Peripherals specialist Razer has thrown its hat into the Ultrabook ring with a pair of new gaming laptops that promise extreme performance without the weight.
The company, which was previously known for its range of gaming-centric keyboards and mice, branched out into the laptop computing arena back in 2011 with a 17" laptop it dubbed the Blade. Featuring a clever multi-function OLED-based controller region, based on work done for a prototype hand-held MMO machine dubbed the Switchblade, the machine was impressively powerful but not exactly lightweight - a common problem with gaming laptops, thanks to their requirements for large batteries and cooling systems.
The first of Razer's new laptops is the Blade Pro, a 17.3" model designed to replace the existing Blade. Inside, those familiar with processor roadmaps will be unsurprised to hear, is an Intel Haswell processor of unknown specification - described by Razer simply as a 'future 4th-gen Intel Core processor formerly codenamed Haswell' so as not to fall foul of Intel's non-disclosure agreement (NDA) - and a 47W TDP (meaning it's an i7-4900MQ or i7-4800MQ, most likely) along with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M graphics processor with 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory. The system itself is given 8GB of low-power DDR3 in the form of two 4GB modules running at 1600MHz, and 128GB of mSATA solid-state storage as standard with optional 256GB or 512GB upgrades to be available.
The LED-backlit display features a 1,920x1,080 Full HD resolution, while the upgraded Switchblade user interface combines an LED touch-screen trackpad-cum-display with ten OLED-based customisable macro keys. Audio is provided from stereo speakers with Dolby Home Theatre v4 certification, and the keyboard is a Razer Synapse unit with anti-ghosting and macro capabilities built in along with an adjustable backlight. The company also promises to bundle software for professional users, turning the Switchblade section of the keyboard into a handy shortcut palette for software include Adobe Photoshop.
'With the Razer Blade Pro, we've designed a gaming laptop for work and for play—appealing to on-the-go hardcore gamers, game developers, creative artists and aspiring video professionals,' claimed Min-Liang Tan, co-founder and chief executive of Razer. 'The Razer Blade Pro can flawlessly run the most popular creative software applications, and is powerful enough to run the most graphically intensive games on the market today.'
Impressively, Razer has packed all the above into a chassis just 22.35mm thick and weighing 2.95KG - still a hefty thing to carry around, but a significant reduction compared to most 17" gaming laptops. If that isn't portable enough for you, however, the company has a second product in the wings: an Ultrabook-like 14" model that just misses out on being an official Ultrabook thanks to a lack of touch-screen and wireless display capabilities, a requirement for Intel's Haswell Ultrabook certification. Just known as the Razer Blade, the new compact model features the same processor, memory, GPU and storage components as its larger equivalent but in a 14" chassis measuring just 16.8mm thick at its widest point - 0.2mm thinner than the MacBook Air's thickest portion.
Sadly, if you're excited at the thought of either model, there's a catch: the company has so far only announced availability in North America. With the previous Razer Blade laptop still not available in the UK, it could be some time before we see the Blade Pro and its portable equivalent on these shores - if it arrives at all.
Pricing for the Razer Blade Pro starts at $2,299 and for the Blade 14" at $1,799 (around £1,510 and £1,181 respectively, excluding taxes) with both models due to start shipping towards the end of June - comfortably after Intel launches its Haswell processors at Computex next week.