Razer Blade (late 2012) - Thermal Design

Razer took a system that was already near the brink of its thermal envelope, tossed about 50% more compute power into it, added 12 watts to the power draw, and tried to still keep it within reasonable operating temperatures. So now we get to see if Razer’s engineering team managed to pull it off.

A quick refresher from last time: the Blade was hot. Damn hot. We saw internal temperatures of 95C on the CPU and 80C on the GPU under loaded conditions, numbers that we were simply not that comfortable with. But it wasn’t just at load; this was a system that got relatively toasty even at idle, where we saw temperatures in the 50-60C range. This resulted in a system that ran hot to the touch (though most of this heat was directed away from areas that are commonly touched like the keyboard and palmrests) and constantly had the fan running, even when bouncing around the internet or YouTube. Put simply: not great.

Thankfully, the redesigned cooling system has helped tremendously, particularly at low load. The system now idles in the 37-42C range, significantly lower than the 55ish it used to go for, and it’s very rare to see the fans spool up until you start gaming. I put it through my typical 100% system load, basically using Furmark 1080p and wPrime 1024M looping to peg both CPU and GPU load at 100% for a sustained period of time to see where temperatures settled. wPrime is multithreaded so with 8 threads it's loading all four cores equally. I saw CPU temperature settle in the 85C range, while GPU temperature maxed out at 90C. It’s still pretty hot, but even at a sustained hour-long clip, I never saw throttling—the GPU core was pegged at 950MHz—and the fan itself was much less intrusive than before.

To put this to the test in a real-world gaming situation, I fired up our DiRT 3 benchmark (it’s built into the game) and ran it fifty times in a row. I tested at our Enthusiast setting, which is 1080p, Ultra High quality, and 4xMSAA, and each run, including cut-scenes, totalled about 2 minutes and 20 seconds, give or take ten seconds—it’s not the exact same clip each time, as AI is typically different, which impacts the race results and elapsed times. That’s essentially two hours of gaming, with a fairly new game running at maximum settings. My performance over time graph ended up being as flat as Wyoming—almost no deviation in performance, beyond random test-to-test variation. I ran a similar test on the MacBook Pro (except with Anand’s OS X Half-Life 2 benchmark) and by run 30, the downward trend was pretty clear. I ran that 40 times, but I went even longer here to see if I could establish any kind of pattern. All I got was a really consistent 30.75fps, give or take one. I was impressed, to say the least.

A quick note—I was unequipped to test fan noise, but I can say that even under full load, the new fans are much quieter than the old fans were even under part loading. The new fans seem to be running at a lower RPM as well, which was no doubt helped by the larger venting; it’s a really big improvement from before.

Razer Blade (late 2012) - Design Changes Razer Blade (late 2012) - Switchblade UI
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  • Rezurecta - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    One question. Do you think MBP's are overpriced? Reply
  • ahamling27 - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    They sure are, but if you want OSX on a laptop, you don't have much choice. You can get a better W7 gaming laptop for much cheaper. Reply
  • solinear - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    This kind of comment reminds me of the late 90s linux users, who bragged about how they spent $150 less on their systems and could do "everything I could" (except use software)... then a few years later went out and spent $2000 on a Mac with OSX and talked about how awesome it was and suddenly the price argument they previously had was not only not there, but they refused to discuss price when I brought that up.

    Price is important, but it's just part of a package. I think that the Razer package is probably worth ~$2000, though I might go with an HP instead (Alienware feels legacy to me) when I buy a new laptop. However, this is definitely on my short list for laptops.

    The feature set is really nice and the fact that I wouldn't have to go "Which one of these ports is USB3 again?" or move a device out of a port to use the one that I need for something is more than a small amount of convenience.

    Basically this laptop has everything that I'd want for the next 2-3 years in a laptop except for the SSD and RAM. Like others said, I'd rather have 16+GB RAM and an OS/apps drive that is a 256GB SSD and a platter-based disk for data or apps that I am not as concerned about performance on. That's what we did with my wife's HP laptop and we couldn't be happier with it.
    Reply
  • Clockwurk - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    The problem with them making a "premium" product is that they aren't using "premium" parts. They are using middle of the road hardware and calling it "premium". That's what I have a problem with.

    Seems to work well enough for Apple, no?
    Reply
  • ahamling27 - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    Yes, but with Apple your buying OSX not a W7 gaming machine. You're comparing apples to oranges, no pun intended, and it does work well for them.

    Except the rMBP has a better screen, faster processor, industry leading trackpad, but the gpu is a 650(for what it's worth, it's overclocked an extra 165 mhz). Plus, it's about $300 cheaper, and you have the option of a larger SSD.
    Reply
  • Zap - Friday, October 05, 2012 - link

    Buying ANY notebook computer is picking form over function. If you want highest performance for a lower price while still keeping some sense of portability, then build a mini ITX gaming rig. Remember that Silverstone SG05 that was reviewed in the past couple months? You can build one with an overclocked Core i7 and GTX 680, with a lot more storage space too.

    What's the point? Any computer choice is always a tradeoff. Pick your poison.
    Reply
  • santeana - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    Why comment? It is a valid point. I happen to agree with him. For just over half that price you can get the same chip with a premium display and your choice of AMD 7970m or NV GTX685m and it's only slightly thicker than this one. It's certainly a nice machine and I like the sleekness of it, but honestly it looks similar to the Sager/Clevo I just described and it's hundreds of dollars more. Reply
  • N4g4rok - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Personally, i wish more laptops did that with the trackpad. The placement makes more sense when you're use to mouse and keyboard. That, and i won't hit it while i'm typing. Reply
  • inighthawki - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    I'd prefer a numpad there myself. Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Ditto. Reply

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