A closer look

Visually, the new version of the BlackWidow Ultimate is essentially identical to the 2013 version. Thankfully, Razer ditched the glossy plastic frame after the 2012 version and is now using a soft, matte black frame, which is not as prone to fingertips as the first versions of the keyboard. Other than that, the keyboard follows a typical full keyboard layout (US layout for our sample), with the exception of five extra macro keys on the far left side of the board. Most of the keys are very firm and robust, with the exception of the larger keys. Razer is using stabilizer bars beneath the larger keys, which do give a uniform feeling while pressing them but they hardly do anything to stop the keys from wobbling.

Two headphone jacks and a USB port can be found on the right side of the keyboard. The bottom of the keyboard is rather plain, with only five small rubber anti-skid pads and two height adjustment feet. A thick braided cable leaves the top side of the keyboard, ending in two USB connectors and two 3.5mm headphone connectors. One of the USB connectors is required for the BlackWidow Ultimate itself; the second connector is necessary only for the USB port on the left side of the keyboard to function.

Once powered, the first thing that you will notice about the BlackWidow Ultimate is the backlighting. By that, we do not mean the unique bright green color but rather how powerful the backlighting is. At the maximum setting, the backlighting is annoyingly bright even inside a well-lit room. Thankfully, there are about 18 brightness settings ranging from off to maximum, allowing the user to find a comfortable setting. Razer's logo is also lit up. Only the primary character of each key receives backlighting; the secondary functions are simply printed on the keycaps. The only key that has no backlighting at all is the FN key.

Additional functions are available by holding down the FN key and pressing one of the function keys. The F1-F3 keys are used for volume control, the F5-F7 keys for multimedia functions. The F9 key will initiate on-the-fly macro recording and the F10 key will put the keyboard into its "gaming mode", which essentially disables some of the keyboard's functions like the Windows key. By holding down the FN key and then pressing the Pause button, you can put your computer into sleep. Finally, the F11 and F12 keys can be used to control the backlighting.

There is little of interest below the cover of the BlackWidow Ultimate. Removing it reveals the green stabilization board that the keys are secured on. The bright green board actually plays a very important role in the overall appearance of the keyboard, creating a uniform visual effect between the backlit keys. The Freescale MC9S08JM16 controller can be seen on the top left side of the board. Razer however needs to improve their soldering job. As can be seen from the pictures in the gallery, there are many uneven soldering points and it appears that the assembly has been rushed.

 

The major (and, apparently, only) difference between the 2013 and the 2014 versions is the use of the new Razer Green/Orange switches instead of the Cherry MX Blue/Brown switches of the old version. As this is the sole differentiator, let's spend some time discussing how they feel and function.

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Keyboard Razer's Green Switches
POST A COMMENT

64 Comments

View All Comments

  • ahamling27 - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    I have one of the Monoprice Mechanical Gaming Keyboards with the red blacklight and I have to say, it's been an amazing keyboard so far! I believe it has Cherry MX Red switches, and like the keyboard in this review, all the media/volume/macro keys use a FN modifier key. It also has headphone and mic inputs as well as 2 USB outlets, but it doesn't take an extra USB plug to make them work.
    All in all, I really like my keyboard and at the time it was about the only red backlit keyboard I could find. Now there's a green one and it seems everyone and their dog does blue. My laptop has a steelseries keyboard in it that can actually do like 6 different colors, why can't mechanical keyboards do more than one color themselves?
    Reply
  • SirRandall - Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - link

    "Removing it reveals the green stabilization board that the keys are secured on." HA!! the keys on my Corsair Vengeance K95 are stabilized by a sheet of aluminum, flush mounted so easy to clean, and the keys aren't a garish green. To each their own. Reply
  • Phiro69 - Thursday, April 3, 2014 - link

    I reply yes, typing this on my Model M buckling spring mechanical keyboard from Unicomp. To each their own. Reply
  • PEJUman - Thursday, April 3, 2014 - link

    New breed of hipster, I dub them geekster: my keyboard is older and harder to find than yours... Reply
  • CalaverasGrande - Thursday, April 3, 2014 - link

    IBM PC keyboard, made in USA, detachable PS2 cable
    Excellent mechanical keys.
    Ugly like a stray dog with mange.
    Reply
  • echoe - Sunday, April 6, 2014 - link

    well, i have a kinesis advantage, because otherwise i'd be unable to type. i'm an elitist somehow! yeah! Reply
  • wetwareinterface - Sunday, April 6, 2014 - link

    i'll go the opposite direction and state i'm typing this on my cheaper than all of yours mechanical cherry mx blue switched thermaltake poseidon. blue backlighting with level adjust, windows key can be disabled with dedicated button and cherry mx blue switches. very weighty base and was only $89 Reply
  • Friendly0Fire - Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - link

    Pet peeve of mine: what is it with mechanical keyboards using Fn keys for multimedia? It's absurd. This isn't a bloody laptop keyboard, you've got the space.

    I had to dig for a very long time to find a mechanical keyboard which also didn't skimp on media keys and volume toggles. Those things are pricy enough already, I don't see why I'd want something gimped in that way.
    Reply
  • lockdown571 - Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - link

    That is one of the reasons I love my Logitech G710+. It is one of the few mechanical keyboards I found with virtually no compromises (unless you really need a headphone port I guess). Reply
  • Sancus - Tuesday, April 8, 2014 - link

    Yep, this is also the reason I love the G710+. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now