The Razer Blade Pro 17 is Razer’s largest gaming laptop, but in distinctive Razer style, it still manages to stay thin and light compared to other 17-inchers on the market. The 2019 version of the Blade Pro 17, unveiled this week, will come with significant design changes that bring it in line with the styling of the rest of the Blade line. The outer changes include a relocated touchpad and thinner borders around the 144Hz IPS display. Slimmer screen bezels also mean a smaller and thinner laptop overall, which is a welcome and necessary improvement in a market obsessed with slimming down.
As before, Razer plans to sell three main configurations of the Blade Pro 17. All feature a powerful Intel 9th Generation Core i9 CPU, but they come with different versions of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX graphics chips, as well as various memory and storage configurations. The cheapest will start at $ 2,499, a lofty price that locks this laptop at the top of the mobile gaming market.
The company let us spend a little while playing around with the new Pro 17. Here’s what you can look forward to when it goes on sale next month.
Old Pro, Meet New Pro
When you place the new and old Razer Blade Pro 17 next to one another, it’s immediately apparent that Razer’s engineers have stuffed the components into a smaller space. The most obvious difference is the bezel around the screen. It’s significantly thinner on the new Blade Pro 17 (above left), resulting in a much slimmer look. That also allows for the lower half of the laptop to be smaller for the same screen size.
Beyond looks, the new machine will also be kinder to your shoulders when you’re lugging it around in a backpack. And the desk footprint is drastically smaller. The chassis measures 0.78 by 15.6 by 10.2 inches (HWD) and weighs 6.1 pounds, compared with the 0.9 by 16.7 by 11 inches and 6.8 pounds of its predecessor.
Where’s the Touchpad Now?
Other than the slimmer bezels, the new Blade Pro 17’s most significant exterior refinement is a relocated touchpad. The old Blade Pro 17 (above right) featured an atypical arrangement, with the touchpad mounted to the right of the keyboard. This layout conferred significant benefits, including room for a volume roll bar above the touchpad.
There were significant drawbacks to that old design, too, including cramped sides with plenty of room above and below. With the new, more conventional layout, Razer had room for both a larger touchpad and bigger speaker grilles on either side of the keyboard. Unfortunately for gamers who like to quickly adjust audio volume, the roll bar is gone.
The Better to Tap You With
Once you touch the new Blade Pro 17’s touchpad, it is immediately apparent that this isn’t the clumsy pad that graces many less-expensive gaming laptops. It’s made of glass, which feels quite pleasing to the touch, and it uses Microsoft’s Precision Touchpad interface for better accuracy and adjustments.
By far my favorite feature, though, is the new pad’s size. It might look strange, but I see no reason not to take up as much of the wrist rest’s vacant space as possible with a touchable surface. It might not matter much when you’ve got a gaming mouse plugged in, but if you’re just navigating through regular apps, the touchpad’s vast expanse feels downright luxurious.
A 144Hz IPS Display
Based on the short time I spent with the new Blade Pro 17, I found its full HD (1080p) display to offer excellent contrast and very good glare blocking. Razer rates the panel for a relatively low maximum brightness level of 300 nits. That said, I suspect most prospective owners, keen on esports or high-performance gaming, will be far more attracted to the IPS display’s fast 144Hz refresh rate.
In a departure from custom, this is the only display available on the new Blade Pro 17. There’s no option for a 4K panel, as there was on the preceding model. It’s not a huge loss for hardcore gamers, who are often more interested in smooth gameplay at high frame rates at 1080p than in pushing games to the limit in 4K on a laptop.
No Number Pad
With the room freed up by the touchpad’s relocation, Razer decided to add large speaker grilles on either side of the keyboard instead of enlarging the keyboard proper. That means potentially better sound (I didn’t get to crank up the audio during my brief demo), but it also means spreadsheet ninjas won’t have the option of keying in figures on a dedicated number pad.
As you might expect on such an expensive gaming laptop, the keyboard is backlit and eminently customizable using Razer’s Chroma software. Based on a few keystrokes, the layout feels solid to type on, as well.
A Laptop Blackout
The back of the Blade Pro 17 offers the same understated aesthetic we’ve come to expect from Razer. You’ll note the prominent green Razer logo, but otherwise nothing else to mar the black expanses. I especially appreciate how the corners are less rounded on the new model than they are on the old one, offering a more angular, modern look.
Looking for a Way Inside?
Meanwhile, on the bottom of the laptop, removable torque screws let you access the components within. In Razer’s cheapest ($ 2,499) configuration of the 2019 Blade Pro 17, they include a six-core Intel Core i9-9750H (one of the new 9th Generation Core CPUs), an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 graphics chip, a 512GB SSD, and 16GB of memory. Upgrades include Max-Q versions of the RTX 2070 and RTX 2080, as well as up to 2TB of SSD storage and 64GB of memory.
Right Side Ports
On the right edge, you’ll find a full-size SD card reader, a USB Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A port, an HDMI 2.0b output, and a Kensington-style security lock slot.
Left Side Ports
Meanwhile, on the left, you’ll find a power port to connect the 230-watt power adapter (which is rather compact, not the usual gaming-laptop brick), a 2.5Gbps Ethernet jack, three more USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (one in the oval Type-C format), and a headphone/microphone combo jack.
Check back soon for PCMag’s full review of the Blade Pro 17. We’re looking forward to getting this 9th Generation Core/GeForce RTX powerhouse all fired up.
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