We reviewed and compared the Razer Blade 17 Pro versus Asus Zephyrus S GX701 in terms of Gaming Performance, Display Quality, Price, Portability, Battery Life and more.
Above you can see the Ranking with the results and below you will find the in-depth tests of each Gaming Laptop.
Ranking First: Razer Blade Pro 17
- Great Gaming Performance for 4K / VR gaming
- Better Gaming keyboard than ROG Zephyrus S
- More silent & better Cooling
- More expensive than ROG Zephyrus S
The new Blade Pro 17 has been the current top model among the Razer gaming notebooks since the end of April. Technically, it has made a big leap forward, as Razer had previously still installed seventh-generation Intel CPUs and GTX graphics cards.
With the Intel Core i7-9750H, the eighth generation has now been skipped and at least one RTX 2060 is now offered as a graphics card, while RTX 2070 Max-Q and RTX 2080 Max-Q (in the test sample) are optionally available. The display is also a new one with 17.3 inch and 144 Hz.
Meanwhile, the previously offered 4K touch option has been removed, as have 240 Hz, OLED or G-Sync.
The Blade Pro 17 differs only slightly from the Blade 15, which is offered in two versions, in addition to the larger display. It is of course wider, deeper and heavier than the smaller models, but not thicker than the basic version with 19.9 mm.
However, it offers more in terms of connectivity: once USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type C), 2.5 Gbps Ethernet and SD card reader are only available here.
The Razer Blade Pro 17 can be easily opened with the right tool. The two RAM banks always occupied with 8 GB DDR4-2666 each, the M.2 slot always occupied with a 512 GB NVMe-SSD ex works and a free slot of this type. The mass memory can thus be expanded without removing the existing SSD, but the RAM cannot.
The new Blade Pro is rather a somewhat larger Razer Blade than an independent design. The Razer Blade Pro from 2016 (review), which it replaces, had a completely different caliber – including a UHD IGZO display including G-Sync and touch and a mechanical keyboard. It also weighed almost 1.76 lbs more, though.
Ranking Second: ROG Zephyrus S
- Good Gaming Performance
- Better Price than Razer Blade Pro 17
- Good 144 Hz Display
- Less Ports & Small Touchpad
The new Zephyrus S was one of the showpieces when the particularly efficient Max-Q variants were introduced a good two years ago. With a thickness of less than 19 mm, it embodied the goal of being able to offer high-performance gaming notebooks with a height of less than 2 cm – right from the start.
The height of only 18.7 mm is said to have been possible by a trick: In order to ensure good cooling under continuous load despite the small volume, the rear part of the base plate opens automatically when the display is opened.
However, a look under the notebook reveals: Actually, almost nothing changes on the bottom side. Only the two fans can draw in air completely freely and not through a fan grill. The hardware, however, remains hidden behind a protective aluminum plate.
The Zephyrus S GX701 doesn’t only appear to be different from the standard notebook, but is also very different from it on the upper side: There’s no wrist-rest here; instead, the keyboard is located in the front area of the base and the touchpad is right next to it. The number pad can be displayed at the touch of a button.
Asus offers three USB 3.0 (USB 3.1 Gen 1) ports, once as USB type C and twice as USB type A. USB 3.1 (USB 3.1 Gen 2) is also available once as type A and once as type C (incl. “Alternate Mode DisplayPort” and 65 watt power delivery).
In addition, there is a 3.5 mm jack and a proprietary charging port for the 230 watt power supply, but Thunderbolt 3 is not.
The Zephyrus S display supports G-Sync. Nvidia Optimus isn’t available for a longer battery life in this mode, though.
The mode can be changed in the “Armoury Crate” tool, even if somewhat hidden on a second tab. G-Sync is then off after a restart and Optimus can be used.
Users can open the Zephyrus S GX701 by loosening a good two dozen screws on the bottom, after which the upper shell can be folded up with the keyboard.
However, because the board only has an already occupied M.2 slot and a RAM slot (8 GB are soldered), an upgrade is only possible by replacing existing components.
Test + Comparison
Not only from Razer, but also from Asus, there have been very thin and yet very powerful gaming notebooks in metal garb for a good two years.
The series is called Zephyrus S and operates under the Asus ROG brand. Nvidia wasn’t entirely uninvolved in this, as only the Max-Q versions of the mobile GeForce graphics cards, which have been trimmed for especially high efficiency, made the very high performance possible in such form factors. Razer also uses this efficiency-trimmed GPU series widely.
The Asus Zephyrus S GX701 for $2400 and the Razer Blade Pro 17 inch for $3150 were tested.
Both samples are the respective top model of the series with GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q, alternatively the GeForce RTX 2060 and the GeForce RTX 2070 (as Max-Q at Razer) are available.
Asus advertises the Zephyrus S GX701 as “the most compact 17 inch gaming notebook” of all times and in fact the case volume of 2.03 liters is again slightly smaller than that of the Razer Blade Pro with 2.04 liters.
The Razer Blade Pro’s footprint on the desk is smaller, but the Asus takes advantage of the case thickness. The weight is virtually identical with 5.95 lbs each.
