Razer was kind enough to lend me one of their new Razer Blade Pro 17 models – this one with an RTX 2080 Super!
I’m very excited to see how well it can compete with the model I tested last year and my current Razer Blade 15 with a Max-Q of 2080.
Between performance, build quality, and screen, I gave the 2019 Razer Pro model a good grade, and this new model is no different. At the time, however, I was critical of the price, below-average battery life, and the annoying keyboard layout.
The good news is that the keyboard layout has definitely improved, but I can’t say that for the other two categories. Regardless, this is a good choice for laptops when you’re ready to spend the money, and you’ll see why in my in-depth test below.
Specifications as verified – Razer Blade Pro 17
|Razer Blade Pro 17 2020|
|screen||17.3 inches, 1920 x 1080 pixels, IPS quality, 300 Hz, matte, sharp LQ173M1JW02 panel|
|processor||Intel 10th Gen Coffee Lake i7-10875H CPU, Octa-Core 2.3 GHz (5.1 GHz Boost)|
|Video||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Super Max-Q with Optimus|
|memory||16 GB DDR4 2933 MHz (2 × 8 GB DIMMs)|
|camp||512 GB M.2 NVMe (Samsung PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ)|
|Connectivity||Intel Wireless AX201, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Ports||3x USB-A 3.2 gen2, 1x USB-C Thunderbolt 3, 1x USB-C 3.2, headphones / microphone, Ethernet, HDMI 2.0b|
|battery||70.5 Wh, 230 W charger|
|size||395 mm or 15.55 inches (W) x 260 mm or 10.24 inches (D) x 19.9 mm or 0.78 inches (H)|
|Weight||2.75 kg (6.06 lbs)|
|Extras||individually illuminated RGB keyboard, large clickpad, HD Windows Hello webcam, stereo speakers, SD card reader|
Design and a first look
Since so much resembles the model I reviewed last year, I just want to refer you to this article and only point out things that have changed. Really, almost nothing has changed. It is still a great design and there is little or nothing to complain about.
It is the same unibody construction and the overall dimensions including weight are identical to those of the previous year. It’s not the lightest 17-inch laptop on the market, but it’s certainly better built than most of these lighter models.
I still wish they’d get rid of the bright green logo and opt for something more subtle, like their stealth model. Especially for a “Pro” model, it is difficult to be taken seriously with this logo, and almost everyone I know hides their logo with a wrap.
Another minor complaint is that the lid is still a bit stiff to be lifted with a finger. On the positive side, at least the hinge is very strong. Given that these are my only two complaints, it’s really not that bad.
Although the I / O options are identical, there is an additional function for the USB-C port that allows you to charge it up to 100 W. This will not help you in running games. You still need to plug in the main power block for this, but it is certainly useful for travel or if you forget your charging block.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard has not changed significantly except for a VERY important aspect.
The typing experience is pretty much the same as before. All keys are properly spaced from each other, have decent travel and good feedback. In short, I have no difficulty typing on this computer.
If you’re new to Razer Blades, you may expect a numpad, especially since it’s a 17-inch laptop. But that’s not Razer’s style because, to my knowledge, they have never had one. To be honest, I think having a centralized keyboard to leave space for the speakers on the sides is better than the crushed layout I’ve seen on other 17-inch models.
My typical typing test gave good results at 58 Wpm, which is a bit above average for me. However, keep in mind that I’ve been typing on a Razer Blade 15 for the past year and a half, so I’m a little bit biased because I’m very used to typing on those machines.
However, the “key” improvement (pun) that I mentioned earlier and that Razer made concerned the keyboard layout. Honestly, a constant irritation I’ve had with my current and all Razer Blade models has been the small right shift key and the dreaded arrow that appears between the? Key. Fortunately, that’s not the case anymore, since Razer has moved the up arrow to a split design and properly increased the toggle size.
Seriously, I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally hit that arrow on my 2019 Razer Blade 15. It came to a point where I had it reprogrammed to prevent this. It is a welcome improvement for me. I’m actually tempted to switch to this model, but it’s difficult to justify the cost. Maybe next year.
