Introduction and Packaging

Several months ago, we had a quick look at the BlackWidow Ultimate from Razer, a company very well known for their focus on gaming-related products. A few weeks ago, Razer announced that they have developed their own all-new mechanical switches, upgrading most of their keyboards with them in the process. The upgrade involves the BlackWidow Ultimate keyboard, and we have the new "2014" version that we'll be reviewing today. Razer has made plenty of noise about their new switches, and while we'll have more to say on that in a moment, let's start as usual with a look at the packaging and included items.

 

We received the BlackWidow Ultimate in a nicely designed cardboard box, with a small opening allowing you to test the keys. We especially liked that idea and we wholeheartedly recommend, given that it is possible, that you should visit a retail store and test the switches yourself before purchasing a keyboard. No amount of text can fully describe the feel of a mechanical switch, especially if you have no previous experience with any mechanical keyboard.

The bundle is well presented but minimal; there is a nice envelope with a quick start guide, warranty information and product registration cards, as well as two large stickers, but that is about it. There is not even a disk with the keyboard's software; an internet connection is required to download it.

Software

The Razer Synapse software is, in our opinion, where Razer should have focused their marketing attention. With it, several profiles can be programmed into the BlackWidow Ultimate and the user can switch between them on the fly. It is also possible to link a program to each profile, a very handy feature if you want to link each profile to a specific game or application. It would be even better if the software would reset to the previous profile once the game/application has been closed though.

Aside from the programming of macros, the software allows every single key of the keyboard to be reprogrammed, a feature that can be highly useful. You can easily change the functions of any key -- and not just reprogram it to perform a single keystroke; the keys can be reprogrammed to execute macros, perform multimedia functions, launch applications and more. The combinations are practically infinite and this feature can be extremely useful, especially in games that do not allow the remapping of certain keys.

Furthermore, the backlight brightness can be adjusted and linked to certain profiles It can also be set to pulsate, which we do not recommend, as the brightness will essentially blind you every several seconds. When online, the Razer Synapse even allows the user to save the profiles to a free online account and import them into other Razer keyboards.

In short, the Synapse software has plenty of good features, and it's one of the highlights of the BlackWidow.

A Closer Look
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  • ahamling27 - Monday, April 07, 2014 - link

    I have one of the Monoprice Mechanical Gaming Keyboards with the red blacklight and I have to say, it's been an amazing keyboard so far! I believe it has Cherry MX Red switches, and like the keyboard in this review, all the media/volume/macro keys use a FN modifier key. It also has headphone and mic inputs as well as 2 USB outlets, but it doesn't take an extra USB plug to make them work.
    All in all, I really like my keyboard and at the time it was about the only red backlit keyboard I could find. Now there's a green one and it seems everyone and their dog does blue. My laptop has a steelseries keyboard in it that can actually do like 6 different colors, why can't mechanical keyboards do more than one color themselves?
    Reply
  • SirRandall - Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - link

    "Removing it reveals the green stabilization board that the keys are secured on." HA!! the keys on my Corsair Vengeance K95 are stabilized by a sheet of aluminum, flush mounted so easy to clean, and the keys aren't a garish green. To each their own. Reply
  • Phiro69 - Thursday, April 03, 2014 - link

    I reply yes, typing this on my Model M buckling spring mechanical keyboard from Unicomp. To each their own. Reply
  • PEJUman - Thursday, April 03, 2014 - link

    New breed of hipster, I dub them geekster: my keyboard is older and harder to find than yours... Reply
  • CalaverasGrande - Thursday, April 03, 2014 - link

    IBM PC keyboard, made in USA, detachable PS2 cable
    Excellent mechanical keys.
    Ugly like a stray dog with mange.
    Reply
  • echoe - Sunday, April 06, 2014 - link

    well, i have a kinesis advantage, because otherwise i'd be unable to type. i'm an elitist somehow! yeah! Reply
  • wetwareinterface - Sunday, April 06, 2014 - link

    i'll go the opposite direction and state i'm typing this on my cheaper than all of yours mechanical cherry mx blue switched thermaltake poseidon. blue backlighting with level adjust, windows key can be disabled with dedicated button and cherry mx blue switches. very weighty base and was only $89 Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - link

    Pet peeve of mine: what is it with mechanical keyboards using Fn keys for multimedia? It's absurd. This isn't a bloody laptop keyboard, you've got the space.

    I had to dig for a very long time to find a mechanical keyboard which also didn't skimp on media keys and volume toggles. Those things are pricy enough already, I don't see why I'd want something gimped in that way.
    Reply
  • lockdown571 - Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - link

    That is one of the reasons I love my Logitech G710+. It is one of the few mechanical keyboards I found with virtually no compromises (unless you really need a headphone port I guess). Reply
  • Sancus - Tuesday, April 08, 2014 - link

    Yep, this is also the reason I love the G710+. Reply

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