Earlier this year, I took a look at Razer’s first foray into gaming systems, the Blade notebook. I came away pretty impressed overall, particularly with the level of design and engineering polish. Considering it was their first notebook product, they got a lot of things right, but there were a few missteps. It was a relative lightweight when it came to performance - with only a dual-core Core i7 and Nvidia GeForce GT 555M graphics, it couldn’t really be considered on the same performance plane as the ASUS RoG and Alienware notebooks, not to mention the powerhouse systems from Clevo. And there were some fundamental issues with the Switchblade UI panel. It was a cool idea, but it was really, really buggy, and though it had the “wow” factor, it didn’t have that much utility even when it wasn’t crashing all over itself. Also, at $2799, the Blade was priced out of the realm of reality. Even so, Blade sales were brisk (their first run sold out in 30 minutes, though no word on volume) and established Razer as a serious hardware manufacturer.

Razer has set about fixing the issues we had, and a year after the original Blade was announced, they’re releasing the second generation Blade. It’s better in every conceivable way - they’ve seriously upped the performance quotient, with a quad-core IVB quad, a GTX 660M, and a 500GB hard drive paired with a 64GB SSD cache. I’m a little bit disappointed by the switch from full SSD storage, but with the size of games these days I completely understand the need for more than 256GB of disk space, and with a cache of 64GB, there’s enough space for Intel’s Smart Response caching tech to store basically everything. The biggest change in addition to the performance is the price drop, to $2499. It’s still not cheap, but when you consider the major performance upgrades, the value proposition is definitely improved.

The industrial design has remained predominantly the same, and the gorgeous 17.3” 1080p display is still there, so the parts about the first Blade that we love are for the most part untouched. To fit all of this into the Blade’s 6.4 pound, 0.8” thick frame, Razer needed to redesign the cooling system, and in the press images we can see some definite changes to the lower venting near the rear of the system. Other changes include a third USB 3.0, redesigned mouse buttons, and a Switchblade UI that’s said to be significantly improved. Razer has been rather aggressive in pushing new content and updates to Switchblade, so it’s gotten better in the six months since I had the Blade.

We’re going hands on with it later today at PAX Prime, and I'll update then with hands-on-post.

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  • inighthawki - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Oh wait, except the HORRIBLE battery life and driver support on windows through bootcamp, no thanks.
  • ImSpartacus - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    The battery life IS inferior while bootcamping, but it's not bad. MBPs have great battery life in OSX and it becomes average battery life while bootcamping.

    Maybe it's different with modern GPU-switching machines, but my MBP13'09 gets about ~3 hours/charge (up to 7 on a new battery in OSX) in Win7x64. Part of that is driver inefficiencies, but part of it is my 3 year old battery.

    And I don't know what you're talking about with the driver support. Everything works great on my MBP13'09 in Win7x64. But I know that I'm only one data point. Have you had different results with a personal bootcamped machine?
  • ananduser - Saturday, September 1, 2012 - link

    Everything works good enough under Bootcamp. That doesn't make it great. Perhaps it suits your needs, but that still doesn't cut it. You have to be an idiot to buy an Apple computer, if you're a Windows user. Your data point is irrelevant since you're an OSX user, you bought an Apple computer for OSX and not for Windows or gaming.
    Furthermore, gaming on the native res on your MBP screen is a POS.
  • ImSpartacus - Saturday, September 1, 2012 - link

    I'm a Windows user. I've considered OSX, but I enjoy gaming too much and I had a spare Office 2007 license for Windows when I bought the machine. I need Office, so I would have to buy a redundant OSX license if I wanted to switch.

    And when I bought my machine in 2009, Windows ultraportables sucked. Apple had a full voltage (back when that mattered...) machine with battery life that matched or beat the current ultraportables.

    Nowadays, there are good Windows ultraportables. When I upgrade, I think I'll be able to find a Windows machine that mostly covers my needs.
  • ananduser - Sunday, September 2, 2012 - link

    Ok I admit I was wrong about your reasons. But I'm not wrong about gaming on rMBP on its native res and issues regarding battery and overall performance under bootcamp.
  • madmilk - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    http://www.engadget.com/2012/08/03/macbook-pro-ret... for a battery life comparison under Boot Camp with the original Blade.

    Point is, Razer is not in a good situation here if the rMBP does a better job and isn't even advertised as a gaming laptop. Position it at $1800 and we can reconsider, or give it a 680M like a real gaming laptop.
  • inighthawki - Saturday, September 1, 2012 - link

    First and foremost, as you mentioned that is the ORIGINAL razer blade, equipped with a CPU and GPU that are slower AND more power hungry at the same time, of course the MBP will pull ahead. Both Kepler and ivy bridge have significant power improvements.

    Secondly, I never actually said I was in favor of the razer blade 2, I think it's still underpowered and overpriced as well. I'm just saying that I would prefer to NOT get a MBP if it's for Windows/gaming usage. There are much better laptops for that.
  • PubFiction - Monday, September 3, 2012 - link

    Just for the record , there are a ton of real gaming laptops that do not have a 680M. In fact the ASUS ROG does not even have one and it is huge compared to this.

    Samsung series 7 gamer does not have one either.
  • madmilk - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Of course a gamer wouldn't buy a Macbook Pro, but it's the most comparable system to this in terms of specs. Therefore, it is logical that a gamer wouldn't buy this either.

    Gamers buy desktops or Clevo-type machines, not 15/17" laptops that have an identity crisis between gaming laptop and ultrabook.
  • PubFiction - Monday, September 3, 2012 - link

    It is not the most compareable system, no system compares what other machine has a touchpad that is a display?

    If you just look at the core components then tons of machines can fall in line including $1200 clevos.

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