Isn’t it odd to name a keyboard after a spider?
We’ve been using a Black Widow mechanical keyboard for a long while now. It’s sturdy, the keys give extremely satisfying feedback and it looks pretty awesome. Our only real complaints about it are the lack of lighting and the slightly cheap plasticky feel of the keys. Razer have been kind enough to send us the Black Widow Ultimate to review – quite frankly it’s blown us away.
If you haven’t tried a mechanical keyboard yet, you’re missing out. While the keys can be loud there’s an immense satisfaction in the kind of tactile response you get. It might not necessarily make you that much faster or better at games, but we find typing much easier for long periods and it’s a much more enjoyable machine to use. Mechanical keyboards come with different switches related to colours and each of these switches have a different kind of mechanism or a different weight associated with them. The Black Widow Ultimate uses MX Blue switches and they’re light and springy but still give a satisfying ‘clack’ when you tap them in. You don’t need a lot of force to use them and touch-typing is really easy, but thanks to the extra little bit of travel compared to regular keyboards you’re much less likely to accidentally hit the wrong key. The spring back also makes typing more rhythmic and your hands seem to flow over the keyboard when you get carried away typing like in this surprisingly long but ever so enjoyable sentence. Ahem, got carried away a bit there.
As with all Razer products, a fair amount of attention has been given to the aesthetics of the unit and with a solid matte black covering but bright (adjustable) neon green lighting it certainly looks the part. The cable is a sturdy cord rather than the cheap rubber you might be used to and the keyboard itself is hefty without being overbearing or unwieldy. As a word of warning I dropped my Black Widow on a HTC One the other week and it absolutely destroyed the phone while the keyboard didn’t even get a scratch. It’s well built but just make sure you keep it securely on your desk.
One of our problems with the old Black Widow was the feel of the keys and this has been much improved with the Ultimate, Razer have opted for a hard to describe but ever so slightly rubbery texture to the top of the keys. Your fingers don’t stick to them at all, but they certainly don’t feel cheap, it’s like an expensive plastic coating that’s pleasing to the eye as well as to your fingers. We can’t fault the build materials of this product whatsoever, it might be expensive at £124.99 – but it’s definitely worth the money in terms of quality.
Our other issue with the Black Widow was the lack of lighting. The key markings are quite subtle and at night time you had to have a decent muscle memory to play more complicated games. With the Ultimate that’s not an issue as the aforementioned neon green lighting is particularly effective. Every individual key is lit up (the maximum level is exceptionally bright) as well as the gaps between keys, giving a pleasing and impressive futuristic effect to the whole keyboard. The lights between the keys cast little shadows on the edges of each one – we’ve been really impressed at how it looks in the dark which is an odd thing to say about a keyboard.
In terms of setting up, it’s as easy as it is with any keyboard. Plug it in and it will work straight away, but to make the most of the programmable macro keys and the gaming mode ( that deactivates certain key combinations like alt-Tab to stop you using them at the wrong time) you’ll need to install the lightweight and easy-to-use synapse software. Razer’s software has improved a great deal over the last few years, so now one program automatically detects which products you have and installs the relevant software and drives automatically. Setting up macros is a breeze and the five macro keys on the left of the keyboard are ideal for programming in large amounts of text you have to repeat or difficult key combinations you use in games.
We love the Black Widow Ultimate and are going to be sad to see it get sent back to Razer, it’s a phenomenal piece of kit and outclasses everything else we’ve tried by quite a long way. In terms of responsiveness, tactile quality, aesthetics, software and build quality it’s simply unmatched. If you’re using it for games it will do you well, if you use it for business, it’s still perfect, there’s not a bad thing we can say about it. As long as you can afford the £124.99 there’s very few other sensible ways to spend the money considering how much time you’ll spend using the keyboard compared to any other component. Well done to Razer!