There is something absolutely arresting about the Blade’s overall aesthetic. It’s big, but so strikingly thin at the same time, and the matte black paintjob is like a visual black hole. The overall effect is eye-catching, breathtaking, and will cause random passerby to stop and ask questions.

The design language is really, really clean and rather understated, two things you don’t expect from most gaming notebooks, while still keeping a sense of flair about it. The lid has two ribs vertically arranged on either side of the glowing Razer logo on the back, breaking up the monotony of the otherwise flat profile of the lid. Everything here is very uniformly laid out—lots of rectangles with radiused edges, no extraneous design elements, but unlike Apple’s portables, there’s no feeling of overwhelming sterility. Apple has taken the minimalist design philosophy so far that the MacBook Pro design language feels almost soulless. 

The Blade doesn’t have that problem. The flat black aesthetic is offset by green accents—lots of them. The Razer logo on the back lights up in green, the power button has a Razer logo that glows green and pulsates almost like a heartbeat, the USB 3.0 port is green, the keys on the keyboard are green, a lot of the UI elements of the Switchlade panel are green, the list goes on. The industrial design is very clean, but what’s impressive is the overall polish in the design and how the whole thing ties together. It’s the little things—the attention to detail borders on obsessive, and that’s very good to see.

No matter what you think about the specs or the price, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the Blade is a gorgeous, gorgeous device. It’s very obviously built to a high standard of build quality, with a machined aluminum unibody chassis that, even being so thin, is very structurally rigid. The lid and hinge are also pretty sturdy feeling, and the keyboard has no flex. Nothing about the look and feel of the Blade suggests anything less than a truly premium product. 

In terms of ports, the Blade is pretty sparse. There’s one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0, HDMI, gigabit Ethernet, combo headphone jack/line in, and AC power all on the left side of the machine, as well as a Kensington lock on the right side. I’d definitely have liked to see an SD card slot here, along with one more USB 3.0 port, but given the form factor, you can understand why the Blade doesn’t have too much in the way of ports. The reason almost all the ports are on the left side is so that when at a desk using a mouse, gamers won’t ever run into the peripheral devices connected. Close to the back of the unit, there’s vents on either side; GPU on the right, CPU on the left.

The front is also completely clean, other than the angled cutout for opening the latch-less screen. The back of the system is dominated by the hinge, a right-angled piece that borrows from Apple’s playbook for designing low-profile hinges. The bottom of the system is also pretty minimalist, with chrome-ringed heat vents on the right and left sides, FCC information silk screened onto the body, and the Windows COA sticker. The heat vents are nice in that they are angled such that they blow air towards the rear of the notebook, away from the user. 

The LCD bezel is thicker than I’d like, but the larger footprint was probably necessitated by the super-thin form factor. Above the display, we find the 2.0MP webcam, mic, and light sensor, while below it we find the highly stylised Blade logo rendered in glossy black. Against the metallic matte black of the rest of the interior, it’s understated yet incredibly cool looking. 

The rest of the interior is pretty interesting. First things first, there’s no touchpad in the conventional sense—what happened, effectively, is that the touch-based input device got moved to where the keyboard’s number pad would be, leaving the area underneath the keyboard completely free. The keyboard and Switchblade are important enough to deserve their own page, but the rearranging of the touchpad enabled Razer to do some interesting things with the design. There’s much more space above the keyboard than you’d typically find on a notebook, something that Razer took advantage of by piping most of the heat generated by the CPU and GPU to that area. It’s not somewhere where people typically touch their computers, unlike the bottom or the palmrests, so engineering the thermal system to move heat towards the rear left corner was a good idea. Razer put vents on both sides of the Blade, but a majority of the heat is exhausted from the one on the left because the design team didn’t want hot air blowing on the mouse hand (when using an external mouse). It’s touches like this that impress—it’s rare to find this kind of polish or attention to detail in a company’s first computer. 

Razer Blade - Introduction Razer Blade - Switchblade
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  • Meaker10 - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    What are you talking about, its aGT 555M, a more potent GT555M I might add, very similar to the base graphics card in the alienware small desktop PC.

    A GTS450 with a shader cluster disabled basically.
    Reply
  • VivekGowri - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    A GTX 560M would have been nice, basically the same as the GT 555M they have in it right now, except without the disabled shader cluster and a 192bit memory bus...Or they could have pushed release back a month or so and shipped it with a GT/GTX 6xxM part; Kepler would have definitely increased the performance envelope without throwing the thermals out of whack. Reply
  • Parhel - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    Ivy Bridge would have probably allowed for some some additional heat coming from the GPU side as well. This is a really sweet notebook, but in the end, I'm left thinking the same thing I thought after reading your Dell XPS 13 review the other day. Why spend invest in a premium ultrabook type system today when Ivy and Kepler are right around the corner? Reply
  • perpetualdark - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    Yes, for gamers. A gamer has a powerful desktop system, and if he/she wants to take it mobile, something powerful enough to game on, yet MOBILE and PORTABLE it what we look for. Something that can dual as a second "box" when at home.. See, to me, that is what the definition of a "gamer" is.. Not someone looking for a powerful desktop replacement with a docking station. That is what YOU are looking for - an all in one solution that fits every situation.

