The Razer BlackWidow family of mechanical keyboards has been slowly evolving for the ninth year in a row, retaining its family traits and adding something new to them every time. The version of the 2019 sample excelled immediately, starting with the name. She was simply called BlackWidow, without any prefixes. The Elite version was taken as the basis, but with a number of simplifications — no additional buttons and a scroll wheel, no palm rest, no additional ports, with a plastic rather than a metal case. But on the other hand, with the latest version of Razer Green mechanical switches, with Chroma backlighting and, most importantly, for the first time, with full support for NKRO mode. Previously, Razer only guaranteed 10 buttons at a time, believing that more was not required. In a word, the basic mechanics turned out without unnecessary bells and whistles and at a lower price. Maybe it’s for the best? Let’s look at it in more detail.
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||104|
|Keystroke resource, mln.||80|
|Switch type||Razer Green|
|Changing the angle of the body||+ (two positions)|
|Built-in memory, KB||+ (five profiles)|
|Ability to record macros||+|
|Backlight||+ (Chroma RGB)|
|USB cable length, m||1,9|
|Braid material||Nylon braid|
|Software||+ (Razer Synapse 3)|
|Removable palm rest||–|
|Dimensions (L x W x H), mm||448 x 163 x 39|
|Weight, g||1 248|
|OS Compatibility||Windows 7 / 8 / 10|
|Peculiarities||Channel for cable output from the keyboard housing in three directions|
|Average cost, $||120|
Contents of delivery
The keyboard box is decorated in the usual Razer black and green colors. The front part depicts the product contained inside, almost life size. There is a hole in the area of the arrow keys through which you can press the buttons to feel how they work with your own hands. On the reverse side, the main advantages of this product are traditionally listed, and you can read about its dimensions, characteristics and compatibility on the back of the package.
To protect against damage, cardboard and polyurethane dampers and a transparent plastic overlay on the keys are provided inside. Documentation is contained in a pocket under the top cover.
The package includes instructions for use, a tab with congratulations from the president of the company and a set of five stickers.
The design of the new Razer BlackWidow looks a bit conservative compared to the company’s latest mechanical keyboards. Mostly because they ditched the metal top panel and skeleton construction. Now here is a matte, slightly rough plastic, the same as on older models, and the switch mechanisms are recessed into the body. The design of the recess in the center where the logo is located has slightly changed, and the back face has become even, without a notch. In addition, there is no additional key. Other than that, I didn’t notice anything significant.
The keyboard layout is made in full accordance with the ANSI standard for 104 keys with long Shift and single-row Enter. The F1 button is located exactly above the number «2». The shape of the keycaps is standard, with a cylindrical recess in the center. Large symbols of Latin engraving are laser-etched in the center at the top of the buttons, and the Cyrillic alphabet is halved and shifted to the right side of the cap. Instead of the right Win, the Fn key is built in.
The digital and pointer block look standard. The top right corner is empty. Instead of lock indicators, a stylized Razer inscription is engraved here. A set of five round indicators is placed above the arrow buttons, from where they are clearly visible to the user. They are signed as «C» (Caps Lock), «1» (Num Lock), «S» (Scroll Lock), «M» (Macro), «G» (game mode). To see these inscriptions, you will have to look closely, it is easier to remember their purpose in order. All indicators are highlighted in white, except for «M», which lights up red when recording macros.
The keyboard is built around the latest iteration of the Razer Green mechanical switches, easily recognizable by the side support walls near the cross-shaped center pin. To activate, a pressing force of 50 grams is required, the operation occurs at around 1.9 mm, the full stroke is 4 mm. The MTBF resource is declared within 80 million clicks. The buttons have a clear tactile feedback, the moment of activation coincides with the dry overtone of a click. On the return stroke of the switch, there is an overtone of impact from the return of the pressure carriage into place. Because the reset point of the mechanism is at 1.5mm of travel, there is a 0.4mm zone in this short gap where the button can be reactivated without a click. The keycaps are made of externally painted ABS plastic. Wire stabilizers of long keys are external, lubricated at the point of contact. All buttons are stabilized fairly well, although the spacebar traditionally wobbles more than anything else.
There are no additional external ports on the sides. But there are holes for cable output in these directions. Folding legs can set the keyboard to two levels of height — 52 or 45 mm, and, accordingly, a different slope of the case. With the legs folded, the height is 39 mm. The profile of the rows of keys is not aggressive. The three front ones are slightly tilted back, the three rear ones are forward.
On the back side there is nothing but a hole for the cable entry.
The braided USB cable is of medium thickness and flexibility. Its length is 1.9 meters. There is a cap to protect against dust and a reusable rubber tie to adjust the length of the wire.
The reverse side of the keyboard is completely flat. The serial number is pasted in the center, and large and tenacious rubber feet are in the corners. The largest rubber sticker is located in the center near the front edge. At the back there is a tunnel for laying the cable back or to the sides, but, unfortunately, it practically does not hold in it if the keyboard is raised on folding legs. And if the legs are folded, then the cord will definitely fall out of the guides when you try to lift and rearrange the device.
Two folding legs can be deployed, both have rubber patches on the bottom.
The keyboard has individual RGB backlighting of all keys, with support for Chroma effects and the ability to customize each button and logo in the center. The color rendering looks correct. Latin and Cyrillic characters are read equally well. Additional characters on the numeric keys are not highlighted at the top. Lock-LEDs are not bright and do not cause irritation.
