Razer sent one of their new Blade laptops over to the Kotaku UK office, and I've spent the past few days messing around with it. It's a beast of a gaming machine, putting my current tower PC gaming rig to shame, but that's not really why it impressed me. What was impressive about the Blade is that it's a lightweight and portable machine that can handle VR, and I started using my Vive again.
I'll whack all the specs at the end. To be upfront about it, the Blade is definitely a luxury item. It costs a whopping £1,800, a price tag so high I'm paranoid about carrying it around, and one that makes me look forward to returning it.
But depending on your situation, the Blade does excel at certain things. How did it get me back into VR? Well, I have a small office that most of my work is done from, which is not a large enough space for room-scale VR. That's the room my gaming PC lives in, as it's where I need it. Before now, any time I've wanted to play a VR game, I've needed to lug my tower PC to another room and set it up near my TV. I've had to disconnect all of my cable-tied wires from my office, redo my setup in the living room, and wait to boot up. By the time that's all done, I'm usually no longer feeling the impulse to immerse myself in a virtual world.
Worse yet, my mother has multiple times asked me to bring the Vive over to hers so she can show it to her non-gaming friends. Bringing the Vive kit would be easy enough, but bringing a screen and my Tower PC setup is a nightmare.
Having a beast of a gaming laptop is nice anyway: it means you can play recent AAA games on the train home at top end settings. But for me the fact the Blade performed so well with VR was a game-changer. It has meant over the last few days that, if I want to play a VR game, I can just pop to the living room, plug the USB lead from my Vive into the laptop, and within minutes I was up and running properly. It made VR an impulse pastime rather than a calculated one requiring lots of legwork, and that made a huge difference to my gaming habits over the weekend.
Plus, it makes those impromptu lunchtime rounds of AudioShield so much easier.
The only problem — and this isn't such an issue with a tower PC — is my drastically increased fear of stepping on the laptop and forever ruining it. A tower is clunky, metal, sturdy, and could probably survive a few light knocks. With a laptop this small, light and expensive, I was constantly worried about pulling it off a table, stepping on it, tripping over it or similar. The last thing I want is to accidentally pull it when moving too far, then step on it. I don't know that there's a good solution for that problem, besides playing VR with a laptop guardian or maybe chucking it into a backpack or protective case.
The Blade runs brand-new games exceptionally well: the specs speak for themselves here. But the ability to quickly set up a VR station in my front room, making me more willing to use that technology, is what makes it stand out for me.
And with this published, it's time to give this beautiful machine back. I'll miss you Blade, but not for your sheer grunt. It was what you did with it that counted.
The machine Razer sent for evaluation is a Blade laptop with an Intel Core i7 - 7700HQ 2.8 GHz Base / 3.8 GHz Turbo, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GGDR5 VRAM), 16GB DDR4 Ram, 14 inch 1080p matte LED Backlit screen, 256GB SSD, and Windows 10. It weighs 4.1 lbs, and comes with a USB-C port, 3 USB 3.0 ports, and some really nice Dolby-supported speakers.