Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Gaming Keyboards Compared

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Design

Razer offers several different versions of its BlackWidow keyboard, including the Chroma, Chroma Stealth, Ultimate, Ultimate Stealth, Tournament Edition, Tournament Edition Stealth, and the regular BlackWidow in standard and Stealth form. The Stealth variants use Razer Orange key switches that are non-clicky (silent) and tactile.

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Keyboard

The model we have in for review is the BlackWidow Ultimate, a heavily constructed board with visual flair due in part to its green glowing blacklight. Each key is individually backlit, though you can't configure just certain keys to light up -- it's an all or nothing affair. You can, however, change the brightness level or turn the backlight off altogether, as well as choose to have it pulsate for a slow breathing effect. These options are available in software.

A matte black finish contrasts nicely with the green blacklight. Even though the keys are individually backlight, the plank glows green between the keys, making it look like the key caps are floating atop a radioactive toxic ooze. It's quite the cool effect, and Razer gets kudos for its uniform lighting -- there aren't any dead spots or under-lit areas. Just keep a can of compressed air handy, as you don't want crumbs and other accumulated gunk ruining the effect.

Razer says the keyboard sports an anti-fingerprint finish, and while we don't doubt the claim, we still managed to leave behind smudges even after just a few minutes of use. Finger smudges are not as pronounced as they could be, especially since it's not a glossy keyboard, but they're definitely noticeable -- we mostly spotted them on the spacebar.

There's not much of a wrist rest to speak of, other than a small angled portion on the bottom that's intended more for visual effect than function. Razer's LED logo sits in the middle for added flair.

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Numpad Razer BlackWidow Ultimate M Keys

This is a full size keyboard with a dedicated number pad on the right hand side. Sitting above are hidden indicator lights, such as the one that lets you know if you're in Game Mode (disables the Windows key) or whether the num lock key is enabled.

Over on the opposite side are five dedicated macro keys arranged horizontally and labeled M1 through M5. You can configure these in software, and the same goes for each individual key. Any of the keys can be configured to run a macro, launch a program, perform a mouse action, initiate a Windows 8.1 Charm, and more.

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Function Keys

The font Razer uses for its laser-etched keys is distinctly different from what you'll find on traditional keyboards. It gives the plank some gaming flair without going so far over the top that you can't tell what any of the keys are, though the "&" label looks a bit too funky.

Function keys double as media controls (F1 through F3 and F5 through F7) when using the Fn key. You can also adjust the backlight's brightness this way (F11 and F12), enable or disable Game Mode (F10), and record macros on-the-fly (F9).

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Cables
Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Ports

There's a USB 2.0 port on the right side of the BlackWidow Ultimate, though we wish it had at least one more to help offset the two USB ports it takes up on your system. It also has individual headphone and microphone ports, which add two more cables to the braided bundle.

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