Razer Blade Gaming Laptop: First Hands-On

Get your credit cards ready, gamers: the insanely thin, super-powerful, gorgeous looking, second-generation Razer Blade is heading for Australian shores. Here’s how much damage it’s going to do to your wallet, and if it’s even worth the cost.

The second-generation Razer Blade gaming laptop is set to go on sale on November 1 both in-stores and online. You’ll be able to pick one up in person from a JB Hi-Fi flagship store in either Sydney (Pitt St Mall) or Melbourne (Elizabeth Street). If you’re outside one of those cities, you’re going to be purchasing online only via JB Hi-Fi online or via Razerzone.

It’s $2999, making it slightly more expensive than it’s going for in the US, but Razer have promised that you’ll be getting an awesome customer service program to boot and a full replacement warranty to go with it. It’s one of those elite purchase programs where they cater your experience to your needs, because no two gamers game the same, you see.

The Razer Blade is certainly packing a premium on something like the Alienware M17x — a whole $800 in fact. When you look at the M117x and the Blade side by side in terms of specifications, it’s not clear what you get for your extra dough. The processor, near as makes no difference, is the same, the 2GB NVIDA GTX660M is there, as is the 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 memory and a 17.3-inch 1920×1080 HD display. The only real difference is a 64GB SATA III solid state drive for caching and the fact that the battery pack on the Blade isn’t as big as an Ultrabook.

The main selling point with the Razer Blade, though, isn’t the specs. They’re certainly impressive and competitive with the best gaming laptops on the market, but where it really shines is the design. While the M117x is semi-portable in that it’s quite thick, the Razer Blade measures only the depth of a $2 coin — half the size of the M117x with the same footpring. The Blade almost looks like a MacBook Pro with wider hips. It puts the portable back into the portable gaming laptop, and to top it off, it’s also half the weight of the M117x without sacrificing the spec sheet.

Another reason for the price difference, we were told, is Razer’s buying power. The company makes no secret that it’s a boutique hardware vendor. Dell is one of the largest hardware companies in the world, so the fact that Razer has been able to include the gear that they have for a sub-$3000 price tag is super impressive.

The only thing more impressive than the design on the outside, is the mouse trackpad on the inside. Gaming is tough to get right on a laptop, and Razer knows it. It spent four years designing this thing just to get it right. Because Razer is primarily a gaming peripherals company, more care went into the keyboard and mouse design than anything else on the machine.

The mouse is situated to the right of the keyboard rather than centred underneath. With 17.3-inches worth of real estate to play with, Razer doesn’t exactly have to economise on where it puts things.



The mouse is actually made up of two touchscreens placed on vertically on top of each other. The top screen is concealed by 10 customisable macro keys that display icons relating to their function, meanwhile, the Gorilla Glass-coated lower screen acts as a massive trackpad complete with multi-touch functionality. It also acts as a secondary screen which Razer tell us can be used for anything: viewing a YouTube video for tips and tricks, . The hotkeys can also be made use of any way you like, too. When you play Battlefield 3 your keys become action buttons for throwing grenades, reviving a teammate or switching fire modes. The same for Counter Strike: Global Operations — you can use the macro keys to buy weapons, signal teammates or switch weapons. Or when you’re desktop browsing, you can just hotkey them to your favourite sites like Facebook, YouTube, Gizmodo and Kotaku (why aren’t they your homepage?).

All up then, the Razer Blade is mighty impressive, and to top it off, it’s only launching in Australia and North America. We’re the second launch market for a change, rather than waiting to get the our paws on it after Europe, Japan and the UK.

The only thing letting the Razer Blade down is price, but it’s a premium that’s well worth it for those who want portable gaming that’s actually half-portable.

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