Product Reviews

Gaming Keyboard Kerfuffle

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate

Razer, long known for its high-end gaming mice, has had sort of a slow start when it comes to gaming keboards.  Its offerings haven't been bad, but the company hasn't had a must-have product yet.  The BlackWidow is Razer's first.

The BlackWidow Ultimate is a mechanical keyboard, like the SteelSeries 7G, but the keys have a little less travel and a very noticeable click when fully depressed, making them feel more like an old Model M keyboard.  Whether you like your mechanical keyboard with or without a click is a matter of personal preference, but we happen to like ours with a click, and the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate feels great, especially for extended typing.  However, beware: This sucker is loud!  It shouldn't be a problem if you're used to the TACK-TACK-TACK sounds of a mechanical keyboard, but we wouldn't recommend using it in an office environment if you've got touchy coworkers.

The physical construction of the board is sturdy.  It's not going to beat the SteelSeries models in a bullet-stopping competion, but it's still heavy and durable enough that it feels completely solid under your hands.  Unfortunately, Razer opted to use a glossy black finish that picks up fingerprints at an alarming rate, and was starting to get grimy even in the week we used the keyboard for this review.  It looks great clean, but it'll take some effort to keep it that way.

BEyond the key and build quality, the BlackWidow Ultimate hits the “just right” zone between feature drought and board-embiggening excess.  It features on-the-fly recordable macros that can be bound to one of four special macro keys, or to any other regular key on the board.  Using the driver software, you can define different profiles, which can either switch automatically when you load a game or by manually using the keyboard's function key and the number keys.  The BlackWidow Ultimate also features blue individual key backlighting, with five intensity settings.

Speaking of that backlighting, Razer also sells a basic version of the BlackWidow, which is essentially the same keyboard minus the backlighting, for $50 less.  We haven't officially reviewed the basic-model BlackWidow, so we can't give it an unqualified recommendation, but it might be worth looking into if you want to save a few bucks.  Otherwise, the BlackWidow Ultimates' excellent build quality and nicely sized feature set more than make up for its few shortcomings.  This one's a winner.

Maximum PC KickAss!  Verdict 9