When Razer first announced “Project Fiona” at CES in 2012, we were excited, but skeptical. At the time, the best Windows tablet we’d seen was the Samsung Series 7 Slate (700T1A), and Windows 8 was still months away. Since then, the welded-on handlebar controllers have morphed into a removable gamepad dock, and Project Fiona has gone from pie in the sky to one of the coolest things we’ve seen in 2013. The Razer Edge is on sale this week, and we got our hands on the Razer Edge Pro. After a weekend of PCMag’s regular testing regimen and extensive, rigorous game testing, I can say—the excitement was well worth it.
The throbbing heart of the Razer Edge Pro lies in the combination of an Intel Core i7-3517U processor and a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE graphics card. Between the high-end ultrabook CPU and the graphics card—the only discrete graphics card I’ve seen in any tablet—this isn’t just a gaming tablet, it’s the most powerful Windows tablet we’ve seen in the last year.
As a result, the Edge Pro can take on not just gaming, but any processing-heavy task you’d normally reserve for your desktop or desktop replacement notebook. And while the regular Razer Edge has a modest 64GB SSD, the Razer Edge Pro bumps it up to 128GB or 256GB—enough storage for a small games library and media collection.
Your Gaming PC, Everywhere
But the Razer Edge Pro is a whole lot more than a Windows tablet—it’s the first device that really lets you take your gaming PC everywhere. As a pure tablet, you can use it for all your media consumption needs, and any touch-screen-friendly game you can buy through the Windows store will blaze along with flying colors on the Edge Pro.
With the gamepad dock, you can take your gaming PC—along with your Steam and Origin game libraries—to the couch, or into bed, or on the bus. Unlike giant not-so-portable gaming notebooks, this is a system designed to be used on the go, and that flexibility lets you take it anywhere. The hands-on design is also far more travel friendly than packing up your laptop and accessories and reassembling everything at your destination.
But it’s not just about portable gaming. With the Console Dock—which gives you more USB ports, audio and HDMI output—suddenly, you can connect the dock to a PC monitor and use your preferred gaming keyboard and mouse, and use it like a gaming desktop. Use the HDMI port to connect to an HDTV and swap your mouse for a gamepad, and you can use it in the living room for a console-like gaming experience.
Granted, you can find desktops that do double duty to provide a big-screen, console-like experience—the Maingear F131 Super Stock (GTX Titan) and Digital Storm Bolt come to mind. And you can get portable gaming from a laptop—Razer’s own laptop, the Razer Blade (2012), does this just fine. But to put all of those options into one machine, and do it in a tablet form factor? The Razer Edge stands alone in offering all of these options.
What’s especially nice about this whole setup is that Razer has taken pains to make it all very user friendly. Using the preloaded Razer Launcher dashboard, I was able to not only browse my entire gaming library—it works with your Steam and Origin accounts without any trouble—and it indicated which games were compatible with the gamepad dock and which weren’t, making it easy to avoid any of the frustrations that would arise from trying to use the gamepad controls for a game that’s mouse- and keyboard-dependent.
After a couple hours of DC Universe Online and DiRT Showdown, I swapped over to the console dock, using the Edge Pro with my preferred peripherals. A while later, as I tired of Crysis 3 and Team Fortress 2, I switched back, enjoying Portal while reclining on the couch, and then relaxing with some shows on Netflix. During all of this playing, game switching, and video watching, I moved from the couch to the bedroom, then to my gaming desktop, and finally back to the couch without ever having to switch devices or power off the tablet. Heck, I could take it with me on my morning commute, enjoying some Civ 5 or Tomb Raider on the subway.
As I enjoyed the freedom of real on-the-go PC gaming, I realized that I never once stopped to worry about things like frame rates and clock speeds, because they never entered into the picture. The games I wanted to play—from TF2 up to Crysis 3—just played, smoothly and easily. And it did it whether I was plugged in or on battery, at my desk or moving from room to room. I offer a more detailed analysis in my review, but for now I’ll say this: Using the Razer Edge Pro gave me something I never knew I wanted in a gaming PC—freedom.
For more, check out PCMag’s full review of the Razer Edge Pro and the slideshow above.
By Brian Westover, PCMag