Introduction and Packaging

Several months ago, we had a quick look at the BlackWidow Ultimate from Razer, a company very well known for their focus on gaming-related products. A few weeks ago, Razer announced that they have developed their own all-new mechanical switches, upgrading most of their keyboards with them in the process. The upgrade involves the BlackWidow Ultimate keyboard, and we have the new "2014" version that we'll be reviewing today. Razer has made plenty of noise about their new switches, and while we'll have more to say on that in a moment, let's start as usual with a look at the packaging and included items.

 

We received the BlackWidow Ultimate in a nicely designed cardboard box, with a small opening allowing you to test the keys. We especially liked that idea and we wholeheartedly recommend, given that it is possible, that you should visit a retail store and test the switches yourself before purchasing a keyboard. No amount of text can fully describe the feel of a mechanical switch, especially if you have no previous experience with any mechanical keyboard.

The bundle is well presented but minimal; there is a nice envelope with a quick start guide, warranty information and product registration cards, as well as two large stickers, but that is about it. There is not even a disk with the keyboard's software; an internet connection is required to download it.

Software

The Razer Synapse software is, in our opinion, where Razer should have focused their marketing attention. With it, several profiles can be programmed into the BlackWidow Ultimate and the user can switch between them on the fly. It is also possible to link a program to each profile, a very handy feature if you want to link each profile to a specific game or application. It would be even better if the software would reset to the previous profile once the game/application has been closed though.

Aside from the programming of macros, the software allows every single key of the keyboard to be reprogrammed, a feature that can be highly useful. You can easily change the functions of any key -- and not just reprogram it to perform a single keystroke; the keys can be reprogrammed to execute macros, perform multimedia functions, launch applications and more. The combinations are practically infinite and this feature can be extremely useful, especially in games that do not allow the remapping of certain keys.

Furthermore, the backlight brightness can be adjusted and linked to certain profiles It can also be set to pulsate, which we do not recommend, as the brightness will essentially blind you every several seconds. When online, the Razer Synapse even allows the user to save the profiles to a free online account and import them into other Razer keyboards.

In short, the Synapse software has plenty of good features, and it's one of the highlights of the BlackWidow.

A Closer Look
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  • Sancus - Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - link

    I don't recommend razer keyboards anymore since the one time I tried one, I got one that liked to randomly press "F11" while other things were being typed. If you google "Black widow random key presses" you'll see many reports of similar issues -- for me, the one thing that's absolutely inexcusable in a keyboard is for it to not pass your input to the PC properly... especially for keyboards this expensive.

    Of course, you can RMA ones that have these kinds of issues, but this is the only keyboard that I've ever heard of having this kind of issue before, and I'd never experience it with dozens of keyboards from any number of other brands until I bought a BlackWidow Ultimate.
    Reply
  • Inteli - Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - link

    Those random keypresses are likely a result of terrible soldering, which can be fixed easily, but still kinda crap. Reply
  • Nenad - Thursday, April 03, 2014 - link

    Never had that problem on my Razer keyboard.
    Reason why I stopped buying their keyboards and switched to Logitech is that Razer does not offer "big" ENTER key.
    For example, Logitech US keyboards also have this small (one row) ENTER key , but their International (or at least UK/EU) keyboards have big (two row) ENTER key.
    Reply
  • thelowbob - Sunday, April 06, 2014 - link

    Hi! That they have one row enter key in US and two row key in UK/EU is normal, it's because in the US it's the ANSI standard that's used, and EU it's ISO. Reply
  • Nenad - Monday, April 07, 2014 - link

    Sadly, Razer keyboards only have US version. Reply
  • n13L5 - Wednesday, April 09, 2014 - link

    complaining about the one row enter key in the EU keyboards seems absurd to me, since the "international english" keyboards from Logitech have the much worse issue of a severely shrunken left shift key in order to cram other keys in, one of which is even a duplicate (the \ | key) Reply
  • n13L5 - Wednesday, April 09, 2014 - link

    first sentence was supposed to say "U.S. keyboards" Reply
  • Nenad - Monday, April 14, 2014 - link

    Well, missing big ENTER on Razer keyboard is much bigger issue for me - YMMV.

    BTW, I agree that Logitech's short left SHIFT is also stupid move, but how that make complaining about Razer's ENTER key absurd?
    Reply
  • santiagoanders - Thursday, April 03, 2014 - link

    Wow. My BlackWidow keyboard also presses F11 at random. It doesn't happen very often, but sometimes my terminal will go full screen (F11) for no reason. Reply
  • theangryintern - Friday, April 04, 2014 - link

    I've had a BlackWidow for about 6 months or so now and I've had no issues with mine. My only gripe is not being able to change the backlight colors. I know that the green color is kinda Razer's thing, but it would be nice to be able to change it to something else if I wanted. Luckily my mouse does allow me to change colors so I set it to match my keyboard. Reply

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