Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan is charismatic, clearly very smart and passionate — not a bad combination considering he’s the face and voice of a major international hardware manufacturer. Razer’s latest, the second-generation Blade gaming laptop, launches this week for the whopping price of $2,500, and we spoke with Min-Liang about just that. “This,” he said, referencing the second-generation Blade’s slim power brick, “costs seven times this,” he added, pointing to a competitor’s power supply. “Do we have to do this? Probably not.” And that’s emblematic of Razer’s whole approach to the Razer Blade, as a line of gaming computers. Expensive? Yes, very. But significantly nicer and more detailed that its less expensive competition? Also yes. Also very.
As our own Sean Buckley put it in our review of their latest gaming laptop, “the Blade is a gorgeous machine.” It’s true — at just 0.88 inches tall and 6.6 pounds, the new Blade is remarkably thin and light for a 17-inch laptop with enough juice under the hood to sate even the most spec-obsessed of PC gamers. But are enough gamers out there willing to trade a lower price tag for a better-looking machine? Razer and its CEO certainly think so, and they’ve got numbers from the first, more expensive Blade to prove it. “The original Blade was at $2,799. Back then, it was pricey, but we’ve been surprised at the amount of demand for that. We thought we were gonna sell out in 30 days — we had 30 days’ stock. But we sold out in 30 minutes for the first batch,” he said. And, as far as pre-order numbers go for the second version, Min-Liang’s confident they mean good things for the future of the Blade.
“We’re getting hammered with the pre-orders for the new Razer Blade. Right now, we’ll be able to ship most of the orders by September 30, fingers crossed. But we’re trying to bring in as many units as possible,” he excitedly explained. Min-Liang isn’t too worried about offending first-gen buyers, either — the first Razer Blade launched in early 2012 for just shy of $2,800. Less than 10 months later, the second-gen Blade is launching for $300 less with a significantly upgraded graphics card. Sure, first-gen adopters get a $500 discount on the new Blade, but the sting of early adoption is especially rough in such an instance.
Razer’s second attempt at a gaming laptop is just as sleek as its first try, and even more powerful. The second-generation Razer Blade — Razer Blade 2.0, we’re calling it — packs some serious hardware: an unannounced Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M graphics (a big step up from last year’s GT 555M inclusion), 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM, a 500GB 7200RPM hard drive, and 64GB of solid state storage. All that hardware is stuffed in a nigh identical aluminum chassis to the first edition, with a 17.3-inch high def screen and the infamous multitouch LCD Switchblade interface (read: that bizarre little touch screen built into the keyboard). And all this for the low, low price of … nearly $2,500. Yikes.
For the savvy, independently wealthy gamer on the go, however, little else on the market compares to Razer’s Blade laptop. The second generation focuses on beefing up the tech specs from last year, and that’s immediately apparent with the inclusion of the Kepler-grade GTX 660M. Not much else is changed in the hardware department otherwise, with the exception of the USB slots all being upgraded to 3.0 — the same LCD touch panel display sits on the right side of the keyboard, and its been bolstered with a new software suite.
The 17-inch behemoths that call themselves gaming notebooks are traditionally quite large, trading extreme performance for substantial bulk. These machines routinely flirt with double digit weigh-ins, and flaunt meaty 1.5-plus inch bezels. They represent a unwieldy reality in portable power that most gamers have learned to expect. Not Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan, however — he’s still chasing the dream: thin, powerful and sleek. Tan caught up with us this week to brief us on the next generation Razer Blade, a rig that still boldly claims to be the “world’s first true gaming laptop.”