The keys are individually illuminated and chroma-compatible. So if you want to customize the keyboard backlight with some pretty cool designs, you can do it through the Synapse software. I like this aspect very much because it gives the laptop a unique touch to make it your own.
Fortunately, the glass trackpad has not changed. It’s still the best trackpad I’ve used on a Windows laptop, and I would literally not do anything to change it. All of my multi-touch gestures worked perfectly, the pointer was tracked perfectly and I had no problems using it.
It is large and has a clickpad, so the integrated buttons are located under the bottom corners of the pad. The only strange thing about this clickpad is that it doesn’t press at all when you press the top part. However, it’s really not that big of a problem because once you move about 20% of the way down you can click.
In summary, I can honestly say with a fixed keyboard layout that this keyboard / trackpad combination is as good as I could wish for. I think the only possible improvement they could offer would be adding the optical switches they had in one of their Razer Blade 15 models last year. But not at the expense of key lighting, as I’ve seen! Still, I’m very happy with what I’ve tested here.
The 2020 Razer Blade Pro has a matte 17.3-inch IPS panel with FHD resolution and a refresh rate of 300 Hz. It is manufactured by Sharp with the part number LQ173M1JW02. It’s not technically an IPS, but it’s the same in my book. Viewing angles are perfect.
The maximum brightness I could reach was 350 nits, which is pretty good, although it wasn’t in the middle of the screen. In fact, the brightness distribution on this device was somewhat different. Fortunately, I didn’t notice it in normal use. By the way, there is no backlight bleeding on my device.
I took some measurements on my Spyder4Pro sensor and got the following:
- Panel Hardware ID: Sharp – LQ173M1JW02 (SHP14DB);
- Coverage: 99% sRGB, 72% NTSC, 77% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.2;
- Maximum brightness in the center of the screen: 316 cd / m2 when powered;
- Min. Brightness in the middle of the screen: 16 cd / m2 with power supply;
- Contrast at maximum brightness: 1215: 1
- Native White Point: 7527 K;
- Black at maximum brightness: 0.26 cd / m2.
- PWM: No.
This is a very impressive looking screen. Not only is the refresh rate fast, the color coverage and contrast ratio are as good as those of fast FHD screens. Razer also calibrates the screen pretty well, but this standard white point is pretty skewed.
One thing that is similar to the previous model is the fact that Optimus and not GSYNC is used. I prefer this more because 300 Hz makes it kind of pointless to need Gsync at all and it is better to use the iGPU for better battery life. However, you have the option to disable Optimus in Synapse. At least that’s a nice touch.
My only criticism of the panel is the pixel density. At 17 inches, you can start to see the pixels, which makes it feel somewhat out of date. At 300 Hz, any higher resolution makes it difficult to cross the line, even with a 2080 Super. To be honest, I would have preferred a 120 Hz QHD panel. I think the GPU would be able to adequately control this resolution and the pixel density would be ideal.
If you want a higher pixel density, you have the option to buy a 4k touch model. The main advantages are that it is a full screen screen, which is ideal for content creation. What sets it apart from the others is the fact that it is 120 Hz. I’m sure the 2080 Super has enough power to play at 4km, but I don’t think you’ll be pushing 120Hz a lot.
Hardware and performance
This configuration of the Razer Blade Pro 17 is equipped with an Octa-Core i7-10875H processor and 16 GB RAM. The RAM is supplied in two 8 GB sticks and can be updated if necessary. This CPU is exaggerated for typical everyday tasks, but is ideal for demanding multithreaded loads and even for games.
In connection with the CPU there is an Nvidia RTX 2080 Super-GPU. Interestingly, they abolished the 2060 option this year, and the only other GPU option with the octa-core CPU is the 2070 Max-Q (not super).
The NVMe drive of this model is 512 GB and can also be updated. It’s actually a pretty good Samsung PM981 drive. You can find the speeds in my Crystal Disk Mark benchmark.
Updating the drive and memory is very easy. The bottom cover is held by Torx screws and can be easily removed. After opening, you have easy access to the SSD slots and the ram. By the way, there is a second SSD slot if you only want to use it.
