Review: Razer Blade Pro 17 (2021)

Razer has been making a push to provide gamers and content creators with a slew of performance options for its Blade laptops. A portion of this may have to do with the technology that’s available as the NVIDIA RTX 30 series cards launched last Autumn while Intel was at the tail end of its 10th generation processors. The mobile versions of the NVIDIA RTX 30 series cards also come in different performance variants based on power draw, so there are more options there as well. Throw in Intel launching its 11th generation processors and if you include different display configurations, the Blade has a lot of options now. We reviewed the Blade 15 a few months ago and it was a solid piece of tech for those looking for high refresh rate gaming. Razer has now sent over the Blade 17 Pro for review and it’s worth the higher price point for a more complete laptop.

There are a total of six configurations for the early 2021 version of the Razer Blade Pro 17. You’ll have the choices of either the NVIDIA RTX 3060, 3070 or 3080 with the higher-priced versions offering the higher-powered versions of those mobile GPUs. The displays are available from FHD, QHD or UHD with the FHD models offering a 360Hz display with the 17.3-inch diagonal size screen. The QHD display offers 165Hz refresh rate and the UHD is actually 120Hz with a touch panel. Each version of the Blade Pro 17 still includes a 10th generation Intel processor with the i7-10875H rated at 2.3GHz with a Turbo Boost of 5.1GHz.

Every Razer Blade Pro 17 comes armed with an HDMI 2.1 output port that allows up to a 4K 120Hz signal to be output, but doesn’t support full chroma and only 4:2:2. This is still a big plus and pushes these laptops to near desktop performance levels, especially as a workstation or a content creation machine. This will also carry 1440p resolution up to 144Hz, which may be better suited for gaming on the mobile GPUs. Of course, with two USB-C ports and a Thunderbolt 3 port, that allows further expansion for video display on another device.

The model that Razer provided for us for review includes the higher-end RTX 3070 with a TGP up to 105 watts. This means more performance, but also means more heat. Along with the Intel i7-10875H, this model includes 16GB DDR4 (2x8GB) 2933MHz, 512GB PCIe NVMe storage, WiFi 6e, Bluetooth 5.2 and a 720p webcam. The options for RAM and storage expansion is excellent as the system supports up to 64GB of RAM and includes an extra M.2 slot that when combined allows up to 4 TB of storage in total. With the 512GB that was on here, I was able to get six games on the drive and that included Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, but just the multiplayer portion.

I remember the first review of a Razer Blade I did and it got hot to the touch while gaming towards the top of the keyboard. Since this is where the CPU and GPU sit underneath the chassis, it makes sense. With each review after that original, there has been an improvement. Razer went further with this year’s model and has included a vapor chamber to dissipate heat. This also allowed Razer to make this already slim laptop even slimmer. The height on this laptop is just over 3/4 of an inch and is just over 15 inches wide and 10 inches long. It weighs in at 6 pounds and because it’s wide, it’s hefty and won’t be moving around while in use.

The fans still get loud under load on this laptop, but the hot to the touch is much improved. Razer has included customization for performance in the Synapse software. The default balanced profile is plenty sufficient, as all of the testing was done without adjusting this. Razer has again included the option to switch between the NVIDIA GPU and the on-board to help with battery life and this can be changed within Synapse along with the refresh rate you desire. Manual configuration for the performance you desire can be set within the software as well.

The design of the Blade Pro 17 remains nearly exactly the same as its predecessors. The team behind the laptop did redesign the hinge which basically includes vents to allow the two added fans underneath the chassis to breathe air out. Per-key lighting for RGB on the keyboard is included with this model along with the same touchpad and matte feel and look of the body are all retained. The razer logo on the back is lit green, but if you’re just comparing any of these within the last few years just by looking at them, there hasn’t been a change in the aesthetic design of the Blade. If you’re buying this, you’re more interested on what’s underneath the hood and what it can do rather than the look.

I personally prefer a bigger screen on a laptop and I feel this Blade 17 Pro is the complete package. Razer color-calibrates these screens in the factory and the display on this is one of the most beautiful laptop displays I’ve come in contact with. Games look fantastic and I can just get lost in looking at my desktop backgrounds. When colors are meant to be bright, they come out and this may have to do with the dark areas being darker. There will just be smaller details that I won’t notice normally that I’ve noticed on this screen and it could also be because it’s a 17 inch screen.

For the selected games, there were  graphics hogs chosen along with some better performing titles that can get the maximum performance out of the 165Hz screen. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold WarControl and Cyberpunk 2077 were tested with DLSS On/Off, Ray Tracing On/Off, and standard levels. Doom Eternal, Apex Legends, the popular destruction derby title Wreckfest and the top-down RPG Wolcen were tested at maximum settings. All of the testing was done at 1440p resolution, since this laptop is geared more towards that performance even though 1080p will offer higher FPS. There were two 3DMark tests run with Time Spy and Port Royal. The Time Spy score came in at 9359, which sits much higher than the average gaming laptop and about 2000 points below a high-end gaming desktop. It does score slightly higher than the general gaming desktop, but I’m sure further tweaking with the performance profiles on here can gain a higher score. Port Royal ended up a bit disappointing at 5939 as this benchmarks the Ray Tracing capabilities. This sits about 1000 points below a high-end gaming desktop but much higher than the general gaming desktop.

Closing Comments:

The marketing for the mobile RTX 30 series GPUs feels a bit misleading. On the surface, these cards seem to be neck and neck with their desktop counterparts, but they’re not. If you factor in the varying power consumptions for these cards and the fact that this information isn’t laid out for you, it ends up more misleading. Having said this, the gaming experience on the Blade 17 Pro at 1440p is excellent as you will get higher fidelity visuals with high framerates and better Ray Tracing options as compared to the Blade 15. There’s overhead there if you are looking to drop to 1080p to increase the frame rates. While the aesthetic design remains intact for better or worse, the heat dissipation is a big plus and this year’s Razer Blade 17 Pro is one of the best workstations out there whether it be for gaming, work or content creation. This laptop is a lunk to haul around with you due to its size and weight, but serves as an excellent alternative for buying a desktop and with the current market, falls in the same pricing category with the specs this model was given. The price is still a premium, but with the HDMI 2.1 output there’s a lot more that can be done with this laptop than just gaming.