Overclock.net › Forums › Components › Keyboards › Razer BlackWidow Review
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Razer BlackWidow Review

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

I finally had time to finish the review today, I had the board laying around for a month collecting dust before. I have already posted it in a few other places, but figured it wouldn't hurt to have it up here too since someone had just asked for one earlier.

Razer Black Widow
Normal Edition, Cherry MX Blue, Available at $79,99

When Razer announced their Black Widow most keyboard enthusiasts have been looking at it with a skeptic first impression. The odd choice of Cherry MX Blue switches and no full N-Key rollover seem a bit strange for a keyboard aimed at gamers. In return Razer promised advanced macro functions and various other features aimed at gamers. So what does the Razer Black Widow really offer and how does it hold up against the competition?


The first impression



The Razer Black Widow comes packaged in a huge, shiny box with a little try-out-window around the cursor keys like speaking action figures! While this is definitely a good idea to get people into mechanical keyboards and convince them of the key-feel, you should probably also keep this in mind when buying the keyboard at a retail store. Do not pick the front box.



The Black Widow comes with no additional software or accessories but for a quick-start guide and a few more manuals. The actual drivers and software have to be downloaded from the internet. When unboxing the keyboard the first thing you will notice is that it is really shiny.


The look and the design



If you take a look at Razer's current product lineup, it would seem that Razer likes their products to be sleek and flashy with lots of neon colors and futuristic looks. The Razer Black Widow is no exception. The keyboard features a piano-gloss finish that attracts fingerprints like crazy. If you already own a Das Keyboard, Sony PSP or a Playstation 3 you know what to expect. While it might make sense to have home electronics in a sleek piano finish it seems a rather stupid idea for a keyboard. “Bling-Bling!†might make some things look expensive and worth your money, but for an input device it just doesn't work out. After a few days – or even only a few hours, your keyboard will be entirely covered in dust, fingerprints and various other grease. Cleaning it daily almost seems like a must.

Just like its glossy competitor the Das Keyboard, the Black Widow has the LEDs hidden under semi-transparent plastic. They are entirely invisible when not lit up. Overall there are five different indicator LEDs. Besides the usual Scroll Lock, Numlock and Capslock you have the “Gaming Mode†and the “Macro Mode†LEDs. More on those later.



Another thing that instantly sticks out is the font on the keycaps. The very unusual and futuristic looking font is an eye catcher. If you like it or not is up to personal preference. I am not too fond of it and would have preferred a more “tame†font. Pixel-fonts just don't look as good when used at a bigger size than they were intended to be used at.


Quality and construction

Like you would expect from a keyboard in the $100 range the construction on the Razer Black Widow seems pretty good. At 1,4kg it feels heavy and solid when first taking it out of the box. The keycaps seem to be made of POM plastic and feature laser engraved+filled lettering. Like with other keyboards using this technique you can feel the letters on the keycaps. This can be distracting at first, but it also adds some extra texture to the keycaps.

Sadly the stabilizers for the bigger keys (Shift, Enter, Backspace) do not feel quite as solid. Pressing those keys hard enough on one side will make the keycap flex quite a bit. While with normal typing you are unlikely to ever notice this it will definitely be noticed on some hardcore gaming session with hectic key-presses. A Korean tape trick can fix this problem if it really gets too bad.



The Razer Black Widow features a braided fabric cable which measures a length of nearly 3 meters. It is located at the center of the keyboard.



Five solid rubber feet and two expandable feet stop the Black Widow from sliding around your desk. These are the same type of feet as found on the Filco Majestouch series and Steelseries keyboards. With five rubber feet and the massive weight it is nearly impossible to accidentally push the keyboard around the desk.


Tales of Gamers and Typists



Almost everyone will agree that for the task of typing a tactile switch is the best choice. Going with a clicky or non clicky switch mostly depends on your personal preference.

But being a “gaming brand†Razer has of course designed the Black Widow as a “gaming keyboard†and this is where some people like to disagree. Most gamers will tell you that clicky switches are a no-go for games and that they tend to stick with linear switches. Razer claims otherwise and goes as far as comparing each keystroke to a mouse click:

"The Razer BlackWidow’s distinct tactile feedback upon key actuation simulates the experience and precision of performing a mouse click. Combined with an actuation point of 2mm (halfway through the 4mm full travel distance), you will know exactly when your command has fired so you can rapidly move on to the next key stroke and move in for the quick kill." --Razer Website

In the past few weeks there has been a lot of talk about the keyboards used by Korean SC2 pro-gamers. Fruitdealer has been sighted using a clicky ALPS switch keyboard and SlayerS_`BoxeR` has been seen training with a MX Blue board, which might add some weight to Razer’s reasoning for their switch choice.

