If you’ve spent any time playing MMOs on a stock keyboard, then you know the pain of wrist fatigue and repetitive stress on your fingers. Gaming keyboards like the Razer BlackWidow Chroma are designed to fight that fatigue, making it easier to play for longer periods of time. If you’re looking to take your gaming experience to the next level, then the best place to start is with upgrading your keyboard to one of the popular options from Razer.
What Is the Razer BlackWidow Chroma?
The BlackWidow was the most popular board on the market when it was introduced in 2010, and in the near-decade that’s passed, not much has changed. The Razer BlackWidow Chroma is one of the top-selling gaming keyboards around, and for a good reason. This is a wired, mechanical keyboard that offers full back-lit key control and the ability to program individual buttons with custom macros.
Razer makes a lot of great gaming keyboards, but it can get confusing when trying to compare the different features; there are a lot of them available from this manufacturer. Razer has been making these types of gaming peripherals for a long time, so they have amassed a catalog of special tools and features for every keyboard. We’re going to dive a little deeper into the Razer BlackWidow Chroma and help you decide if this is the keyboard you’ve been looking for, just the tool to take your game to a higher level.
The Razer BlackWidow Chroma was designed from the ground up for gaming, so there aren’t any needless features weighing down the hardware. Razer has their mechanical switches and internal systems, so everything was manufactured and integrated with the gaming experience in mind. There are dozens of individual features that make the BlackWidow stand out, but we want to call out a few that got us excited to work with this keyboard.
Razer Brand Mechanical Switches
While most modern gaming keyboards are using the popular Cherry MX switches, Razer goes all in for their in-house brand of mechanics. The RMS (Razer Mechanical Switches) were designed with anti-ghosting and tactile feedback in mind. Regular stock keyboards do not allow for hyper-paced key presses, making fast play-styles difficult to master. Sometimes entire key presses will just drop out because the signal strength or pressure applied was too weak. These problems are eliminated with the RMS enabled keys on the BlackWidow.
Not only are they fast and responsive, but they are tough. The keys are rated for up to eighty million clicks, an industry leader in durability. This is meant to be one of the longest living boards you will ever buy, and if you’re a full-time gamer or dedicated MMO player, that life is important.
Razer Chroma SDK
The Chroma system of back-lit keys makes it possible to customize the effects of the board. This is the most common feature on Razer gaming keyboards, but the Razer BlackWidow Chroma has an extra trick up the sleeve. There's a selection of popular games that take advantage of an open SDK package. This means that certain game manufacturers can pre-program lighting profiles for their games.
When using a Chroma SDK enabled device, like the BlackWidow, some games can have event-based lighting. This means the back-lit keys and color profile will change based on things happening during the game, highlighting important macros, or even just adding to the play experience with certain lighting effects.
Additional Macro Keys
It would seem like a given at this point, but why get a macro-enabled keyboard with no macro specific keys? While some players like the feel of a stock board, others prefer to program their customization without stepping on preexisting setups. The BlackWidow has an extra flank of “M” keys that are meant to stand separate from the standard set, giving you an easy to program option to add into your game.
The low-end price for most Razer gaming keyboards starts around $50, with the higher end models topping out at over $200. There seems to be a real correlation between the overall price and the complete suite of options, which gives the beginning gamer a lot of different features to choose from. There can be a swing in prices depending on where you purchase the board, but the BlackWidow was fairly consistent wherever we checked for availability.
How it Compares
We have picked three popular gaming keyboards from the same manufacturer to compare against the Razer BlackWidow Chroma. Razer is one of the leading makers of entry-level gaming keyboards, so it’s helpful to compare these different setups with one and other to see how the features truly stack up.
- Multi-Award winning Razer Mechanical Switches - Razer Green Switch with tactile bump and audible click for the best...
- Extreme Durability- Razer mechanical switches are rated up to 80 million keystrokes and come with a 2-year warranty
- Powered by Razer Chroma – Individually programmable backlit keys with 16.8 million color options
- ease of use
- design quality
The Razer BlackWidow Chroma is available at most online electronics retailers for around $180 - $210.
The Razer BlackWidow Chroma is a little stripped-down on features compared to some others on this list, but that’s a good thing in this case. This is their most user-friendly model to date, streamlining the programmability so the beginning player can still enjoy customizing the board. The Synapse system is still a pain in the beginning, but once you’re over the hump of the learning curve, you can do some amazing things.
The mechanical system used by Razer doesn't feel as good as some of the Cherry MX switches that are out there, but they’ll work for the basic needs of gamers. It’s a great gaming board, but the comfort disappears when you try for the fast successive clicks used in normal typing.
The overall design is great, including the strong braided fiber cord and metal top mounting frame that gives it sustained durability. This is one of the better boards for travel, making it easy to disconnect and pack up without worrying about breaking sensitive keys.
Since all the comparisons on this review are from the same manufacturer, Razer, they share the same basics, a limited warranty on all of their mechanical keyboards. They guarantee all parts to be defect free for up two years after purchase.
- The #1 Best-Selling Gaming Membrane Keyboard in the US: Source - The NPD Group, Inc., U.S. Retail Tracking Service,...
