite being thinner than ever, and Razer’s signature anodised aluminium chassis looks and feels fantastic. With prices starting at £2399.99 for the RTX 2060 model, it’s far from cheap, but it may well be one to look at if you want a premium 17in gaming laptop.
KitGuru says: The new Blade Pro 17 brings the line right up to date, with a design refresh and the latest hardware. From our hands on testing it also runs pretty well considering the slimmed-down chassis, but we’ll have to wait for our full review before coming to any concrete conclusions.