Razer BlackWidow Ultimate mechanical keyboard review

Does this mechanical monster merit mountains of money?

March 15, 2013
Razer BlackWidow Ultimate mechanical keyboard 1

Overall score75%

Design and build quality 8
Features 8
Usability 7

There’s simply no getting around it – the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate is an expensive keyboard.

It’s a good looking (and good sounding), fully-featured, well-performing keyboard, but at almost R1,900 at some retailers, it takes a lot of persuading to buy this beast, even for an enthusiast.

The BlackWidow Ultimate is fully programmable, has a USB port and 2 mini-jack audio sockets, and individually backlit keys with four different lighting settings (five, if you count “off” ).

For the keyboard geek, more importantly, the BlackWidow uses mechanical switches – Cherry MX Blue switches to be exact.

These keys don’t need much force to actuate and make a satisfying “click” sound when depressed.

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate mechanical keyboard 9

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate mechanical keyboard

Software (yep, software for a keyboard)

To program the keys you’ll need to download Razer Synapse 2.0, the “cloud-based configurator and manager for Razer devices” for Mac or Windows. The software isn’t in the box, but the download is only around 9MB (Mac) and 12MB (Windows).

Making users download the software also helps ensure that they have an Internet connection before installing it. As implied by “cloud-based”, Razer Synapse 2.0 needs the Internet to work fully.

An offline mode is available, but you have to sign in at least once for Synapse to work while offline.

Build quality, ports, lighting

The Razer Blackwidow Ultimate really is a beast of a keyboard.

Even though it takes up no more space than other keyboards with numeric keypads, it weighs in at around 1.5kg.

Razer opted for slightly slimmer rectangular keys on the BlackWidow instead of wider, more square keys. Once you’re used to it, though, typing isn’t a problem at all.

Each key is individually lit with a blue LED, which will likely appeal to some, but glowing blue lettering isn’t my favourite look on a keyboard.

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate mechanical keyboard 6

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate mechanical

Another peeve is that the USB port conveniently provided on the side of the keyboard is upside down. It’s completely functional (tested with a 1TB external USB 3.0 hard drive), but flash drives with indicators on them usually face the wrong way.

It’s worth pointing out that the USB port on the keyboard has its own USB plug, so the BlackWidow Ultimate takes up two USB ports to be fully operational. The benefit is that the port on the keyboard appears to function as a fully-fledged USB 2.0 port.

The built-in headphone and microphone jacks also work well, though if your set-up is as messy as mine, you’ll need to watch out for noise caused by power cables and the like running next to your keyboard’s cables.

One of the best features of the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate is the ability to switch off the Windows key while in a game. This is done by holding “Fn” and pressing F11.

Although not unique to Razer keyboards, it’ is’s such a cool feature that it bears mentioning that the BlackWidow has it too.

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate mechanical keyboard 1

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate mechanical keyboard

Bottom-line

Even with the gamut of features on the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate, it is difficult to look past the price tag.

R1,500+ is a lot of money for a keyboard, no matter which way you slice it.

If absolutely everything mentioned here appeals to you (blue backlighting, Cherry MX Blue mechanical switches, fully programmable keys through cloud-based configuration software), then look into Razer’s line of mechanical keyboards.

Otherwise, there are much cheaper mechanical keyboards for gamers from other manufacturers that are worth checking out instead.

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Tags: gadget, gadgets, gaming keyboard, headline, keyboard review, mechanical keyboard, Razer, Razer BlackWidow Ultimate

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