The Razer Blade Pro 17 inch has the newer CPU ahead of the reviewed Asus Zephyrus S GX701, because Asus still uses the eighth instead of the ninth generation core.
In the meantime, the GX701 is also available with the newest generation, which offers somewhat higher clock rates with otherwise identical key data. However, the new CPU is currently only available in Germany in combination with the GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q.
The price for the Razer Blade 17 Pro version is almost $3200. Compared to the tested model, the RAM is also twice as large with 32 GB. It’s still not listed on Asus’ German website.
If the current generation with Core i7-9750H is used, Asus and Razer separate a good $800, 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD memory space in the top models – both to the advantage of the Zephyrus S GX701.
Asus Zephyrus S GX701 and Razer Blade Pro are only available with 144Hz Full HD displays, which are supposed to cover 100 percent of the sRGB color space.
However, Nvidia G-Sync only offers Asus and also ships all Zephyrus S GX701 with Windows 10 Pro, whereas Razer has Windows 10 Home installed.
Both Razer and Asus include software with their notebooks, with which the performance and the soundscape can be adjusted to your own wishes.
Razer does this via the tool Synapse 3, which can meanwhile also be used without an account. Armoury Crate” is used in Asus.
The Razer Blade Pro has a “balanced” standard mode as well as a “custom” mode. Here you can choose one of the three levels “Low”, “Medium” and “High” separately for CPU and GPU. The manufacturer does not reveal what they do, neither in the software nor anywhere else.
The “Gaming” mode known from the Razer Blade 15 is not present in the “Pro model”. Three performance profiles can also be accessed in Asus. Next to “Quiet”, “Performance” and “Turbo” are available for selection.
For the CPU in the Razer Blade Pro, “balanced” means that it can only use 45 watts for a few seconds under full load according to HWiNFO and then 35 watts package power permanently.
This corresponds to the manually set “Medium”. “Low”, on the other hand, throttles the CPU permanently to 25 watts, “High” allows 55 watts.
The effects on performance in apps are correspondingly large: In Blender the benchmark with “Low” takes almost twice as long compared to “High”. But the notebook is considerably louder with 45 to 35 decibels. The noise level is constant.
However, the benchmarks and a look at the clock rates make it clear that the measured values for the package power read out by HWiNFO can’t be right. This is also made clear by the cross comparison with the notebook from Asus.
According to HWiNFO, Asus’ notebook’s CPU even allows 60 watts of package power, “power” still 40 watts and “quiet” just under 30 watts, “Turbo” according to HWiNFO.
25 watts in Razer’s “Low” is so much slower in comparison to 30 watts in Asus’ “Quiet” that one of the two specifications can’t be correct.
The clock rate matches the performance much better: Razer drops to 1.7 GHz under load on all cores (blender), Asus only to 2.7 GHz – these rates wouldn’t be possible with the given 5 watt difference in the package power.
The downside of Asus’ higher CPU performance is a louder operating noise, whereby this doesn’t apply at all times, as the Zephyrus S GX701 lets the fans turn up loud for a long time under pure CPU load, until the noise level suddenly drops to a barely noticeable level, only to rise again. This happens in all three performance settings.
In the exemplary used Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Full HD, full details), the CPU setting in Razer has no effect at all.
The reason: Thanks to other requirements, the processor achieves the same clock rate in the test sequence with a package power of under 25 watts. The CPU can only be adjusted separately from the GPU in Asus’ fully manual mode.
In the Razer Blade Pro, the GPU’s effects of the controller are also small, only “High” shows about 5 percent more FPS with 6,400 instead of 6,000 MHz graphic memory clock and 60 MHz more GPU clock.
Interestingly, the notebook doesn’t get any louder as a result. Players can therefore take “High” with them in the GPU.
The setting of the GPU, which is also linked to the CPU via the profiles, influences the GX701’s performance more significantly depending on the game.
On “Quiet”, the GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q oscillates strongly between 1.200 and 1.575 MHz, while it remains in “Turbo” mode at 1.530 to 1.560 MHz. In addition, the GDDR6 memory is effectively overclocked by 120 MHz.
The following benchmarks show the measured values including frame times in detail. Besides Shadow of the Tomb Raider, F1 2019 is also used.
Both games were tested in Full HD, VSync was disabled. In each case the preset “Ultra High” was used, SMAAT2x was enabled in Tomb Raider.
The two notebooks don’t take anything in the fastest settings, but the Razer Blade Pro can gain a tiny advantage due to the more clearly overclocked graphics memory, although the notebook even remains a bit quieter than the Zephyrus S.
Those who prefer quieter gaming will find a simple approach with the performance profiles from Asus. “Quiet” also lowers the performance by 10 to 20 percent due to lower GPU clock rates, but the measured 40 decibels are considerably quieter than the 48 decibels that are always present in Razer.
The Razer Blade 15 from 2018, also listed in the benchmarks, with Core i7-8750H and GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q doesn’t stand a chance against the two RTX 2080 Max-Q notebooks.
