Design and Chassis

When Dustin reviewed the 2013 model, he said “it’s hard not to compare the Razer Blade 14-inch to Apple’s MacBook Pro” and with the 2014 model, it is fair to say the same thing again but with the Retina MacBook Pro 15 inch model. Though the rMBP is slightly wider and longer to accommodate the slightly larger display, the Z-height and system weight are almost identical. The Razer Blade wins out in resolution and pixel density, with 262.25 pixels per inch compared to 220 of the rMBP. These two systems are targeted towards very different audiences, but it is amazing how similar the actual designs are.

The design of the new Razer Blade is almost identical to its predecessor. The entire system is made of CNC anodized aluminum with a matte black finish. Razer seems to love green accents, so every single accent on the Blade is in green including the USB ports, keyboard backlighting, power LED, and the Razer logo on the back that is backlit as well. The body is incredibly strong, with no flexing or creaking of any part of it. The lid is also aluminum, with two parallel ridges flanking the Razer logo.

The underside has two rubberized feet which run the entire width of the laptop, which provide both grip to keep the Blade from slipping around and a small gap under the Blade to allow the two air intakes to function.

A large part of the design of a laptop with this much potential power usage (37 watt CPU plus a GPU with a TDP around 80-100 watts -- NVIDIA doesn't officially provide any figures) is going to be heat dissipation. Here, Razer has continued with the same type of cooling system as the 2013 model, with two intake fans on the bottom blowing air over a twin pipe heat exchanger. The design then exhausts the hot air out through hidden vents between the display and the back of the chassis. This makes for an aesthetically pleasing appearance since you do not have large vents protruding from the otherwise elegant design. We will see how well the venting performs later in the review.

Sitting above this cooling system is the island style keyboard, which has the distinctive Razer font used for the keys. It is backlit in green with adjustable brightness, and the keyboard feels okay to use considering the lack of travel in the keys. The backlighting is bright and even, but it would be nice if it was color adjustable as well. The green is nice and distinctively Razer, but sometimes you just want to change it up.

Below that is the Synaptics trackpad, which is quite large at 104.8mm (4.125 inch) wide and 63.5mm (2.5 inches) deep. The trackpad is very smooth and supports the Windows 8 gestures as well. Unlike most laptops I have seen lately, the Razer Blade forgoes the click pad and keeps the left and right click buttons as physical buttons at the bottom of the trackpad. Personally I much prefer having actual buttons, but your preferences may be different.

Stereo front facing speakers round out the top of the design, and the sides carry all of the connectivity with three USB 3.0 ports (two left, one right), a 3.5mm jack, and an HDMI 1.4 port. The one missing port is an SD card slot.

The design of the Razer Blade is clean, elegant, and free of the garish adornments of many other gaming laptops. In fact, other than the logo and green lighting, most people would likely not realize it's a high performance gaming notebook by the design. The matte black scheme is very subtle but it is a fingerprint magnet. It would be nice if there was a bit more personalization options such as the keyboard backlighting and possibly the finish, but it is hard to find fault with the scheme they have created since the green is used as the accent color on the entire device.

Introduction System Performance and WiFi
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  • Notmyusualid - Saturday, October 11, 2014 - link

    I am a VERY frequent traveller, and I've seen a few Alienware backpacks as I go through airports.

    I carry my M18x R2 with me everywhere I go, and yes it is heavy, but they are made for adults, right?

    Every customer I meet is fascinated to meet my Alienware machine, and it is a great talking point when meeting new customers.

    And what is with your 2hrs of battery life? Are you not aware we have integrated graphics, on a 96whr 12-cell battery? Imagine how long that lasts...

    If you think there is an image problem associated with these machines, I'd quite enjoy you expressing that opinion to my face... whilst demonstraiting what machine you carry around.
  • Connoisseur - Saturday, October 11, 2014 - link

    I thought it's fairly obvious I carry around a Razer Blade 2014. Listen, I'm not here to get into a laptop beat down contest and I'm a little confused as to why you want me to say anything to your face. I'm not insulting your family, merely your commentary on why people shouldn't be buying these machines. The markets for the two types of machine are very different. Alienware is marketed to and has the reputation of being a college gamers machine; it's always been this way. Their design language and form factor scream "Look at me! I'm sparkly and huge and look like a sci-fi tank!" I used to build systems like that back in college which had LED's with cases that had crazy angles. As I aged, my tastes changed and I preferred something that looks more subtle and slimmer. My wife would make endless fun of me if I carried that monster around.

    If you're comfortable toting around 15lbs total of computer parts (laptop + power brick) and using an 18" screen on an airplane tray or on your lap, more power to you. I prefer something I can tuck under my arm. Not to mention that I frequently have to also carry around my work laptop and the use case for a slim, lightweight gaming system makes a lot of sense.
  • DPOverLord - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    Doesn't seem that great. Did they need such a high res screen? For $2k that GPU may not run it well. Make it a 970/980 with the new refresh.

    Then upgrade the CPU... Also, weight should not go up.
  • DPOverLord - Saturday, October 11, 2014 - link

    Realized this is not new. Stop reviewing 'old hardware' or at least put a spoiler that you're reviewing something that came out months ago. Bit confusing since I was here thinking "wtf is razer doing"
  • zepi - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    It sure looks nicer than MSI GS60, but is that alone worth the extra cost? Especially when new version of the MSI is just about to come out with GTX 970M...
  • whyso - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    Love the review but I feel that these notebook reviews need for the games and CPU benchmark sections the CPU and GPU name beside the name of the notebook for quick and easy comparison.
  • Awful - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    What use case are they actually targeting with that screen resolution? It sure isn't gaming...
  • Morawka - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    i wonder how a gaming laptop would be if it used Broadwell Core M for very low power dual core performance at 5-10 watt, and devote the rest of the TDP to GPU. This would prevent throttling whene on battery so long as total system draw is under 100W. 100W is about the peak of what laptop batteries can put out.
  • kallogan - Saturday, October 11, 2014 - link

    i'd like to see that too a core m 5yxx would run easy at constant full dual core turbo in a notebook chassis even with a very weak cooling, would give enough cpu power and would let the gpu a lot of tdp room !!!! Under 100W with a premium class gpu would be great.

    But sadly i don't think core m 5yxx are intended to be paired with discrete gpus, only for convertibles tablets and such but we'll see. Later Broadwell cpus it will be.

    But as a gamer concerned mostly by cooling and noise and not caring for a premium cpu as long as there is no major cpu limiting i'm definitely for devoting the power to gpus !!!
  • limitedaccess - Saturday, October 11, 2014 - link

    ULV and lower power Intel mobile CPUs (including the new Core-M series) are limited to PCie 2.0 x4 while M/Q CPUs have the a full PCie 3.0 x16 available to them.

    The only GTX x60m+ class laptop I'm aware of that pairs with a non M/Q CPU was the announced (but not yet released) Alienware 13 with a Haswell-U + GTX 860m. However there was, I believe, some uncertainty regarding whether that will be the actual CPU configuration.

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