Some say the days of PC gaming are over. Some evidence is undeniable: publishers are moving away from the PC in favor of consoles. DRM controversies seem to arise every other week, turning the PC gaming scene into a virtual police state. Hardware giant HP has just announced their intention to separate their PC branch entirely. Admittedly, it looks bleak.
Thankfully, Razer, the international gaming peripheral colossus, doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo. Razer has just announced its biggest product yet: the Blade. CEO Min-Liang Tan bills it as the first “true” gaming laptop (rather than desktop replacement), and, on paper, it looks to be one of the most well-rounded laptops today.
Traditionally, 17” gaming laptops—the Alienware M17x, the Asus G73, and so on—have been thick, heavy, and extremely unsuited for constant travel, and thus are more suited as desktop replacements than as portable machines. You’ll be hard-pressed to find one in a college lecture or coffee shop. Razer’s Blade, however, bucks that “bigger is better” trend by measuring only 0.88” thick, less than half as fat as the opposition. Similarly, Razer have kept the weight down to 6.97 lbs, considerably less than the usual ten-pound-plus laptops and comparable to large-screened non-gaming notebooks such as the Dell Inspiron 17r or the 17.3” Sony Vaio E series. As such, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to carry the Blade around on a day-to-day basis.
By far the most groundbreaking part of the Blade is its trackpad. It is, in fact, a 480×800 LCD screen, with a bank of 10 customizable, dynamic keys mounted above. Those keys, if you remember, are taken directly from the Switchblade concept we saw at CES in January and, combined with the trackpad/secondary screen, make for one of the most striking visual components on any laptop today. Notably, it’s mounted off to the right side of the keyboard, where you’d usually find the number pad. It’s also where, if you’re playing typical WASD+Mouse game like most FPSs or RPGs of today, you won’t be able to reach. So if you’re using an external mouse, those ten Switchblade-style (or, if you prefer, Optimus Maximus-style) keys will sit unused. It also means that the secondary screen will be unobstructed by wrist or fingers and therefore highly usable for displaying a map or vital statistics.
The internals, too, are impressive: a 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-2640M CPU, GeForce GT555M GPU with 2GB of dedicated video memory, and 8GB of DDR3 RAM. Although they’re mobile chips, and as such not quite as powerful as the desktop components Alienware stuffs into its behemoths, the greatly reduced power consumption should mean that it should be able to run off its own power for a reasonable period. The only component in the Blade that seems particularly out of place is its hard drive: a 320GB 7200RPM hard disk. With all its computing power, why has Razer decided to limit the hard drive to something that belongs in a 12” ultraportable? Surely a solid-state disk would have been the logical choice.
And it’s not like Razer can cite price as an excuse. When the Blade comes to market in the fourth quarter of 2011, it’s going to cost a wallet-wrenching $2799. To put that into perspective, that money could buy you an Alienware M14x with a Core i7-2630M processor and a 1.5GB GT555M ($1299), a PS3 ($249), an Xbox 360 ($199), a decent 42” 1080p TV ($500), and three brand-new blockbuster games on each of those systems ($500 total). As such, Razer seem to have priced its new flagship out of the already-expensive gaming laptop market, and directly into the firing range of one of the biggest big-ticket items in the business: the 17” MacBook Pro.
Pound for pound (literally and figuratively), the Blade matches the MBP in every respect. Like the MacBook, the Razer’s chassis is milled out of a single block of aluminum, in this case painted matte black instead of Apple’s silver. Like the MacBook, it’s branded with a name that’s got weight and reputation (although the reputations of Apple and Razer could hardly be more different). Like the MacBook, it’s under an inch thin (0.88” for the Blade vs 0.98” for the MBP) andweighs under 7 pounds (6.97lbs for the Blade vs 6.6lbs for the MBP). However, its processor is faster, its graphics card benchmarks higher, and it’s got more memory—and that droolworthy, lustworthy piece of hardware next to the keyboard. Apple proved with its large, comfortable, multitouch glass trackpads that mice are not the be-all and end-all to pointing solutions. Razer is out to prove that a pointing solution is not the full potential of the trackpad. Build a MacBook Pro with a slightly-inferior 2.3GHz Core i7 and the same 8GB of 1333MHz DDR3 RAM, and you’re looking at a price of $2949. Should the Blade come to fruition with the kind of build quality and refinement that it appears to have in photographs, it will be the first real direct competitor the 17” MBP has had since its inception.
