At just 0.66 inches thick and with performance good for some of the most demanding games on the market, Razer's new 14-inch blade is possibly the coolest device I've ever played a PC game on. It is certainly the hottest.
Once known for its mid to high-end gaming peripherals, Razer has reached a point where I can no longer call them an accessory maker. Between the original 17-inch Razer Blade, edge PC gaming tablet, and that ridiculously thin beauty, the company has definitely made an impact in the PC gaming market. Razer is one of the bravest companies to build slot machines today as the engineers are fed up and aren't afraid to sacrifice a lower price for a more innovative product.
One example of this is the new Razer Blade, the 14-inch machine that takes on the Blade name as its 17-inch predecessor goes pro. Prior to its debut in late May, Razer teased the device with the slogan "thinner than a dime". As Kirk Hamilton pointed out while writing down his practical time with the unit, perhaps "less than a cent" would have been more appropriate.
Another Razer marketing favorite is "incredibly thin," a much more accurate description of the new blade, as I can't see it work as well as it does without exploding.
This elegant and sexy aluminum case contains an Intel Core i7-4702HQ quad-core processor with 2.2 GHz (3.2 with Turbo-Boosted) and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory. Cooling this type of hardware is exactly why most dedicated gaming laptops are large and bulky.
Yet the 14-inch Razer Blade survived marathon games with demanding games – I ran Metro: Last Light on the highest settings for 10 hours – without melting into a puddle, and all of the external cooling I can see is those two tiny fan openings on the bottom of the device.
This does not mean that the device will not get hot. It gets hot as hell – so hot a more traditional PC maker may not have approved the design. The amazing thing about the design of the blade is where it gets hot. I made a promise to myself I wouldn't use images in this review, but this one is inevitable.
The Blade's unique thermal solution, seen in the photo above but likely not understood, directs all system heat to the back of the unit. At the top it is the area between the keyboard and the display. These areas get hot – not so much that you would burn yourself if you swiped your finger past them, but holding them against the metal for long periods of time is out of the question. This is not a system you want to take into the bathroom (this is what the Edge is designed for).
Unless you're planning on bare-legged PC games, the heat is little more than a hassle that is easily overlooked given the power that's packed into the Blade's 4-pound slim frame.
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I have tested several popular PC games, each running at the highest possible settings at the Blade's native resolution of 1600 x 900. Tomb Raider averaged 40 frames per second. BioShock Infinite also averaged in their low 40s. Metro: Last Light's benchmark gave me an average of 31 FPS, but the game, as seen in the video above, seemed to be doing a lot better than the benchmark, averaging slightly at 45.
The numbers may not seem impressive when compared to those of a high-end PC with top-notch full-size graphics cards, but these are games run at extreme settings on a computer that is only 0.66 inches thick. There is no other machine that can come close to increasing the performance of the new blade in a similar form factor (time period).
Even if the new Blade isn't involved in a heated battle with high-quality PC games, it's an impressive machine. The aluminum construction is impressively robust, the design restrained, even with the omnipresent green glowing snake logo. The Killer Wireless Chip is pretty fast and important in a system with no physical network connection. The built-in stereo speakers ensure good sound, although nice headphones are preferred. The trackpad is a trackpad – an external mouse for profit – without its bigger brother's customizable Switchblade interface buttons. That's probably the best.
If I could improve one aspect of the new blade, it would be the screen. It's very nice when you look at it carefully, but the viewing angle isn't spectacular – expect regular adjustments if you move around a lot in your seat while playing. The battery life could also be better. I could see myself getting the promised six hours in daily use, but wireless gaming won't take more than an hour and a half before the system needs more juice.
When Razer first got into the gaming PC business and trumpeted its rallying cry, "PC gaming is not dead," I was sure that the company's plan to change the face of PC gaming was little more than one Marketing hype was. Now that I've seen the original blade, the edge, and this impossible beauty, I'm not so sure.
With the new 14-inch Razer blade, the company has created a slot machine that we may not have seen for a few years. This kind of fearless innovation is exactly what the PC gaming hardware industry needs to get it beyond the big, scary boxes into the hearts and homes of gamers everywhere.
The 14-inch blade can be purchased from Razerzone.com and Amazon.com.