The Razer BlackWidow has built-in «hybrid» memory for five profiles, but most of its features require pre-installed software. Some commands can be executed without software using combinations with the Fn key (when pressed, the available combinations are highlighted in white). Below is a list of commands that we were able to reproduce.
|Fn+F2||Turn down the volume|
|Fn+F3||Turn up the volume|
|Fn+F9||Start recording a macro. The «M» indicator lights up. Then you should type the desired key combination and press Fn + F9 again. The «M» indicator starts blinking. Press the key to which you want to save the macro. The «M» indicator will go out, the command is saved. If you press Esc during recording, you will exit the macro mode without saving|
|Fn+F10||Enable or disable game mode. The Win key is disabled by default. «G» indicator lights up|
|Fn+F11||Decrease backlight brightness|
|Fn+F12||Increase backlight brightness|
|Fn+Pause||Sleep mode for PC|
|Fn+Menu||Switching of four side profiles|
The Razer BlackWidow is supported by Razer Synapse universal software version 3.4.604.60316. If you are using Windows 10, the operating system will prompt you to download this driver automatically. In parallel, the Razer Central software hub will be installed, which controls the user accounts of this software. For the program, you can choose one of 10 languages, including Russian, configure autorun settings, choose a light or dark interface theme, synchronize with settings in the cloud, or read the keyboard guide. You can also reset the product and software manuals to review them and force a driver update. The downside is that you have to register online to be able to run this app, although after the first login it can work offline.
On the start screen of the program, the user gets access to connected devices, installed modules and online services. In particular, the separately installed modules now include the Chroma effects studio and the macro editor. From the home screen, you can also send feedback on the current software version, register your product, view a list of compatible devices, visit the Razer product store or game store, and look into the zVault e-wallet.
In the keyboard settings section, you can remap all keys except for the Win and Fn buttons. The left tab lists all current assignments, the central tab lists the options for available commands to assign to the current key, and the rightmost tab shows which command is currently assigned to the selected button. In addition, any button has two options for using it — standard and alternative Hypershift (which is activated when a certain key is held down). The mode switch is located in the center below the keyboard image. The left tab below is the choice of combinations that will be turned off when the «game mode» is activated. In addition to Win keys, you can also forcibly block Alt + F4 and Alt + Tab combinations. Through the tab at the bottom right, you can access the standard Windows keyboard settings. On the right, you can open a tab with access to on-board profiles (to save the current settings there, just drag the profile name). At the bottom right, you can look at the list of saved macros and estimate how much memory they occupy.
In the backlight settings, you can turn it on or off completely, adjust the brightness from 0 to 100%, set the shutdown along with the display, and set the shutdown delay in the range from one to 15 minutes. In the effect selection window, you can use quick settings, in particular, select one of 11 visual effects, adjust their speed, direction, duration, color and playback order. Or you can turn on advanced effects and get into the Chroma Studio to customize all the settings. You can also duplicate your backlight settings to other Razer devices that support them.
In the Chroma section, all keys can be customized as you like, with any effects, and even effect layers.
In the profile section, all created settings options are stored in one shared library and can be linked to any application for automatic activation.
The advanced macro editor has its own library of macros that can be individually named. Keyboard and mouse commands are available for recording, as well as recording the trajectory of the cursor movement and setting all options for time delays and ways to play commands.
Ergonomics and testing
The first positive feeling Razer BlackWidow creates about itself when you take it in your hands, taking it out of the box. In addition to the heavy weight, the keyboard case has a huge margin of safety. With a standard test for twisting, it does not lend itself at all, there are no backlashes or squeaks. This device either has a metal frame, or filled in a lot of strong plastic. The monolithic design significantly improves the experience of working on the keyboard — it does not slip when pressed very hard, either with the legs extended or folded. Typing on this version of the BlackWidow is quite comfortable even without a palm rest, although if you look at the Razer store, they now offer such things as an option.
The BlackWidow Elite inherited this keyboard from a multi-directional cable management system through a special chute at the back. Unfortunately, they did not even try to improve it, and the cable is still weakly held in the guides and eventually falls out of them. If the keyboard case is raised on legs, then this does not play a special role. But if the legs are folded, then when the keyboard is shifted, the cable gets under it, causing it to skew.
The modern Razer Green mechanical tactile switches are one of the few «clicky button» options that I like. Usually this sound just annoys me. But here they have excellent tactile feedback, combined with a low pressing force. The moment of activation of the switch coincides exactly with a dry short click. All buttons are perfectly stabilized and do not stagger. The semi-circular lens provides excellent illumination of both Cyrillic and Latin scripts. A completely standard layout does not require any time to adapt to blind printing.
On the positive side, we also note the beautiful backlighting of all keys, on-board memory and Razer Synapse 3 software, which gets better with each new version.
As we mentioned above, the Razer BlackWidow is the first keyboard ever released by the company that supports full NKRO mode and is able to process all keystrokes simultaneously and in any arbitrary combination with each other.
The latest current iteration of the Razer BlackWidow brought almost nothing significant to the company’s line of mechanical keyboards. In fact, it is, on the one hand, a planned product update, and on the other hand, a simplified version of BlackWidow Elite for those who are not ready to pay a lot of money for additional features of the latter. The only real novelty here is support for a full NKRO mode, something that Razer keyboards haven’t had before. It’s also a shame that this mechanic comes with only one variant of the Razer Green switches. We hope that in the future the Yellow and Orange movements will also appear in the assortment, like in the older model, but so far they have been left out.
In terms of design, the Razer BlackWidow has only one complaint — it’s a USB cable that falls out of the cable management channel. Otherwise, this mechanical keyboard, in my opinion, turned out to be very successful. Perfectly strong body, great feet, good switches, beautiful engraving and lighting, built-in memory, macro recording and intuitive software. More than an ordinary user, and even more so a «cyber-athlete» has nothing to wish for. Simple, reliable and functional.