Razer tends to charge a premium for its gaming accessories, but with the new BlackWidow line of keyboards that features mechanical keys, you can now shell out extra dollars for a few jacks and blue lighting.
Both the normal BlackWidow and BlackWidow Ultimate share the same mechanical keyboard layout and build. It’s sturdy, but the real meat of this keyboard is when you start using it as your instrument of online death. Suffice to say, it’s pretty awesome.
It took us a while initially to get used to how different the keyboard layout feels. No, we’re not talking about the QWERTY keys being arranged in a factitious manner; the keys felt more tightly-arranged than other keyboards. This means that typing out “word” can end up like “rptf” the first time you lay hands onto it. But trust us; it will take only a few moments to get readjusted, because you will not stop typing on it.
The keys felt so good to touch and are sturdy enough to withstand endless finger-hammering and pressing. Just playing a few sessions of Quake Live and Burnout: Paradise felt natural; from light touches to heavy tapping, the keyboard was very responsive. A game like StarCraft II will benefit from the many macros and hot-keys possible on the BlackWidow, which are also suitable for an action RPG like Torchlight.
Speaking of which, the BlackWidow is generous enough to have five additional macro keys, along with having programmable keys for the rest of the keyboard. You can also store up to ten profiles (for each different game) with your own pre-determined set of macros, which are on the left of the keyboard. The best part is the on-the-fly macro recording feature for when you want to just set it up mid-game. Just press the right Alt and FN button once for a red light to come up, do your action, then press right Alt and FN again for the red light to blink, and finally press the macro key to be assigned for the action.
There are some potential ghosting issues here. While it can handle up to three extra key presses simultaneously, this limitation could be a problem for really hardcore RTS gamers with a high Action Per Minute (APM) count. Otherwise, it wouldn’t really affect anything in other genres. We blazed through a plethora of shooters and racing games and came away unscathed.
And then there’s the noise. While we are not too bothered with the supposed high-pitched keyboard “clack” noise emitting from the key presses, the same can’t always be said for your neighbors. Nevertheless, it’s extremely nice to type on this solid piece of human-crafted machinery.
The question you need to ask yourself is whether you want to spend $189 for the Ultimate version that has extra audio ports and backlit keys. If we had to choose, the lights and extra jacks are just window-dressing, so we'll just go and get the regular BlackWidow keyboard for $149, especially if performance is your main focus.
Razer just threw in its gauntlet against other high-level keyboards out there. The BlackWidow series is still slightly below the SteelSeries’ 6Gv2 keyboard in the be-all-end-all gaming keyboard slugfest, but it's meant as a compliment to come up marginally short against such a powerhouse keyboard.