Razer’s latest laptop has arrived, but it’s not what we were expecting. Not only is this Razer Blade 15 doppelganger not meant for gaming, but it’s not even being sold by Razer. This unique new notebook is instead a collaboration between Razer and Lambda, a company that makes workstations, GPUs, and servers for machine learning. It’s being marketed as a “deep learning” laptop, not as a system meant for gamers.
The laptop is called the Razer x Lambda Tensorbook, and it is almost identical to last year’s Razer Blade 15 Advanced. It shares the same organs: a 15.6-inch, 1440p display at 165Hz, an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 CPU, 64GB of RAM, 2TB of SSD storage, and an Nvidia RTX 3080 (16GB vRAM) laptop GPU. And that’s it: there is a single configuration selling at an eye-watering $US3,500 ($4,859).
Lambda makes bold claims about the laptop’s machine learning capabilities, stating on its website that the system is up to 4x faster than a MacBook Pro 16 powered by Apple’s M1 Max chip when running vision and language training benchmarks.
“Most ML engineers don’t have a dedicated GPU laptop, which forces them to use shared resources on a remote machine, slowing down their development cycle.” wrote Stephen Balaban, the co-founder and CEO of Lambda, in a blog post. “When you’re stuck SSHing into a remote server, you don’t have any of your local data or code and even have a hard time demoing your model to colleagues. The Razer x Lambda Tensorbook solves this. It’s pre-installed with PyTorch and TensorFlow and lets you quickly train and demo your models: all from a local GUI interface.”
The only customisation options are for software and warranty: the base $US3,500 ($4,859) choice comes with Ubuntu 20.04 with a Lambda Stack (including drivers, PyTorch, TensorFlow, CUDA, and others) and a one year warranty, a “standard” version goes for $US4,100 ($5,692) and nets you a two-year premium warranty, and a $US5,000 ($6,941) Enterprise edition tacks on Windows 10 and a third year of premium warranty.
From the outside, the Tensorbook looks like a Razer Blade 15 with a custom paint job. It has the same dimensions and 2 kg weight but trades a black exterior for a silver one with matching white keys and swaps Razer’s famously green USB ports for purple-accented ones. If you ask me, the purple Lambda logo on the Tensorbook looks better than Razer’s green triple-headed serpent. In any case, the Tensorbook comes with the same robust port selection: two Thunderbolt 4 ports, three USB-A ports (3.2 Gen 2), HDMI 2.1, a headphone jack, and an SD card reader.
The Tensorbook doesn’t have any custom performance optimizations, so it won’t run better than other gaming laptops with similar or better specs. This isn’t even Razer’s most powerful system now that the company has upgraded its own fleet to Intel 12th Gen processors. What makes the Tensorbook unique is the included software package consisting of one-line installation and management paths for PyTorch, TensorFlow, Caffee, and Caffee 2 deep-learning frameworks, along with GPU-focused applications CUDA and cuDNN.
Razer co-founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan wrote on Facebook back in 2017 that the company would create the “best notebook in the world that supports Linux.” It never arrived. Hopefully, the Tensorbook is a success, so Razer feels compelled to make its own Linux-based system — after all, Valve and Google are already using the OS as a platform for gaming.