Razer Blade 17 - The best 17-inch gaming laptop
Are you still considering whether to replace your gaming laptop?
This article will cover the pros and cons of the Razer Blade 17, as well as the performance design issues you are most concerned about. If you are interested, please read on.
Strong design and build quality
Powerful game configuration
wide range of ports
Excellent color screen
Surface remains relatively cool
Limited CPU performance
poor battery life
Portability and style have become the calling cards of the Razer Blade gaming laptop. So, does the largest Razer Blade 17 in the lineup still have a place?
The latest model certainly packs the latest components - a 12th Gen Intel processor and an RTX 3080 Ti graphics card. But it also has some small tweaks that make the overall design clearer.
Unlike many other high-end gaming laptop brands, the Razer Blade's aesthetic remains the same -- mostly because it's been years ahead of other designs. The minimalist all-black aesthetic has paved the way for many other gaming laptops to adopt similar styling, such as the HP Omen 16 or ROG Zephyrus G15.
Still, the Razer's looks have a distinct advantage. The single piece of machined aluminum has no real competition among other gaming laptops. The Blade has always wanted to be the MacBook of the gaming world -- even as other brands have caught up.
The Blade 17 still uses a 16:9 aspect ratio, which isn't necessarily a problem for a gaming laptop, especially one of this size. The only downside here is the chunky bottom bezel.
The only visible change to the Razer Blade 17 is the new speaker grilles on the keyboard deck. They're more subtle now, and the power button has been moved to the top-right corner of the keyboard.
The size of the Razer Blade 17 is unmatched. At 6.1 pounds, it's pretty heavy. There are sizable rubber feet on the bottom, adding an already thick 0.78-inch thickness. It goes against much of what the Razer Blade brand has always stood for, but with the advent of last year's thicker MacBook Pro, the pressure to make the absolute thinnest laptop is gone.
Keyboard and touchpad
The Razer Blade 17's keyboard is fantastic. They've tightened the switch for a faster and more satisfying typing experience, which is a real improvement over previous models. Of course, Razer's RGB gaming is just as good, with plenty of customization for each key's lighting in terms of color patterns and brightness colors. Like the previous model, the function keys even light up the function row.
When actually using the touchpad, it tracks well and has a smooth glass surface that your fingers can slide over. The click mechanism is heavier and louder. This is a great example of why Razer should adopt haptic feedback trackpads from the likes of Apple, Lenovo, Microsoft, and Dell. This will allow to customize the strength of the feedback.
Gaming laptops tend to ignore trackpad quality, so Razer is ahead of many others. But at the price Razer charges and the quality the brand is after, it's something to address.
The Razer Blade 17 includes a plethora of ports, all located on the side walls of the chassis. They include HDMI 2.1, USB-A 3.2, Thunderbolt 4 and a full-size SD card slot. On the left, you'll find the L-shaped power adapter, a 2.5GbE Ethernet jack, two other USB-A ports, an additional USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port, and a headphone jack.
The USB-C port can charge, but only at 54 watts.
This is now the only version of the Razer Blade that includes an Ethernet port for hard-wired connections. That's a great selling point, as is the SD card slot for those who might want to upload photos directly from the camera.
Cameras and Security
The Razer Blade 17 includes a 1080p webcam, an upgrade from the 720p resolution module used in the previous generation. Razer did this without increasing the size of the top bezel or the thickness of the lid, which are often excuses from laptop makers. The increased resolution is nice, and it's certainly an improvement over the previous model. That doesn't mean this has to be a "good" camera. The sensors they include are fine, but the image processing isn't up to par. Images often look darker and rougher than they should be, and don't accentuate skin tones and faces well.
The Razer Blade 17 does include an infrared camera for Windows Hello facial recognition, which many gaming laptops tend to ignore.
Display and Speakers
The Razer Blade 17 has a large 17.3-inch screen with a resolution of 2560 x 1440. Like most gaming laptops, it has a matte finish that deflects reflections and glare. While good for gaming, matte layers reduce image sharpness and perceived contrast. The 890-1 contrast ratio at 100% brightness isn't the best. It's less than ideal for those who want to do creative work on the Razer Blade.
