When I first heard about Razer, they were a company that strictly made gaming peripherals. I mostly associate them with their DeathAdder mouse, with the version from 2010 still being one of the best mice I've ever used. Razer has also made audio equipment like gaming headsets for quite some time, as well as a line of gaming keyboards. As time went on, some of these products gained features that were unique to Razer, such as the use of Razer-designed mechanical switches in their gaming keyboards, and RGB backlighting in various products with the Chroma branding.

Razer has made a number of attempts to move beyond the world of gaming peripherals. Some have been more successful than others. For example, some gamers may remember the Razer Edge Pro, the gaming tablet that never seemed to catch on with consumers. Razer also made a fitness band called the Nabu, but it also appears to have missed the mark and has seen some pretty heavy discounts in recent times. With Razer's recent purchase of NextBit, many have begun to speculate on whether Razer plans to move into the mobile industry.

While it would be fun to speculate on Razer's plans for the future, they do have one area beyond peripherals that has been an undisputed success. Their line of laptops, which started with the unveiling of the original Razer Blade in 2011, have shown that it's possible to build gaming laptops without the bulky plastic bodies and poor quality displays that traditionally characterized high-performance laptops from other vendors. As time has gone on, Razer has iterated on the original Razer Blade, and introduced both a smaller model in the form of the Razer Blade Stealth, a 14-inch model to carry on the name of the original 17-inch Razer Blade, and the Razer Blade Pro to fill the 17-inch space. That latter model is the laptop I'll be looking at today.

Prior to the launch of this new model in late 2016, the Razer Blade Pro was last updated in 2014. That model was put in an awkward position right from launch. It came with NVIDIA's GTX 860M GPU, which was actually a step down from the GTX 870M in the 14-inch Razer Blade that was updated around the same time. It also only used a 1080p display due to limitations in what 17.3-inch panels were available on the market, while the 14-inch Blade Pro clocked in at 3200x1800 despite being $100 cheaper. The headline feature of the 2014 Blade Pro was its SwitchBlade touchpad, but it again suffered from unenthusiastic reception in the market. Ultimately, the Blade Pro ended up being a more niche machine, which didn't really offer advantages compared to its little brother except for users who really needed such a large display regardless of resolution.

With the 2016 Blade Pro, Razer is changing up their strategy. When I think about gaming laptops, it seems to make sense to me that a larger model will have fewer power and thermal limitations, and so it should be even more powerful than the smaller versions. For example, a 13-inch MacBook Pro is less powerful than the 15-inch model. The 2016 Blade Pro follows that line of thinking, and pushes the performance of Razer's gaming laptops farther than ever before. I've outlined its specifications below.

2016 Razer Blade Pro
CPU Intel Core i7-6700HQ
2.6-3.5 GHz
6MB Cache
2560 CUDA Cores
1556 - 1733 (Boost) MHz
Memory 32 GB 2133MHz DDR4
Display 17.3" 3840x2160 60 Hz w/G-SYNC
Storage 512GB (2 x 256GB) M.2 PCIe SSD
1TB (2 x 512GB) M.2 PCIe SSD
2TB (2 x 1TB) M.2 PCIe SSD
I/O 3 x USB 3.0 Ports
1 x Thunderbolt 3
1 x HDMI 2.0
SD Card Slot
1 x Headset Jack
1 x Killer E2400 Ethernet (10/100/1000Mbps)
Dimensions 22.5mm x 424mm x 281mm (HxWxD)
0.88" x 16.7" x 11" (HxWxD)
Weight 3.54 kg / 7.8 lbs
Battery 99 Wh, 250W AC Adapter
Wireless Killer Wireless-AC 1535
2x2:2 with Bluetooth 4.1
Price $3699.99 512GB
$3999.99 1TB (Model tested)
$4499.99 2TB

As you can see, the Razer Blade Pro is quite the laptop. It's certainly not the bulky, heavy, tank-like device that you get when you buy a desktop replacement (DTR) from Clevo or MSI, but it doesn't compromise on performance in order to do so. Inside is NVIDIA's fastest GPU, the GTX 1080. There's also a pair of PCIe SSDs, Intel's i7-6700HQ CPU, 32GB of 2133MHz DDR4 memory, a UHD display with Adobe RGB color support, and an assortment of ports so you can connect all of your existing devices without issues. 