Razer’s first laptop hit shelves earlier this year, packing a 2.8GHz Core i7-2650M CPU and a GeForce GT 555M GPU into a svelte 0.8-inch aluminum shell. Tan explained that the rig’s attractive hull hadn’t changed much, but its internals sure have. “The Blade was our first laptop, and we’ve taken feedback really seriously since then,” the CEO told us. “We’ve been listing to gamers and made a chart of all the pros to keep, and all the cons to address. Every single one of them.” That chart eventually mapped out the refreshed rig’s internals, which include an unannounced Core i7 processor, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M graphics, 8GB of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM, a 500GB 7200RPM hard drive and 64GB of fast-booting solid state storage. All this comes in the same aluminum shell as the first Blade, of course, sporting a 17.3-inch high definition display and the firm’s exclusive multitouch LCD Switchblade interface. Tan says the new build addresses some of our own complaints too, noting that the sticky hinge that plagued our review unit has been tweaked to bend to a lighter touch. The machine’s internal speakers have been upgraded as well, and are said to be 250% louder with no distortion.
The new Blade’s sharpened specs will come with a price cut, ringing in at a penny under $2,500 — and gamers who picked up its predecessor (which will be getting its own price cut, to $2,299), we were told, can snag one for $500 less. Pre-orders are slated to start on September 2nd, and should ship within 30 days. The new laptop is being unveiled for the first time at PAX Prime this weekend. Not in Seattle for Labor Day? Check out the official press release after the break.
Shaving puns aside, we listened to Tan proudly wax on about the results of nearly three years of development, much of which involved recruiting a bevy of talent from the now-defunct OQO. What they’d accomplished, according to Tan, was the “world’s first true gaming portable.” An audacious statement, sure, especially considering the Blade was to be Razer’s foray into the PC market. No matter. Tan’s impetus was clear: the outfit would cater to gamers who’d been left in a vacuum after formerly gaming-obsessed companies sold out, leaving the segment to languish. His angle, however, would be different. The Blade wasn’t going to be a gaudy, gargantuan, no-holds barred device with outright performance in mind. No, instead the 0.8-inch thick aluminum beaut would attempt to straddle the worlds of portability with performance, seeking to hit a perfectly balanced middle ground.
Back in September, we got our hands on the 17-inch gaming behemoth from Razer. There was only one snag: the trackpad wasn’t fully functional yet. There were screens in place, but we weren’t able to test out all of the controls. Here at CES, we were able to get a quick hands-on with a final consumer model, ready to start dominating your next Skyrim marathon. As you may recall, the trackpad is offset to the right side of the keyboard so as not to interfere with your access to the essential in-game controls. Serving up quite a few functions, the tech includes a miniature web browser, access to control settings, macro key set-up, YouTube viewer, a number pad and a regular ol’ laptop touchpad. Another difference between the model pictured here and the one we spent some time with is the inclusion of a 256GB SSD instead of a 320GB HDD which pushed the launch date back to mid January. The kit will still set you back $2,799 and is slated to ship later this month.
Something big’s been brewing over in Carlsbad, and the time has finally come for it to be revealed to the world: the Razer Blade. The onyx aluminum beaut before you is the culmination of over three years of work by a stealth team of engineers — many of them absorbed from the former OQO team. Despite being only 0.88 inches thick (thinner than another 17-incher we know…), the svelte number still packs a punch with a 2.8GHz Core i7-2640M CPU and GeForce GT 555M graphics replete with 2GB of GDDR5 video memory. All that graphical horsepower will splay your exploits on a 17.3-inch LED 1920 x 1080 full HD panel with an HD webcam nestled above. Rounding out the package is 8GB of RAM, three USB ports (one of the 3.0 persuasion), HDMI-out and a 60Wh integrated battery. And it could all be yours for $2,799 when it debuts in Q4 of this year.
That’s dandy, but we’re more stoked on the 480 x 800 LCD trackpad just to the right of the backlit keyboard. It works either as a multitouch-enabled input device or as an additional display for in-game info when the urge to slay demons with an external mouse strikes. North of that hotness lie ten fully customizable buttons, both in appearance (courtesy of a separate LCD) and in function. The keys and trackpad were last seen on a keyboard in a galaxy far, far away, and are running a custom Switchblade UI — inspired by the company’s oh so sexy Switchblade concept that we saw at CES. And just like the concept, Razer’s used a custom lighting panel to ensure you can see those keys clearly from an angle — people don’t look straight down at their keyboards, after all. Follow on past the break for more impressions, video and PR.