This is it, a glimpse at the higher echelons of gaming laptops in 2022. This new version of the Razer Blade 17 is not only the first machine to hit the PC Gamer labs packing Intel's mobile Alder Lake CPU (opens in new tab) but it's also home to Nvidia's new top-end Ampere GPU. You're looking at the Intel Core i7 12800H alongside the GeForce RTX 3080 Ti. Serious, high-end hardware that can go toe-to-toe with most desktop rigs.
This being a Razer laptop, it not only looks gorgeous but boasts a beautiful screen and a well-rounded spec too. It'll cost you a pretty penny of course, but high-end laptops are rarely affordable. Still, with a list price of $3,999, this is expensive even at these rarified heights. Is it worth the money? Do the improvements from Nvidia and Intel warrant that kind of price tag? Time to find out.
Let's start with Alder Lake, this isn't just a normal generational upgrade. Not only does Intel's latest architecture represent a whole new paradigm for processors, but it brings with it support for plenty of the newest technologies too. You're looking at support for DDR5 RAM and Thunderbolt 4, although, unlike the desktop chips, PCIe 5.0 is lacking from the specs list—although PCIe 4.0 is present and correct for some speedy SSD shenanigans.
The Core i7 12800H lays claim to a total of 14 cores, made up of six performance cores and eight efficient ones. That equates to 20 threads in total as the E-cores don't boast multi-threading. Those performance cores have a max turbo of 4.8GHz, while the efficient cores top out at 3.7GHz, making for a capable overall package that brings with it plenty of efficiency gains over previous generations.
This Alder Lake chip is a hungry beast though, particularly with the Max Turbo Power rated to 115W. In testing, it's capable of easily hitting 100°C when pushed, which makes for a noisy machine when encoding video and 3D rendering. Still, at least the performance is there if you need it.
It is a supremely capable chip, posting some of the best benchmark results we've ever seen from a laptop, with performance that really does challenge desktop systems. The only potential fly in the ointment is AMD's Ryzen 6000 chips (opens in new tab) are imminent too and from the early numbers we've seen things are pretty close, particularly when you factor in power efficiency. Intel is ahead, but it's a close-run thing.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti & 4th Gen Max-Q
The picture is a bit clearer on the GPU side of things, with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti being largely unchallenged in the laptop space. Boasting 7,424 CUDA Cores and a Boost Clock of up to 1590MHz, the RTX 3080 Ti leapfrogs the previous king of laptop gaming, the RTX 3080 (6,144 CUDA Core with a Boost of 1,710MHz), by a decent margin.
This being an RTX GPU means you have access to the double whammy of DLSS and ray tracing support, so your games look amazing and will run smoothly in supported titles too. And when it comes to gaming, this thing absolutely smashes it, consistently topping the charts in a range of games.
CPU: Intel Core i7 12800H
GPU: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti (165W) 16GB GDDR6
RAM: 32GB DDR5-4800
Display: 17.3-inch QHD, 240Hz, G-Sync
Resolution: 2560 x 1440
Storage: 1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, 2x Thunderbolt 4 (USB Type-C), 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 3x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, 3.5mm combo-jack
OS: Windows 11 Home 64-bit
Dimensions: 0.78 x 10.24 x 15.55-inches
Weight: 6.06lbs (2.75kg)
Warranty: 1 year
Price: $3,999 | £4,299
Not only does the 3080 Ti bring serious gaming grunt to proceedings, but it also has some aces up its sleeve to help make gaming on a laptop a more enjoyable experience. These 4th Gen Max-Q technologies include CPU Optimizer, Rapid Core Scaling (more aimed at creators than gamers), and Battery Boost 2.0, and can be found alongside existing tech like Dynamic Boost, WhisperMode, and Advanced Optimus.
Of these, Battery Boost 2.0 should be of interest for anyone looking to game on the go, as it balances the GPU and CPU to squeeze more out of the battery. Whisper Mode 2.0 is also neat, as it keeps the noise from the fans to a minimum while still knocking out impressive frame rates—the joys of having an incredibly powerful GPU in the first place. It works well with the Razer Blade 17 too, although the fans still kick in when pushed hard.
The new CPU Optimizer, meanwhile, uses an AI-powered algorithm to coordinate between the CPU and GPU to improve efficiency, including offloading some low-level work from the CPU to a dedicated command processor on the GPU. This all happens in the background, and you don't have direct control over it, so it isn't exactly easy to see what impact this is having, but it's good to know Nvidia is working with Intel and AMD to improve things.
Any laptop is more than just the CPU and GPU of course, and Razer has kitted out the Blade 17 with a healthy specification. You're looking at 32GB of DDR5-4800MHz, which should be enough for gaming for a few years at least, plus a 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD, and you get a great screen too.
