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Razer BlackWidow Ultimate review

Razer's new switches are a dampener, not a silencer, on keyboard clack

Our Verdict

There are trade-offs, but Razer's Ultimate BlackWidow is worth a serious gamer's attention.

For

  • Responsive keys minimize mis-presses
  • Substantial construction and feel
  • Less noisy keystrokes

Against

  • Lacks resounding blue-switch feel
  • MMO gamers may want more macro keys

Razer says that it's new Ultimate BlackWidow Keyboard can sustain 60,000,000 keystrokes over the course of its lifetime. Its the kind of statement you can't actually prove. Type at 375 keystrokes a minute and it'd take 2,667 hours of constant typing to break this thing - by that point, you most certainly have carpal tunnel. But the Ultimate upgrade and the new mechanical switches found within are more than just science and the intangible. What's on offer here is a sturdy, responsive keyboard that's worth a look, whether you're coming to the brand fresh or looking to trade up.

Razer Blackwidow Ultimate review
Alight with Razer's signature green

Let's talk about those new mechanical keys. Razer has honed the actuation point of its keys to around 1.9mm, with an actuation vs. reset point of 0.4mm. Your response to this information, dear reader, should rightly be one of confusion. Said another way, if you're coming from, say, Razer's standard-edition BlackWidow keyboard, you will immediately notice that the key strikes aren't as crisp and have a slightly dampened feel. The trade-off here is that key strikes also aren't as clacky as other mechanical switch keyboards, and you won't find yourself needing to push as hard to make your input.

Razer Blackwidow Ultimate review
Artisanal switches, made in-house

Now, unless you're actually an eSports athlete (Razer's target demo on the packaging), you'll likely find yourself using the BlackWidow for word-processing, Internet-surfing, and furious G-chatting. To that end, good news: The keyboard totally functions in this capacity, with keys that are responsive yet not so hair-sensitive that you'll be jamming on the backspace key every second. And, because of the aforementioned dampened keys, your coworkers/significant other/etc. won't mistake your typing for a rabbit tap dancing on your desk. It's by no means silent, but far from the loudest keyboard I've used - at least that's what my co-workers have told me.

Razer Blackwidow Ultimate review
Convenient passthroughs, naturally

If you are an eSports athlete, or just take your gaming very seriously, you'll find Razer has taken a suitably no-frills approach to your keyboard inputs. No, you won't find a track pad, a touch screen, or really much else beyond a handful of macros keys. One frill I would have liked on a $140 would be dedicated media controls. Skipping a track or adjusting the volume on the BlackWidow requires you to hold a function key. However, if you're playing games - let's say it's League of Legends - and you're at all competent (Faker-senpai, is that you?), all you really want is a fast, durable keyboard and mouse. In this respect, the Widow delivers.

The Widow looks smart and subdued with backlighting disabled
Only one USB required, of course

Razer's Synapse 2.0 driver software is equally bare-bones. Sure, you can control the brightness of the keyboard's backlight, rebind keys, and record eccentric macros. None of it's necessary, though, and Razer gives no compelling reason for you to find it necessary. Install it and forget about it.

Verdict

Taken on its own, the Razer Ultimate BlackWidow is a sturdy, responsive keyboard that will do what you want most out of a peripheral - fade into the periphery, especially if you disable the backlight. And as much as Razer would like you to believe it has revolutionized the game with its new mechanical switches, you likely won't notice the science within the keys. What you will notice, however, is the keys' slightly more quiet, slightly less crisp actuation, as compared to other mechanical boards. And even that, you won't notice for very long. Razer's standard-edition BlackWidow had been my keyboard of choice - I for one will be upgrading.

Tech Specs

Product TypeKeyboard
Keyboard/Keypad Host InterfaceUSB
ColourBlack
Brand NameRazer
Keyboard/Keypad Connectivity TechnologyCable
Device SupportedComputer
Keyswitch TechnologyMechanical
Keyboard/Keypad Height20 mm
Keyboard/Keypad Width475 mm
Keyboard/Keypad Depth171 mm
ManufacturerRazer USA Ltd
Product NameBlackWidow Keyboard
Package TypeRetail
Product LineBlackWidow
Hot KeysMacro, Multimedia
Manufacturer Part NumberRZ0300380100R3U
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.razerzone.com
Marketing Information

The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate takes you full speed into combat with a full-fledged mechanical key infrastructure delivering crisp, tactile feedback with every actuation. Bringing an entirely different feel and faster keystroke actuation to the table, this revolutionary fully backlit gaming keyboard is rounded off by its additional macro keys and unlimited on-the-fly macro recording.

Full Mechanical Keys for Superior Tactility and Faster Response

The Razer BlackWidow's mechanical key technology provides a distinctive tactile feedback in form of a light pronounced tap to your fingers giving you an entirely new feel on your keyboard. With its optimized actuation force of 50g and a reduced actuation distance of 2 mm the Razer BlackWidow's keys allow you to actuate your commands faster than on any other standard gaming keyboard.

Weight (Approximate)1.50 kg