I have no complaints about the daily performance of this machine. Pretty much everything I threw on it opened and worked quickly. Games and professional loads are the only things that you actually need so much power.
I have taken a number of synthetic benchmarks. For these tests, I left the fan profile in Auto and the profile in Synapse was set to Balanced. Here are my results:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 17867 (Graphics – 22812, Physics – 16841);
- 3Dmark 13 – time spy: 8241 (graphics – 8392, CPU – 7482);
- 3Dmark 13 – Port Royal: 5169;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 16731;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 5420;
- PCMark 10: 5167 (Essentials 8940, Productivity 8560, Content 4892);
- GeekBench 5 64-bit: Single core: 1274, multi-core: 6161;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 144.72 fps CPU 1172 cb, CPU single core 197 cb;
- CineBench R20: CPU 2623 cb, single core 464 cb.
I also repeated a few more benchmarks, with the profile set to maximum CPU and GPU in Synapse. Here are my results:
- 3Dmark 13 – Fire Strike: 20711 (Graphics – 24378, Physics – 21445);
- 3Dmark 13 – time spy: 9419 (graphics – 9352, CPU – 9819);
- 3Dmark 13 – Port Royal: 5683;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 18030;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 5885;
- PCMark 10: 6850 (Essentials 9715, Productivity 9073, Content 9897);
- GeekBench 5 64-bit: Single core: 1319, multi-core: 7691;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 163.21 fps CPU 1585 cb, CPU single core 206 cb;
- CineBench R20: CPU 3420 cb, single core 460 cb
Finally, the test is at maximum CPU and GPU with a -120mV undervoltage of the CPU:
- 3Dmark 13 – Fire Strike: 20792 (graphic – 24422, physics – 21615);
- 3Dmark 13 – time spy: 9365 (graphics – 9354, CPU – 9428);
- 3Dmark 13 – Port Royal: 5712;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 18317;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 5914;
- GeekBench 5 64-bit: Single core: 1296, multi-core: 7926;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 140.98 fps CPU 1795 cb, CPU single core 201 cb;
- CineBench R20: CPU 3756 cb, single core 460 cb
These benchmarks alone are pretty good, but digging a little deeper and getting some sustainable benchmarks from the CPU is a bit of a different story. Performing 15 consecutive Cinebench runs both in balanced mode and in the max settings leads to different results, as expected. You can see this in the graphs and comparisons below.
What I can see from these results is that Razer set the CPU power limit lower than the competition (54 + W in this case versus 63+ to 70+ W in others) and that this results in slightly poorer performance, if compared to the Asus Zephyrus S15 and the Gigabyte Aero 15 with the same CPU.
Undercutting helps a little with tasks with a sustained load. I was able to achieve a stable undervoltage of -120 mV to do my tests. This has not only slightly improved the frequencies and performance of the CPU, but also improved the game temperatures. More on this below.
The good news is that in almost all scenarios, games are unlikely to be affected by the lower performance limits set by Razer. You’ll see more on that shortly, but for every game I’ve tested, CPU usage was well below 100%. In fact, most games ran between 20 and 60% of CPU usage. With every game you play, you are unlikely to see a drop in performance compared to other laptop models with similar specifications.
This affects things like video rendering and batch processing where all 8 cores are closer to 100%. For such things, expect a 3-12% drop in performance compared to the Zephyrus and Aero laptops we tested earlier, both at standard and under voltage. If this is the kind of thing you mainly do with your laptop, you should consider it as an alternative, especially for cost reasons.
Here are some of the benchmark tests for games. All game tests were also performed with the auto fan profile, with the CPU and GPU settings in Synapse being maximum.
|Battlefield V (DX 12 on, ultra preset, ray tracing off)||110-128 fps|
|Battlefield V (DX 12 On, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing ON)||65-75 fps|
|Battlefield V (DX 12 on, ultra preset, ray tracing off, synapse balanced mode)||109-123 fps|
|Final Fantasy XV (H.igh)||85-116 fps|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks Off)||125-138 fps|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On)||100-118 fps|
|D.oom E.ternal (Ultra Nightmare Presets)||200-250 fps|
In terms of gaming performance, I would say that this is pretty good. Even at maximum settings, I pushed well over 90 Hz for most AAA titles. I don’t play competitive FPS games, so I can’t tell you how valuable it is to have a 300 Hz screen, let’s say last year’s 120 Hz screen. I can only say that it is much better than a 60 Hz panel.
