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Razer BlackWidow Chroma (Origin PC Edition) And BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 Review

We review the full-featured Razer BlackWidow Chroma (Origin PC Edition) and the slightly less full-featured Razer BlackWidow Ultimate.

Conclusion

Razer bills its custom switch as ideal for gaming, and that claim is not untrue. However, it's also not necessarily true for a number of gamers. The clickiness and tactile bump may turn off those who are linear (eg, Cherry MX Red) diehards. On the other hand, the clicky feel may appeal to gamers that also spend lots of time typing, or those who just enjoy the tactility and noise.

In my time clacking away on the Razer BlackWidow Chroma, I found the experience perfectly acceptable while both typing and gaming. Reds, of course, can be a little tricky for typing because of the lack of tactile feedback, but then Blues can be a bit noisy (and with complicated key stroke events) for some gamers. There is a barely perceptible difference between Razer Green switches and the Cherry MX and Kailh Blue switches I compared them to.

Razer has invested much of its energy into the lighting and software, and it shows. Although I dislike the need to download a Synapse update and restart my PC every time I connect a new Razer peripheral, once you have things set, the software is sufficiently easy to use and offers myriad customization features. Other than the rare, odd dead key issue, I found no glitches in Razer Synapse 2.0, and its performance was consistent, if a little slow at times.

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The lighting customization options are so vast and granular that it's almost ridiculous, and Razer has done strong work in designing a backplate that enhances the LED performance.

Although that soft-look finish is attractive—moreso than hard, textured plastic—it shows "shine" too quickly. After just a couple of hours of use, especially on the palm rest, you can tell that it's been used.

One aspect of the BlackWidow Chroma that I take serious issue with is the Costar-like stabilizers on the wider keys. They break far too easily, which makes cleaning underneath the keys a nail-biting task, and they can offer an uneven key stroke if you strike at all off-center. Essentially, the stabs torpedo the otherwise strong performance of the switch. This is especially true of the spacebar; how often do you hit the spacebar dead center compared to striking it somewhat to the left or right? For a premium-priced keyboard, this is a tough pill to swallow for me.

What the Razer BlackWidow Chroma (Origin PC Edition) has going for it is the strong lighting and robust software offerings. It also has that "Razer" look, including the funky font on the keys, which will appeal to fans of the company's products.

However, the noisy Green switches won't appeal to some users, and the stabilizer issues could be a dealbreaker for others. (The same is true for the BlackWidow Ultimate.)

MORE: How We Test Mechanical Keyboards
MORE: Keyboard Reviews
MORE: All Peripherals Content
MORE: Peripherals in the Forums

Seth Colaner is the News Director of Tom's Hardware. Follow him on Twitter.

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  • nycalex
    what a bunch of cheap chinese plastic garbage.

    $169 for a 9 year old spaceship keyboard? rubbish.

    LOOK MA! my keyboard looks like a spaceship and lights up in colors, i'm the coolest kid on the block!

    Language edited by moderator
    Please maintain a humble etiquette when on a family friendly site
    Moderator
    Lutfij
    Reply
  • ZippyPeanut
    what a bunch of cheap chinese plastic garbage.

    $169 for a 9 year old spaceship keyboard? rubbish.

    LOOK MA! my keyboard looks like a spaceship and lights up in colors, i'm the coolest kid on the block!
    what a bunch of cheap chinese plastic garbage.

    $169 for a 9 year old spaceship keyboard? what a hump of sh1t.

    LOOK MA! my keyboard looks like a spaceship and lights up in colors, i'm the coolest kid on the block!

    Wait! nycalex is right: it's "cheap chinese plastic garbage"! We should all trust this guy, right? And not the professional reviewers at Tom's, PCWorld, TechRadar, PCPerspective, Maximum PC, overclock.net, AnandTech, the customers' reviews on NewEgg, and PC enthusiasts everywhere who praise Razer's keyboards for their excellence.

    -----------
    i7 3770K OC @ 4.2Ghz / ASRock Extreme 4 Z77 / evga FTW 670 2X-SLI / Creative SB Audigy SE PCI Sound Card / 32 GB Corsair Vengeance 1600 / 500GB Samsung EVO 850 (boot) / 128 GB OCZ Vertex 4 / 2 TB WD Caviar Black / 2 TB Seagate Barracuda / Asetek 510LC Liquid Cooling System / LG 14X Blu-ray R/W / Corsair 1000w PSU / AzzA Genesis 9000 full tower / Windows 7 Professional 64 / 144hz 1ms 24-inch Asus monitor / Logitech Z906 Surround Sound / Razer Ultimate Stealth keyboard /Deathadder Chroma mouse
    Reply
  • Lutfij
    I've had a Razer Marauder Keyboard and that failed after 3 years of use. I can't say I wasn't disappointed but like almost everything electronics and pretty much anything in this world, some things don't last forever. Nice write up and a comprehensive write up on that! I just wished they didn't flood the market with their own reverse engineered switches. That just adds more confusion to the consumers who are eager to jump onboard the mechanical keyboard wagon.
    Reply
  • nycalex
    17658438 said:
    what a bunch of cheap chinese plastic garbage.

