A closer look

Visually, the new version of the BlackWidow Ultimate is essentially identical to the 2013 version. Thankfully, Razer ditched the glossy plastic frame after the 2012 version and is now using a soft, matte black frame, which is not as prone to fingertips as the first versions of the keyboard. Other than that, the keyboard follows a typical full keyboard layout (US layout for our sample), with the exception of five extra macro keys on the far left side of the board. Most of the keys are very firm and robust, with the exception of the larger keys. Razer is using stabilizer bars beneath the larger keys, which do give a uniform feeling while pressing them but they hardly do anything to stop the keys from wobbling.

Two headphone jacks and a USB port can be found on the right side of the keyboard. The bottom of the keyboard is rather plain, with only five small rubber anti-skid pads and two height adjustment feet. A thick braided cable leaves the top side of the keyboard, ending in two USB connectors and two 3.5mm headphone connectors. One of the USB connectors is required for the BlackWidow Ultimate itself; the second connector is necessary only for the USB port on the left side of the keyboard to function.

Once powered, the first thing that you will notice about the BlackWidow Ultimate is the backlighting. By that, we do not mean the unique bright green color but rather how powerful the backlighting is. At the maximum setting, the backlighting is annoyingly bright even inside a well-lit room. Thankfully, there are about 18 brightness settings ranging from off to maximum, allowing the user to find a comfortable setting. Razer's logo is also lit up. Only the primary character of each key receives backlighting; the secondary functions are simply printed on the keycaps. The only key that has no backlighting at all is the FN key.

Additional functions are available by holding down the FN key and pressing one of the function keys. The F1-F3 keys are used for volume control, the F5-F7 keys for multimedia functions. The F9 key will initiate on-the-fly macro recording and the F10 key will put the keyboard into its "gaming mode", which essentially disables some of the keyboard's functions like the Windows key. By holding down the FN key and then pressing the Pause button, you can put your computer into sleep. Finally, the F11 and F12 keys can be used to control the backlighting.

There is little of interest below the cover of the BlackWidow Ultimate. Removing it reveals the green stabilization board that the keys are secured on. The bright green board actually plays a very important role in the overall appearance of the keyboard, creating a uniform visual effect between the backlit keys. The Freescale MC9S08JM16 controller can be seen on the top left side of the board. Razer however needs to improve their soldering job. As can be seen from the pictures in the gallery, there are many uneven soldering points and it appears that the assembly has been rushed.

 

The major (and, apparently, only) difference between the 2013 and the 2014 versions is the use of the new Razer Green/Orange switches instead of the Cherry MX Blue/Brown switches of the old version. As this is the sole differentiator, let's spend some time discussing how they feel and function.

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Keyboard Razer's Green Switches
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  • Sancus - Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - link

    I don't recommend razer keyboards anymore since the one time I tried one, I got one that liked to randomly press "F11" while other things were being typed. If you google "Black widow random key presses" you'll see many reports of similar issues -- for me, the one thing that's absolutely inexcusable in a keyboard is for it to not pass your input to the PC properly... especially for keyboards this expensive.

    Of course, you can RMA ones that have these kinds of issues, but this is the only keyboard that I've ever heard of having this kind of issue before, and I'd never experience it with dozens of keyboards from any number of other brands until I bought a BlackWidow Ultimate.
    Reply
  • Inteli - Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - link

    Those random keypresses are likely a result of terrible soldering, which can be fixed easily, but still kinda crap. Reply
  • Nenad - Thursday, April 03, 2014 - link

    Never had that problem on my Razer keyboard.
    Reason why I stopped buying their keyboards and switched to Logitech is that Razer does not offer "big" ENTER key.
    For example, Logitech US keyboards also have this small (one row) ENTER key , but their International (or at least UK/EU) keyboards have big (two row) ENTER key.
    Reply
  • thelowbob - Sunday, April 06, 2014 - link

    Hi! That they have one row enter key in US and two row key in UK/EU is normal, it's because in the US it's the ANSI standard that's used, and EU it's ISO. Reply
  • Nenad - Monday, April 07, 2014 - link

    Sadly, Razer keyboards only have US version. Reply
  • n13L5 - Wednesday, April 09, 2014 - link

    complaining about the one row enter key in the EU keyboards seems absurd to me, since the "international english" keyboards from Logitech have the much worse issue of a severely shrunken left shift key in order to cram other keys in, one of which is even a duplicate (the \ | key) Reply
  • n13L5 - Wednesday, April 09, 2014 - link

    first sentence was supposed to say "U.S. keyboards" Reply
  • Nenad - Monday, April 14, 2014 - link

    Well, missing big ENTER on Razer keyboard is much bigger issue for me - YMMV.

    BTW, I agree that Logitech's short left SHIFT is also stupid move, but how that make complaining about Razer's ENTER key absurd?
    Reply
  • santiagoanders - Thursday, April 03, 2014 - link

    Wow. My BlackWidow keyboard also presses F11 at random. It doesn't happen very often, but sometimes my terminal will go full screen (F11) for no reason. Reply
  • theangryintern - Friday, April 04, 2014 - link

    I've had a BlackWidow for about 6 months or so now and I've had no issues with mine. My only gripe is not being able to change the backlight colors. I know that the green color is kinda Razer's thing, but it would be nice to be able to change it to something else if I wanted. Luckily my mouse does allow me to change colors so I set it to match my keyboard. Reply

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