Razer BlackWidow Ultimate (2016)
It would be tempting to give the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate (2016) its own review, but if so, we'd essentially just be copy/pasting the review for the BlackWidow Chroma and making some slight modification. For you see, they're almost identical.
Almost. There are a couple of key differences, which we've already written about somewhat, which include:
- A slightly different pane for the Caps Lock, Scroll Lock and Num Lock indicators on the upper right side of the keyboard
- The top panel is no longer soft-touch
- There are no M keys
- There's no RGB lighting—just green lights—and the backplate is green instead of white
And that’s about it, on the surface.
As previously noted, the soft-touch top cover looks lovely but tends to show shine, so although the harder, slightly textured plastic of the BlackWidow Ultimate isn't as sexy, it does hold up a little better in terms of displaying smudges.
The green backplate ostensibly enhances the green lighting, slightly moreso than a white one, but comparing the BlackWidow Chroma and BlackWidow Ultimate side-by-side, I can't discern any difference. Maybe you can. Here's a picture; correct guessers receive 50 points:
Note that just because the BlackWidow Ultimate has no RGB lighting, that doesn't mean the Razer Synapse software is useless. You can still use most of the same lighting effects, just without color options, including breathing, reactive, ripple, starlight, static, wave or nothing at all. (Wait, starlight? You can't do that on the BlackWidow Chroma. On the BlackWidow Ultimate, starlight just makes a sort of twinkling effect as multiple keys light up and then quickly fade, like—well, like stars twinkling in the sky.) You can also dial the green-ness of the lighting up or down to get your preferred brightness and look.
The ability to do everything else in Synapse (map keys, create macros, check stats and so on) is virtually the same as on the BlackWidow Ultimate as on the BlackWidow Chroma. It has the same NXP LPC11U24F MCU, although on the BlackWidow Ultimate, there's just one chip for the lights instead of four (and it's not the P3917 3731—it looks to be Q0903 3731).
Also note that the BlackWidow Ultimate has two USB plugs like the BlackWidow Chroma, but just a single audio connector, and thus a single audio passthrough port on the right side of the keyboard.
The fact that there are no M keys means that the BlackWidow Ultimate is slightly narrower than the BlackWidow Chroma.
Under the hood, the first difference I noticed was quite minor—on the BlackWidow Ultimate, the assembly that holds the USB cable in place is one solid plastic piece instead of a removable part, like on the BlackWidow Chroma.
Finally, there's the price. Whereas the BlackWidow Chroma tops out at $169.99, the BlackWidow Ultimate is comparatively inexpensive at $109.99. For that, you lose the RGB lighting (but not lighting entirely, and not the Razer Synapse-enabled effects), M keys, and one of the two audio passthrough ports. You also get a hard plastic top panel instead of the soft-touch finish (which could be considered either positive or negative, depending on what you like).