With all that power in a relatively thin and light chassis, it's not a surprise that the Blade Pro comes at such a high price. The 2014 Razer Blade Pro launched at a price of $2299, although it was lacking in the spec department in many ways, and the 14-inch Blade, with better hardware, was cheaper at $2199. Now that the Blade Pro sits at the top of Razer's laptop line for both size and performance, a price gap is actually justified. For the model with 512GB of internal storage, the Blade Pro costs 3699.99 USD. Moving to 1TB brings the price up to 3999.99 USD, and the 2TB model is the most expensive at 4499.99 USD.

As I mentioned before, the 2014 Blade Pro definitely had room for improvement. The 2016 Blade Pro also comes after two years of technological improvements, and it has great potential as both a gaming machine and a mobile workstation. To start things off I'll go over the Blade Pro's design, before moving on to performance testing.

Design, Keyboard and Trackpad
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  • digiguy - Monday, March 6, 2017 - link

    yes, it would have only impacted cost (and maybe to a limited extent noise)
  • fanofanand - Monday, March 6, 2017 - link

    It would have impacted Razer's margins, nothing more. This is a cool laptop and all, but it's maybe $1500 worth of parts (for the $3800 version) with a massive markup.
  • fanofanand - Monday, March 6, 2017 - link

    Ok maybe $2,000. I just did a quick rundown of the BOM in my head, and even without Razer getting a sweetheart deal on any of the components (which of course they do) and the BOM is $2000-$2200. Either way there are margins there that Razer is I'm sure very pleased with. Even at this stratosphere It's probably harder to sell a $5k laptop than it is a $3k laptop, so they cut corners here and there. The reviewer aptly pointed out that the CPU and screen appear to be the two corners that were cut (and the stupid killer NIC).
  • erple2 - Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - link

    The screen is actually quite good, as evidenced by the calibrated results. In face, it's exceptional. The problem is that Razer went on the cheap and didn't calibrate it at the factory. That's not hard to do in a large production plant. If a $650 iPhone can have a very accurate screen and make a handsome profit margin, a $3000 laptop can easily, too.
  • fanofanand - Monday, March 13, 2017 - link

    The difference is that Razer is not the OEM for any of the components in their laptops, whereas Apple is vertically integrated to the point where they are making their own SOCs (even if they are fabbed elsewhere). What Apple does is vastly different than what Razer does. End users (at least 99.9% of them) would not calibrate their screen. Sure, professionals who need color accuracy would, but most people won't. That's why it's so important for these companies to do the calibrations ahead of time, so the end user can just buy the thing, plug it in, and be wowed.
  • mobutu - Monday, March 6, 2017 - link

    It's unacceptable for a modern machine to have those kind of bezels.
  • DanNeely - Monday, March 6, 2017 - link

    chassis size is set by the needed component and cooling volumes on this class of laptop. That means the only way for smaller bezels would be to use a bigger panel. Unfortunately the next bigger size, 18.4" is far more niche than even 17.3" (in conventional gaming laptop form factors it's almost exclusively used for SLI models); which means that Razer might not have been able to source a good high DPI panel. Assuming not, 1080p TN would be even worse.
  • prophet001 - Monday, March 6, 2017 - link

    Too much thermal throttling.

    You can't dissipate enough heat out of that laptop for a 1080.
  • jsntech - Monday, March 6, 2017 - link

    Hey guys - we're at six months post-launch for the 2016 MBPs. I saw a comment a couple/few months ago about Ryan finishing up the review back then and am surprised it's taken so long to publish. Other outlets have obviously long since put up their reviews but have sadly (and as usual) fallen short of the detail I enjoy from AT reviews. Will we see it anytime soon? Are/were there issues with review samples, etc., or ?
  • Aman5ingh - Tuesday, March 7, 2017 - link

    "As time has gone on, Razer has iterated on the original Razer Blade, and introduced both a smaller model in the form of the Razer Blade Stealth, a 14-inch model to carry on the name of the original 17-inch Razer Blade..."

    Nope, the 12.5" model is called the Stealth (Intel HD Graphics), the 14" model is called the Razer Blade (which has a GTX 1060), and this one is the Pro.

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