Despite the company's marketing tagline, Razer's new Blade ultrathin gaming laptop isn't really "thinner than a dime". It's thinner than a dime… that's been placed on its side. That said, it's still a pretty darned thin gaming laptop.
(And you know what, it's sort of a cute tagline. After all, a laptop truly thinner than a dime would be horrifyingly, uselessly thin.)
Yesterday, I attended Razer's announcement event for their two new gaming laptops: The more-powerful and ever-so-slightly cheaper 17-inch Razer Blade Pro and the new ultrathin 14-inch Razer Blade. If you'd like the vital stats on those machines, Mike posted the info yesterday. Short version: The 14-inch Blade sports an Intel Haswell processor, 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M GPU with 2GB of GDDR5.
Since I had a chance to mess around with the new Blade after the presentation, I figured I'd go after the biggest question I had: How does this thing stack up to a MacBook Air, size-wise? I took out my 13" Air and shot some comparison photos:
As you can see, despite Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan's assurances that the Blade is a fraction of an inch thinner than the Air is at its thickest, the Air is certainly the less substantial laptop. It's lighter, too. But the Blade is indeed a mighty small computer, and its 14-inch, 1600x900 screen is an inch larger than my MacBook's.
And of course, most important of all is what's on that screen: high-end PC games that my MacBook Air couldn't run in its wildest dreams. (Though in the little guy's defence, he runs FTL just fine, and that's all the laptop gaming I need.)
I played a few minutes of Metro: Last Light on the Blade and it ran flawlessly on very high settings. FRAPS wasn't running, but I'd guess the game was hitting around 35-45 FPS. The gentleman next to me was running Crysis 3 and getting similar results.
Here's what I've got on two other things commenters mentioned after yesterday's announcement: battery life and the potential for crotch-scorching heat. In the presentation, Tan claimed that the Blade can get six hours of battery life, based on Mobilemark 2007 benchmarks. But as anyone who's ever bought a laptop knows, press conference battery-life claims* are generally awfully generous. I'd be surprised if this thing could really sustain an aeroplane Last Light gaming session for 6 hours, but I guess we'll have to wait until people test it to know for sure.
*Always with that asterisk.
As for the heat, the Blade I tested was certainly very warm when I picked it up, and while I wouldn't call the heat "crotch-scorching", between the types of games it will be running, the battery demands and the heat, this laptop will probably be at its best when resting on a hotel-room desk or an aeroplane tray-table.
I have no need for a powerful, hardcore gaming laptop, but if I did — if I traveled all the time or didn't have a lot of room in my apartment — I can absolutely see the appeal of either the Blade or the Blade Pro. The green branding isn't really my thing, but both machines have a clean, understated design that doesn't look garish or childish in that way gaming PCs so often can. And I have to say, it was pretty cool to play one of the most demanding modern PC games on a laptop the size of my MacBook. Even if I'll never understand how someone could hope to play an FPS with a trackpad.
If you want more nitty-gritty details on the new Razer gaming laptops, check out Mike's post from yesterday. And if you'd like to see a row of dudes testing gaming laptops at a media event, well, you're in luck: