Introduction, Features & Design
Paying a premium for a keyboard is rare most of the time when you are assembling a PC, but once in a while a keyboard with the distinctive clickety-click sound comes along and is almost as expensive as a decent graphic card. One such mechanical keyboard that has entered our labs recently is the Razer Blackwidow Ultimate. With a hefty price tag, flashy looks and features that would put any other mechanical keyboard to shame, the Blackwidow Ultimate shows a lot of promise. If you are an enthusiast and loathe the soft-press of the membrane key switch found in the inexpensive keyboards that form a part of the configuration of most PCs today, then read further to know whether the Blackwidow Ultimate is the right choice for you.
For your better understanding, there are two main manufacturers for mechanical switches used in the high-end keyboards and mostly aimed towards gaming enthusiasts-Cherry and Alps. All Razer keyboards however use only Cherry MX mechanical switches and the Blackwidow Ultimate is no different. There are five types of Cherry MX switches which are distinguished on the basis of colour. The table below will explain the details.
The Blackwidow Ultimate uses the MX Blue switch. It is a different move by Razer considering the fact that Razer is marketing this keyboard as a gaming peripheral. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that Blackwidow is not geared for that micro-second strafe to miss the bullet in your favourite first-person shooter. The 50g actuation force needed to register a keystroke for the MX Blue switches is a great plus while gaming.
Apart from the standard layout of the keyboard, the Blackwidow Ultimate has five macro keys for using macro on the fly. The right-alt key doubles up as the macro recording key when coupled with Fn key. Hitting Fn+F11 key sets your keyboard in gaming and all it does is it disables the Windows key. You can shift through the five different light settings by hitting the Fn+F12 in continuous succession. There are three different light settings and in addition to that there is the “pulsating mode” which we personally found irritating.
With dimensions of 475 x 171 x 30 and weighing around 1.5kgs, the Blackwidow Ultimate is a beast of a keyboard not meant for portability. But these keyboards are not meant to be light so it is not much of a problem. The keyboard sits perfectly on the desk like a rock and the two extendable feet at the bottom provide adequate elevation just in case you need it. However, the glossy body of the keyboard is a fingerprint magnet.
We sorely miss the PS/2 connectivity. The keyboard has a sturdily build cord which has two gold-plated USB connectors and wires to connect to the speaker and the microphone to connect to the respective slots on the PC.
The best feature of the keyboard is that each keys are backlit separately which means that there is uniform backlighting across the board. But we did notice that there was a little bit of light spill in and around the area of some keys when viewed in the dark.
One major gripe with the layout of the keys is the placement of function keys too close to each other. The clusters of F1-F4, F5-F8 and F9-F12 do not occupy the space properly and you invariably end up hitting the wrong key by mistake. Though, the fonts used on the keys look a little odd initially you tend to get used to it.
Performance & Bottomline
Razer claims that Blackwidow Ultimate has a lag time of 2ms but when we tested the claim with Passmark keyboard test we found out that the keyboard had an actual lag time of 6 ms, which is also decent. However, these results may be a wee bit disappointing for gamers. We also clocked a maximum character/sec count of 36.7 which is great for typing those long documents. These results are very good.
For our real world tests we played the good old Counter Strike 1.6 and we were pleasantly surprised with the keyboard's performance in the department. Our in-house noob (me) could also frag some bots at expert level without getting knifed once!
Razer’s bundled software is a great addition for changing the function of keys according to your preference and recording macro. The USB port on the keyboard is not high speed but works just fine for all practical purposes.
Priced at £74, the Razer Blackwidow Ultimate is, according to us, asking for too much moolah. In fact, if you do not want any of the fancy features like the backlighting, the macro keys or the USB port then you can go ahead and buy the standard Blackwidow keyboard which is priced much lower at £54. However, this keyboard is definitely great for multiple hours of gaming!