The last 14-inch Razer Blade laptop was released less than a year ago, and it was great enough to score a 9/10 in WIRED’s full review. A great laptop is about to get even greater, because there’s already a newer and even more powerful version of the high-powered gaming notebook.
Razer is calling its new 14-inch Blade “the highest power-per-cubic-inch laptop in the world,” and it looks like that isn’t just empty talk. It’s incredibly thin and light, but it’s built to be a gaming workhorse. Pound-for-pound power aside, the marquee feature of this new laptop is its 3200 x 1800-resolution IGZO touchscreen display.
“Many people were asking us for a 1080 screen,” Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan told WIRED. “We’ve gone way above that with a QHD+ display… This is, hands down, the world’s best laptop screen there is right now.”
Samsung’s Ativ Book Plus 9 and Toshiba’s 4K laptops may have a bone to pick with that claim. But the new Blade’s display is certainly sharp, bright, and vivid, and the sum of its parts looks like something far different from those laptops.
Its QHD+ screen has a significantly higher pixel density than the 13- and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros, and it offers a near-identical pixel density as the iPad Air’s IGZO display (262 ppi vs. the Air’s 264 ppi). The Blade’s screen has a 160-degree-wide viewing angle for its vivid, sharp picture, and IGZO’s power efficiency means that it can get bright (400 nits) without taxing the battery as much as it probably should.
“There’s a huge premium that we are paying for this (Sharp IGZO panel) versus a normal IPS panel, but the difference is that the IGZO panel’s response rate is incredible,” says Tan. “It’s much better than a normal IPS screen, so it fulfills our need for great resolution, super thin, and super fast response rate. Its color vibrancy and color gamut is incredible.”
Aesthetically, the new Blade isn’t much of a departure from the last version. If a MacBook Pro played football for the Oregon Ducks, it would look like the Razer Blade. The Windows 8.1 laptop offers the same black aluminum unibody and lime-green backlit chiclet keyboard as its predecessor, as well as the trio of lime-green-accented USB 3.0 ports.
However, it’s been redesigned from the inside out in order to make its next-generation components run smoothly. There’s some serious firepower under the hood: Nvidia’s brand-new GeForce GTX 870M GPU with 3GB of GDDR5 RAM and a 2.2GHz fourth-generation quad-core Intel i7 CPU with 8GB of 1600 MHz RAM.
“We’ve completely reengineered again the thermal system around the Blade, and we’re now using a GTX 870M,” says Tan. “It was all about making sure we optimized the thermals in this. We really made as much space as possible to put the battery in there. We’ve got a 70 Wh battery. We’ve also worked with Nvidia to do a battery boost.”
Specifically, Razer says the Blade’s 70-Watt-hour battery offers up to six hours of juice per charge. The laptop is a bit thicker and heavier than the last iteration of the Razer Blade, but not by much: The new Blade clocks in at 0.7 inches thick and 4.5 lbs., as compared to the predecessor’s 0.66-inch thickness and 4.1-pound weight.
It still doesn’t have an SD-card slot, which is a shame for photographers looking to view and manipulate images on that super-high-resolution touchscreen. But that just means there’s some room for improvement in the next-generation Blade.
“We constantly design and iterate over and over again, and it’s a little nuts,” says Tan. “But that’s how I think we’ve gone from launching our first laptop three years ago to probably the best laptop in the world right now.”
This premium portable will certainly cost you: The new 14-inch Razer Blade will start at $2,200 for its 128GB SSD base version. 256GB and 512GB SSD configurations will also be available for a bit more than that. Pre-orders start today, and the laptops are slated to ship in two weeks.