Gaming

Keyboard that is hard to fault

Razer's Blackwidow mechanical gaming keyboard series has always been a personal favourite. And the new Blackwidow Elite is the 2018 flagship model of the series.

In terms of design, the Blackwidow Elite looks like a carbon copy of the Huntsmen Elite, Razer's other flagship gaming keyboard.

The key difference is in the switches. The Huntsmen Elite uses Razer's Opto-Mechanical switch - an optical-mechanical switch - under each key, while the Blackwidow Elite uses the more traditional Razer Mechanical switch.

The Blackwidow Elite comes in three variants with different Razer Mechanical switches - the linear-silent Razer Yellow, the tactile-silent Razer Orange and the tactile-clicky Razer Green.

For this review, I tested the version with Razer Green switches, which are my personal favourite.

Razer Mechanical switches now have a slightly different design. In the past, when you removed the keycap, you saw only a tiny cross on the switch. Now, the cross is much bigger and flanked by walls on each side. This is supposed to enhance the stability and consistency of the switch. It also reduces key wobble and increases durability. Razer Mechanical switches are supposed to have a lifespan of up to 80 million presses.

I found that I was able to press the key off-centre and yet still could register the keystroke, something that might not be possible with the old switches of the Blackwidow Elite's predecessor, Blackwidow Chroma V2.

The Blackwidow Elite features a matte black aluminium top and "floating" keys. It loses the column of dedicated macro keys found in the Blackwidow Chroma V2. But it gains a customisable multi-functional click dial at the top right of the keyboard and a row of three, nicely rounded multimedia keys beside the dial.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $279.90

    SWITCHES: Razer Green switches, tactile and clicky with 50g actuation force

    FEATURES: RGB lighting, Razer Synapse enabled

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

While the row of dedicated macro keys might be gone, there are actually more input options now due to Razer's new Hypershift technology, which allows each key to be customised as a macro key.

Not to mention, I feel the multimedia keys and click dial are more frequently used than the macro keys.

Unlike the Huntsmen Elite, the Blackwidow Elite has a USB 2.0 pass-through port and a 3.5mm audio jack - convenient when you need to attach a thumb drive or plug in a pair of gaming headphones.

It also comes with a plush leatherette wrist rest that can be magnetically attached to the keyboard. It felt very comfortable and helped to reduce wrist strain, whether I was using the keyboard to type or play games.

I was able to type pretty accurately using this keyboard. During gaming, the keyboard performed superbly for both first-person shooters such as Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 and action role-playing games like Diablo III. The keys were responsive to my presses and there was no ghosting.

Like its predecessors, the Razer Blackwidow Elite is expensive. But compared with the Huntsmen Elite, it is cheaper by $60. And I still prefer the Razer Mechanical switches over the Opto-Mechanical switches.

• Verdict: Apart from its usual hefty price tag, there is not much to fault about the Razer Blackwidow Elite. It is a superb mechanical keyboard for both work and leisure.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2018, with the headline 'Keyboard that is hard to fault'. Print Edition | Subscribe