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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  • tekeffect - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    Hopefully they don't wait a whole year before updating to a 970m and 16gb ram Reply
  • nathanddrews - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    Seems like a missed opportunity. Unless you have an immediate need or have the money to upgrade in four months, it seems better to wait for a Broadwell + 16GB + 970M combination or at least 16GB + 970M. Also, the markup going from 128GB to 512GB is more expensive than MSRP on a 1TB SSD... I expect some margin in the price when buying pre-built, but that's just excessive to me. Otherwise, it's a great looking machine! Reply
  • hammer256 - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    This. The timing is a tad strange, frankly. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    Technically our review was delayed, as the updated Blade launched a few months back. Razer hasn't announced a 970M release yet, but I expect that will come soon enough. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    Funny, I didn't even realize. I just assume that everything you folks review is brand new. Looks like it came out in June/July, so that makes more sense then. Let me restate my above comment as though it were July 1:

    Wow, this notebook is amazing! I can't wait to buy one! ;-)
    Reply
  • spencer_richter - Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - link

    As for gaming, it is nowhere close to the ASUS ROG G750JM-DS71 (I recommend seeing https://tr.im/d3342 for example). Reply
  • eanazag - Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - link

    I think the next Razer should be a Broadwell + 970M + 16 GB RAM. It should have a bare minimum 256GB drive for gaming.

    I love this thing and was considering this last tax season against a rMBP and the Dell XPS15 with the high res display. A 750M was just too weak for me for gaming anything but Blizzard games. I ended up with an AMD R290 gpu for my desktop upgrade, which was a more sensible choice when discussing the non-sensible cost of gaming products.
    Reply
  • Morawka - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    this laptop they are reviewing is almost a year old. It came out 8 months ago. Razer will no doubt release a 2015 model in feb Reply
  • Samus - Saturday, October 11, 2014 - link

    You either can't count or you are trolling, because this laptop is 5 months old and didn't even retail until June 15th.

    We will probably be able to pick these up at a huge price cut after the Maxwell model is released, a lot like how GTX 770's were going for $350 before Maxwell and are now selling for <$200 on eBay (used)

    I've always though this was a beautiful machine, and the Maxwell edition will be an amazing boon to battery life and cooling...but that doesn't make this unit irrelevant.
    Reply
  • Connoisseur - Friday, October 10, 2014 - link

    Love mine so far. Wishlist for the 2015 model would be a 970m, 16GB of RAM, DisplayPort and/or HDMI 2.0. If they throw in a Broadwell CPU in there too, I can't imagine that this wouldn't be the perfect laptop for 95% of use case scenarios. Reply

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