You have a couple of options on the display front, with the 240Hz QHD screen as seen on this review model making a bit more sense than the 360Hz 1080p alternative, which costs exactly the same. Esports devotees may lust after that extra 120Hz, but given this is a 17.3-inch panel, I much prefer more pixels and a tighter pixel pitch for the vast majority of games. The 3080 Ti doesn't exactly struggle to hit silly numbers at the native 2560 x 1440, either.
The keyboard is spacious and comfortable to type on, although the cursor keys are strangely cramped for such a big laptop. I'm not a fan of the large touchpad, which feels unresponsive and difficult to click, but this is definitely a machine you'll want to use a proper gaming mouse with anyway. It is primarily a gaming laptop after all.
Razer Blade 17 Performance
The Razer Blade 17 is a monster in terms of performance. It's either the fastest or very close to the fastest in just about every benchmark you can throw at it, and that's true whether you're focused on gaming, or crunching those pesky numbers. If you're looking for a beastly powerhouse, then the Razer Blade 17 delivers.
The numbers above were garnered from running the machine using the 'Balanced' performance profile in Razer Synapse. In theory, this should give you plenty of raw grunt without it sounding like it's about to take off. In practice, there's no obvious difference in noise levels between this profile and a custom profile with everything maxed out. Running such a custom profile does improve CPU performance in Cinebench R23, but not anywhere else, and importantly not in the games.
Whichever profile you use, it can be a surprisingly noisy machine, hitting 55dB when playing games. That may not be the loudest laptop we've had in the labs, but it's certainly annoying enough for anyone around you.
Whisper Mode drops this down to 50dB, which is notably quieter. This eases back on the fan speed, making it much gentler on the ear than leaving the fans unchecked. This does affect the performance of course, although not as much as you might think—it had a bigger impact on the CPU than the GPU too, as shown in 3DMark Time Spy, which saw the GPU score drop from 12,694 to 11,010 (a 13% drop) while the CPU went from 12,174 down to 5,389 (down 56%).
If you're just looking at gaming, then there's nothing really but good news here. Any game is going to run silky smooth at the top settings and at the screen's native 1440p resolution. The numbers here are taken at 1080p for comparison's sake, but as you can see, there's frame rate to spare, and you're still looking at at least 60fps
One interesting result here is the similarly-priced Gigabyte Aorus 17X (opens in new tab), which is pretty close in plenty of tests, although given that is home to a 165W RTX 3080 and the top-end of Intel's last-gen CPU, that's not too surprising. It's worth noting that the Razer Blade 17 does better in the Metro Exodus ray tracing test, thanks to all those extra cores. Also, the Aorus 17X is more of a traditional gaming laptop, so it has more room to let that GPU breathe—it'll be interesting to see just how quick the 3080 Ti will be in a more traditionally chunky gaming chassis.
Razer Blade 17 Battery Life
The Achilles heel of many a high-end gaming laptop is battery life, and the new Razer Blade 17 is no different. If you're looking to game away from a power socket, then I've got some bad news for you—you're not going to do so for long. It took just 51 minutes to run the battery down from full in Unigine Heaven.
This is absolutely a worst-case scenario of course, and you can expect to get a lot more out of it when you're doing more mundane tasks like working or simply watching videos, but given this is aimed at gamers, it doesn't feel outrageous to hope for more stamina from a bang up to date machine.
There is a potential solution in the fact that the Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti supports Battery Boost 2.0. This hopes to improve battery life by limiting the frame rate. By default, this caps the action at 30fps, but you can elect to go up to 60fps for more frame rate-sensitive games (or you select anything in between the two if you desire.) As we've seen from the Steam Deck, limiting the frame rate can make an appreciable difference to battery life, although here it only bumps it up to 68 minutes with a 30fps lock. It's an improvement, but not necessarily one worth capping your frame rate for.
Razer Blade 17 Verdict
Overall, the Razer Blade 17 is an impressive gaming laptop, there's no doubt about that. Whether you're looking to game, work, or mix the two, this sets the bar pretty high. At least it does when it's plugged in. If you want something with a bit more stamina, then there are much better options around—the Razer Blade Advanced for one offers double the battery life that you'll get from this, although you won't get the same kind of performance.
It's a brilliant showcase for Intel's new mobile Alder Lake processors and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti, though the slim chassis does mean it doesn't quite leapfrog beefier gaming machines like the Aorus 17X, more an incremental improvement. Still, hitting RTX 3080 performance in a chassis this thin is impressive.
The rest of the system is well spec'd out and looks like a premium piece of hardware. It is a 17-inch laptop though, and for many, that's a bit too big, especially if you need to carry it around with you—it's nowhere near as portable as our favorite gaming laptop (opens in new tab), the Razer Blade 15.
There's a slightly bigger problem here of course, and that's the price. $4,000 is a serious chunk for a laptop, even one that is as powerful as this. There are plenty of laptops that cost a lot less than this that will game almost as well, albeit at lower resolutions, and maybe not look quite so good. Ultimately though, if you want the best, and currently this is it, you're going to have to pay for it.