In and Around the Razer Blade 14-Inch

As I mentioned previously, it's hard not to compare the Razer Blade 14-inch to Apple's MacBook Pro. That's not really a problem, though; I'm not an Apple user or an Apple fan, but it's hard to really argue that Apple's ID and general notebook quality have yet to find a good match in the Windows space. If you're going to crib from anyone's design playbook, that would probably be the one.

The Razer Blade 14-inch enjoys an aluminum chassis from head to toe. There are two slight ridges on the lid to give it class and character (and probably a tough of rigidity), and the Razer logo glows when the system is powered on. The body itself seems to be a unibody aluminum chassis, but what I'd like to draw attention to is the internal design.


Source: Razer Blade website.

There's some incredibly smart engineering at work here to get the system this thin, but there are compromises made, too. Razer employs a pair of small fans that intake air from the bottom and exhaust it through heatsink arrays hidden in the hinge. The result is a chassis with virtually no visible ventilation yet still has actual cooling potential.

A look at the bottom of the notebook reveals exactly that. Two ventilated intakes for the fans, no visible exhausts. The tradeoff with this design is a tremendous amount of heat above the keyboard. Razer does a fantastic job of managing noise, but the panel of aluminum above the keyboard, where the power button is, gets extremely hot and unpleasant to the touch.

With the chiclet keycap design this radiant heat won't be a major issue during prolonged gaming sessions, but it's something to be aware of. The internal thermal design means the palm rests never get too warm, though; it's all actually pretty slick.

Users who aren't enamored with Razer's Switchblade panel in the larger Blade Pro unit will be overjoyed to see a spacious touchpad complete with two dedicated mouse buttons. As for the keyboard itself, it's plenty comfortable, though for some bizarre reason I found myself frequently fat-fingering it despite a lack of actual fat fingers. I suspect this problem will be unique to me and maybe a couple of other users; the keyboard still has plenty of travel and depth and it's tough to find any real fault with. In fact my only real complaint is the lack of any indication that the document navigation keys are mapped to Fn combinations with the arrows. That's a sacrifice made for the sake of ID, though, and I have a hard time complaining too much.

For the past two Razer Blade reviews, it was easy for me to sit back and quibble with Vivek's enthusiasm over the industrial design of the Blades at the expense of the notebook's actual practicality. Yet with the 14-inch Blade, it's hard not to see his point. Even if Razer has essentialy created the RazerBook Pro, they still cribbed from the right playbook. The Blade is for anyone who wanted the MacBook Pro in black (which does go with everything), and it's for anyone who has gotten more than a little tired of ostentatious, gaudy gaming notebook designs. It's a shot fired across the bow of vendors like Alienware, stating in no uncertain terms that you can have a powerful, performance gaming notebook in a sleeker form factor. The Blade's ID feels like gaming for grown-ups.

Introducing the Razer Blade 14-Inch System and Futuremark Performance
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  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - link

    A few hundred dollars isn't much less than what most hardware reviewers get paid to begin with. "Hey, can you go buy that $900 laptop, review it, resell it for $700, and we'll pay you the standard $400 for your review?" Reviewing hardware is nice, but when a full review can take 20-40 hours to put together (sometimes more), you can see that investing even four or five extra hours starts to really cut into the revenue/income.

    Then there's the fact that outside of Lenovo, we generally get most of the laptops that are really worth reviewing. We don't need to review every budget laptop, and we don't have the manpower to do so -- and the readership would get really tired of seeing multiple laptop reviews each week where 90% of the laptops are "average" -- okay for a certain price point, but with various flaws.

    Should we need to essentially pay for the privilege of reviewing a specific manufacturer's hardware? Now add in the time it requires to resell a laptop, and the risk of fraud, and it's a big can of worms I'm not really keen to open. In fact, I know one site that tried to do this with desktop systems some years ago so that they could really see what the end user experience was like, including calling tech support to troubleshoot a problem. The reviews ended up not generating enough revenue to cover their cost, the section basically got axed, and the reviewer in question ended up working for one of the big tech companies.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - link

    I should also note that buying your own review units means your reviews will be, at best, several weeks after everyone else. That's not the end of the world, but it does mean about one third the traffic as being one of the first reviews. Reply
  • bji - Friday, July 5, 2013 - link

    I've read comments not too infrequently about people wishing for reviews that didn't happen because the manufacturer didn't send a sample. And also I've heard people lament about wanting to read reviews of hardware several weeks or months past its release time.

    Obviously you don't have to buy any of the hardware that you already get before release or otherwise directly from the manufacturer, and augmenting those reviews with some self-purchased hardware wouldn't change that.

    I am sorry to hear though that the reviewer compensation is so meager; I would consider 20 - 40 hours to write a review to be worth thousands of dollars of my time and if I was investing that much time I wouldn't care much about eating a couple hundred on resale losses. If you're only getting paid $400 for 20 - 40 hours of time spent writing a review then you must be doing it to some extent for hobby purposes in addition to the income, because obviously it's no way to make a living. With that in mind, I don't mind spending hundreds every month on my hobby, if I were a reviewer I'd probably just look at the resale losses as funding my hobby, and I'd spend my time reviewing what I liked to and wanted to, not what manufacturers decided to send to me.

    There must be something to this review business though; I've seen pictures of Anand's house from some of the articles on here and it looks pretty nice :)
    Reply
  • n13L5 - Friday, July 5, 2013 - link

    Its not that bad, as long as you don't have to work with a crummy CMS to actually publish it and waste more hours...

    But really, stop talking about "buying" stuff to review, there are specialized rental agencies who send you the stuff for 2 weeks to review and pick it back up when done.
    Reply
  • Sushisamurai - Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - link

    I like anandtech. Please don't change. The formats fine. I'd rather have your in depth reviews, and more of them, rather than more shallow reviews. I've been a reader for the last 3 years. If I had any criticism, you should have a 'to-buy' section, where you recommend hardware (summarized), we buy, you get a referral fee.

    Anandtech's transparency is by far the best I've seen (eg, look at apple insider, cnet, etc)
    Reply
  • Sushisamurai - Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - link

    Sorta like how appleinsider has that macmall and a few other companies with price comparisons and sometimes promos. AT could do something similar, but for other resellers and special/discount pricing for certain products, like... Motherboards.. Ram... GPU etc Reply
  • burgertime - Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - link

    Can't you start your own hardware review website? Reply
  • chizow - Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - link

    Valid points all around, but I would think if AT reached out to Lenovo, there wouldn't be too much trouble in procuring a review sample.

    Seems to me this is more of a case of that model flying under the radar. It's pretty obvious why parts like this from Razer cost a ton more...they spend a lot more on marketing.

    That being said I think this is way too expensive for any kind of laptop, but then again I don't game on these kinds of mobile platforms. Lack of gigabit Ethernet as mentioned in the article is a non-starter for me.
    Reply
  • n13L5 - Friday, July 5, 2013 - link

    They don't have to have a budget to "buy" hardware to review. There are agencies specializing on loaning gear to review sites. Tech rags can rent the stuff for 2 weeks or 3 weeks or whatever time they think they need. At the end, it gets picked up by a courier. Reply
  • dsumanik - Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - link

    Dustin I'd encourage you to read anands current "best Mac laptops June 2013" article.

    It is shameless, biased, direct marketing for apple.

    As a decade-long supporter of this site I'd like to see that article deleted and an apology issued.

    Yeah it's no big deal and relatively minor, but the deeper issue is credibility.... Like wtf. Is happening to you guys?
    Reply

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