In the end it all comes down to the type of game you actually play and your personal preferences. Being a casual gamer, I have no issues playing my games with Cherry MX Blue switches and do not feel hindered by them at all. If you (and your team mates if you play with voice chat) do not mind a clicky switch there should be no reason for most average gamers not to be satisfied with the MX Blue.


N-Key Rollover, Gaming Mode and Macros

The Razer Black Widow does not feature N-Key rollover. This seems odd for a gaming keyboard. Instead it uses a matrix that has been optimized for common game key combinations. I have gone through a list of apparently complex and common FPS game key combinations and the Black Widow passed them all. Limitations of the matrix design are met at the arrow keys. Pressing more than two of any arrows at once is not possible. This is not an issue for most gamers but can be problematic with games such as Stepmania or similar that require up to three or four arrow inputs at once.



Staying with action heavy key mashing lets move on the gaming mode. The Black Widow comes with several built-in multimedia control and volume functions. These can be accessed through the F keys while holding the FN key. Besides the common Volume up/down, play/pause and previous and next track you also get access to the gaming mode with the FN+F12 combination. This will disable both the Windows and Menu-key entirely, so you can not “tab out†of the game accidentally. Gaming mode is indicated by a green “G†LED. All of these functions work on hardware level and are independent from drivers and your operating system.

Added to the usual standard layout, the Black Widow features 5 additional keys on the left side of the keyboard. Without the Razer Software installed, these do not generate any scan-code and do nothing. They can be freely programmed once the software is installed.


I suggest you to watch the video in fullscreen and HD quality on youtube to make out details.

As seen in the video above, programming can be done in seconds and a only takes a few mouse clicks. Every single key on the keyboard can be assigned with a macro or single key. Macros are very flexible and can also include mouse clicks.

Everything can be programmed by either using the software or by directly taking the keyboard into macro-mode with FN+ALT. This works very similar to vintage keyboards such as the Cherry G80-2100 or the Omnikey series, but still needs the drivers installed.

Whats special about the Black Widow here is that the keystrokes and mouse clicks are generated and sent on hardware level and not as virtual keystrokes. This means that macros can even be used on games with anti-cheating systems such as Gameguard, HackShield and PunkBuster which would usually detect and block virtual keystrokes generated by software macros such as AutoHotkey. Despite being generated on hardware level the macros still need the Razer software and drivers installed to work.

The extra keys and the easy to use macros are clearly where Razer can point with the Black Widow. If you play a lot of MMO, RTS or action games you can definitely gain benefits from this.


Conclusion

Overall the Black Widow is a surprisingly decent keyboard for its price. At $79,99 it is currently by far the cheapest available Cherry MX Blue keyboard. If you can live with the glossy look, the lack of proper n-key rollover and the few other quality quirks mentioned in the review you should pick one up. Being a mainstream product it will be much easier to get one compared to other niche keyboards.

If you do not care too much about the gaming functions and are willing to spend a bit more, there are a lot of better and more established mechanical keyboards available on the market. But if you are on a tight budget, there is no reason not to take the Black Widow for what it is: An affordable mechanical keyboard of decent quality and with a questionable design.

Thanks a lot to SirClickAlot of http://www.mrinterface.com for giving me early access to this review sample. It was fun to review this!
post #2 of 25
Quick question, how is this any different from the Razer BlackWindow Ultimate Gaming Keyboard?

Edit - Das and Filco are better. This one's off by a lot.
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Overclocker/Gamer View Post
Quick question, how is this any different from the Razer BlackWindow Ultimate Gaming Keyboard?

Edit - Das and Filco are better. This one's off by a lot.
Base hardware should be the same as the Ultimate version minus the audio jacks and the backlight.

Actually technically the PCB is the same for both boards, you can make out empty solder points for where the audio jacks go on the ultimate:



There are also empty solder points on the PCB for all the LEDs that would be there on the ultimate. I am pretty sure if you are crazy enough to attempt the regular model can be converted to the ultimate with a lot of soldering and spare leds.

