When it comes to premium laptop computers every once in a while a new hardware manufacturer comes along to shake the marketplace up a little bit. This is especially true in the gaming space, where the only thing more important than what's under the hood is how slick the rig itself is.
Razer is the company that's currently rumbling the market, and the Razer Blade laptop ($1,800–$2,300) is a slicker rig than most. At less then 3/4 of an inch thick, the matte black aluminum chassis is a wonder. It's heavier than other laptops with a similar footprint but the blade deserves such a solid, unyielding presence. With slight, ridged contours and clean lines, it's the kind of machine that people ask about when they see it.
Equipped with Windows 8, it's got the usual webcam, stereo speakers, and multiple connectivity options, including Bluetooth and HDMI and three USB 3 ports. There's no DVD or Blu-ray drive, but many gamers don't have much use for those these days, opting for digital versions of games and movies instead. Power users, especially those who are regular LAN party participants, will be more worried about the lack of an ethernet port.
Each Blade has 8 GB of onboard memory and a quad-core i7 processor from Intel and they are available in configurations with 128 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB solid-state storage. The high-end graphics card from Nvidia is a bit let down by the sub-par 1600 x 900 display, but the HDMI port means you can connect the Blade to an external monitor or even a flatscreen television.
It's got a responsive, full-size keyboard and every key is programmable, so whether the gamer in your life is playing League of Legends or Gone Home, Borderlands 2 or Battlefield 4, they can set their own preferences. The keyboard is backlit with a scintillating green LED and that same colour shines through the ports and the Razer logo on the top of the unit.
The battery life on the Blade is also satisfying, delivering between four and six hours depending on what it's being used for. And despite the high-performing components, the Blade cleverly distributes heat to areas that are rarely touched by users; the seam along the hinge and the strip above the keyboard get fiercely hot but the underside won't burn your lap unless you're really pushing the system for a good period of time.
The Blade combines snappy design with superior performance and is among the best gaming laptops available.