    I recently purchased a gaming laptop because I was going to be travelling a lot more for work. I chose the Asus 15" gaming laptop after a LOT of research. In the beginning, I wanted performance, lightweight, and inexpensive. I didn't need a powerhouse with dual graphics cards and the biggest screen you can get, I wanted enough power to run my games effectively while still being a mobile solution. One I had to carry through miles of airports, and still fit under my seat once I was on the plane. One I could open on a plane without having to be seated in an exit row. I also wanted something that would have enough battery to game for a few hours, or watch a movie on.

    The problem was, it was not out there. Nobody made something like that. My choices were a super expensive powerhouse that weighed over 10 lbs, a cheap plastic generic laptop with good specs, a portable solution with a wimpy graphics card, and a decently specced and decently priced laptop with poor battery life but very bulky for a 15". I went with the last option. It weighs a ton and the battery life is crap, but it is small enough to fit my needs, performs great with a 560M, the display is awesome, and it can run at 100% for 6 hours straight and be cooler than most laptops are in sleep mode. It didn't fit my criteria perfectly, so it was a tradeoff.

    This razer fits what I wanted much more closely, and is a step in the right direction. I would be willing to drop to a 555m from the 560 if the battery life were better and the weight and blukiness was substantially lower. If they made this in a 15" model and got the price down to about $1700, I would have jumped on it in a second. I don't want a 17" laptop because the whole point of a laptop is portability. Too many 17" laptops, especially the "gaming" ones, are bulkier than my desktop, and the only thing that sets them apart from a desktop is they can be moved easier from room to room. That is not the intent of a laptop, and some companies are selling these things without batteries for that very reason.

    I do question heat on a laptop like this.. can you run this thing wide open for an hour while it sits on your lap, without cooking your legs? Does it have to have micro fans that run at a million RPM and put a jet engine to shame? These aren't "deal breakers", just concerns.

    Bottom line though, is it fills a niche in the gaming market that I believe the trend is leaning toward. With the miniaturization of everything in life, why are gamers stuck with 10+ pound beasts that will put you in the hospital after the 10th flight segment in a week.. ? Make it just powerful enough to run the games we want. You don't need 200fps to play it, you need more than 30 all the time and you are good. If you want more, it is to satisfy your desire for a big epeen, not to have a mobile gaming alternative to your main gaming rig.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    I agree with you. I just think a dock would be a good thing because then I wouldn't even really need a desktop. A dock is something you leave at home so they could just put a desktop GTX560 in it. Then I connect my bluetooth keyboard and mouse, run and HDMI cable to the tv and BAM! Laptop turned desktop. That is what I want. I don't want to build another desktop, I feel like it's unnecessary. Right now my laptop is faster than my desktop in every department except the GPU. A dock could fix that problem and I wouldn't need a desktop anymore.

    Like I said, fix the noise issue. Fix any heat issues and correct the keyboard layout and this would be great. I agree 15" would be better, I'd be ok with upping the thickness to a whopping ONE INCH!!!! If that's what it takes to have proper noise and thermals. But you literally don't have to change a thing about this laptop to offer a dock too. I just really want more docks. I would much rather pay 400 bucks for a good gaming dock to keep at home than 1200 on another desktop. Hell, a dock plus laptop would even be easier to take to a friends house if I just had to be able to max everything out in a game for some reason. It would also offer a possible upgrade path when that non-swappable integrated laptop GPU starts getting dated.
    Reply
  • nafhan - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    They're definitely targeting a specific niche, which it sounds like you are not in. The real question is: are enough people in that niche for this to be a viable product?

    If money were not an object, I'd probably buy one of these as a compliment to a very high powered gaming desktop.
    Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    I got my Volt...working on getting a house. This will compliment my gaming system quite nicely. Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    Once they get Ivy Bridge and a Kepler GPU on there of course. Current performance is too anemic to replace my 3 year old Gateway FX with a 9800M GTS. Reply
  • Hrel - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    On the first page you list a GT540M, then when you get to the benchmarks you say it has a GT555M; not much better but definitely a step up. Which is correct? Reply
  • Hrel - Thursday, March 15, 2012 - link

    you say GT555 in the table below comparing notebooks too. Assuming your correct on the number of "cuda cores" I'll assume it has the GT555, not the GT540, which has only 96 Cuda Cores. Reply

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