Clash of the 17-inch gaming titans: Aftershock Vapor 17X vs Razer Blade Pro 17

It is David vs Goliath as the Aftershock Vapor 17X takes on the Razer Blade Pro 17 in the desktop replacement notebook arena.
It is David vs Goliath as the Aftershock Vapor 17X takes on the Razer Blade Pro 17 in the desktop replacement notebook arena.PHOTOS: AFTERSHOCK PC, RAZER

One is a home-grown firm, while the other is a global brand helmed by a Singaporean.

It is David vs Goliath as the Aftershock Vapor 17X takes on the Razer Blade Pro 17 (available on Amazon, Lazada and Shopee) in the desktop replacement notebook arena.

Here is how these two 17-inch gaming laptops fare in our testing.

Design

Unlike the usual chunky desktop replacement notebook, the Aftershock and the Razer have relatively slim metallic bodies (around 2cm thick) similar to the 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro.

In fact, the 2kg magnesium-clad Aftershock weighs roughly the same as the MacBook Pro and is significantly lighter than the 2.75kg Razer, which uses aluminium.

Both notebooks are solidly built and compact, though the Razer's chassis feels a touch more rigid than the Aftershock's.

They sport an all-black colour scheme broken only by LED lights. The Razer has a green backlit logo on its lid while the Aftershock has a light bar at the front lip that can be adjusted to your preferred colour.

Like its predecessor, the Razer comes with front-facing speakers at the sides of the keyboard. As a result, the audio is fuller and not as constrained as the Aftershock's bottom-firing speakers. The downside of Razer's speaker placement is that there is insufficient space for a numeric keypad.

Those who plan to use the Web camera should know that the Aftershock's camera is located below the screen, not above the display like the Razer, which can lead to unflattering views of the user.

Both cameras are infrared cameras that can be used to log into Windows 10 through facial recognition, even in the dark.

Overall, the Aftershock gets my vote for its weight, as well as for having a numeric keypad. While the Razer has better speakers, I usually wear a headset while gaming.

Features

Both laptops come with near-bezel-less matt 1,920 x 1,080-pixel displays. The Aftershock's screen is no slouch - it is bright with excellent viewing angles and contrast. However, the Razer's is more vibrant and eye-catching.

The Razer's screen also has a higher screen refresh rate (300Hz) than the Aftershock's 240Hz version, but I doubt anyone can tell the difference.

I prefer the feel of the Aftershock's keyboard. The Razer's keyboard seems a tad more shallow, though Razer has thankfully reverted to a more traditional keyboard layout where the right shift key is above the arrow keys. Last year's Razer Blade notebook placed the Up key to the left of the right shift key, which took some getting used to.

However, some may prefer the Razer's per-key RGB backlight scheme over Aftershock's scheme, which only lets you pick a single colour for a cluster of keys (lighting zone).

Both laptops come with proprietary software to manage gaming-related settings. On paper, Razer's Synapse app offers more features and options than Aftershock's Control Center app. But truth be told, I use but a fraction of the options in Synapse as I have little interest in synchronising the lighting effects on all my Razer devices.

Both software utilities offer essential gaming functions such as disabling the Windows logo key to prevent accidental key presses and switching performance modes, which are good enough for me.

In terms of connectivity, both laptops come with Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, Ethernet and Wi-Fi 6. Razer pulls ahead here with an additional USB-C port. Content creators would probably pick the Razer's SD card reader over the Aftershock's microSD version.

On the strength of its RGB lighting scheme and more vibrant screen, the Razer is better in this department.

Performance

While both notebooks have similar configurations (Intel Core i7-10875H processor with 16GB of system memory and a 512GB solid-state drive), the Razer has a faster GeForce RTX 2080 Super (Max-Q) graphics chip compared to the Aftershock's GeForce RTX 2070 Super (Max-P).

In the Metro Exodus first-person shooter game, the Razer produced an average of 68 frames per second (fps) compared to around 60fps for the Aftershock at the Ultra setting and 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution. Both notebooks were set at their fastest performance settings.

The Aftershock's fans are noisier than the Razer's. But because they sound more like a heavy downpour rather than an airplane taking off, I find the noise acceptable, especially when I am using headphones.

However, the Aftershock's loud fans seem to do a better job than the Razer at keeping the palm rest and keyboard cool.

In The Straits Times usual video-loop battery test, the Razer clocked 4hr 40min compared to the 3hr managed by the Aftershock.

Price and value

I had expected the Razer to be more expensive than the Aftershock because of its higher-end hardware configuration. But I was still surprised at the price difference. My Razer Blade review set costs $5,199 compared to $3,099 for the Aftershock.

And this model is not even the most expensive variant for the Razer Blade. A higher-end version with a 4K, 120Hz touch display option and a larger 1TB SSD is priced at $6,299. You can also configure the Razer Blade with an older Intel Core i7-9750H processor and a GeForce RTX 2070 (Max-Q) graphics chip for $3,979.

Overall, the Aftershock offers better value for money. The Vapor 17X may lack some frills like per-key backlighting but makes up for that with its slim design and good performance.

If you are willing to splurge for all the bells and whistle, the Razer Blade Pro 17 fits the bill with its premium features and build.

AFTERSHOCK VAPOR 17X

FOR

Slim and light for a 17-inch gaming notebook

Good gaming performance

Competitive price

AGAINST

Lacks per-key RGB backlight

Web camera placement

SPECS

PRICE: $3,099

PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-10875H (2.3GHz)

GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 Super (Max-P) GDDR6 8GB

RAM: 16GB DDR4

SCREEN SIZE: 17.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

CONNECTIVITY: Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A, HDMI, microSD card reader, Gigabit Ethernet port, headphone jacks

BATTERY: 91.24 watt-hour

RATING

FEATURES: 4/5

DESIGN: 4/5

PERFORMANCE: 4.5/5

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4.5/5

BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

OVERALL: 4.5/5

ST Tech Editor's Choice

RAZER BLADE PRO 17

FOR

Premium build

Above average audio quality

Vibrant and fast display

AGAINST

Expensive

Lacks numeric keypad

SPECS

PRICE: $5,199 (version tested), starts from $3,799

PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-10875H (2.3GHz)

GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super (Max-Q) GDDR6 8GB

RAM: 16GB DDR4

SCREEN SIZE: 17.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

CONNECTIVITY: Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A, HDMI, SD card reader, 2.5Gb Ethernet port, headphone jack

BATTERY: 70.5 watt-hour

RATING

FEATURES: 4.5/5

DESIGN: 4/5

PERFORMANCE: 4.5/5

VALUE FOR MONEY: 3.5/5

BATTERY LIFE: 3.5/5

OVERALL: 4/5

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