Sunday, December 29, 2019

Razer Blade Pro 2017

One of the laptops in my house is a Razer Blade Pro. While some may find it a good laptop, I have found it a complete headache. Here's a few of the problems we have had with it.

The first thing to go on the laptop was the batter. It swelled up and bent the case out of shape. After getting that replaced, the next thing to go on the laptop... was the  battery. Yes, it crapped out twice. The second time it was out of warranty, so instead we bought a third party replacement. It never worked quite right as it never fully charges even after calibrating it. After looking around online, this appears to be a common problem. Most people attribute it to the heat.

The laptop itself had been quite buggy, often having issues if you try to take advantage of the 4k screen. Most games had to be ran in HD because 4k would either cause things to crash or just never run. Windows 10 also never really seems to be happy, but that may just be the Windows default nowadays.

Recently the laptop was randomly cutting power. After lots of software tweaking, we noticed that the GPU temperature would shoot up almost instantly the second you launched a game. While I expect an increase in heat, the speed it would ramp up had me worried. So being an IT person, I say take it apart and maybe we will find something with the cooling loose. Right now the laptop is still apart because the design of this thing is terrible.

So first we open it up and everything looks fine, but we can't see much. So I say let's take the motherboard out and flip it over so we can see the heatsink better. Almost done and a piece of plastic comes out. It is the locking piece for a flexible connector. Figure whatever, I'll try to fix that later. Now this thing actually had a lot of these cables and they were small with no tabs to hold to manipulate them. After we get it apart, I realized just how bad it was.

Identifying what was what was a bit difficult, but from what I can tell, the heatsink is limited to the CPU and GPU, however it does not appear to extend to any of the chips. I do not know if there is a distinct north bridge on it, but a large cluster of chips in a position that would make sense for a north bridge are right on a spot where the case would get extremely hot. There was nothing there, not even a passive cooling heatsink. I also found a spot on the copper that had a crimp in it and what looks like a weld. I cannot tell if that is supposed to be there, but it is messy. Furthermore, the copper was rather strange looking, like there was some chemical spilled on it causing distorted colors and a couple of pits. I honestly have no guess as to what they did to it, but it looks damaged.

So after all that frustration, I decide to try putting it back together, but take the thermal pad thing on the one PCIE NVME drives and put it on that cluster of chips that seem to be getting really hot. So there I am putting it back together when I realize the button for the track pad is screwed to the motherboard. I have no idea why, but I need to take it off so I can lift up the motherboard to get one of the numerous tiny flex cables connected. I get the cable in, push the plastic lock down... and it came off. So now there are two broken. One for the power button and one for the track pad to click.

I also would like to mention that the RAM is soldered on, not a design feature I like or support.

This laptop has a crappy battery, a very minimal cooling system, soldered on non-upgradable RAM, a lot of crappy tiny flex cables, and it seems to just eat itself up.

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