While I had the case open I also noticed that there is a hidden staff list in the case mold:



Quite geeky!
post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by sixty View Post
Base hardware should be the same as the Ultimate version minus the audio jacks and the backlight.

Actually technically the PCB is the same for both boards, you can make out empty solder points for where the audio jacks go on the ultimate:



There are also empty solder points on the PCB for all the LEDs that would be there on the ultimate. I am pretty sure if you are crazy enough to attempt the regular model can be converted to the ultimate with a lot of soldering and spare leds.

While I had the case open I also noticed that there is a hidden staff list in the case mold:



Quite geeky!
I don't see a point in getting the Ultimate version then.
post #5 of 25
The Lycos may be better but i have always wondered if that was even better than my keyboard. Hmph..
Phantom 820
(16 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 3750k Unlocked Asus Sabertooth z77 EVGA 560Ti Classified Corsair Vengeance 16gb 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB Samsung 830 240GB SSD LG Blu Ray CD/DVD Corsair H100i 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 64bit Benq monitor 1920x1080 Razer Black Window Ultimate Mechanical Keyboard Corsair GS800 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
NZXT Phantom 820 Razer Mamba *older version* Razer Goliathus Speed mousepad Razer Blackshark headphones BF3 
  hide details  
Reply
Phantom 820
(16 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 3750k Unlocked Asus Sabertooth z77 EVGA 560Ti Classified Corsair Vengeance 16gb 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB Samsung 830 240GB SSD LG Blu Ray CD/DVD Corsair H100i 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 64bit Benq monitor 1920x1080 Razer Black Window Ultimate Mechanical Keyboard Corsair GS800 
CaseMouseMouse PadAudio
NZXT Phantom 820 Razer Mamba *older version* Razer Goliathus Speed mousepad Razer Blackshark headphones BF3 
  hide details  
Reply
post #6 of 25
i love the font on the keys and the overall design of the keyboard, but its to much for what you get.
If I had the money, i'd rather get a roccat valo
First Build
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Athlon X2 7750 Biostar MCP6P Radeon 4870 512MB 2GB 667MHz CCL Online Value Ram (Replacing ASAP) 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB LG DVD-RW Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit Acer 1400x900 
PowerCase
OCZ Fatality 550w AeroCool AeroEngine-Plus 
  hide details  
Reply
First Build
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Athlon X2 7750 Biostar MCP6P Radeon 4870 512MB 2GB 667MHz CCL Online Value Ram (Replacing ASAP) 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB LG DVD-RW Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit Acer 1400x900 
PowerCase
OCZ Fatality 550w AeroCool AeroEngine-Plus 
  hide details  
Reply
post #7 of 25
Good job with the review and the keyboard looks great !
Updated Arc
(19 items)
 
Lenovo E330
(8 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Xeon E3-1270V3 GA-Z87X-UD4H Gigabyte GTX 780 Windforce OC R2 Gigabyte GTX 780 Windforce OC R2 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
Corsiar Vengeance Pro 1866 - 2x8GB Samsung 840 EVO 250GB Plextor M3 Pro 128GB Western Digital Red 3TB 
CoolingOSMonitorMonitor
CPU: Corsair H100 w/ 2x GT AP-15's fans Windows 8.1 Pro w/ Start is Back BenQ XL2420T Samsung XL2730 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Duckie Shine 2 - MX Red Corsair AX750 Fractal Design - Arc Midi R2 Zowie AM 
Mouse PadAudioAudio
Steelseries QCK Mass Fiio E09K + Beyer Dynamic DT-770 pro's + Antli... Speakers: Argon 7460  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 3210m@2.5Ghz ~3.1Ghz Turbo Lenovo HM77 GT 610m Kingston value pc3-12800 cl11 
Hard DriveOSMonitorPower
Crucial m4 - 128gb + Sandisk 16gb mSATA  Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit 13.3 LED - 1366x768 90W 
  hide details  
Reply
Updated Arc
(19 items)
 
