Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Edition Gaming Keyboard

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Mechanical Keyboard

So I finally got something else worth reviewing. I previously had a Saitek Cyborg Keyboard, but the left half of it stopped working recently. It was a great keyboard, but after (I think) 6 years of heavy use, it finally died. It was a sad day, but for some reason, I had already been looking at new keyboards, and had really started looking into newer mechanical keyboards. I remembered the super old ones being absurdly loud, but nothing else about them. I decided to pick up this board at Best Buy since I had some gift cards to get rid of. It's also the only place around me that carries gaming gear like this. I've been using it for a few days now, and aside from the noise, it's amazing. It's really comfortable feeling for typing and VERY responsive. It doesn't have the extra large wrist rest the Cyborg did, but it's nicely curved on the bottom and the keys feel perfect. They're textured enough to keep from slipping, but have a very smooth feel to them. The big thing with mechanical keyboards is the responsiveness of the keys. They're actually so responsive, I've started to notice how much I had gotten used to certain keys not functioning as quick on my old board. On membrane boards, you have to press the keys all the way down before anything happens. Mechanical boards have switches under each individual key and only need to be pressed about half way down. There's a certain “click” that each key has once the switch is activated. You can both feel and hear it when the key is pressed and has sent its signal to the PC. As I said though, that click each key has is LOUD. That on top of the fact I usually type somewhere around 110-130 wpm, there's a LOT of clicking going on. In game though, it's SO responsive, I can deal with the noise. Hopefully everyone else around me can too.

Features time. Aside from the responsiveness, this board does other stuff too. Although most of it is stuff you can find on other boards as well. The board has media keys, like most boards now, but it uses an FN key, similar to the way laptops do extra keys. The media keys are located on the F keys and requires you to use the FN key to activate them. It's strange to do on a desktop computer, but the space it saves is worth it, to me, at least. The Cyborg keyboard was enormous, so having a normal size keyboard is still kind of mindblowing to me right now. It also has some macro functions, but it's much different from the macro buttons on the Cyborg. The Cyborg had software that assigned macros to each of its macro keys from a program. The BlackWidow seems to be able to set macros on the fly and without using software. I have yet to install the BlackWidow software on my PC, yet I was able to set up a few basic macros already. I have to ultimate edition of the board. After looking, there seem to be a few different Ultimate Editions. I have just the regular Ultimate. There's a Stealth and a Battlefield 3 edition of the board. The Stealth is the same as the one I have but has quieter keys. The BF3 version is orange instead of blue and also comes with a code to activate some extra bonus in the game. Both versions are $10 more than this one. There is also the standard version that seems to be the same as this one, but doesn't have any backlights. Also, like the Cyborg, the BlackWidow has a “Game Mode” that disables the Windows key. It sounds simple, but when you accidentally hit the Windows key in the middle of a battle, having it do nothing instead of minimizing my game and putting focus on the Start menu is a pretty handy feature.

Overall, it's an amazing board I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a gaming board. As for the other versions, I guess it depends on what you personally want out of the board. I personally like having a backlight and don't particularly mind the noise. I also don't play BF3 that much. For me, the regular Ultimate Edition is perfect. If you live with anyone, though, maybe look into the Stealth Edition. If the noise doesn't bother you and backlights annoy you, there's always the standard version.

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Edition: 10/10

Check it out at Razer's Website.