I can’t lie. I was disappointed with the Razer Blade 15 Base Edition I reviewed last month. It’s not a bad laptop, just…less than the sum of its formidable parts. On paper, it’s my perfect laptop – Macbook body with gaming rig internals.
However, the overall package just didn’t come together in a way that excites. So naturally, I expected more of the same with the new Razer Blade Pro 17 after all, it’s really just a Blade 15 Advanced but supersized, right?
Well yes and no. The design and build are indeed identical but supersized with a bigger 17.3-inch display. It still looks a million bucks(and costs it too) but somehow, this time around the whole package is just better for me and I like it a lot.
The Blade Pro 17 is the perfect centrepiece of a laptop battle station that looks wicked and runs even more so for work and play. It’s hard to put my finger on what just works so let’s talk about what’s to like and what’s not.
Razer Blade Pro 17 Review
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the design of the Blade Pro 17 is much the same as its smaller siblings’ for better and for worse. It retains the same excellent unibody design that’s earned it the moniker ‘the Gaming MacBook Pro’. The all-black-everything finish of the unibody chassis is still one of the best builds you can find in a Windows laptop to date. The only colour on this machine comes from the glowing Razer snakehead on the lid and the glorious RGB keyboard. The chassis is incredibly rigid with no flex or creaking anywhere.
The Blade Pro 17 is bigger and heavier than the Blade 15 as you’d expect. But at 0.78-inches thick, it’s exactly the same as its smaller siblings which is really impressive. It’s so thin actually that I was always caught off guard by how heavy it was when I carelessly lifted it. It weighs 2.75 kilos which is 650grams more than the smaller Blade 15. The annoying ginormous rubber feet that I had an issue with on the smaller Blade are still here too.
Surprisingly, even with the larger keyboard deck, Razer didn’t see fit to include a full-size keyboard with number pad. That’s not a problem though as I don’t expect accountants who are constantly using spreadsheets and numbers to be buying this laptop. Overall, the Blade Pro 17 is a damn sexy machine to look at with a build quality that is still the best among gaming laptops.
Still the best RGB in a laptop keyboard
Continuing with things that are similar to the Blade 15 is the keyboard. It’s fine, certainly not my top choice — that honour remains with the Alienware m-line of laptops. The Blade Pro 17 is a thin laptop which generally doesn’t lend well to key travel. It’s certainly better than the atrocious Apple Macbook butterfly feels but that’s a really low bar.
The keys are soft but not mushy and feel designed for much gentler typists. The keys also still feel too precious for comfortable key mashing involved with writing or frenetic FPS gaming. Razer also redesigned the arrow keys that were a long-standing pain in the wrist for users but the new keys are so squashed that it’s only a slightly better solution. You’ll often struggle using the up and down arrow keys.
But where this keyboard shines(wink, wink) is with its per-key RGB backlighting. It’s still one of the best implementations on any laptop with lighting that shines brightly through the key legends without spilling outside of the keycaps. This further accentuates the Blade Pro 17’s elegant, black tuxedo vibe. The extensive Razer Chroma Studio software lets you customise the lighting to your heart’s desire, including layering effects on top of each other. This is a feature I haven’t seen any other manufacturer do.
Sadly, I don’t find the process of effect creation simple or intuitive – in fact, it’s extremely daunting. You have layers over layers and each layer can have any effect which is quite involved by itself. However, knowing which layer overrides which isn’t so clear and I honestly don’t have that much patience for tinkering with key lighting to bother figuring it out. Just leave it on the fire or rainbow profile.
Built for esports and professionals
I loved the 4K OLED panel on the Razer Blade 15 but sadly, the Blade Pro 17 doesn’t have that option. You get either a 4K 120Hz LCD or FullHD 60Hz or 300Hz. Ours is the latter and it’s an excellent panel for both gaming and working. I’m one of those who are blind to anything above 100Hz refresh but for esports players who need every advantage will be more than pleased with this panel.
As a designer by profession, I’m far more interested in picture quality and color accuracy. The Blade Pro 17 excels here. It boasts 100% sRGB color gamut and each panel is factory calibrated for color accuracy. Colors are punchy and vibrant whether you are watching YouTube, Netflix or just playing Fortnite.
With a native resolution of 1920 x 1080, the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 SUPER with Max-Q has no issues running games at the full 300Hz. Everything runs so smoothly thanks to that high refresh. Here’s how the Blade Pro 17 performs across a number of games at ultra settings. Turn down settings just a notch and games like Fortnite, Apex Legends, COD: Warzone and Valorant will run wickedly fast and smooth while still looking amazing.
Great performance but Intel lags behind
The Blade Pro 17 unit we had comes with a 10th Gen Core i7-10875H processor with 8 cores with 16 threads and a max speed of 5.1Ghz boost. In theory, this should be a beast and it certainly performs decently in my synthetic benchmarks and overall day to day running. The problem is that Intel’s CPUs no longer hold the monopoly in the powerful laptop space. Ever since AMD launched its Ryzen 4 processors, we’ve seen a blistering performance that Intel CPU’s of the same price simply can’t match. Take in point, the Ryzen 7 4800HS found in the Asus TUF A15 which you can get at less than $2000 — a third of the price of our Razer review unit.