    $169 for a 9 year old spaceship keyboard? rubbish.

    LOOK MA! my keyboard looks like a spaceship and lights up in colors, i'm the coolest kid on the block!
    what a bunch of cheap chinese plastic garbage.

    $169 for a 9 year old spaceship keyboard? what a hump of sh1t.

    LOOK MA! my keyboard looks like a spaceship and lights up in colors, i'm the coolest kid on the block!

    Wait! nycalex is right: it's "cheap chinese plastic garbage"! We should all trust this guy, right? And not the professional reviewers at Tom's, PCWorld, TechRadar, PCPerspective, Maximum PC, overclock.net, AnandTech, the customers' reviews on NewEgg, and PC enthusiasts everywhere who praise Razer's keyboards for their excellence.

    -----------
    i7 3770K OC @ 4.2Ghz / ASRock Extreme 4 Z77 / evga FTW 670 2X-SLI / Creative SB Audigy SE PCI Sound Card / 32 GB Corsair Vengeance 1600 / 500GB Samsung EVO 850 (boot) / 128 GB OCZ Vertex 4 / 2 TB WD Caviar Black / 2 TB Seagate Barracuda / Asetek 510LC Liquid Cooling System / LG 14X Blu-ray R/W / Corsair 1000w PSU / AzzA Genesis 9000 full tower / Windows 7 Professional 64 / 144hz 1ms 24-inch Asus monitor / Logitech Z906 Surround Sound / Razer Ultimate Stealth keyboard /Deathadder Chroma mouse

    says the guy that needs to post his system specs as a signature on his posts. Do you need a self-esteem boost?

    Btw, it's called an opinion. I thought forums was all about reading eachother's opinions.
    Reply
  • nitrium
    "However, the noisy Green switches won't appeal to some users,"
    Razer of course does also offer the "Stealth" version of this keyboard that uses Razer's version of Cherry browns (not sure if there is a 2016 version yet, but you can be sure it's coming).
    Reply
  • Jay_29
    Having owned 4 Razer Keyboards, these ARE cheap plastic garbage. Filco, Topre, Corsair, Logitech, Steelseries all make much superior keyboards as far as quality is concerned.
    Reply
  • ingtar33
    what a bunch of cheap chinese plastic garbage.

    $169 for a 9 year old spaceship keyboard? rubbish.

    LOOK MA! my keyboard looks like a spaceship and lights up in colors, i'm the coolest kid on the block!
    what a bunch of cheap chinese plastic garbage.

    $169 for a 9 year old spaceship keyboard? what a hump of sh1t.

    LOOK MA! my keyboard looks like a spaceship and lights up in colors, i'm the coolest kid on the block!

    Wait! nycalex is right: it's "cheap chinese plastic garbage"! We should all trust this guy, right? And not the professional reviewers at Tom's, PCWorld, TechRadar, PCPerspective, Maximum PC, overclock.net, AnandTech, the customers' reviews on NewEgg, and PC enthusiasts everywhere who praise Razer's keyboards for their excellence.

    The problem with reviews is rarely can a reviewer play with a product long term. This results in things like Tesla cars winning car of the year rewards when by all counts they're one of the least reliable vehicles on the road. Razer keyboards generally look nice, but tend to be overpriced and unreliable. Will everyone get a keyboard that fails in a year? of course not, if that was the case Razon wouldn't sell anything. But their keyboards/mice do tend to break down in a very short period of time. Even this reviewer had a "dead key" issue, which as anyone who seriously games will tell you is a deal breaker. Frankly I'm not a serious gamer, but I would return or replace any keyboard which had a key suddenly stop responding, and I assume this happened in the first few hours the reviewer was playing with that keyboard

    If that's not a red flag then you've either got more $$ then you deserve to have or you simply don't care how you waste your money. All i know is i wouldn't spend a dime on a keyboard that stops functioning properly in a product review.
    Reply
  • Top Cooler
    I bought a Razer 3 years ago. After one week I bought a competitor and eagerly gave it away. The font is so cool that it's absolutely unusable. R is 2 lines? They put the numbers and symbols side by side instead of up and down. It was loud and felt cheap. Yeah, not a fan. Since then I've tried 3 competitors with various results. They all have one similarity: much better than Razer.
    Reply
  • Tbonius
    The worst thing about razer is being force fed synapse.
    Reply
  • scolaner
    Even this reviewer had a "dead key" issue, which as anyone who seriously games will tell you is a deal breaker. Frankly I'm not a serious gamer, but I would return or replace any keyboard which had a key suddenly stop responding, and I assume this happened in the first few hours the reviewer was playing with that keyboard

    It didn't. It happened when I was fiddling with the on-keyboard macros. (Emphasize "playing.") But it DID happen.

    Also, we spend as much time with each keyboard as possible. Bare minimum of a week, work and play (and we tend to work a lot of hours!), but often more, depending on X and Y and Z. (HWT: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/how-we-test-mechanical-keyboards,4400.html).

    This one, I ended up using for quite a while, as it happened.
    Reply