Lenovo E330
(8 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
Xeon E3-1270V3 GA-Z87X-UD4H Gigabyte GTX 780 Windforce OC R2 Gigabyte GTX 780 Windforce OC R2 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
Corsiar Vengeance Pro 1866 - 2x8GB Samsung 840 EVO 250GB Plextor M3 Pro 128GB Western Digital Red 3TB 
CoolingOSMonitorMonitor
CPU: Corsair H100 w/ 2x GT AP-15's fans Windows 8.1 Pro w/ Start is Back BenQ XL2420T Samsung XL2730 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Duckie Shine 2 - MX Red Corsair AX750 Fractal Design - Arc Midi R2 Zowie AM 
Mouse PadAudioAudio
Steelseries QCK Mass Fiio E09K + Beyer Dynamic DT-770 pro's + Antli... Speakers: Argon 7460  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 3210m@2.5Ghz ~3.1Ghz Turbo Lenovo HM77 GT 610m Kingston value pc3-12800 cl11 
Hard DriveOSMonitorPower
Crucial m4 - 128gb + Sandisk 16gb mSATA  Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit 13.3 LED - 1366x768 90W 
  hide details  
Reply
post #8 of 25
Great Review, by far the most informative i've read on this keyboard. So The real question is how does it stack up against the competition, say the Xarmor U9BL which doesn't look nearly as shiny. I must say the price is nice at 80 bucks even if its not backlit. The SteelSeries 6Gv2 also seems a close runner up. Arg is sooo hard to choose. I do a lot of gaming with a keyboard sitting in my lap as I like to sit in my recliner and play on my TV.
The Machine
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 860 MSI P55-GD65 1 Nvidia GTX 480 4 gigs Patriot Viper II DDR-2000 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Western Digital Black 1tb drives Lite on 20x DVD burner Windows 7 RTM Samsung backlit led tv 46 LN-t4681F 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Microsoft Ergonomic Elite Wireless Enermax Revolution 1050 Cooler Master Scout Razer Mamba 
  hide details  
Reply
The Machine
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 860 MSI P55-GD65 1 Nvidia GTX 480 4 gigs Patriot Viper II DDR-2000 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
2 Western Digital Black 1tb drives Lite on 20x DVD burner Windows 7 RTM Samsung backlit led tv 46 LN-t4681F 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Microsoft Ergonomic Elite Wireless Enermax Revolution 1050 Cooler Master Scout Razer Mamba 
  hide details  
Reply
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Overclocker/Gamer View Post
I don't see a point in getting the Ultimate version then.
$13 in LEDs and lots of soldering time.

I guess you could customize colors with SMT resistors and trace scratching though and go a bit crazy with a double rainbow mod.

My System
(13 items)
 
  
Keyboard
Lots of them 
  hide details  
Reply
My System
(13 items)
 
  
Keyboard
Lots of them 
  hide details  
Reply
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ripster View Post
$13 in LEDs and lots of soldering time.

I guess you could customize colors with SMT resistors and trace scratching though and go a bit crazy with a double rainbow mod.
would only be worth it if its full on all the way and almost tripple
HK47
(18 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3930K ASUS Sabertooth X79 EVGA GTX780 Samsung Green 4 x 4GB DDR3 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveCooling
2 x 256GB Samsung 830 SSD RAID-0 3 x 1.5TB Hitachi 7K3000 RAID-0 2 x 3TB Seagate 7200.14 RAID-0 XSPC Raystorm, EX280, D5 Variant pump 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 8.1 Pro x64 Update 1 BenQ XL2420T Dell U2711 Filco Majestouch-2 Tenkeyless Cherry MX Red 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Seasonic Platinum-1000 Silverstone FT02B-WRI Razer Abyssus Razer Goliathus Speed 
Audio
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD 
  hide details  
Reply
HK47
(18 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3930K ASUS Sabertooth X79 EVGA GTX780 Samsung Green 4 x 4GB DDR3 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveCooling
2 x 256GB Samsung 830 SSD RAID-0 3 x 1.5TB Hitachi 7K3000 RAID-0 2 x 3TB Seagate 7200.14 RAID-0 XSPC Raystorm, EX280, D5 Variant pump 
OSMonitorMonitorKeyboard
Windows 8.1 Pro x64 Update 1 BenQ XL2420T Dell U2711 Filco Majestouch-2 Tenkeyless Cherry MX Red 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Seasonic Platinum-1000 Silverstone FT02B-WRI Razer Abyssus Razer Goliathus Speed 
Audio
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD 
  hide details  
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Keyboards
Overclock.net › Forums › Components › Keyboards › Razer BlackWidow Review