The 2016 Razer BlackWidow Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is a cosmetic update to the 2014 model. The phrase Ultimate in the title indicates the presence of backlit keys. Fans of this series may not be clear at first glance what are the significant differences, and we will try to answer this question in this review.
|Device type/model||BlackWidow Ultimate (2016)|
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||104|
|Keystroke resource, mln.||80|
|Switch type||Razer Green|
|Changing the angle of the body||+|
|Built-in memory, KB||–|
|Ability to record macros||+|
|USB cable length, m||2,2|
|Braid material||Nylon braid|
|Software||+ (Razer Synapse 2.0)|
|Removable palm rest||–|
|External interfaces||1 x USB 2.0, 1 x 3.5mm audio jack|
|Dimensions (L x W x H), mm||452 x 171 x 42|
|OS Compatibility||Windows 7 / 8 / 10, Mac OS Х 10.8–10.10|
|Peculiarities||Macro recording, logo light, USB pass-through and audio jack.|
|Average cost, $||125|
Contents of delivery
The packaging of the product has not changed dramatically. It still looks good, and the cutout above the arrows allows customers to try out how the mechanical switches installed here work without opening the box. On the front side there is an image of the keyboard almost in natural size, and on the back it tells about its main advantages and how the Razer Green switches work.
Inside, the keyboard is securely packed in cardboard and polyurethane dampers and covered with a transparent plastic cover, which makes sense to save for the future, to be used to protect against dust during long periods of inactivity.
The kit includes an instruction manual, two stickers with the Razer logo and a green leaflet with a greeting from company president Ming-Lian Tan.
Appearance and design
The body of the BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 is made of fairly non-staining black matte plastic and feels very massive. Although it still creaks when twisting. On the bevel in the center, at the bottom of the keyboard unit, there is an illuminated Razer logo. The main difference from the 2014 model is that additional side keys have disappeared from the left side, as a result of which the overall width of the case has noticeably decreased. On the one hand, this is a limitation of functionality, but on the other hand, many complained that the side buttons only interfere with them, since they were often pressed by touch instead of Tab, Caps or Shift.
Due to the absence of side buttons, the layout has become completely standard. The left and right Shift keys are long, the Enter key is single-row. Latin and Cyrillic characters are laser engraved and are tactilely perceptible. The caps have a cylindrical recess in the middle. The combination of the Fn key with the function F buttons serves to activate additional functions. In particular, Fn + (F1-F3) control the volume of the sound, Fn + (F5-F7) are used to control playback, Fn + F9 activates macro recording, Fn + F10 switches the game mode, Fn + (F11-F12) controls the brightness of the backlight, Fn + Pause puts the PC to sleep. In addition, Fn in combination with ten numbers from “0” to “9” allows you to quickly switch keyboard settings profiles.
The set of keys on the right side is also completely standard. In the upper right corner, on a glossy substrate, there are two rows of indicators. They glow green when activated. In addition to Caps, Num, and Scroll Lock, there is an “M” indicator that notifies you about the recording of a macro command (it glows red when turned on) and a G-indicator that signals the game mode.
This keyboard uses Razer Green mechanisms as switches, similar in tactile characteristics to Kailh Blue. They are characterized by a non-linear course, a loud and sonorous click when triggered. The activation force is 50 grams, but the manufacturer got confused with the predicted time between failures. The box indicates 60 million clicks, while on the official website we are talking about 80 million guaranteed activations. Stabilizers of long buttons are ordinary wire, so they feel play in the horizontal plane. All mechanisms are mounted in a green metal thrust plate. The plastic of the keycaps is white, painted with black paint only on the outside. The green LED installed here has a cylindrical shape with a spherical rounding at the end.
The profile of the keyboard is sloping, its back part is at the highest level, the difference between the upper levels of the first and last row of keys reaches 20 mm with the legs folded. From an ergonomic point of view, this is very convenient, especially if the user sits slightly below the level of the table.
On the sides of the keyboard there are small protrusions for which it is convenient to lift and rearrange it. There are no ports on the left side. Expanded legs will add an extra 18 mm to the height of the case. The rows of buttons have different angles to improve the ergonomics of the device.
On the right side, a pass-through USB 2.0 port remained in its place, but the number of 3.5 mm audio jacks was reduced to one. It is paired and is designed to connect a microphone and headphones with one wire. This is good in terms of the new headphones from Razer, which have just such a connector, but you can no longer connect ordinary headsets with two plugs here. Not to mention the fact that a mouse is usually located to the right of the keyboard, which the wires sticking out of these ports can obviously interfere with.
A large signal cable enters the case exactly in the middle, where the glossy insert is located. There is protection against bending, but given the size of the cord, it could be a little more.
The nylon braided cable has a total length of 2.2 meters. It is thick, stiff and requires considerable effort to bend. The form given to it remembers “forever”. 40 cm before the connectors, a splitter box is put on the cord, from which three thinner, but no less rigid wires come out.
