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Four Keyboards And Four Mice For LAN Party Gamers, Rounded-Up

Razer BlackWidow And Siig JK-US0412-S1

Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition

Keyboards naturally tend to be pretty large and cumbersome, and the recent trend of going back to mechanical keyboards hasn’t helped keep their size in check. As a result, while full-sized mechanical keyboards generally have smoother, more responsive operation, only one was small enough to make it into this piece.

Razer, a well-known manufacturer of gaming-oriented peripherals, brings us the sole mechanical switch-based keyboard in this round-up: the BlackWidow Tournament Edition. In theory, the result is a lower possibility of ghosting, higher key rollover, and direct tactile feedback of activation. 

The BlackWidow uses a Cherry MX Blue mechanical switch, which produces a subtle tactile confirmation when keys are triggered. This is noticeable to the typist about half-way through the depression of each key, where there's a bit of resistance, followed by a satisfying audible click.

Razer claims that this feedback gives players a clear sense of when the key triggers, which can help step up in-game performance. I'm not sure if I agree with that last part, personally; when I used the BlackWidow, I actually didn't do as well in my favorite games, feeling as if I had lost something.

The BlackWidow Tournament Edition occupies an odd position in Razer’s keyboard line-up; it’s much smaller than other BlackWidow models, and loses a number pad and key backlighting. Depending on the game you're playing and the environment you're in, those omissions may or may not be a problem.

Much of the hardware that Razer sells is over-the-top, with a mark-up to match. However, at an MSRP of just $80, the BlackWidow Tournament Edition seems to represent an exception to that rule.

Siig JK-US0412-S1

Our fourth and final keyboard is a bit more consumer-focused. An aluminum chassis puts Siig's JK-US0412-S1 on the heavier side of slim-profile keyboards, though its standard membrane matrix somewhat mitigates the additional shell weight. A sleek and modern minimalist design translates to fewer additional features; the one notable extra is a single USB port built in to the right side.

The keys have an oily sheen that reminds me of a glossy plastic console in a brand-new car, and their texture is pretty similar, too. With a center plateau and gently sloped sides, the Siig’s keys are somewhat reminiscent of an early 90s laptop board. 

Based on the other keyboards we're reviewing, at $110, this product is on the expensive side. You're really shelling out the extra money for a product that feels sturdy. Ultimately, though, the feeling of quality doesn’t seem to translate into actual performance. If you have an aluminum fetish, this might be your thing. Just be sure to check out our comparison results for some less-than-stellar benchmark measurements.