As you can see from the graph above, the Blade Pro 17 is simply obliterated by the cheaper TUF A15. This especially so in Cinebench and Geekbench. However, the RTX 2080 SUPER saves the day on all the GPU benchmarks bringing the Blade Pro 17 back ahead in the fight. For gaming, this won’t be a problem but creators will certainly notice the difference in 3D or video rendering times so best take note before you buy. I can’t help but wonder how awesome a Blade Pro 17 using AMD Ryzen would be. I’d happily pay for that and it would likely be much cheaper to boot.
One impressive thing about the Blade Pro 17 is how cool and quiet it runs for most activities. This is especially noticeable to me now that I’m reviewing the new Alienware m15 R3 which is very excitable in running its fans at the slightest things. The vapour chamber cooling system on the Blade Pro 17 is great at keeping things rather cool. I recorded average temperatures around 87C on the CPU and 66C on the GPU after gaming for a few hours with no sign of throttling. And fan noise wasn’t intolerable as well. Razer Synapse app also allows you to configure fan speeds so you can really get the Blade Pro 17 to work for you.
The Blade Pro 17 is for all intents and purposes, the perfect desktop replacement machine. Not only is it self contained as a workhorse machine, but it’s also got all the ports you need to put it at the centre of a desktop setup. I love the integration of Windows Hello which alleviates the pain of typing in passwords with a simple scan of your face. It’s not perfect, especially in darker lighting situations that gamers like but you can improve it by rescanning your face multiple times.
Ports are plentiful with creator staples like a UHS-III SD Card Reader that photographers and videographers need to transfer content with ease. There’s also two USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports and a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port that’s perfect for high speed data transfer to external hard drives and for driving monitors upto 4K. If you prefer, you can also use the HDMI 2.0B port for 4K 60Hz output to a TV or monitor. And if you can afford to buy this Blade Pro 17, I’m sure you can afford one of LG’s excellent OLED TV’s that support G-Sync so you can play your PC games in full glory.
Network connections are provided by Killa Wireless WiFI 6 and an ever useful 2.5Gb Ethernet port. The one thing missing is USB charging which is disappointing. Razer still uses their proprietary DC power port which admittedly is slim and fairly light with a gorgeous braided cable. Still, USB charging as the main would be really appreciated.
Sounds amazing but battery won’t get you far
I don’t usually dwell on laptop speakers firstly because they are usually bad and secondly, the laptop’s fans are always too loud to use the speakers for gaming. However, I do have to give credit to Razer – these speakers have the best audio clarity and separation I’ve encountered on a gaming laptop. The sound is so well balanced that it feels like it’s coming out at you from the centre of the display and emanating outwards around you. It’s really quite impressive and unexpected.
They also get really loud but unfortunately, they lack bass so forget head-thumping hip-hop. But in-game, you’ll get amazing clarity and ambient awareness even if gunshots sound more pew-pew than boom-boom. The speakers also get reasonably loud but as usual, you’ll be much better off using a good pair of headsets to really get the most of your content. There’s still a traditional 3.5mm port for your headphones.
Battery life on the Blade Pro 17 I had proved to be lacklustre. I consistently managed about 2–2.5 hours on a charge doing nothing but web browsing while listening to Spotify. A big part of the problem was NVIDIA Optimus doesn’t seem to work with the 300Hz display. In theory, this battery should be able to last 5 hours but I could never reach those numbers. I could put it in battery saver mode, set the display to 60Hz and 50% brightness, turn off the RGB lighting, manually throttle the CPU…but nobody uses their laptops like that in real life anyway so there’s really no point.
When you pay the sort of premiums that the Blade Pro 17 commands, you shouldn’t have to mess around with deep dark settings to eke out a decent battery life. I consistently got over 5 hours on the cheaper Asus Zephyrus G14 without doing anything and could extend that with tweaks. And so, as a desktop replacement, the Blade Pro 17 should never be far from a power outlet, especially if you are going to be using it for its intended purpose — high-end gaming and content creation.
I really like the Razer Blade Pro 17. It’s such a powerful machine that can handle anything. I was extremely impressed with how well it runs games making actual use of that 300Hz display. I’ve always been partial to 17-inch laptops but they can quickly become rather large and bulky. The Blade Pro 17 stays rather slim and portable with only its heft to give away its true size. I see myself using the Blade Pro 17 as the centrepiece of my battle station, sitting on an equally expensive laptop stand next to a 4K monitor. Whether you are editing videos, balancing multi-sheet Excel documents or playing Valorant at 300fps, the Blade Pro 17 is a smooth operator all around.
The downsides for me are the lacklustre battery life and the lack of a 4K OLED display which I loved on the Blade 15. The addition of those would make this my dream machine but sadly that would also cost you an extra $1,500 on top of the already eye-watering $6,199.00 that our review model costs. This sort of money is absurd for the average consumer and honestly an unwise way to spend your money. The price-to-performance ratio is too damn high and you could easily get a monstrous gaming PC with an NVIDIA RTX 2080Ti and top-shelf peripherals. And, you’d still have enough to buy a Zephyrus G14 for on the go gaming.
But, if you want the most uncompromisingly built, beautiful and powerful thin gaming and work laptop, then the Razer Blade Pro 17 is the absolute best that (a crap ton) money can buy.
The Razer Blade Pro 17 was loaned to PowerUp! by Razer Australia for the purpose of this review.