So we all know Razer has been making gaming peripherals for quite some time now offering back lit keys so we can game in the dark and programmable keys for macro recording. However, this time Razer has launched something even I didn’t expect. They went ahead and combined their usual keyboards with a mechanical one. The switch used in this board are cherry blues. If you forgot what a mechanical keyboard is, please reread the first few paragraphs of the XArmor U9BL review for further clarification. Let us get started shall we?
Aesthetics Score: 9
Now being on G Style, you know we would never review an unfashionable product therefore the aesthetics scores have always been above average. From a first glance at this keyboard, you will see that it is indeed glossy. What does that mean? Well it means you’re going to find yourself cleaning it almost everyday because with gloss comes fingerprints and dust. Just like the old saying where every pro is a con. Moving on to the font chosen for this keyboard. Let me just say that some people really think this is a big deal on their keyboards and if it isn’t a nice looking font they are unhappy. But does the font really matter? I’m pretty sure a majority of the people who now use computers are able to type without looking down at the keyboard so I hope that the font doesn’t really bother them. Lastly the back lighting. This keyboard has four modes of back lighting: low, medium, high, and one the goes from off gradually to high. There is a led behind every key cap which means that light will be distributed evenly allowing for equal brightness across the keyboard. There are also parts on the key cap where light does not penetrate it such as the symbols and media controls. The USB cable is thick and braided ensuring that no wire mishaps happen ever again. Overall I think that this is a beautifully designed keyboard and that it would definitely enhance the looks of your desk if your mouse had some sort of blue glow as well to match it.
Now if you remember, the XArmor U9BL was the first cherry blue keyboard I have owned and this would be the second. Razer has asked me to write this review from a perspective of a gamer and that is what I shall do. Now first genre of games I would like to cover is FPS (first person shooters). The FPS of my choice would be Battlefield Bad Company 2. I had no trouble playing FPS with this keyboard just like I had no problems with the XArmor board. FPS generally require the WASD cluster as well as some of the nearby keys and the number row (usually 1-5). I did not find myself doing better with this keyboard but I did not do worse either. Generally this keyboard had no effect on FPS games.
Next up will be RTS (real time strategy games) and my game of choice will obviously be Starcraft 2. There is something really important that I want to point out here and that would be macro keys. Macro keys if you don’t know is basically setting a key to do a chain of command. For example you press down the ` key, instead of getting `, you can practically change it to Ctrl+1, The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, etc. If you set it to type an essay, it will type an essay for you (given that you had the essay already done and just set it on the macro key). It even conveniently records mouse clicks as well. In the end, what does this mean? Is it an advantage? A drawback? Macro keys are most definitely an advantage. By first playing a practice game against a computer and recording my build order via macros on the fly, I then played a normal game versus another human player. The macros allowed me to build my base quicker than normal because I wouldn’t have to double check the hotkey for a specific building and as you know timing is very important in RTS games. In the end, the Black Widow Ultimate is great for RTS games because of its macro keys advantage. (Pretty sure macro keyboards are banned in tournaments by the way ;D)
Next stop racing games, more precisely Need for Speed Hot Pursuit (Yes the new one.) So playing racing games on a keyboard in my opinion is silly. Its just something that doesn’t really feel right and is better off with a simulation wheel. But needless to say, I do not currently own one. Now here comes my major gripe with cherry blue switches. While they are fun to type on and all, I can simply not double tap on them. Obviously each person will have different experiences some may have problems some won’t. Why is double tapping a key important in racing games? Well since the keyboard restricts the car movement based on the frequency and duration of the key press whereas this is nonexistent in steering wheels , you’ll find yourself double tapping a lot to get the car to go where you would like it to go. Overall,
cherry blues keyboards are not my weapon of choice when playing racing games.
Entering the MMOs (massively multi player online games) I have Aion lined up for you guys. Now Aion like every “usual” MMO out there has a bar where you place your frequently used skills for faster execution via the number keys or what not. Now once again the macro ability has shown its worth. For example, we have option A where you have to click 1, wait two seconds, 2, 3, wait two seconds, and 4 then the monster dies. Option B is press an already defined macro key with the appropriate delay already inserted and you will get the same result. The only difference? Well I only pressed one key and took a sip of my water while you had to press 4 and even time the key presses yourself. You can argue that macro keys can make the game boring as all I have to do now is click 1 single button. However, if you want to look at World of Warcraft and many other games, you’ll notice macros becoming more and more popular and even in the game system already. Why oh why are macros that important in MMOs? It lets you react faster than you normally would. Instead of pressing some mashup of crazy combination keys to get out of a stun, charge to the enemy’s location, and lay on the pain with your plethora of attacking skills, it can be done on reflex with the simple click of one button. Overall this is where I think this keyboard really excels and shows the user what it can truly be capable of.
Finally we have the DoTA (Defense of the Ancients) type games. For my choice, I’ve been playing League of Legends so we’ll be using this for the test. DoTA games as many of you gamers out there know is mostly based on timing and mouse clicking. Keyboards generally do not provide an advantage. Well I lied. Macros provide an advantage. DoTA type games generally consists of three lanes: top, middle, and bottom/bot and is a 5v5 player vs player with NPCs (Non player characters) constantly spawning and walking down these lanes to attack the enemy’s base. If your base is destroyed, you lose the game. You will only be able to see things near your own hero and allied structures/units/heroes. If you are in a lane with two opposing players and one goes missing, it is very important to call ______ is MIA (missing in action). This allows your teammates to understand there is someone on the loose so thus they should be more cautious. I have seen too many games lost because of people forgetting to call MIA. The mini-map provides great detail of what is going on and if you have good map awareness, most times you should not get “ganked” (When you did not expect another person in the fight, giving the opposing players an advantage in numbers. 2v1, 4v2, etc). So with the freedom of macros, I was able to map my MIA calls and let everyone know when someone was missing. (I generally play with friends so we use a VOIP service but sometimes when you don’t have a full 5 it is crucial to let the other player who is MIA.) Typing “top mia” should not take long really but I would rather have the ease of just clicking one button and continue concentrating on what I am doing. Another benefit of macro keys here is chaining moves together. Normally you would click Q then click the enemy player for stun and then click W for a damaging spell. Macro eliminates these excess key presses and allows you to chain this combo in one quick succession of a single key press. Sure every hero has different abilities but macro’s are entirely up to the user and changeable at a whim. Thus concludes the performance review of the Razer Black Widow Ultimate. As you can see, the macro ability has really shined and proven itself to be quite handy.
The price of the Black Widow Ultimate is $130 whereas the normal version is only $80. The ultimate is fairly prices with other contenders such as XArmor/Das/Filco ~$100+ range. The normal version however is probably one of the best prices you can get for a cherry blue keyboard with the macro ability. Its definitely worth the buy if you’ve always wanted to try out a mechanical keyboard. If you want one now check Newegg as they’re offering the normal version for only $70 with free shipping.
[Some pictures courtesy of Manyak]
Review unit was provided by Razer.