Five Mechanical-Switch Keyboards: Only The Best For Your Hands

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate: Test

Detailed test results

Razer BlackWidow

Single keys:
Cherry MX Blue
- Cylindrical key design
- Good traction against slippage
- Coated, laser cut
- Blue illumination
- Typography with slight defects

Distance to actuation point:
- 2 mm from starting position
- 4 mm Hub

Operating force:
- 50 g to overcome spring resistance
- Approximately 60 g top value to exceed to the actuation point

- Tactile switches
- Clicking point
Overview of test results

The BlackWidow from Razer is good all-around with the loud acoustics typical of the MX Blue switches. However, this is mitigated in part by the great functionality of the device. The BlackWidow is the only keyboard in the test that has additional programmable keys and a good, useable, macro recording function. In addition, there are up to 10 different user profiles, for which one can configure each and every button. No additional drivers are necessary for basic functionality, but if you want to use the additional features, you must install software as well.

The adjustable brightness of each key is a tiny bit better than the illumination of Ione's U9BL because the spaces between the keys are a bit smaller here, allowing less irritating light to leak through.

The only drawback is the strikingly bad typography. The specially-designed font mixing upper and lowercase letters may be considered "stylish" by some, but it is a typographical blunder of the first order. A lowercase "r" the same size as the adjacent uppercase "T" is confusing; the "5" and "6" are likewise difficult to distinguish thanks to the pseudo-digital type. The lack of ergonomics alone unfortunately contradicts all common typographic standards, resulting on the only major point deduction.

- Good for gaming
- Very precise tactile keys with clicking point
- Good, adjustable illumination
- Solid appearance, no slippage
- Additional function and macro keys
- Built-in USB Hub x2
- Headphone/microphone connections
- Relatively loud design
- Hard to read lettering
- Keyboard lacquer sensitive to finger marks and scratches
- No PS/2 Mode
- Thick and stiff connection cable
Overall rating:


184 of 200 Points

(Diagram Source: Cherry)

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  • Anonymous
    "You will find keyboards even pricier than these, but that's a consequence of built-in special functions and gimmicks, not better quality or suitability."

    That's a bit ignorant, since you didn't test them. Try a Topre Realforce and tell me it's a gimmick.
  • skaz
    Great write up! I have a tenkeyless Leopold cherry brown and love it.
  • leather_daddy
    Where is the Filco Majestouch in the product list?
  • steve11
    Poorly done overview. A lot of keyboard missing in action.
  • stiehl
    Hmm looking at those keyboard's layouts make me wince. I don't think I could stand a huge enter key, a nonexistent "\", Y and Z being switched, and a funky shift key. I'm happy with my blank das keyboard, thank you very much.
  • michaelahess
    I actually went away from mechanical keyboards about 7 years ago. I really prefer a solid rubber dome keyboard. I currently use a Logitech MX5500 for gaming and a Logitech Wave for typing. Never had any issues with either for their purposes. I do miss the tactile feel, but honestly the 5500 is a MUCH better gaming board, plus the noise doesn't drive me crazy.

    For all of you with exotic keyboards, you must be extra special picky ;) I type 110 wpm without error and have no trouble with the wave or 5500.
  • Stardude82
    My Model M is too cool for this review.
  • fakie
    wheres the das keyboard model s ultimate?
  • mortsmi7
    I kind of wished they had compared them to some mainstream keyboards like the cheapy walmart logitech, dell keyboard, or ibm. Sure they work great, but compared to what. I'm not a fan of loud and clicky ibm, but thats as far as my interest in key-presses goes.

    I bought my G110 for the extra macro keys that I never use. In fact I use the onboard volume control more often.
  • Anonymous
    Where is the Model M? Is it too cool for this review?
    And it's "buckling spring", not "bent spring"
  • Luay
    You did miss one criteria for comparison and that's typing noise. SteelSeries went through allot to successfully keep typing noise at a minimum while the Razer is a screamer! It would suck to invest in a quite rig and then end up with a keyboard like that.
  • dragonfang18
    I wish they gave out sample for me to try before buying....
  • TheProfosist
    Its more about the switches than the keyboard brand/manufacturer. there is a good explanation of how the different Cherry MX switches work at EliteKeyboards. I would have to say picking the switches is defiantly personal preference over anything else. For me its Topre 55g all the way!
  • faresbg
    It should be 50 000 000 not 50 000!
  • pocketdrummer
    I would only buy the Ione based entirely on the fact that they didn't flub up the layout. Seriously, what's with the enter key from these other companies? Why would I want to reach my pinky finger FARTHER to reach a commonly used key? I see no benefit to those layouts.
  • dragonfang18
    What about daskeyboard? I saw a pic while looking at cherry MX keys yet no review?
  • aaron88_7
    My $30 wireless Logitech is still better
  • TheProfosist
    dragonfang18What about daskeyboard? I saw a pic while looking at cherry MX keys yet no review?

    they choose the keyboards based on the switches inside. there was no real need to review multiple boards with the same switches for their purposes because it was more a review/explanation of the different switches than of the keyboards.
  • Anonymous
    I have an old MS Internet Keyboard Pro from 2000 - does anyone know what kind of switches it uses? Are they mechanical?
  • Anonymous
    You should specify that the macro 'functionality' of the Razer Blackwidow Ultimate is actually done through their windows software and does not work on OS X or Linux, which makes the feature kind of useless for some people.