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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  • MDX - Saturday, April 5, 2014 - link

    Razer: overhyped crap. The worst products backed by the worst peripheral software. Reply
  • zaqwsx156 - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    Why would you post such a useless comment?!?! If you don't like Razer, why are you even looking at reviews of their products? It is people like you that convince me that some people shouldn't reproduce. Reply
  • mikemcc - Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - link

    Sorry, but that is one of the most stupid comments I have ever read, and I have read some stupid ones. People post comments in places like this precisely so others can read the pros and cons of a particular product. Perhaps you are too narrow-minded to figure this out, but just how do you think potential buyers would make purchasing decisions if the only thing they could read was positive reviews. Most people will be able to think about this for maybe ten seconds and realize this is correct. It may take you ten minutes, but you may get there... Reply
  • mikemcc - Saturday, April 5, 2014 - link

    I won't buy another Razer product. I had a BW Ultimate and had the random keypresses (not just F11). I RMA'd the first one -- and that took weeks. The replacement started doing the same thing within a month or so. RMA's that one -- again, took weeks. That replacement lasted a little longer but then it started random keypresses. At that point, I just threw away the expensive keyboard and bought another illuminated keyboard which continues to work just fine. This keyboard is half the price and I can change the color of the backlighting. But the best thing about it is that the only time a character gets entered is when I actually press a key. What a nightmare that Razer BW keyboard was. Reply
  • rxzlmn - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    Won't buy any Razer product ever again after so many experiences with lousy hardware and software. I have a Das Keyboard, and it's great - however, I really miss backlight. What's the next best choice with backlight and similar quality (NOT Razer)? Reply
  • Player433 - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    I have the 2013 Razer black widow and it's a decent keyboard, but I wish they had the Cherry Red keys as well. A friend of mine also has the 2013 Razer black widow and he had to RMA it within two months of getting it. Reply
  • roxamis - Monday, April 7, 2014 - link

    I had also a razer blackwidow which had random keypress problems (brand new). I searced online and found it was a VERY common issue. Inexcusable in a such a high priced keyboard. Also it was not true NKRO. I have bought a Filco majestic 2 full NKRO (usb to ps/2) and the build quality is far superior and for the around the same price. Reply
  • Notmyusualid - Friday, April 11, 2014 - link

    I'd just like to say wow.

    A week ago (before I read this) I bought the missus the version without the number pad, and a Death Adder mouse to go with it.

    Absolutely wonderful to type on, I mean really. You make much fewer mistakes than with a bundled-with-whatever-pc keyboard most are used to using. It is loud, but as it a lawyer office SHE owns, the rest have to get over it.

    However, for gaming, it is worthless. Those long presses, having a having a higher-than-normal pressure to make contact, and then falling quickly down, nah, not for me in gaming.

    But I could type with this keyboard all day long...

    However, Razar shot themselves in the foot, more than they know.... you have to REGISTER to get full functionality out of their products. Wow, reeeealllly? There is no argument for, that I will accept for this behaviour.

    So what I'd like to say here is - I was going to pick her up a Razer Blade Pro from California on my next trip, thought it would make a nice 'talking point' in the office, and the fact that it is not a Mac in that form factor.

    But Razer - with your mandatory registration - you can FORGET IT.

    Dell however, seem to have some new offerings that are of interest. Razer, are you listening?
    Reply
  • TheSlamma - Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - link

    you got cherry blues then. loud awesome for typing not ideal for many gamers. red and brown are better for that or whatever razers equal is. Reply
  • trip1ex - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    i like mine except for the lack of dedicated volume keys Reply

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