Earlier this year, I took a look at Razer’s first foray into gaming systems, the Blade notebook. I came away pretty impressed overall, particularly with the level of design and engineering polish. Considering it was their first notebook product, they got a lot of things right, but there were a few missteps. It was a relative lightweight when it came to performance - with only a dual-core Core i7 and Nvidia GeForce GT 555M graphics, it couldn’t really be considered on the same performance plane as the ASUS RoG and Alienware notebooks, not to mention the powerhouse systems from Clevo. And there were some fundamental issues with the Switchblade UI panel. It was a cool idea, but it was really, really buggy, and though it had the “wow” factor, it didn’t have that much utility even when it wasn’t crashing all over itself. Also, at $2799, the Blade was priced out of the realm of reality. Even so, Blade sales were brisk (their first run sold out in 30 minutes, though no word on volume) and established Razer as a serious hardware manufacturer.

Razer has set about fixing the issues we had, and a year after the original Blade was announced, they’re releasing the second generation Blade. It’s better in every conceivable way - they’ve seriously upped the performance quotient, with a quad-core IVB quad, a GTX 660M, and a 500GB hard drive paired with a 64GB SSD cache. I’m a little bit disappointed by the switch from full SSD storage, but with the size of games these days I completely understand the need for more than 256GB of disk space, and with a cache of 64GB, there’s enough space for Intel’s Smart Response caching tech to store basically everything. The biggest change in addition to the performance is the price drop, to $2499. It’s still not cheap, but when you consider the major performance upgrades, the value proposition is definitely improved.

The industrial design has remained predominantly the same, and the gorgeous 17.3” 1080p display is still there, so the parts about the first Blade that we love are for the most part untouched. To fit all of this into the Blade’s 6.4 pound, 0.8” thick frame, Razer needed to redesign the cooling system, and in the press images we can see some definite changes to the lower venting near the rear of the system. Other changes include a third USB 3.0, redesigned mouse buttons, and a Switchblade UI that’s said to be significantly improved. Razer has been rather aggressive in pushing new content and updates to Switchblade, so it’s gotten better in the six months since I had the Blade.

We’re going hands on with it later today at PAX Prime, and I'll update then with hands-on-post.

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  • coder543 - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    It has a higher res screen, for starters, so you get your games in better clarity, but any *serious* gamer is going to consider the whole market... not just the ones that make them feel 'better' than those 'poor apple fanboys.' Apple makes good products -- don't write them off unless they won't fit your needs. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    Unless you play games from before 2005 you will not be able to drive that resolution with a laptop. And a lot of post-2005 games will likely not support that resolution. So that is a null-argument for gamers. Reply
  • inighthawki - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    There aren't even many gaming DESKTOPS that can handle that resolution on higher settings in newer games without $500+ video cards (even that is iffy), but any serious gamer would know that already... Reply
  • tim851 - Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - link

    I drive a 2560x1440 display with a Radeon 5870 2 GB. The only games who've given me trouble were Crysis and Metro (sh!t game anyway).

    You don't need 500$ video cards unless you're not a gamer, but a benchmarker.
    Reply
  • SpartanJet - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    And for that low price you get a LG screen with burn-in issues and color defects! I don't know why nobody is talking about the bait and switch apple is pulling with its retina screens its like its being swept under the table. Reply
  • Greg512 - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    Maybe because the vast majority of Retina displays sold do not suffer from the defects you speak of. Last I heard, the issues occurred mainly with the initial batch and not subsequent ones. Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Saturday, September 01, 2012 - link

    Higher screen resolution = The need for more GPU grunt.

    Lets face it. Laptops have never been a GPU power house, they are always a step behind Desktops in that regard.
    A resolution of only 1080P is more than ample, if you want higher, grab an eyefinity set-up along with a desktop so you have the graphics horsepower to run it. :)

    Plus... Mac's look bloody ugly. This looks sleek and awesome with a nice looking touchpad.
    Reply
  • chinedooo - Sunday, September 02, 2012 - link

    The rMBP is NOT faster. It has a GT 650 this has a GTX 660 Reply
  • PubFiction - Monday, September 03, 2012 - link

    Well its an interesting comparison, but you wont be able to drive the MBP to a similar level in games which this is focused on. It has a 650M not a 660M and the lower video card combined with higher resolution is a bad combination for gaming.

    Also until we know the specs on the CPU, there is wiggle room for razer. If they come in with a fast enough CPU this will need to be compared to the $2800 MBPR
    Reply
  • Roland00Address - Friday, August 31, 2012 - link

    More info here
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6205/the-asus-zenboo...

    Note both the asus and the retina macbook pro are 15 and a half inch portable gaming computers unlike the 17" razer. That said I personally would rather get the asus or the retina.
    Reply

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