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
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  • Mithan - Thursday, April 3, 2014 - link

    I have the original Black Widow Ultimate that came out 3 years ago or so and I really like it. Its been going strong all these years with no issues so far. The only thing I wish was different was that it had dedicated volume/mute keys like my older Saitek keyboards did. Reply
  • PrimalNaCl - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - link

    I have that one (Blue backlight Blue MX switches). I had been happily using it since I got it w/zero issues. Then, after my son convinced me to install the wretched synapse nonsense, it decided to update the fw (v1.18 to 2.??). I'm not certain if the mouse (DeathAdder 2013) was also updated. However, now, the BIOS sees that I have _4_ keyboards and _2_ mice plugged in. Further, ever since this has occurred, I can no longer log back in after Windows enters the sleep state. I can _wake_ the machine, and move the mouse, but can't enter any data. Sometimes the backlights are on, sometimes they are off during these events.

    This is a new 5960x, x99 build w/Win 8.0. Everything was working flawlessly until I installed that damn software + fw update. I have subsequently _uninstalled_ the crap, but it hasn't helped.

    Anyone know of a way to a) acquire an older copies of the kb fw and b) get a flashing tool to install it? When the bits were on my box, I didn't see any obvious tooling to do so. Razer's site is completely worthless. Various Google searches, reference old knowledge base # from Razer, but I can't locate that on their site. Downloads, only allows for acquiring Synapse.

    Very sad.
    Reply
  • LoccOtHaN - Thursday, April 3, 2014 - link

    I have Razor Arctosa 1ms and its OK Reply
  • fanofanand - Thursday, April 3, 2014 - link

    I love Razer mice but would NEVER buy another keyboard. I bought a Tarantula in 2008 thinking it was the greatest thing ever, until I plugged it in.....The audio controls never worked properly (yes I had it plugged in correctly) and it needed a firmware update from the day I bought it. Never once did the firmware update work. I contacted their support team and never once received a reply. I even contacted them at their twitter page, no reply. Sorry Razer, but as a company I'm done with you, unless of course my mouse craps out on me.....I do love that thing. Reply
  • Stuka87 - Thursday, April 3, 2014 - link

    I cannot speak for their support team from 6 years ago, but I just had to RMA an Intrepador, and they were great. Went back and forth several times to try out different things, when they did not work, I mailed them my old one and had a brand new mouse a week later. Reply
  • Stuka87 - Thursday, April 3, 2014 - link

    Er, Intrepador should Imperator. Brain and fingers were not properly synced up on that. Reply
  • Trefugl - Friday, April 4, 2014 - link

    Math error... 0.3mm of displacement is 0.0118in, not 0.115in.. An order of magnitude off.

    Sorry, I'm an engineer, so unit conversion mistakes like this get under my skin :).
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Friday, April 4, 2014 - link

    lol, true, that was a spelling/typo mistake on my part. I corrected it. Sorry. Reply
  • Molbork - Friday, April 4, 2014 - link

    Still no analog keys, it's a shame. Analog movement for at least the WASD keys would be nice.

    I've sent so many emails to different companies over the last ten years and don't think people understand the benefit for gaming.
    Reply
  • wetwareinterface - Sunday, April 6, 2014 - link

    ummm.... what benefit are you referring to. the keyboard will get connected to either a usb port or god forbid a usb-ps/2 adapter and into a ps/2 port. option 1 has lower latency without doing an analog to digital conversion so don't get your point, option 2 is far worse as that's polled even lower than a usb interrupt parse would take for each keystroke to register.

    so if you want to live in fantasy land okay analog keyboard actuation would be great with your steampunk'd differnce engine's comptroller port
    Reply

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