Razer have produced many high quality gaming hardwares. Their target audience are gamer so when Razer decided to release their first mechanical keyboard, many keyboard geeks, like myself, wondered why they choose to use Cherry MX blue switches. A better choice wouldve been Cherry MX blacks or reds. Nevertheless, we decided to buy the Black Widow Ultimate and give you a review. Although the choice of mechanical key switch isВ a glaring issue, the keyboard itself is very solid. Selling at Best Buy for about $130, this keyboard is reasonably priced considering all the features you get. As far as I know, this is also the first mechanical keyboard available at a major retailer. Most mechanical keyboards are only available for purchase online. My other mechanical keyboard (Leopold Tenkeyless), which I will often refer to in this review, was purchased online. Currently, the Black Widow Ultimate is the first mechanical gaming keyboard to offerВ back-lightingВ which is great for Razer. Im glad they are setting the bar instead of riding the mechanical keyboard marketing wave. Lets get started.
Like my Leopold Tenkeyless Brown mechanical keyboard, the Razer Black Widow Ultimate is heavy. Much heavier than normal, cheaper keyboards. This gives the Black Widow a nice quality feel to it. It definitely feels like its going to last a while. Unlike my Leopold, the Razer Black Widow does have a numpad which helps Razer sell it to a wider audience. Personally, I prefer my Tenkeyless keyboard. I find the comfort of having my mouse closer to my hands more useful than a numpad. This is just personal preference. If I do lots of spreadsheets or data entry, I can see where a standard size keyboard with a numpad would be more beneficial.
When I unboxed the Black Widow, i was impressed by the glossy finish. Although it looks really nice, this gloss finish on the edges makes this keyboard very susceptible to smudges and fingerprints. Another thing I really liked was the braided USB/mic/headphone cord. This cord is seems very durable and of a high build quality. There is an extra USB plug that actsВ as a convenient extension on the side of the keyboard. The side of the keyboard also makes it easy to plug-in a mic and headphone without hunting for these inputs on your computer tower. This is very convenient for gamers.
The Razer Black Widow Ultimate features 5 macro keys on the left edge of the keyboard. With the included drivers and software, you can program these keys to do key combinations in Windows. This keyboard has media keys which isВ activated by the Function key (FN). You can use this media keys to seek tracks, play, pause, and control you mixer volume. One of the features gamers will love is the backlight keyboard. You can toggle between five levels of backlight brightness with FN + F12. You can also quickly put your computer to sleep by hitting FN + Pause/Break. There is also a Gaming Mode which is activated by pressing FN + F11. This will disable the Windows key. Many games will break when the Windows key is accidentally pressed. This can ruin a gaming experience. Probably the best feature of this keyboard is the mechanical key switches. This keyboard features Cherry MX blue key switches. These key switches are better than your average rubber dome switches that you find on most laptops and keyboards.
Razer sells a similar keyboard called the Anansi. This keyboard is marketedВ toward MMO games but Razer decided to use rubber dome switches on them. Considering the Anansi retails at $99 and the Black Widow Ultimate retails at $129, get the Black Widow. The standard Black Widow cost about $90 and its still a better deal than the Anansi. The mechanical Cherry MX blue switches are far superior. They have a tactile feeling when you press the keys which makes for a very enjoyable typing experience. The key switch also make a distinct click. This can be satisfying or annoyingly loudВ depending on personal preference. In myВ opinion, its very enjoyable. The only difference from the standard Black Widow and the Black Widow Ultimate is the backlighting.
Typing on this keyboard is a joy. It took me a while to get used to the force required to actuate the keys but after a few minutes, I was typing like a geek. The keys feel a bit heavier than my Leopold Tenkeyless Browns which some people like and others dont. Personally, I prefer my Cherry MX Browns for typing long distance but maybe Im a bit bias because the Tenkeyless was my first mechanical keyboard. The stands on the Black Widow Ultimate are solid. I dont normally use stands unless Im leaning back but trying them out, I had no issues with them. Like I mentioned earlier, I had some issues hitting the left Control and Escape keys. Usually, I reach the farthest corners to hit these keys so this was a bit annoying. I can imagine getting use to the macro keys very quickly though. Those who have never experienced typing on a mechanical keyboard must try it. Compared to a standard membrane keyboard, mechanical keyboards blow them out of the water. It is literally like night and day.
