Razer BlackWidow Ultimate £124.99
7th Mar 2014 | 20:52
Razer's new switches are a dampener, not a silencer, on keyboard clack
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.