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Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Mechanical Keyboard Review - Mechanically superior? Just mechanical?

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Razer

Build and Feel

Quality and Features

Ultimately what matters most about a keyboard is the way it feels while typing and gaming. The Razer BlackWidow uses Cherry MX Blue keys which are known for being loud with characteristic snapping as part of the key internals gives way during each press. Cherry MX Blues are not typically lauded for gaming when compared to the Black and to a lesser extent Brown switches particularly in games where single-button mashing is required. Blue switches are predominantly designed for typing though they do perform well in games when compared to just about any membrane-based non-mechanical switch out there.

The keyboard body is made up of glossy plastic with Razer’s practically-trademarked rubberized non-glossy surface for each keycap. Personally, I like the feel of Razer’s keycaps and prefer it to my other keyboards. The glossy parts of the keyboard collect fingerprints very easily. During the unboxing of the keyboard alone I created a large palm-print which required glass or screen cleaner to fully remove. I personally do not care about fingerprints on my devices (except screens, of course) but it does seem quite counter-productive aesthetically.

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Smudgie smudgie.

The backlight has five stages toggled via pressing function-F12: off, low, medium, high, and pulsing. I find medium to be the best setting for my room and taste which is always a good sign as there is room above and below my taste for others who prefer it brighter and dimmer than what I consider best. While I hope I do not need to discuss the off setting, the pulsing setting is fairly useless for actually using your keyboard. The only application I could think of for the pulsing setting would be to set to before leaving your computer and immediately switch back to one of the other four settings when the keyboard is actually in use.

The media keys are definitely a welcome addition for those wishing to control a music player while doing intensive typing or during gaming where distractions are detrimental. Five recordable macro keys are also available although I personally have never used macro keys on my keyboard even for games where I play WSAD. That said, using Razer’s drivers you can assign a macro to any button on your keyboard if you do not use a specific key and wish to change its function temporarily. It is handy for games whose keybinding system leaves something to be desired which is not too uncommon nowadays. Personally I bound NumPad0 to send a left mouse button click to fire a weapon using my keyboard. Yes, sniping and instagib is easier when you look with a mouse in one hand and fire with the keyboard in the other hand. You are welcome.

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Well, this is glowing well so-far.

At Work

Compared to my other Cherry MX Blue keyboard the Razer feels slightly different. The feel of the keycaps is inviting to those who like the rest of Razer’s product line. The keys feel smooth without any sharp edges though they also have distinct boundaries to the touch which may or may not be to your personal taste but I enjoy that feel. I would prefer to have an included or even optional wrist guard as my hands only barely touch the bottom of the keyboard during touch typing and they touch at the palm, not the wrist.

Other than that it feels very good for typing for someone with my tastes. Some may prefer the more typical typewriter feel of the harsher-edged plastic keycaps and if so then you will likely pass on this keyboard. Depending on where you use this keyboard you may also wish to pass on it on the grounds of noise: expect to find it encased in lime-flavored gelatin dessert if you bring it to a crowded workspace. And after all, if you are reading this review you clearly prefer Cherry.

At Play

I have used the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate for a week and a half now and it feels quite good during gaming. I do not tend to play games which hinge around button-mashing however I can expect that the Cherry MX Blue switches would not be desirable compared to other mechanical switches, especially in those situations. For shooters and strategy games I tend to believe that the Cherry MX Blues fit quite well as there is a definitive activation point that can be felt and heard. The brown and the black switches would still be better suited for gaming but if taken from the perspective of someone switching from membrane-based keyboards the blue switch is definitely a satisfying choice.

Overall

At the end of the day either scenario comes down to personal taste. According to my personal taste the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate is enjoyable both in terms of gaming as well as work. If you are planning on purchasing this keyboard for yourself through retail I would first recommend feeling the display models; you do not need to be attached to a computer to know how a keyboard feels and maybe more-so sounds.

Up next are the more quantitative tests.

 

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All I can tell you about this next procedure is that it will be excruciating.

September 9, 2011 | 01:39 AM - Posted by Bryan (not verified)

Razer has another run of widow keyboards using brown cherry switches, called the stealth edition. ( A quieter alternative to the regular line.)

September 9, 2011 | 10:45 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Yeah that product line was announced while I was reviewing this one. Oh well.

September 9, 2011 | 11:54 PM - Posted by Bryan (not verified)

Razer is on a product spree at the moment.

The whole BF3 themed orange versions of Widow Ultimate, Imperator mouse, scarab mouse pad and Onza Tournament.

As well as the Razer Blade.

Any bets on a Razor OS soon?

September 9, 2011 | 08:43 PM - Posted by ThorAxe

I have this keyboard and love it. I find it nicer to use than the Razer Lycosas' I have. The back-lighting is also more evenly distributed.

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