Having eyed it off for a while, we jumped at the chance to check out the latest in Razer’s range of BlackWidow mechanical keyboards.
While not quite packing all the bells and whistles of the Elite model, it includes most of them – and costs a lot less in the bucks department, too. There’s no USB or audio pass-through like its more exxy sibling, no multimedia controls and no wrist rest. All of which are features that many wouldn’t miss anyway.
The one we had a play with comes installed with Razer’s own green key switches, which make for satisfying clack sounds – when you type something on this puppy, it stays typed! Housemates may not dig it, but meh… that’s not your problem. Razer promise a life of 80 million keystrokes per switch – that’s a lot of typing or, more likely, a lot of pew-pewing, depending upon what your intended use is.
This model has deeper keys than the Elite – the bigger sides meaning less crud being able to get inside your keyboard and gum up the works. This is a good thing, and a definite tick in the plus column for this unit. It also means less catching of your fingers under the corners of keys, as can happen with the Elite during a mad fumble.
“When you type something on this puppy, it stays typed!”
Many will be wooed by the Razer Chroma 16.8 million colour RGB lighting. Beyond allowing for pretty – but rarely practical – patterns such as fire, breathing, ripple, starlight and colour wave, there’s seriously practical application in the ability to program different colours as preset maps. These can be applied for gaming, as most people will use this for, but are also handy for highlighting keys in productivity software should that be your thing. Make your own profiles and up to five can be stored in the BlackWidow’s internal memory, while an unlimited amount can be popped in the cloud. You can also download a wealth of presets created by generous types on the net. It’s all easily wrangled through Razer’s included Synapse software.
Macros are also a very handy thing, plus the Razer HyperShift app allows you to assign any key with ‘HyperShift’ functionality, which when held down allows secondary functions on every key.
Having set it loose gaming we’ve been impressed, and the BlackWidow has performed equally as well as our everyday Microsoft Word slave. It also has decent heft to it, which stops it from wandering all over the desk.
On the downside, the USB cable is fixed, making the BlackWidow that little less portable. Also, for those who hunt and peck, Razer have inexplicably persisted with only illuminating one function on each double function key, from numbers through to punctuation. Trust us, unless you’re in a brightly-lit room, if you didn’t know that the ‘#’ was on the ‘3’ key by memory before, you soon will. It’s style over substance though, and our biggest cross against this otherwise very impressive piece of kit.