Razer continues its “V2” updates to its product line, and the latest to get this treatment is its popular Blackwidow mechanical gaming keyboard.
Looking at the $170 Blackwidow Chroma V2 keyboard from the outside, you won’t see much that’s new. But Razer has included its own mechanical switches this time around, added a wrist rest, and shored up the quality. That’s probably not enough to convince you to upgrade from your current Blackwidow, but you should consider this keyboard if you’re looking to upgrade from that crappy membrane-based device that came with the eMachine you bought from Best Buy.
What you’ll like
Great for typing and gaming
Razer is making a big deal about the new switches in the Blackwidow V2, and I can confirm that they get the job done. Razer’s switches — and the Blackwidow — comes in three flavors: yellow, orange, and green. Green switches are tactile with a loud click. Orange is tactile and relatively silent. Yellow is linear and silent. I had the orange variation, and it delivered a satisfying actuation while remaining much quieter than something like a Cherry MX Blue.
I still prefer Cherry switches over Razer’s, but that’s a matter of personal taste. My favorite typing experience is still the faux-mechanical click of the Razer Ornata, and I know plenty of people who hate that. So I can’t tell you that you’ll love the Razer switches, but I can vouch for their performance. They are accurate while providing reliable, predictable performance in intense gaming situations. The keys don’t bounce back into position with the firmness that I typically prefer, but that never caused me any issues during typing or gameplay.
But while Razer is making a big deal about its switches, the Blackwidow V2 is almost worth it for the wrist rest alone. The company has started including quality, padded mats for your hands in recent keyboards, and the Blackwidow’s wrist rest is the best one yet. It has a plush, expensive feel that will keep you comfortable all day while you’re working and then all night while you’re gaming. The pleather material keeps cool and breathes really well, and I know that because I’m typically a gross, sweaty guy — but my skin never stuck to the wrist rest in any way. Razer did a really great job with that.
Razer did a great job the V2 Blackwidow’s durability. I’ve pounded away on this keyboard for a few weeks, and it didn’t bounce or rattle at all through that process. I’m looking for a board that can remain sturdy and confident even when I’m falling apart in the middle of an Overwatch match, and this device dealt with me at my worst with no problems.
Excellent extra features
Quickly, I’ll cover some of the great extras that are quickly turning into standard features on most keyboards in this price range.
The Chroma LED lighting is still gorgeous. The Macro keys are easy to program with Razer Synapse. The audio passthrough is great for wire management. And the USB passthrough can charge your phone or take your Kraken 7.1 headphones without having to drag the cord across your desk.
Again, nothing here is groundbreaking, but it all feels high quality and well designed, which is not something I can say for some other keyboards with a similar list of bonus capabilities.
What you won’t like
No dedicated media buttons
The Blackwidow isn’t bulky, but it’s big enough that I think I wouldn’t mind a few extra centimeters on the edges to support dedicated media buttons. I get the sense that a lot of people don’t use these even when their keyboards have them, but it’s something I do use. I especially like having easy access to volume controls and play/pause. Razer’s device doesn’t have buttons built for these tasks, and that’s slightly frustrating.
It’s too easy to hit macro buttons while touch typing
While I appreciate having the macro buttons, something about the Blackwidow makes hitting these keys too easy during standard use. I’ll want to hit Ctrl-Z, and I’ll end up hitting M5-Z instead. It’s so bad that I can’t bind anything to M5 because I’m hitting it when I don’t mean to. I’m also struggling to identify the specific problem because I’ve used keyboards with a similar row of macro keys, and I don’t remember ever having an issue like this before. My guess is that the macro row is maybe a millimeter closer on the Blackwidow than what I’m used to.
The Blackwidow is a known quantity at this point, and the V2 doesn’t change this. It’s still the same keyboard that plenty of people love, but it now comes with a dope wristrest and Razer switches that you’ll likely love. That makes it easy to recommend to people looking for a fully featured keyboard, but as long as you’re not upgrading from an original Blackwidow and you don’t mind a lack of media buttons.
Razer provided GamesBeat with a sample of the Blackwidow Chroma V2 keyboard for the purposes of this review. It’s now available for $170.