After using it for a few days, I can safely say that this keyboard attracts smudges and fingerprints like no other. It is seriously a fingerprint magnet. Im not exaggerating either. My fingers are no less greasy than the next guy. Thats just the nature of these glossy finishes. The key caps seem pretty good. I was curious to see how Razer made their key caps to allow the LED backlight to pass through. It seems as if the key caps are actually a light, translucent plastic thats painted black and the letteringВ stenciled during the painting process. Its subtle but I can detect a hint of the orange-peel effect on the surface of the key caps. This isnt a big issue for me. I just hope the clear-coat is thick enough to last a few years. This keyboard is sharp. The design is very modern with a beautiful, aggressive taper on the palm rest. The font choice on the lettering has a blocky digital feel to it. Its definitely not your traditional Times New Roman font. The only key that seems misplacedВ is the R which is in lower-case while the other keys are all in upper-case. Maybe this is not a coincidence. R for Razer? Razer clearly pays their design department well. Even their manual had embossed lettering on their logo and a unique cut-out shape. Very nice.
This is a good keyboard but its not perfect. There are some things about this keyboard that annoy me. The very first thing that annoys me is the choice of key switches. Razer is a gaming company that caters towards gamers. They choose to use Cherry MX blue switches instead of Cherry MX blacks or reds. Why did they choose blues? Mass appeal. They figured that they could appeal to a wider audience if they went with a more popular, more versatile key switch. For those who are lost, basically, blue switches are good for typing and enjoyment. They have a nice tactile feedback with a loud audible click. Black and red switches are widely consideredВ better for gaming because they do not have a tactile feedback. These switches are more linear. In a sense, you can bottom out blacks and reds easier which is far more useful in a gaming situation.
The second thing that annoys me about this keyboard is Razers choice of backlight color. Blue is a universal color that everyone loves but it is completely useless at night. Green is a far better choice and it wouldve made Razer look far more professional if В The reason green is a superior color for backlighting is because green preserves night vision in your pupils. Blue does not. This is the same reason most car instrument dashes use green and not blue. Preserving night vision means less stress on the eyes. Gamers will probably be playing games in front of a monitorВ so this negates the effects but every bit helps. If it didnt you would be happy with a $15 membrane keyboard and you wouldnt be looking up reviews on this one.
Comparing this keyboard to other rubber dome membrane keyboards was a joke. This keyboard is far superior. Comparing this keyboard to my Leopold Tenkeyless was more fair. Personally, I prefer my Tenkeyless over the Black Widow Ultimate. The Tenkeyless is more compact and better for long distance typing. The Tenkeyless allows me to keep my mouse closer to my keyboard. It also feels easier on my fingers. Honestly, I think the Cherry MX brown switches on my Tenkeyless would do better for gaming compared to the Cherry blues on the Black Widow Ultimate. I feel like I could bottom out the keys faster on the brown switches. The only disadvantage my Tenkeyless has over the Black Widow Ultimate is a lack of backlighting and macro keys. I have no doubt that the Black Widow and Black Widow Ultimate will sell like crazy. Razer has a big following and for good reasons. Overall, they make good quality products at competitive prices. While this keyboard is marketed towards gamers, I feel that the choice of key switch and inclusion of a numpad helps to sell this product to a wider audience. Not really selling out their target audience but they could haveВ done better. If I were to build a gaming keyboard, I would keep the same formula as the Black Widow Ultimate, except no numpad, green backlighting, and Cherry MX black switches. Nevertheless, this is a great keyboard and the clicky sound of the Cherry MX blue switches gives this keyboard a unique charm. As a regular keyboard, the Razer Black Widow Ultimate is a great choice. As a gaming keyboard, there is room for improvement. As for the price. I think it is fair. If you are buying the Ultimate, you are paying $40 more for backlighting. If you dont care for backlighting, the standard Black Widow is a solid mechanical keyboard at a good price. If you must have the backlighting, then the $130 price tag maybe steep. Overall, I think the Razer Black Widow Ultimate is a great keyboard. Im not a big gamer so my quirks are not a big deal but they might be to people who are really serious about gaming. The Razer Black Widow is a great keyboard that brings the joy of using a mechanical keyboard to the masses. It is very stylish, feature-packed keyboard that is reasonably priced. You can purchase it online or at your local Best Buy.
Pros: Good looks, easily available, build quality, reasonably priced, first mechanical gaming keyboard with backlighting, macro keys.
Cons: Key switch choice, glossy finish attracts fingerprints/smudges, inclusion of a numpad (personal preference), price a bit steep for average consumers.
Razer Black Widow Ultimate
The Black Widow combines all the benefits of a mechanical keyboard with all the features of a gaming keyboard. This keyboard has programmable macro keys, backlighting, and a special gaming mode which disables the windows key. One fault I found was the strange choice of Cherry MX blue key switches. These switches are good for typing but not so great for gaming. Other than this, Razer offers the Black Widow Ultimate for under $100 which is pretty cheap for a mechanical keyboard.