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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  • Cutebone - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    "I'd also like to see an optional SSD-only configuratoin"

    Thanks for the write-up...wish I had $2,500 to spare...
    Reply
  • robmuld - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    I wish they offered a 16:10 option. Also, a proper navigation keys (PgUp/Dn and Home/End) section on the keyboard. This has sadly disappeared from most mobile keyboards nowadays, whereas it was more common years ago. Reply
  • andykins - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Great notebook and great review. I'm really glad you decided to dump PCMark7. I totally ignored the benchmarks from that suite in every review; I actually have no idea why Anandtech includes them, they're totally useless really.

    I have to say, I think if I had that amount of money to spend I would rather get a rMBP. If money was no object, however, I'd get both! ^^ But it begs the question why you didn't include rMBP (running Win7) in the results when you have a machine at hand? :)
    Reply
  • Camacho - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Why is the Macbook "A different story entirely"? It is pretty much the same damn hardware as the Blade with a slightly slower GPU (GT 650m) and slightly faster CPU at base and all core clock. Blade beats it on single thread by 100MHz. @ 3.4GHz AND is cheaper. Plus it has your IPS display. Just wondering as you can just install Windows on the Mac. IPS laptop display is as fast as anything I have seen in a portable so not sure what the Razer guy was on about. ???. Reply
  • Camacho - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    I was wrong the Macbook Pro has a faster CPU on all counts. Reply
  • will54 - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    Actually the Macbook has a faster GPU at there stock clocks since for some reason the MBP has a 165 mhz higher clock speed than other GDDR5 650M's. Not sure why they didn't just go with the GTX 660M. Reply
  • VivekGowri - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    Because it's an OS X-based 15" machine that plays in a completely different size and weight class? You wouldn't compare a Porsche 911 and a Mercedes S-class just because they cost roughly the same and have a similar amount of power, right - same principle applies here. Reply
  • andykins - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    I disagree, Vivek. Maybe I am isolated case but I would very much like to see it compared to the rMBP. After all, the Razer is compared to laptops that weigh 3lb (50%+) heavier. Reply
  • VivekGowri - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    I dunno, there's just a huge difference between a 4.5lb 15" system and a 6.5lb 17" system in terms of form factor. Add in OS X, and I felt like they were different enough that they wouldn't be cross shopped much. M17x, on the other hand, is probably the biggest competitor for the Blade. The rMBP to me is an amazing system but I can't see a valid comparison. I guess maybe if you wanted the closest thing to the Blade in a 15" form factor, get an rMBP? Reply
  • Flunk - Wednesday, October 03, 2012 - link

    It's a shame they don't make a 15" version of this. 17", no matter how thin is just too big to be reasonably portable. Heck, I would buy a 15" version of this at the same price. There really isn't much in that market space right now. Reply

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