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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  • Zmokin - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    Well, I've had mine for four days now so let me tell you my impressions.

    For something this expensive you tend to second guess yourself, especially with all the nay-sayers out there. Although there are a few nagging issues (see below), so far I'm still happy with my purchase.

    Keep in mind I'm upgrading from a four year old laptop so my experience will probably be different from yours.

    General:

    Despite some other reviews, The sound is loud enough (for me) to play music in a small room or for gaming and sounds reasonably good for a laptop. I'm not an audio expert so others may disagree.

    The screen looks great to me. It's not washed out, doesn't fade much from the side or when I change the angle of the screen. No complaints.

    - It is taking me a bit to get used to the touchpad location, but it's not such an annoyance as to make a big deal about it.

    - Storage space. Plenty for me. I have all my music (20 gigs), lots of photos, four games, ms office, adobe suite, slew of other programs for work and all my data and I still have plenty of space left over (almost half). I'm not sure what else I would put on there except more games, but it definitely is better than the 256gb alone. I have no idea what all folks put on that they need terabytes of storage on a laptop, but more power to them - I'm satisfied.

    Pros:

    - Awesome looks! Took it to work and everyone wanted to check it out just from the initial looks - hadn't even turned it on yet! Once the switchblade came on with all the pics and stuff - it was all over, everyone was just drooling.

    - boot up speed is fast (for me anyway), around 20 secs or so. There is a lot of stuff being loaded in the msconfig startup list, some of that might be eliminated. Maybe someone more knowledgable could tell us what isn't really needed to help make it boot even faster.

    - Overall weight and size of course. My backpack thanks me for replacing my old 17" Gateway! And so does my back itself. The power brick (can't really call it that anymore) is so small for so much power.

    Cons:

    - Fingerprints! Everywhere! On the cover, on the palm rest, on the keys - it's disgusting. It looks like I just ate some fried chicken and didn't bother to wash my hands before picking up and playing with the laptop. And yes, I did wash my hands before handling it! I find myself cleaning it continuously, especially before taking it out in public since it distracts from the beauty of the beast. The worst part is that they don't come off easily. You really have to clean it as opposed to just simply wiping them off like other laptops I've had.

    - Heat after long/heavy game playing. Could fry an egg on the surface. Played GW2 for four hours with everything on high minus anti-alias. Game played pretty smooth without hiccups or stuttering the whole time.

    However.... I noticed the palm rest under the switchblade ui was getting really hot, and I mean really hot.

    So I started feeling around. Right above the power button, it was so hot that I would have burned my hand if I would have kept it there.

    So I did an informal temp measure just to see for myself if I was imagining it.

    I emphasize informal since all I had was a standard home thermometer. I placed the tip on the palm rest and it quickly rose over 100F and then settled at 105.4F.

    When I placed the tip above the power button, it rose to 110F and then just went to 'H' because my poor thermometer wouldn't read any higher (humans would probably be dead at that level!).

    That said, reading Vivek's article, it sounds like this is normal. Still a little worrisome.

    - Switchblade is good/bad. Good because it looks really neat and can be functional and versatile. I can see the potential.

    However, it only works if you are connected to the Internet! WTH! As soon as I lose connection or if I'm in an area with no wifi, everything disappears and it is just a trackpad - even the buttons above the touchpad are all blank. I can't even turn it into a numpad which I think would be the least it could do. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but so far I haven't figured out how to download the profiles so that I can use the switchblade without being connected to the Internet. Dumb in my opinion.

    Also, I tried to configure my own buttons across the top to add the simple functions of home, end, del, etc. to work along with the trackpad. Couldn't do it. In order to reassign the keys, you have to press the key you want to reassign it to. Since there is no home key to press, I couldn't assign it to the blank key. I found a way around by switching to their built in numpad, pressing the home key, but there is no way to assign the icon for it. They should offer a list of keys (especially those missing from the keyboard) to choose from and their corresponding icons to make this easier.

    Overall I'm still happy, but the few things I mentioned do distract from the overall experience.
    Reply
  • Zmokin - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    Here is a post from someone who opened the case (voiding the warranty) and installed new SSDs.

    With pictures:

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/other-manufacturer...

    (The link goes to the forum page so you may have to wander down the posts to find it.)
    Reply
  • karasaj - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    If Razer took out the switchblade UI and made a 15 inch version etc. it would be very compelling... even more portable than this one is. As it is, this is pretty cool. I would definitely like one of these if I ever got into a situation where I wasn't traveling/transporting my laptop every day. Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, October 04, 2012 - link

    I think this laptop is something different. It is expensive for the innards you get, but it is slim, quiet, still powerful and does things a little different. The switch from full SSD to chaching is a shame though.
    What I would like to see in R3 of The Razer Blade: Make the Switchblade a 4.5-5" screen with 720p resolution, give us a Tegra3/Exynos Quad/Krait Quad/whatever based SoC with a full Android/Linux version and have the run on the small screen or if we chose to use this on the go just for internet, give it out on the big screen in 1080p and save tons of battery. That would be pretty neat.
    Reply
  • jed22281 - Saturday, October 06, 2012 - link

    So putting aside the unique aspects of this device, how does the rMBP stack up against this purely for Gaming?*
    Does the better GPU mean much better perf. at the same res. for both, or does the rMBP's CPU make that moot?
    Plus.....
    Can you till play many games (full settings or near) at the RMBP's native res. & get an acceptable frame-rate?
    Anyone played with both a fair bit????

    *note I have license for Win 7 & can dual-boot so that's not an issue.
    Reply
  • jed22281 - Saturday, October 06, 2012 - link

    "Can you till play many games (full settings or near) at the RMBP's native res. & get an acceptable frame-rate?"

    In hindsight, I realize the silliness in that statement....
    One cool adv with the rMBP, would be that one can always buy an external thunderbolt GPU later for much more serious gaming, right?
    I recall there being some on the market or coming, are there any decent ones out there nowadays?
    Reply
  • themiracle - Sunday, October 07, 2012 - link

    Why Anand didnt review the envy 17 3D, it has a similar design to this one, but has better display, and a slightly better GPU\CPU, it the fastest laptop ive ever used, it has two problems out of the box, but o well, wth, maybe you can make a review
    Envy 17 3D 3290nr
    Reply
  • tariq3877 - Monday, January 07, 2013 - link

    - I understand ALienware are expensive but they have good after sales value too.
    - I understand These other systems may have a slim Chassis but the thing that matters is the GPU on board or Slot-IN, as i used to do GPU REBALLING i can say it matters a lot.
    - Best machines according to repair point of view are Acers.
    - Worst machines with 90% heat and GPU failling problems are HP.
    Reply
  • raok7 - Thursday, September 05, 2013 - link

    well this looks great and will be one of the best product!!!!!!!!!
    http://www.jupiterelectronics.com/
    http://www.steelrange.com/heavy-duty-racks.html
    http://www.bajeria.com/
    http://www.genesis-gifts.com/
    http://www.opportune.in
    http://www.fivebrosforgings.com/
    http://www.aimaxprovider.com/index.php/magento-web...
    Reply

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