Razer Blade: hands-on with 17 inches of gaming greatness

Something big's been brewing over in Carlsbad, and the time has finally come for it to be revealed to the world: the Razer Blade. The onyx aluminum beaut before you is the culmination of over three years of work by a stealth team of engineers -- many of them absorbed from the former OQO team. Despite being only 0.88 inches thick (thinner than another 17-incher we know...), the svelte number still packs a punch with a 2.8GHz Core i7-2640M CPU and GeForce GT 555M graphics replete with 2GB of GDDR5 video memory. All that graphical horsepower will splay your exploits on a 17.3-inch LED 1920 x 1080 full HD panel with an HD webcam nestled above. Rounding out the package is 8GB of RAM, three USB ports (one of the 3.0 persuasion), HDMI-out and a 60Wh integrated battery. And it could all be yours for $2,799 when it debuts in Q4 of this year.

That's dandy, but we're more stoked on the 480 x 800 LCD trackpad just to the right of the backlit keyboard. It works either as a multitouch-enabled input device or as an additional display for in-game info when the urge to slay demons with an external mouse strikes. North of that hotness lie ten fully customizable buttons, both in appearance (courtesy of a separate LCD) and in function. The keys and trackpad were last seen on a keyboard in a galaxy far, far away, and are running a custom Switchblade UI -- inspired by the company's oh so sexy Switchblade concept that we saw at CES. And just like the concept, Razer's used a custom lighting panel to ensure you can see those keys clearly from an angle -- people don't look straight down at their keyboards, after all. Follow on past the break for more impressions, video and PR.
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We got to speak with Razer's CEO, Min-Liang Tan, about the firm's latest offering, and he explained what prompted the shift from peripheral production into PCs. He said the desire to expand beyond mice and headsets was grounded by a waning interest from other manufacturers in the gaming PC space. Razer packed some serious hardware in its first foray into laptop manufacturing, and the company worked extensively with both Intel and NVIDIA on things like thermal management to get it right. Tan was quick to point out the custom power brick (half the size of its competition), the fully anti-ghosted keyboard and the tailored green innards of the USB 3.0 port (not present in the prototype we laid eyes on) as examples of places where Razer could have compromised but didn't. In short, Razer has clearly done its homework here, and such attention to detail is much appreciated.

Despite only spending brief time with a prototype Blade, we came away mightily impressed with its construction and execution. It's an understated machine with its matte ebony exterior, but the green accents give a hint that this is no ordinary PC. The LCD trackpad and Switchblade keys wowed us once again, but because the Blade was only running a demo loop we couldn't get any impressions of the custom UI. We also can't tell you how deep those tweaks go, but Razer assures us that the soon-to-be-released API allows quite a bit of customization (Engadget key, anyone?). We're looking forward to a more in-depth review once it hits the market, when we'll be able to put it through the ringer. Until then, we can say that while the Blade may not take the fps crown from more potent "portable" gaming laptops, at just seven pounds it can give you some quality gaming cake and let you actually carry it too.

Michael Gorman contributed to this report.

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Razer launches the Razer Blade at PAX Prime featuring
true portability, incredible performance, and a revolutionary user interface

PAXPrime, Seattle – August 26th, 2011 – The PC industry today has never looked bleaker. The world's largest PC-maker Hewlett-Packard just announced their intention to explore the separation of its PC business. With PC manufacturers increasingly abandoning design and technology in lieu of outsourcing and cost-cutting, the PC industry has seen a severe dearth of innovation in recent years. Gaming consoles have also taken advantage of this innovation slump in the PC industry to garner attention from game developers and gamers alike, to the extent that now PC versions of cross-platform games are often sub-par ports of their console counterparts.

Razer, the world leader in high performance gaming hardware, introduces the Razer Blade – a full aluminum chassis gaming laptop featuring true portability, incredible performance, and an all-new revolutionary user interface. With the introduction of the Razer Blade – a feat of modern-day systems engineering and technology, Razer is reinvigorating technological and design innovation for the entire PC industry, and encouraging gamers and developers to return to the PC as the primary gaming platform of choice.

Mobile systems developed for gaming today compromise on portability and form factor for game performance. While such machines run games well, they are over 2 inches thick and can weigh more than 10lbs. The Razer Blade measures 0.88 inches thin, less than half that of current mobile gaming systems, and weighs only 6.97lbs, achieving a balance between portability and performance – making it the world's first true gaming laptop.

Developed in partnership with Intel, the Razer Blade features a fast Intel® CoreTM i7 processor and a high performance NVIDIA GeForce® graphics processor. The hardware was designed to run the most demanding games of today without sacrificing the laptop's portable form factor. The Razer Blade also does not compromise on screen size as it comes with an incredible LED- backlit high-definition 17" display.

The Razer Blade features the Switchblade User Interface - Razer's multi-award winning, highly intuitive interface technology. The interface is comprised of 10 dynamic adaptive tactile keys for easier access of in-game commands, and an LCD capable of two modes: one mode that displays in-game information when a mouse is in use; and another mode that functions as an ultra-sensitive, multi-touch panel designed for gaming on the go.

"The Razer Blade was designed to give gamers a laptop they could truly use on the go," said Min-Liang Tan, CEO and Creative Director, Razer. "Its sleek, lightweight aluminum construction makes it the thinnest 17-inch gaming laptop available today."

"We're proud to co-develop this revolutionary gaming laptop with Razer," said Mooly Eden, VP and General Manager of the PC Client Group, Intel. "Utilizing our fast Intel® CoreTM i7 processor, the Razer Blade delivers top-class gaming performance in a portable form factor."

"Powered by an advanced NVIDIA GeForce® GPU with award winning NVIDIA® OptimusTM technology, the Razer Blade has the muscle to run cutting edge games with intense graphics while still offering amazing portability," said Rene Haas, General Manager of Notebook Products, NVIDIA.

"The Switchblade User Interface on the Razer Blade is a revolutionary innovation that truly defines the new standard for gaming experiences on a laptop," said Min-Liang Tan.

Watch the "Introducing the new Razer Blade" video at

About the Razer Blade gaming laptop
The Razer Blade is a 17" gaming laptop that delivers incredible performance and a revolutionary user interface in a sleek, portable form factor. It features a fast Intel® CoreTM i7 processor and a high performance NVIDIA GeForce® graphics processor designed in a lightweight aluminum chassis. The revolutionary Switchblade User Interface, found next to a full-size keyboard, was designed from the ground up to enhance gaming experiences and provide more control at the gamer's fingertips. It features 10 adaptive tactile keys and a multi-touch LCD panel that can also display in-game information. And at just 0.88 inches thin and only weighing 6.97lbs, the Razer Blade is the world's first true gaming laptop.

Price: US$2799.99

North America Q4 2011

Product Specifications:
- 2.8GHz Intel® CoreTM i7 2640M Processor
- 8GB 1333MHz DDR3 Memory
- 17.3" LED Backlit Display (1920x1080)
- NVIDIA GeForce® GT 555M with NVIDIA® OptimusTM Technology
- 2GB Dedicated GDDR5 Video Memory
- Built-in HD Webcam
- Integrated 60Wh Battery
- 320GB 7200rpm SATA HDD
- Wireless Network 802.11 b/g/n Compatible
- 16.81" (Width) x 10.9" (Depth) x 0.88" (Height); 6.97lbs (Weight)