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Razer’s new 2016 Blade keeps style, upgrades everything else

As Razer grows from a peripheral manufacturer into a full-blown computer maker, keeping its gaming systems up to date is more important than ever. That’s why the new Razer Blade replaces almost every component, from the processor to the screen, and even shaves off some weight.

Let’s start with the processor. The model we reviewed in late 2015 was powered by an Intel i7-4720HQ. At the time, it was the chip of choice for lightweight gaming systems, but that market has moved to Intel’s 6th-gen, and so has Razer. The new Blade is equipped with a quad-core i7-6700HQ, which boasts a 2.6GHz base clock and 3.5GHz boost clock, and 16GB of DDR4 memory.

The GPU is still an Nvidia GTX 970M, but this time VRAM has been doubled up to a hefty 6GB. That bump in memory should improve already strong graphical performance, without too much a hit to the Blade’s power consumption.

Say goodbye to SATA, because even the hard drive is getting upgraded, with the choice of either 256 or 512 GB of PCIe SSD storage. That’s a move we’ve seen a number of manufacturers make as of late, and it pays off with speeds that double or triple those of traditional SSDs.

Related: Lenovo brings super-thin Yoga 900S, Razer-branded desktop to CES 2016

The screen is still the same 3,200 x 1,800 IGZO display that was offered as a high-end option on the previous Blade, but this time it’s standard instead of an upgrade. Even the keyboard has seen an upgrade this time around, with the same per-key Chroma RGB lighting found on the Blade Stealth. There’s also Thunderbolt 3 support, which the Razer Blade can use to connect the Core for external graphics power.

And there’s one more important design change. Razer has taken care to resolve one of the key issues with the previous Blade model: heat. The old system ran hot, both under load and at idle. This time, the thermal distribution has been modified to push heat away from areas the user touches frequently, and the fans have been adjusted to run at more regular intervals, avoiding noisy spin-ups.

Pre-orders are already open for both the 256 and 512 GB versions of the Blade, at $2,000 and $2,200 respectively, with an expected ship date in April. Keep an eye out for a full review of the new Blade in the coming months, or check out our Blade Stealth and 2015 reviews for a glance at the design and performance of the current offerings.