Bravo, Razer. Aside from a horribly punworthy name (Razor blade? Really?), you’ve built a machine to take on the giants. Consider us highly interested, both in the laptop itself as well as in the effect it might have on the Windows laptop market.
Read Razer’s press release on the next page.
PAX Prime, Seattle – August 26th, 2011 – The PC industry today has never looked bleaker. The world’s largest PC-maker Hewlett-Packard just announced their intention to explore the separation of its PC business. With PC manufacturers increasingly abandoning design and technology in lieu of outsourcing and cost-cutting, the PC industry has seen a severe dearth of innovation in recent years. Gaming consoles have also taken advantage of this innovation slump in the PC industry to garner attention from game developers and gamers alike, to the extent that now PC versions of cross-platform games are often sub-par ports of their console counterparts.
Razer, the world leader in high performance gaming hardware, introduces the Razer Blade – a full aluminum chassis gaming laptop featuring true portability, incredible performance, and an all-new revolutionary user interface. With the introduction of the Razer Blade – a feat of modern-day systems engineering and technology, Razer is reinvigorating technological and design innovation for the entire PC industry, and encouraging gamers and developers to return to the PC as the primary gaming platform of choice.
Mobile systems developed for gaming today compromise on portability and form factor for game performance. While such machines run games well, they are over 2 inches thick and can weigh more than 10lbs. The Razer Blade measures 0.88 inches thin, less than half that of current mobile gaming systems, and weighs only 6.97lbs, achieving a balance between portability and performance – making it the world’s first true gaming laptop.
Developed in partnership with Intel, the Razer Blade features a fast Intel® Core™ i7 processorand a high performance NVIDIA GeForce® graphics processor. The hardware was designed torun the most demanding games of today without sacrificing the laptop’s portable form factor.The Razer Blade also does not compromise on screen size as it comes with an incredible LED backlit high-definition 17” display.
The Razer Blade features the Switchblade User Interface – Razer’s multi-award winning, highly intuitive interface technology. The interface is comprised of 10 dynamic adaptive tactile keys for easier access of in-game commands, and an LCD capable of two modes: one mode that displays in-game information when a mouse is in use; and another mode that functions as an ultra-sensitive, multi-touch panel designed for gaming on the go.
“The Razer Blade was designed to give gamers a laptop they could truly use on the go,” said Min-Liang Tan, CEO and Creative Director, Razer. “Its sleek, lightweight aluminum construction makes it the thinnest 17-inch gaming laptop available today.”
“To truly co-develop a gaming laptop of this caliber with a company like Razer is quite a remarkable feat,” said Mooly Eden, VP and General Manager of the PC Client Group, Intel. “Bringing together our engineering forces and utilizing our fast Intel® Core™ i7 processor, the Razer Blade delivers top-class gaming performance in a very portable form factor.”
“Powered by an advanced NVIDIA GeForce® GPU with award winning NVIDIA® Optimus™ technology, the Razer Blade has the muscle to run cutting edge games with intense graphics while still offering amazing portability,” said Rene Haas, General Manager of Notebook Products, NVIDIA.
“The Switchblade User Interface on the Razer Blade is a revolutionary innovation that truly defines the new standard for gaming experiences on a laptop,” said Min-Liang Tan.
Watch the “Introducing the new Razer Blade” video at www.razerzone.com/blade
About the Razer Blade gaming laptop
The Razer Blade is a 17” gaming laptop that delivers incredible performance and a revolutionary user interface in a sleek, portable form factor. It features a fast Intel® Core™ i7 processor and a high performance NVIDIA GeForce® graphics processor designed in a lightweight aluminum chassis. The revolutionary Switchblade User Interface, found next to a full-size keyboard, was designed from the ground up to enhance gaming experiences and provide more control at the gamer’s fingertips. It features 10 adaptive tactile keys and a multi-touch LCD panel that can also display in-game information. And at just 0.88 inches thin and only weighing 6.97lbs, the Razer Blade is the world’s first true gaming laptop.
North America Q4 2011
- 2.8GHz Intel® Core™ i7 2640M Processor
- 8GB 1333MHz DDR3 Memory
- 17.3″ LED Backlit Display (1920×1080)
- NVIDIA GeForce® GT 555M with NVIDIA® Optimus™ Technology
2GB Dedicated GDDR5 Video Memory
- Built-in HD Webcam
- Integrated 60Wh Battery
- 320GB 7200rpm SATA HDD
- Wireless Network 802.11 b/g/n Compatible
- 16.81″ (Width) x 10.9″ (Depth) x 0.88″ (Height); 6.97lbs (Weight)