You can definitely see some performance improvements over the RTX 2080 Razer Blade that I tested last year. If you already own this, I’m not sure it’s worth a compromise, but it is certainly a significant improvement given the choice between the two.
One thing I can really appreciate is the “balanced” mode in Synapse. After using this laptop for a few weeks, I think if I owned it I would leave it permanently on this setting. I’ll go into that in more detail in the next section, but it really reduces thermal stress, which leads to a quieter experience … and not an enormous amount of power.
Emissions (noise, heat), connectivity and speakers
Like most other Razer Blade models, this laptop has a steam chamber cooling system to keep the CPU and GPU cool. All of this instead of using more conventional heat pipes that connect the heat sinks to the fans. It actually does a pretty good job of keeping the internals cool.
There are two large fans on either side of the chamber, identical to those of the previous year. There are also two smaller fans below the chamber near the palm rest. It looks like air is drawn in through the floor, through all four fans and then through the ventilation opening of the screen.
I think for this CPU / GPU combination, they may be geared to something because the temperatures I measured were pretty good. I did most of my tests with maximum CPU and GPU in Synapse.
While playing Witcher 3, I saw typical CPU temperatures between 78 and 82 ° C with peaks of up to 94 ° C. The GPU performed much better and stabilized at 70 ° C. The frame rates ranged between 100 and 118 fps . These results are probably due to the somewhat lower performance limit that you chose for your CPU.
Switching Synapse to balanced mode helped a little, but not in all cases. The temperature ranges were almost the same as in the Max settings, but the CPU temperature peaks were eliminated, resulting in a maximum CPU temperature recorded at 84 ° C. My frame rates were 90-100 fps in this mode.
I also tested Doom Eternal, which was a bit more demanding and I pushed over 200fps. The differences between balanced and maximum settings were less impressive in this game, but the average CPU temperature was 87 ° C at maximum temperature and 81 ° C at balanced setting. The GPU ranged between 71 and 73 ° C for both settings.
Undervoltage can also help control these peaks. My -120 mV undervoltage helped eliminate the temperature peaks for both tests and lowered the average CPU temperature while playing Doom Eternal.
As I just said, if I owned this machine, I would probably just keep it balanced. The drop in performance is low and the reduction in thermal peaks is a significant plus. Thermal spikes in the 90s are something that my current Razer Blade 15 still does today and that drives me crazy. Undervolting helps even more, so I would probably do it on a normal basis.
Another nice thing in balanced mode is the reduction in fan noise. During normal use, I hardly ever heard the fans start. When they did, it was a quiet hum unless I was playing. Even then it was bearable.
As I mentioned in the previous section, the balanced mode further reduces the CPU performance limit and significantly affects your performance in programs with high CPU requirements. If you use this for professional reasons, it may be better to leave the CPU at the maximum settings.
I took some measurements during my tests. As a reference, the ambient noise level is around 28 dB. With moderate use, the fans rise to 39 dB at ear level and around 50 dB at the exhaust. In custom mode with maximum CPU you see 45 dB / 55 dB with the same tests.
The laptop gets significantly louder in heavy games. The noise level is between 50 and 60 dB at ear level and between 65 dB on the device. Quite loud, but that’s at least your control of Synapse. In the worst case, you can turn on whisper mode in Nvidia Experience, but this will significantly slow performance.
I took some measurements on the outside of the case, top and bottom, under normal loads and also while playing. I got the following:
* Daily use – Netflix clip in EDGE for 30 minutes
* Charge – Play Witcher 3 for over 30 minutes with Ultra FHD settings
This was not surprising and corresponds to the Razer Blade 17 model that I tested last year. The palm rest fans seem to help keep it a little cooler than other laptops, which is very nice. However, the lower abdomen becomes extremely hot under heavy load. Therefore, you should limit the number of games on your lap unless you are using a laptop compartment.
