The 2016 version of the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate mechanical keyboard is nigh. The updated keyboard costs $109.99, and it differs from its predecessor in several, mostly fairly minimal, ways.
For one thing, Razer updated the indicator panel on the top right of the keyboard so that it's set off by the same sort of shiny pane as the illuminated Razer logo does (beneath the spacebar). The chassis is a bit smaller than the earlier BlackWidow Ultimate, and Razer combined the mic/audio in jacks into one port.
One small new detail that will likely please some users but not others is the new material for the top cover. Previous Razer keyboards had a soft-touch top, which looked great and felt smooth under your hands, but it was prone to displaying smudges and hand grease too prominently. The 2016 BlackWidow Ultimate has a more textured finish, which should help ameliorate some of the grime display issues.
Razer also boasted of its new lighting support through the Razer Synapse software. Although Razer seems to be adding its Chroma lighting to everything it can these days, the BlackWidow Ultimate is green-lit all the way. Each individual key is backlit with Razer green lights, and the tray is finished in green, too.
You can set a number of different lighting effects through Synapse, though, including Wave, Ripple, Reactive and Starlight, and you can create your own custom effects, too. You can see the lighting in action below.
However, the most notable change is that Razer has cut off the five dedicated macro keys that used to run vertically on the left side of the keyboard. Razer told Tom's Hardware that this decision was made based on feedback from its community; apparently users didn't feel that they needed the extra keys, so off the keys went.
Specs And Features
Other than the above, the new BlackWidow Ultimate is essentially the same beast as before. It sports Razer Green switches, which have that Blue switch "clickiness," 50 g actuation force and 60 million-click rating.
The keyboard also features 10-key rollover with anti-ghosting, the ability to program the keys and record macros on the fly, a "gaming mode" that deactivates the Windows key, and a 1,000 Hz ultrapolling rate. The BlackWidow Ultimate also has a braided cable.
It has that lone audio jack and a USB passthrough, both of which are on the right side of the keyboard. Because the USB plug of the mouse sticks out a bit from the side, the placement of the passthrough port here effectively extends the width of the keyboard by an inch or so. (Otherwise, you'd be banging the mouse into its own plug all the time.)
We got a sample of the BlackWidow Ultimate delivered to our doorstep in just enough time for me to write this article with it. The new texture on the top does certainly seem to repel fingerprints and grease much better than the older, softer finish, although the "look" of the textured top isn't as striking.
The finish of the keys seems to be the same -- which is to say, they have a soft finish that feels wonderful under your fingertips. They show fingerprints, too, although it's not as noticeable because of their size. However, after just a couple of hours of use, the spacebar is looking a little greasy. (And my hands are clean, I swear.)
I like the decision to make the tray green, so even when the lighting is off, the keys are set off by the color. Other Razer keyboards have a white backing, which is also sharp-looking, but the green is a nice alternative. However, comparing the lighting side-by-side, I could not discern a difference between the BlackWidow Ultimate (green backing, green lights) and the BlackWidow Chroma (white backing, green lights).
Razer offers a 2-year limited warranty with the BlackWidow Ultimate, which is available now in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. It will be available in the APAC region and in Europe in Q4 of this year.
Seth Colaner is the News Director at Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter @SethColaner. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.
Build quality is pretty good, but the only reason I even ended up going with this keyboard was for the macro capability. Then I found out how terrible the software was for it, and how you CAN'T use any of the advanced functionality without the software. So, I'm not sure what I'll do next time. Hopefully this one will last to its acceptable lifespan.
My point is who are they targeting with this? Macro keys are INSANELY useful if you are doing any sort of more-than-casual gaming, if not just to take the tedium out of certain actions you perform routinely. And making a gaming keybaord that doesn't really appeal to gamers seems... strange.
I don't disagree that the lack of macros might be an issue for many users. Razer told me (I added a note to this effect in the text) that it decided to remove the macro keys for this version based on community feedback. Guess they weren't listening to you, though!
This accurately describes my relationship with Razer... Maybe they ARE a good company, we just never, ever see eye to eye.
this garbage should not be worth more than $50.
same goes to logitech's mechanical keyboards.
if you goign to spend over $100 on a keyboard, might as well go with ducky or Das ultimates.
i wish it was 2 year, that would be awsome.