The Razer BlackWidow gaming keyboard line has long been a go-to option for demanding PC gamers, where the quality of your key switches can mean life or death in an online tournament.
For its new Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 keyboard, the company has spent time perfecting its own bespoke mechanical key switches – and to good effect. Though it comes at a high price, the BlackWidow Chroma V2 is about as complete a package as gaming keyboards can offer.
Good things, in this case at least, come in large packages. With its LED indicator screen in the top right, a full number pad and a dedicated row of macro keys, the BlackWidow Chroma V2 takes up a lot of desktop real estate.
That’s before you consider popping on its included, squishy, comfy wrist rest, which adds another inch-and-a-bit to the front of the keyboard. It’s a lovely addition, connecting to the keyboard with a simple magnetic snap.
With a matte black finish and gentle gradient to its casing, the BlackWidow Chroma V2 ergonomically supports your wrists, allowing for lengthy play or typing sessions.
It’s easy on the eye too. Using Razer’s Chroma Configurator customisable lighting software (part of Razer’s Synapse cloud-syncing system), each individual key can be set to one of 16.8 million color options, saved to multiple profiles to let you tailor lighting styles to individual games. The Chroma SDK also allows developers to make specific lighting schemes for their games, which can be applied whilst playing (though only a handful of titles are currently taking advantage of this feature).
It’s mesmerising to look at: you can turn your keyboard into something rivalling a fireworks display, with options to have lights ripple away from your fingertips with every key press, or to glitter like stars. But most will just find it useful to be able to highlight and color the W, A, S, D and other game-specific keys for low-light gaming situations.
A braided cable ensures that the BlackWidow Chroma V2 won’t get too tangled with other wires around the back of your gaming rig, though it was disappointing to find only one USB passthrough port where some rivals offer two. Still, the accompanying 3.5 mm audio pass through jack was appreciated.
Razer now makes three mechanical switch types of its own to rival the likes of Cherry MX. The color coded Green, Orange and Yellow switches each have their benefits.
Essentially, the Greens, which require very definite key presses, are great for the accuracy gamers crave, while the Yellows are quieter and better suited to low-travel speedy typing and FPS style games where the same key is pressed repeatedly. The Orange switches are a halfway house between the two, but all are equally durable, tested to withstand an unfathomable 80 million keypresses.
We’ve been using the Green switches, and they’ve been a joy to use, with a satisfying audible click accompanying every press. If you like a clackety typewriter-like feel to your keys, you’ll love these – though they may be a little noisy if you’re sharing your typing space with others.
The programmable macro keys (with a dedicated LED panel informing you when recording is taking place), may at first appear most useful for MMO players, but there could be some unexpected uses for casual gamers too, letting you program application functions to a single key. A dedicated gaming mode also disables the Windows key – a great feature for anyone that’s lost a match merely by jumping out of a game with a stray Windows key press. It’s worth noting that all functions work just as well with Apple’s macOS machines, too.
If you find yourself creating lots of custom profiles for macros and lighting settings, but want to travel with your keyboard away from your main rig, you can rest easy too. Razer’s Synapse software saves all your settings to the cloud, so as long as the application is on another PC and you’re logged in, all those customisations carry over with you.
Is money no object when it comes to your pursuit of total PC gaming supremacy? Then, if you can stomach the $170 (£170, AU$340) price tag, there’s a lot to love about the Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2. From its deep lighting options to its great switches, its on-the-fly macro programming to its cloud-saved profiles, it’s a fantastic gaming keyboard for those that can afford its opulence.