The test sample of the Asus Zephyrus S GX701, like many high-priced gaming notebooks, relies on a 1TB SSD of the Samsung PM981 type, which shows the expected high performance as one of the fastest NVMe SSDs with four lanes according to PCI Express 3.0. However, Asus doesn’t guarantee that an SSD of this type is used in the GX701.
Razer also uses this SSD in the blade series, but there’s no guarantee here either. For example, there is a considerably slower model, the Lite-On CA3, in the test sample.
The sequential transfer rates are still comparatively high, but the Lite-On reads and writes smaller files in random order much more leisurely. This rarely makes any difference in everyday life, but in view of the very high price, it is still not a figurehead.
Razer has the edge in terms of volume under load on the CPU and even the fastest gaming profile is quieter than Asus’ and even a bit faster.
In return, Asus’ alternative profiles allow you to swap volume for performance during gaming, whereas Razer’s performance and volume can’t be adjusted with a single click with the on-board tool, Synapse 3.
The Zephyrus S shows a disturbing fan behavior in use in applications: The noise level fluctuates because the fans keep turning slower and slower, only to start up again. The change takes place in a rhythm of a few minutes.
The display of the Razer Blade Pro is not only bright, but also very evenly illuminated with an average of just over 300 cd/m², with 94 percent homogeneity. A minimum of 16 candela per square meter can be set. The contrast is almost 1,000:1, the color temperature at 7,800 Kelvin.
The Asus Zephyrus S GX701 can’t quite keep up in many aspects: The average brightness is 10 percent lower, the homogeneity is 92 percent. On the other hand, the measured contrast turns out higher at around 1,400:1 and G-Sync can optionally be used.
The color temperature is 7,200 Kelvin, the minimum brightness 15 cd/m². The viewing angles are good in both cases; when looking from the front, it makes no visible difference how steeply the display is angled.
The one battery life isn’t available in Razer Balde Pro and Asus Zephyrus S GX701, because the display also plays into the equation in addition to the performance profiles and the used application: Whether 60 or 144 Hz are used makes a clear difference.
And if you activate G-Sync in Asus and thus do without Nvidia Optimus, you lose even more battery life.
Normalized to 200 cd/m² in the display’s center under the use of Nvidia Optimus and 144 Hz, the notebooks with the comparably large batteries are on par in the PCMark 10’s modern office battery test.
If the Razer is only used with 60 Hz, the battery life increases to almost four hours in the PCMark 10’s “Modern Office” battery test. If the Asus 144 Hz and G-Sync are used without Optimus, the battery life drops to just under two and a half hours.
The Razer can then distinguish itself more clearly in the PCMark 10’s video battery test with focus on the display’s consumption, despite still having identical settings (Full HD, 200 cd/m², 144 Hz, Optimus). The results are reproducible.
If you want to use the notebook on the desktop for as long as possible on the road, you can gain a lot more runtime by switching to 60 Hz (and turning off G-Sync in Asus). Both notebooks with the large displays won’t become a long-runner either. Both notebooks are practically on par in terms of loading times.
The Asus Zephyrus S GX701 shows Not only Razer can do thin metal notebooks. But the challenger from Taiwan can’t knock the top dog from its throne yet.
The slim Asus Zephyrus S GX701 has strong arguments in its hand with the equally high performance, which can be configured in a wide spectrum via software, the good display including G-Sync, as well as the more RAM and SSD memory space at the same price level.
But the Razer Blade Pro counters especially with a better fan control and therefore a quieter and above all acoustically less changeable operation.
This doesn’t only apply under load, but also in everyday Windows life, which much more often persuades Asus’ notebook to noticeably turn up the fans.
The Razer Blade Pro’s SSD memory can be easily upgraded by the user by loosening a few screws and a free M.2 slot; the RAM is stowed away in two SO-DIMM slots. Access via the upper shell is a bit more difficult with Asus and no free M.2 slot can be found; half of the RAM is soldered.
The Zephyrus S’s bottom again reveals that the trick with the notebook standing up, which opens its bottom for a supposedly better cooling, is primarily a sales argument. Both Asus and Razer don’t forfeit their warranty as long as the user performs it flawlessly and without damage.
The input devices make a big difference. Asus clearly focuses on gamers who always have a mouse at hand, as the small touchpad to the right of the keyboard is a significant limitation in everyday use in comparison to the Razer Blade Pro’s huge touchpad, which is another reason why the Razer Blade 17 Pro is ranking first versus the ROG Zephyrus S.
You can get used to the position, but it doesn’t get any bigger. And Razer is also almost ahead in terms of connections, as Thunderbolt 3 and an SD card reader are only available here, just like Ethernet. Both manufacturers again offer a two-year warranty.
The predecessor’s UHD display isn’t offered by the current Razer Blade Pro anymore, but it will come: Razer has just released the Razer Blade as a studio version with Quadro RTX 5000 and the 17.3-inch model will also be available in autumn with a corresponding model with a UHD display and even 120 hertz including Quadro RTX.