Note: This review was first published on 27 May 2021.
The Razer BlackWidow is one of Razer's most iconic keyboards. Touted as the first-ever gaming keyboard by Razer, the BlackWidow has gone through countless iterations over the years and received multiple improvements. Now, Razer is introducing the BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed, its smallest and most travel-friendly BlackWidow yet. Coming on the heels of the Huntsman Mini, Razer is expanding on its compact keyboard offerings with its first 65% board, helping set it apart from the 60% Huntsman Mini with dedicated arrow keys and HyperSpeed wireless functionality.
I've always preferred 60% and 65% keyboards over full-sized and even tenkeyless models, so I was immediately interested in the BlackWidow V3 Mini. The amount of space you save on your desk gives you more room for your mouse, which means I don't have to set my keyboard at an awkward angle to avoid bumping my mouse up against it. This may not be an issue for you if you play at high sensitivities, but low sensitivity gamers will definitely appreciate the extra room to work with.
One gripe with the 60% layout is its lack of arrow keys, and the 65% form factor of the BlackWidow V3 Mini helps address that. You can benefit from the dedicated arrow keys and navigation column, while still taking advantage of space savings, and it sits in something of a sweet spot for those who want a compact keyboard without giving up too many keys.
The BlackWidow V3 Mini retains the familiar aesthetic of its larger siblings, down to the floating key design and backlit Razer logo on the bottom bezel. It's a very sleek, minimalist look, tasteful enough for those who are sick of over-the-top designs without being boring. Despite its predominantly plastic construction, build quality is solid with no discernible creaking or flexing, even when trying to twist the keyboard. The keyboard does sit on top of an aluminum top plate however, which helps confer some extra rigidity. I enjoy the smooth, matte finish on this top plate – it feels premium without attracting dirt or grime.
However, there's still the glossy plastic strip which houses the Razer logo. This is quite a different affair altogether and it does attract fingerprints and other grease stains.
One of the biggest selling points of the BlackWidow V3 Mini is probably its HyperSpeed wireless tech. Razer says it worked to streamline the data protocol pipeline and optimise performance at every stage in order to reduce overall latency. HyperSpeed also now supports multiple devices via a single dongle, and you can free up a USB port by connecting a wireless mouse, such as the Razer Orochi V2, and keyboard to the same dongle. There is a neat little compartment at the base of the keyboard for storing the dongle, which should reduce the chances of you losing it when you need to pack your gear for a gaming session elsewhere. You don't get this on the Huntsman Mini because it's not a wireless keyboard to begin with (thus its lower price point).
At the moment, the number of devices supported by this multi-device capability is still quite limited, and you'll have to take your pick from the Orochi V2, DeathAdder V2 Pro, Naga Pro, BlackWidow V3 Pro, and the BlackWidow V3 Mini.
Wireless performance is excellent however, and I couldn't distinguish between wired and wireless mode at all. There should be no issues using the keyboard in wireless mode for gaming and I experienced no input latency or dropped connections over a few full days of use.
The keyboard also supports Bluetooth connection, and can be paired with up to three systems. To start pairing, you simply hold down Alt+Fn and either 1, 2, or 3 for 5 seconds until the corresponding number key starts blinking. Bluetooth does have noticeable latency however, and I wouldn't recommend it for gaming. Finally, you can use the keyboard in wired mode as well with the included USB-C cable. I like that the USB-C port is located toward the left, which makes for neater pairing with custom coiled cables if you want to spruce up your setup a little.
The switches are Razer's own mechanical switches. These are different from the optical ones which are reserved for the Huntsman line, featuring dual side walls for greater stability. These help protect against dust and liquids as well. The walls do help reduce key wobble when moving from left to right, but there is still noticeable wobble in the up/down direction.
My review unit came with Razer's tactile and clicky Green switch, which have an actuation force of 50g and actuate at 1.9mm. As with most clicky switches, the actuation and reset points are at different points along the switch travel, with a distance of 0.4mm in this case. This is a big part of why I'm not a fan of clicky switches for gaming, as they aren't able to execute successive presses as quickly, in theory at least. The click also sounds shrill to my ears, and this isn't a switch you want on a keyboard that will be used in an office setting.
I'd recommend checking out the Yellow switches instead, which have been upgraded with silicon sound dampeners for a quieter and smoother experience.
The keycaps are doubleshot ABS, instead of the PBT on the Huntsman line. These will be more prone to shine over time, but the doubleshot molding process means that the legends at least won't fade. They also sport a slightly more textured finish than you usually get on ABS keycaps, which means it picks up oil and grease less easily. Razer says it has made the keycaps thicker as well for greater durability. However, the 65% layout means that Razer hasn't been able to include a standard bottom row as it has been doing, so shopping for third-party keycaps may not be as straightforward.
Backlighting is bright and even, and you can access a wide range of customisation options in Synapse 3. The onboard profile won't store your lighting settings however, which can be slightly annoying.
Razer is claiming up to 200 hours of battery life with the RGB lights turned off. I can confirm that leaving the lights on reduces battery life quite drastically, and I was down by roughly 20% in three hours with the brightness set to maximum and the Spectrum Cycling effect on.
The Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed is a very capable 65% keyboard. It's not the most exciting keyboard and doesn't really do anything particularly novel, but it comes packed with powerful features like multi-device HyperSpeed support. It does everything it's supposed to, while offering a unique form factor that isn't offered by many major gaming keyboard manufacturers.
At S$279.90, the BlackWidow V3 Mini is very pricey, and on par with the S$279 ASUS ROG Falchion. It fills a gap in Razer's keyboard line-up, and is a solid pick if you're looking specifically for a 65% keyboard. The dedicated arrow keys are super useful for navigating spreadsheets, and the 65% form factor offers an excellent balance between space savings and functionality. If you can stomach the price, there's little to stop me from recommending it.
Perhaps the last thought of consideration is if you should choose this or the ASUS equivalent. Generally, both are great options and it comes down to design preferences and if you prefer extra features like the touch panel control and the keyboard cover that ASUS offers. It is also a tad more compact with a slimmer frame if overall size matters. Razer counters this with low-latency wireless performance and multi-device support for which the latter is useful in streamlining your setup if you're firmly dealing with the limited set of compatible Razer products.