Its maximum brightness of 313 nits matches other Razer Blade laptops but is dimmer than other gaming laptops like the Legion 5 Pro and HP Victus 16. It's over 300 nits, but it's bright enough for most settings.
Like the 14-inch model, the Razer Blade 17 continues its excellent color saturation and accuracy. That's as good as a gaming laptop screen aside from the pricey OLED 4K model, hitting 100% sRGB, 90% Adobe RGB, and a Delta-E of 0.84. Here are some great calibrations on the Razer side.
The Razer Blade 17 also has a blazing fast 240Hz refresh rate, as fast as you'll see on such a sharp screen. There is also a choice of a 4K 144Hz screen or a 1080p 360Hz screen.
The Razer Blade 17 features the latest 12th Gen Intel Core i7-12800H, a 14-core chip divided into six performance cores and eight efficiency cores. These powerful chips represent a major comeback for Intel. The extra cores greatly improve multi-core performance without skipping a beat on the single-core front end.
The Razer Blade 17 places some limitations on what this chip can do. You don't need to put this thing in a stress test to throttle performance cores. Internal CPU temperatures typically spike to a maximum of 100 degrees Celsius, limiting performance to keep temperatures within acceptable limits. Razer Blades often struggle to keep the temperature cool enough due to the very thin chassis of laptops.
CPU throttling means you can't get the best performance out of your processor compared to a system with better cooling. Full price, low performance. Still, this is nothing new among thin and light gaming laptops. This was one of the first laptops to use 12th Gen H-series chips, now, would a 5% drop in processor performance make a significant difference in real-world usage? In most cases, probably not.
But heat does have some performance limitations in certain workflows and applications. The Blade 17 isn't as good at editing video in Premiere as comparable laptops.
While content creation is certainly a side benefit of owning the Razer Blade 17, gaming is its primary perk—where thermal constraints aren't as pronounced.
The Razer Blade 17 comes with the latest RTX 3080 Ti Max-Q graphics card that came with my review unit. The system is capable of supplying 150 watts of power to the GPU, and with Dynamic Boost it can even add an additional 15 watts. You can also configure the laptop with an RTX 3060 or RTX 3070 Ti. Regardless of configuration, the system also includes Nvidia features like resizable BARs and CPU optimizers to balance power between components for optimal gaming performance.
In 2022 there will be (and are already) more powerful gaming laptops with similar components. That's tough for some to overcome, especially given the Razer Blade 17's price and size.
The laptop does a great job of not overheating the case or making the fans too loud. From that standpoint, it handles heat better than the Razer Blade 14 or 15, which is certainly a positive.
The 2022 Razer Blade 17 has great battery life. With an 82-watt-hour battery, the Razer Blade 17 lasted just 3 hours and 10 minutes of light web browsing. That's more than five hours less than the AMD-powered Razer Blade 14, and even half an hour less than the massive MSI GE76 Raider with a 12th-gen Core i9 chip and the same RTX 3080 Ti. It's in line with the Gigabyte Aero 16, though.
Configuration and Price
Razer offers six different configurations on its online storefront. The options are all packaged together, though, so the slightly faster Core i7-12900H is paired with a 4K 144Hz screen and 32GB of RAM. That option will cost you $4,300, and it's the only 4K option available, presumably aimed at more content creation-focused buyers.
There are also two configurations in the 1080p 360Hz category, the RTX 3070 Ti and the 3080 Ti. A 17" laptop with a 1080p screen isn't ideal, as you'll be able to see the pixels, and with such a powerful GPU, most gamers will prefer the higher resolution that a 1440p screen can offer. The 1080p 360Hz and 1440p 240Hz configurations are the same price, the RTX 3070 Ti model with 16GB of dual-channel RAM.
All Razer Blade 17 configurations come with 1TB of fast SSD storage.
There's a lot to like about the Razer Blade 17. On the one hand, it's the best-performing laptop in Razer's lineup from a fan noise and surface temperature standpoint. On the other hand, it's a very large laptop, poor battery life is an issue, and the touchpad needs fixing.
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