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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  • nerd1 - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    This one is actually NOT any powerful than sammy chronos 17 mainstream laptop (IB quad plus 650M GPU) with half the price, and for $1800 I can get a m17xR4 with 7970M GPU and great cooling.
  • SpartanJet - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    First the 660m is base clock are higher than the base 650 (and should give more OC room if the laptop is up to it since its binned higher). Second the Alienwares are horrifically ugly paired with glossy cheap plastic. Not to mention that rubbery stuff that wears off in 6 months which is very prone to oil stains. I'd much rather have a nice Aluminum shell with a laptop that doesn't look like its designed by tacky aliens.
  • Yorgos - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    inspite of that alienware and any other ugly laptop with the same specs(as alienware) and the same price range is still better than that.

    Some people like to game, they don't care either about shiny pretty laptops nor castles and princes.
    (ooohh... and btw, GW2 is out and I doubt that this thing can play it smoothly even on low setting... events have a loooooot of people.)
    (you can still get a dual 6990 alienware "used" for the same amount of money +-200$)

    enough said.
  • geniekid - Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - link

    It's not so much about looks as it is about build quality and the Blade definitely has better build quality than any Alienware out there.

    That said, there's a limit to how much extra people are willing to pay for superior build quality, and I'm of the opinion that the premium associated with this thing is still much, much too high.
  • VivekGowri - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    How is a GTX 660 not more powerful than a GT 650 at stock clocks? GTX 660 is the fastest Kepler GPU other than the GTX 680M (which was outside the thermal envelope and development timeframe of this system.) GTX 670 and 675 are both Fermi based, and a 40nm GPU in a system this thin just wouldn't have been feasible.
  • Roland00Address - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Nvidia allows multiple options with the 650m, they only allow 1 speed for the 660m. It can have ddr3 or gddr5. Unlike the 660m which has a definite speed of 835mhz, nvidia allows the 650m to have 735 (aka 12% slower) all the way up to 850MHz (1.7% faster)

    So worse case scenario if you get a laptop with the gddr5 version of the 650m you are not notice the 12% slower without using a benchmarking program. Even so you may have a 650m that perfoms only 5% slower (about 790mhz) or even faster than the geforce gtx660m.

    For more info see nvidia's website on these cards and notebook check
  • Kibispark - Saturday, September 1, 2012 - link

    The DDR3 version of the GT 650M is clocked at 850MHz, the GDDR5 version is clocked at 735MHz. Thats what i got out of notebookcheck when the GPUs came out, i dont know if they have changed anything.
  • madmilk - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    The Retina Macbook Pro is lighter, faster (real SSD, higher GPU clock), has a better screen AND is still $300 cheaper.
  • B3an - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    Yeah because a gamer is really going to consider a Macbook Pro. They're just SO suited for gaming and have all the features this does. /s
  • EnzoFX - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    It doesn't? Install Windows. Done.

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