For connectivity, the Intel Wifi 6 AX201 module that supports Bluetooth 5.0 is used in this model. I measured download speeds of 500Mbps (my maximum for my ISP) at a distance of about 25 feet from my router, which is very good. I also haven’t noticed a single drop in connection.
For audio, there is an upward-facing speaker on each side of the keyboard that sounds decent but has no bass. I measured a maximum amplitude of 85 dB with my sound meter and the bass was only recognizable up to 100 Hz.
Above the screen is the same Windows Hello webcam as all other Razer Blade models in recent years. It’s an HD webcam and takes decent pictures as long as your lighting is sufficient.
The Windows Hello feature works quite well too, but you may need to train it a little before it works seamlessly. I’ve criticized the ability of Razer’s webcam in low light in the past, but I think drivers have improved this over the past year.
This blade uses the same 70.5-whr battery that was used in the model last year. It’s also unfortunate because not only is it smaller than the typical 99Whr that you’ll see in most 17-inch laptops, it’s also smaller than the battery in the smaller Blade 15.
I did some tests to see how long the battery would last in certain scenarios.
- 10.7 W (~ 6 h 35 min use) – Idle, best battery mode, screen at 0%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 17.4 W (~ 4 h 3 min use) – 1080p Youtube full screen in Chrome, better battery mode, 30% screen, Wi-Fi ON;
- 16.5 W (~ 4 h 16 min use) – 1080p Netflix full screen video in Chrome, better battery mode, 30% screen, Wi-Fi ON;
- 28.1 W (~ 2 h 30 min use) – heavy surfing in Chrome, better performance mode, 30% screen, Wi-Fi ON;
- 68.1 W (~ 1 h 2 min use) – Gaming – Witcher 3, maximum performance mode, 60 fps, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON. 70.5
As you can see, these results are not particularly good. They agree with the results of the last model, but I would still expect more. Even if Optimus is activated, you will only see 3-4 hours of typical usage.
After looking at the inside, I really think Razer should consider either reducing or completely removing the booster fans to make room for a 99-whr battery. I understand that these fans keep the trackpad cool, but do they really have to be that big? It’s not that I use the trackpad while playing, and the trackpad is insanely cooler than any part of the laptop – there is definitely some leeway.
Price and availability
The Razer Blade Pro 17 is available from many retailers, including Amazon and their own Razer store.
There are only two graphics card options for the Razer Blade Pro: The 2080 Super version (this model) costs $ 3,199. There’s also a 120Hz 4k touch model with this GPU, but it will bring you a whopping $ 3800 back. Finally, there is a “budget” model for $ 2600, but it only includes the RTX 2070 Max-Q (not Super).
So I enjoyed it last year and I like it even more this year. Razer not only kept the best parts of the laptop the same, but also found a way to make some pretty good improvements that make the value so much better.
The performance of this laptop is simply outstanding, with the exception of CPU-heavy loads, where the slightly restricted 8Core i7 implementation lags behind the competition. I actually feel like they pushed the internals as far as possible and it’s not like it was throttling like crazy – the cooling system is built to fit the parts it contains.
In between, the excellent keyboard and trackpad, the 300 Hz screen and the excellent build quality, there is little to like on this laptop. I have enjoyed it a lot in the past few weeks and I could certainly imagine using it as a constant daily driver.
The only thing that would hold me back is the battery life. If I carried a large laptop like this around with me to work, I would expect more than 3 hours of it. My Razer Blade 15 has better battery life. So if I had to choose between the two again, I would probably still be using the Blade 15.
But if 17-inch laptops are your thing and money is not an issue, this laptop should be on your shortlist. However, there is a small competition. So do your homework and choose what suits you best. Especially if this computer is more suitable for work and less for games, you should consider other options that use more CPU functions. For other thin and light 17-inch laptops, check out the Asus Zephyrus S17, the Gigabyte Aero 17, or the updated MSI GS75 Stealth.
That concludes this assessment. Please write a comment below if you have any questions.