Sunday, March 6, 2011

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Keyboard Review

The BlackWidow Ultimate is part of Razer's elite series. It also comes with a slightly cut down brother version, the Razer BlackWidow, that gives you the same keyboard minus the back lighting.

It has a glossy black outer casing and matte black keys.

This keyboard is a mechanical gaming keyboard. It uses the Cherry MX Blue key switches technology.

Why would someone pay more for a mechanical keyboard versus a cheaper regular keyboard usually using the membrane technology?

Razer claims that their mechanical key switches have faster response time since the key stroke will register when the key is pressed only half way, while the membrane key needs to be pushed all the way down. They also claim that it takes less force to actuate the Cherry MX Blue key switches. They make a clicky sound, specific to the MX Blue, when the key actuates, so you know the key stroke registered.

The keyboard is full size and includes 5 dedicated macro keys on the left side.

It features 1000Hz Ultrapolling with 1ms response time which is how fast the keyboard sends data to the PC.

It also features anti-ghosting technology so you can press up to 6 keys simultaneously and have all of them register.

The F keys have been slightly shifted to the right so the W of the WASD gaming keys is in line with the F1 to help with ergonomics while gaming.

They have incorporated the media keys with F keys and the use of a function (FN) key. We have Mute, Volume Down, Volume Up, Play/Pause, Stop, Previous, Next, Gaming Mode, Lighting and Sleep keys. All the media keys worked out of the box by simply plugging the keyboard in the computer without installing any kind of software.

The Gaming Mode, when engaged, simply disables the Windows key so you don't press it by accident during intense gaming sessions and bring you back to your desktop, sometimes making you a nice sitting target in-game.

The BlackWidow software can be found on the Razer website, along with drivers. The software provides on the fly macro and profile settings. You can set up up to 10 profiles for different games and switch rapidly by holding FN and a number attached to the profile.

With the on the fly macro recording, you can record macros by holding FN + alt with the M symbol. The symbol in the upper right corner of the keyboard will light up. You than enter your keystroke combination and when press FN + alt again to stop the macro recording, the symbol flashes and simply press the key you want to associate with your recording. You can use the 5 dedicated macro keys or any key you like. All of this can also be done within the software.

Every single key on the keyboard lights up with the exception of the space bar. The lighting is uniform thanks to individually lit keys with 5 different lighting modes. Off, low, medium, bright and pulsing.

The right side of the keyboard sports a USB connector, headphone out and mic in. They are simply pass through that you connect directly into your computer.

The keyboard wire is thick and braided, but surprisingly flexible. It has a 4 gold platted connectors to resist corrosion, 1 USB for the keyboard itself, 1 USB, 1 headphone out and 1 mic in as pass through.

The keyboard has little rubber feet under it to stop it from sliding around but it weights about 5 times your average keyboard since every single key has a mechanical component, so it won't move around. The overall feel of the keyboard is solid and very well assembled.

The little Razer symbol under the space bar lights up giving the keyboard a nice little touch of class.

Razer decided to be unorthodox with the font used on the keys. The R is an inverted L and the W, E, 3 and M share the same symbol, simply differently rotated. I would have liked Razer to stick with a more traditional font, but this is a personal opinion and may differ with yours.

It is to be noted that the outer glossy casing will attract dust and show finger prints. The sound the keys make should be taken into consideration if this keyboard will be in a high traffic area, it could bother others.

Overall this is a fabulous keyboard and a nicely priced entry in the mechanical world comparing with the other offerings out there.

How reliable they will be is still unknown but mechanical keyboards tend to last longer than their membrane counterparts which is why I recommend this product if you are looking for a great gaming mechanical keyboard, especially with back lighting.

Make sure to update to the latest firmware currently at 1.05.

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