Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 Mechanical Keyboard Review

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The gaming keyboard industry is a crowded, multicolored sea of brands claiming that their LED mechanical keyboard is better than the other guys’. Keyboards from high-end companies sit next to generic versions on shelves in electronic stores, each one trying to do something a little different. Razer is revamping their BlackWidow Ultimate keyboard to do just that – stand out and improve on their already extremely successful line of keyboards. Can the 2016 BlackWidow Ultimate stand up to the test and rise above the competition? Let’s find out.

The BlackWidow Ultimate keyboard first launched in 2010 with Razer boasting it as the world’s first mechanical keyboard. Since then, there have been many advances in the gaming keyboard industry with every company trying to get that magical actualization number. The BlackWidow Ultimate is now the second tier range keyboard in the BlackWidow range of keyboards coming after the BlackWidow Tournament Edition, but before the BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma and BlackWidow Chroma.

Design and Build

On the surface, the Black Widow looks like most other gaming keyboards, which isn’t a bad thing. It has the Razer font that we have come to expect from the gaming company, includes the ten key option on the right, media controls and a Win lock button to keep from hitting the Windows button in game. It has a good weight to it that gives it a quality, durable feeling. On the right side of the keyboard is a USB port and a 3.55mm jack. The cord is USB and is three parts: two USB connectors and a 3.5mm connector with a braided finish that adds security as well as a high end look.The 3.5mm connector plugs into your computer’s audio jack to power the jack on the keyboard. This is handy if your wired headset has a short cord and cannot reach your tower on the ground. One of the USB connectors is what powers the keyboard while the other powers the USB port on the side. If your mouse can reach on its own then there is no need to plug both connectors in. However, much like the audio jack, it is a great feature for those that have shorter mouse cords or want to have the maximum amount of slack possible.

The BlackWidow Ultimate uses Razer’s own design of mechanical switches dubbed appropriately The Razer Mechanical Switch. The Razer Mechanical Switch comes in two varieties: the Razer Green Switch and the Razer Orange Switch. The BlackWidow Ultimate uses the newly updated Green Switches which are clicky compared to the silent Orange Switches. It’s personal preference on the sound of the keys to be honest. I personally like the sound of the clicky keys. Beyond the sound of the keys, the Green Switch boasts an actualization point of 1.9+-0.4mm and a reset distance of only 0.4mm making double tapping quick and easy.

The only complaint I have about the design is the finish on the keys. The keyboard has more of a glossy finish which shows fingerprints and skin oil easily. So if I am eating chips, or some other snack, as I am playing, fingerprints and oil can be seen all over the keyboard which makes it hard to keep the keys looking nice. Preferably I would opt for a matte finish to help avoid that. It’s a little issue and may not effect everyone, but still.

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Functionality

Functionally speaking, this keyboard works just as you would expect a gaming keyboard to, especially one from Razer. The keys are quick to response and you can really feel the zero actualization and short reset space in the fast bounce back. The keyboard comes with three profile preinstalled that turn the LEDs off on all except predesignated keys to help you play specific game types better. For example, the FPS profile as the WASD keys lit up while the MOBA profile lights up the QWER keys. You can download the Razer management software, Razer Synapse, from the website to add to or change the profiles installed as well as control the lighting effects and set macros. Although the BlackWidow Ultimate does not have the additional 5 dedicated macro keys on the left, like the BlackWidow Chroma does, each key can be programmed for individual macros on the fly using the macro recording mode right on the keyboard. The BlackWidow Ultimate also features 10 key rollover with anti-ghosting.

Lighting

Being the second from the bottom in the BlackWidow line, the BlackWidow Ultimate does not have the full chroma back lighting like its big brothers, the BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma and the BlackWidow Chroma. However it does have the Razer green backlit display. You can alter the green slightly in the Razer Synapse software. The lighting effects include the standard Wave, Ripple, and Breathe effects that we have come to expect from gaming keyboards, but also throughs in a Starlight effect that randomly lights one key at a time giving the effect of stars twinkling. A pretty cool addition, but unless you are playing in a well-lit room, that doesn’t seem practical for in game use. Each key is individually lit so on the off chance one burns out, they all don’t. In addition to being fully macro programmable, each key can be individually programmed with it’s own custom lighting effect as well.

Final Reaction

Overall the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 Edition is a great gaming keyboard. It has the quality you would expect from a high end gaming peripheral company and all the bells and whistles, too. Although it may not have the 16.8 million color combinations like its big brothers, the individually lit and programmable keys are still bright enough to add some color to your rig. The USB passthrough and audio out/mic in jack on the side is a nice bonus as well.

That being said, it is not perfect. When compared to other high-end gaming keyboards on the market now, such as the Corsair K70, the 10 key rollover may not seem like much compared to the K70’s 104 Key rollover, but 10 key should be sufficient for most players, unless you got some crazy key combos going on. The glossy finish on the keys is not ideal if you like to snack as you game or just have naturally oily fingers. This isn’t a deal breaker for me, but not my fist choice given the option. Although the green backlighting is nice, it seems strange to not just include the full 16.8 million color option other than to just create another product option in the BlackWidow line.

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All-in-all the BlackWidow Ultimate is a great option when looking at a new gaming keyboard. Even though it is the second tier keyboard in the BlackWidow line, it has nearly the same features as the top of the line BlackWidow Ultimate Chroma keyboard, but at a price point of $109.99. If you can look past the few faults it has, I recommend picking it up.

Rating: 4/5 Atoms

NR 4 Atoms - B

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