Razer Blade Pro review: a 17in laptop for work and play

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Razer Blade Pro review: a 17in laptop for work and play
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For those who don’t want a low-powered ultraportable, here’s a welcome alternative.

Business laptops never look this good, but the Razer Blade Pro is a unique machine. It’s dark and svelte – despite the huge 17.3in screen – and it’s built to address the dual demands of work and play.

Razer has taken some bold decisions with its keyboard and trackpad on this machine, changing their positions to reflect how people use PCs – and it’s packed the Blade Pro with powerful components, too.

Design

There's no denying how attractive this machine is. The body is built from black machined aluminium, and it's finished with Razer's familiar green touches. The perfectly balanced lid eases open to reveal no unsightly logos – just a small, smart power button and Razer's interesting ergonomic choices.

The Blade Pro is a 17.3in machine, so it occupies plenty of space, but it's relatively slim and light compared to most other 17.3in machines – its body is just 23mm thin, and it weighs just over 3kg. Dell's larger Precision laptops are almost half a kilo heavier and about a centimetre wider, for instance.

The Razer's machined aluminium means build quality is exceptional – although we'd still use a sleeve to protect the metal from scuffs and scrapes.

The aluminium brings to mind the MacBook Pro – which is a comparable business-class machine and a superb device in its own right – despite the Blade's larger screen. Both offer comparable design and strength, although the MacBook is slimmer and lighter.

The Razer serves up a HDMI and a Thunderbolt 3 port alongside three USB 3.1 Type-A connectors, a card reader and one audio jack. That's significantly more versatile than the MacBook, which only has Thunderbolt ports.

Keyboard and trackpad

We're used to laptops with a trackpad below the keyboard, but the Blade Pro goes in a different direction – horizontally.

The keyboard still occupies most of the Blade's width, but the trackpad sits on the right-hand side. It's a large pad ringed with RGB LED illumination, and a scroll-wheel above is flanked by media buttons.

At first, it's undeniably strange. We kept dragging our fingers to the more traditional trackpad location below the keyboard, and the keyboard itself is shifted to the left – so we kept missing those buttons, too.

Spend time with the Blade, though, and the layout becomes familiar. The trackpad's position mirrors how most people use a mouse at a desk. The pad is also larger than most trackpads, and the presence of a scroll-wheel makes it easier to work, too.

The keyboard's buttons are still large enough for rapid typing. They have impressive speed, a solid base and enough travel – all attributes that make the Blade's keyboard a boon for productivity.

It's certainly different from the latest MacBook keyboard, which has hardly any travel and requires a light touch. If you want a more traditional feel beneath the finger for hammering out long documents, then the Razer's unit will deliver more satisfaction.

Display

Blade Pro’s high-end models feature a 4K touchscreen display, but the base model reviewed here has a Full HD IPS (non-touchscreen) panel with a matte finish. It's got a 120Hz refresh rate which can be used to deliver smoother scrolling and slicker navigation.

The screen delivered solid benchmarks in most tests. Its brightness measurement of 372cd/m2 is good, and that's paired with a black level of 0.24cd/m2 – a good result that creates dark areas that look suitably inky and distinct.

The Razer's contrast ratio of 1,550:1 is fantastic. Images pop off the panel, and there's plenty of vibrancy at every part of the scale. It's easy to pick apart subtly different shades, too.

The screen's colour temperature of 6,763K is good, and the screen's Gamma measurement of 2.12 is fine.

The Razer's panel only faltered in a couple of areas. Its average Delta E of 4.7 is just that – average – while it could only display 86.2% of the sRGB colour gamut.

Those issues mean the Razer isn't quite up to the most sensitive photo and design tasks, but it'll handle almost all work applications – including most photo and video editing – with ease.

It's undoubtedly a good display, but the latest MacBook Pro goes one better. The 15in model has a 2,880 x 1,800-pixel resolution that offers more sharpness than the Blade Pro. It also has better colours and a better bright point, and it's arguably more useful for professional users as it adheres to the DCI-P3 colour gamut.

Next: performance and verdict

Razer Blade Pro
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