There are two USB connectors at the end of the cable – one signal and the second for connecting a pass-through port. The 3.5mm audio jack is paired here. It, of course, can be plugged into a laptop without any problems, but what should PC owners do, where the microphone and headphone jacks are still separate? Adapters are not included in the kit.
The bottom of the keyboard is completely flat. There are no drains or holes for mounting screws. Five small rubber feet are glued on the corners of the case and in the middle of the front. Given the weight of the device, they are enough to firmly hold the keyboard from sliding on the table.
The edges of the folding legs are rubberized, they have only one fixation position.
Background illumination of the keys is green. It is quite bright and clear, has as many as 20 discrete levels of brightness. Both fonts are highlighted perfectly, although some service characters are still left without through engraving, and therefore without highlighting. The main difference between the 2014 models is that here the brightness level and lighting effects of each key can be adjusted individually.
As software, BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 uses the Razer Synapse 2.0 universal multilingual driver, which requires a permanent Internet connection to save all settings in the cloud. It also has an offline mode. In the program settings window, you can check for updates, read the manual, or select the interface language. In addition, it is possible to send a review about the product or follow the company’s official website in social networks.
In the basic settings screen, you can remap all keyboard buttons, except for the Win and Fn keys, to any other commands or actions. Settings are stored in profiles, each of which can be assigned one of a dozen available hot key combinations for quick manual activation. Or associate automatic profile activation with the start of a specific program.
In the backlight setting, you can select eight options for lighting effects, adjust their parameters and adjust the brightness of the glow. For more detailed adjustments, go to the effects configurator.
In the effect configurator, you can create individual light profiles for groups of keys or for each button individually. Even the glow of the logo can be customized separately.
The Game Mode setting allows you to turn it on or off and choose which keys or shortcuts will be blocked when it is activated. The Win key is always disabled by default, and Alt+F4 and Alt+Tab can be disabled if needed.
The macro editor is standard on all Razer devices. It can record keyboard commands and mouse clicks, taking into account time delays (their length can be edited). All recorded macros are stored in the PC memory. They can be given individual names.
The statistics module collects information on the use of Razer devices in quantitative terms. For the keyboard, statistics are collected on the number of button presses, the distance traveled by the keys, the number of profile switches and the activation of macros.
Let’s move on to testing the keyboard.
Ergonomics and testing
In terms of ergonomics, the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 is a pretty good keyboard. It does not have a palm rest or some particularly cunning shape of the keys. However, it has the right angles of the body, both with and without deployed legs, the correct angles of the keycaps and the standard layout, which the fingers remember and which does not need to be retrained. The disappearance of a row of side buttons on the left has resolved the problem with left-hand misses on the outer keys, and in this matter Razer seems to have listened to the opinion of the players. The coating of the body and keycaps is also quite pleasant, it is tenacious and does not collect fingerprints. Based on two weeks of experience with this keyboard, I can say that it is suitable for long gaming or work sessions without causing wrist fatigue.
In terms of the operation of mechanical switches, everything is also good. The Razer Greens here are slightly lighter than those on the 2014 model, but require more effort than, for example, the exact same mechanisms on the BlackWidow X we studied in a recent review. Here, too, there is a dead zone after the contact latch is activated, lingering in which you can cause repeated activation of the key without clicking, but it is noticeably smaller. In tactile terms, these buttons can be considered quite informative, with clearly defined feedback, which means that they are fully suitable for intensive FPS games and high-speed touch typing. One has only to take into account the fact that these switches sound loud and not everyone may like it.
The backlighting of BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 looks great. All fonts are perfectly readable in the dark and in daylight. Although some characters are not highlighted, such as percent signs, brackets, etc. on the number line at the top. I didn’t have any issues with the software.
The build quality of the keyboard case is at a decent level. If you wish, you can get a creak from it, but on the whole it is assembled firmly and impressively. Only the way the signal cord is made can cause complaints. He’s too big and stubborn.
Additional ports in this revision have lost some of their functionality. More precisely, the USB connector remains the same as it was, but the paired 3.5 mm audio jack is installed here, to put it mildly, prematurely, since most desktop PCs do not support it, and such a keyboard is rarely bought for laptops.
The keyboard properly works out up to 10 simultaneous keystrokes in any combination, as stated by the manufacturer.
The latest revision of the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 sample did not bring significant changes to this line. As far as I can tell, it was released purely to adapt the beautiful new lighting effects to the old keyboard design. In particular, we are talking about the individual setting of the glow of each button. However, the new version has a few features that you should consider when purchasing it. First of all, it does not have additional buttons on the side, and this solution, I am sure, will have both its supporters and opponents. A dubious decision can be considered the use of a combined 3.5 mm audio port, which will not allow you to directly connect the vast majority of modern headsets here when using this keyboard with a PC. The only exception will be headsets from Razer itself, which usually have a splitter adapter in the kit. You can also find fault with how the signal cable is made, which turned out to be too bulky for testing.
Despite this, the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 is still a beautiful and comfortable gaming mechanical keyboard, with good backlighting and tactilely pleasing switches, which can be recommended to all fans of this brand.