Peripheral Vision: Razer Black Widow Ultimate 2013
Over the past few weeks, we’ve taken a look at quite a few different mechanical keyboards, and today we have the pleasure of reviewing the Razer Black Widow Ultimate 2013. This long-named keyboard includes full mechanical keys (Cherry Blue) that are backlit, 5 extra macro keys, 1 USB port, audio-out/mic-in pass through, standard media keys, and, of course, the lovely Gaming Mode option that enables/disables the Windows key.
My first impressions of the keyboard were a bit mixed, because normally a mechanical keyboard does not include all the normal crazy buttons or looks. But Razer have built this keyboard just like they would a normal rubber dome keyboard, and I must say it looks quite nice. However, the finish on the keyboard itself has this semi-rubbery feel and it marks like hell. So beware, clean freaks, this keyboard can be a bugger!
With that said, the Black Widow does feature a small-ish hand rest and a normal location for the num, scroll and caps lock indicators, which always makes me happy. On the right-hand side, you’ve also got a USB port and mic/audio-in pass-throughs, allowing you to easily plug anything into the side of the keyboard. Personally, since I game with my mouse and keyboard quite close together, this wasn't a very practical setup for me.
The overall look and feel of the Black Widow left me confused. The font on the keys looks strange, the rubber finish marks like crazy, and the Black Widow only comes in MX Cherry Blues. This can be a problem for users, because while MX Cherry Blue Switches are nice, they do make a lot of noise when being used, and we all know how fussy some housemates can be. Thankfully, there is a stealth edition that contains Cherry Browns, which are a lot quieter.
Then there are the extra five macro keys and the media keys. You have the standard media keys that are simply activated via holding down the FN key and pressing F1-F7, but you’ve also got illumination control and something that’s quite cool known as On-The-Fly Macro record feature, which allows you to instantly record a macro without using any software. Additionally, you’ve got the Gaming Mode key that can disable the windows key, Alt-Tab and even the lovely ragequit combo known as ALT + F4. You can change which key combos are affected via the included Synapse 2.0 drivers.
With Synapse 2.0, I can install, update and configure the keyboard while also playing with the lighting. Personally, I've never had a problem with these drivers, though I know a lot of other people have.
The Razer Black Widow Ultimate 2013 is quite a beast, but there are some things about it that you might find annoying. Sure, you’ve got the full mechanical keyboard with individually backlit keys, but you cannot choose which switch they are, and players generally only like certain switches. However, if this is your first mechanical keyboard, it's a good choice because it looks and act’s just like a top quality keyboard should with all those extra buttons.