- All-around gaming performance: Able to execute up to ten commands at the same time with built-in key rollover...
- Ultimate personalization & Gaming Immersion with Razer Chroma: Fully syncs with popular games, Razer hardware, Philips...
The biggest difference between the Razer BlackWidow Chroma and the Razer Cyanosa Chroma is hard to see, but it’s a big one. Are you prone to spills or other accidents around your keyboard? If the answer is yes, then you might want to look into the Cyanosa. The least expensive keyboard we reviewed happens to be the toughest too. This standard-sized gaming keyboard comes with a special interior design that helps protect against major spills and liquid infiltration. This is especially helpful for an active desktop or a younger gamer that might be more prone to accidents.
- ease of use
- design quality
The Cyanosa is available for purchase online for around $50 - $80.
There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to talk about on the Cyanosa, but that's okay for the price. As the least expensive model we reviewed, there shouldn’t be a huge expectation for everything but the kitchen sink to be included. Razer still delivers a strong and durable gaming keyboard while maintaining the tactile feedback people love to feel when pressing the keys.
This is a full-sized gaming keyboard with no extra flanks of keys, so normal hand placement feels natural and comfortable. The keys offer tactile feedback while still actuating at low pressure. This makes quick key entry or rapid successive presses easier on the joints. Long-term fatigue is eliminated with a ten-gram pressure minimum, making fast play possible without seeing a lot of ghosting or missed clicks.
The keys are spill resistant and still offer high-end gaming performance. There is a ten-key anti-ghosting feature that allows you to bind or execute a command with as many as ten presses at once. This opens up the options into the thousands, giving you nearly endless combinations to bind shortcuts, timed-macros, or hot-swapping tools.
This keyboard carries the Razer limited two-year warranty that covers defective parts.
- High-Performance Mecha-Membrane Switches Provides the tactile feedback of mechanical key press on a comfortable...
- Ultimate Personalization & Gaming Immersion with Razer Chroma Fully syncs with popular games Razer hardware Philips Hue...
- Fully Programmable Macro Support Razer Hypershift allows for all keys and keypress combinations to be remapped to...
The Ornata from Razer introduces yet another type of hybrid board from the manufacturer. The mecha-membrane system offers durability and protection from dust and other particles while giving the tactile feedback needed from mechanical key systems. The domed rubber keys use a soft-cushion membrane that is gentle on the electronics but still offers the mechanical click players love. The keys are set into the frame at mid-height, making it easier to use swift moving controls and rapid successive presses.
- ease of use
- design quality
The Ornata Chroma is available for purchase online for around $70 - $100.
There aren’t any flanking keys to worry about programming, so while that might be a negative for the more advanced MMO players, it works well with the beginning to intermediate user. You can still use the Synapse software to program macros or shortcuts to keys, but that requires a degree of familiarity with not only the programming system but the game it will be using. You don’t want to accidentally hot-swap an important movement function for a timed macro or binding shortcut.
The soft touch keyboard offers a long-term solution to wrist fatigue, giving feedback on the presses without requiring a full press of the mechanism. This makes gliding over the keys much easier, especially if you have to use rapid presses one after the other. The wrist-guard is plush and set at a perfect height for taking the weight off of the forearms.
The Ornata Chroma has a gorgeous back-lit display, with the ability to use custom syncing for your favorite games or key-bindings. The Synapse application lets you coordinate the macros and shortcuts to the Chroma display, highlighting your playable keys and helping you navigate your special key placement. The ability to save profiles to each configuration makes it possible to swap entire pre-programmed platforms in a matter of a couple of key presses.
This keyboard is covered for two-years under the Razer limited warranty.
- The #1 Best-Selling Gaming Keyboard in the US: Source - The NPD Group, Inc., U.S. Retail Tracking Service, Keyboards,...
- Faster Than Legacy Mechanical Switches: Razer Optical switches use light-based actuation, registering key presses at the...
- Ultimate Personalization & Gaming Immersion with Razer Chroma: Fully syncs with popular games, Razer hardware, Philips...
This model is the most expensive we reviewed against the Razer BlackWidow Chroma, and it has the feature list to stand by that price. The Huntsman Elite introduces a new keyboard system from the manufacturer, a hybrid of optical switch technology and good old-fashioned mechanical actuating keys. Razer is calling their new hybrid system the Opto-Mechanical switch, and it’s as fast as it is innovative. These new switches are a literal game-changer for players, as they offer the tactile response of traditional mechanical switch systems, but has unparalleled speed on successive key presses.
- ease of use
- design quality
The Huntsman Elite is available online for around $190 - $230.
It’s hard to judge some of these models against one and other because they all fall back on the same Synapse 2 application. Razer has worked hard to streamline this software, but there is still a learning curve to tackle. There are a lot of programmable functions, especially when you consider the Chroma system and the sixteen million-plus combinations.
This is a full-sized keyboard, so there are no squeezed hand or cramping issues for long play times. There is a detachable wrist guard that serves its purpose. The new mechanical optical system works well to limit the distance you need to press the keys, so your fingers don’t have to extend as far on rapid successive key presses.
The Huntsman Elite has a solid metal body designed with stability and strength in mind. Razer makes a strong gaming keyboard, designing the body to fit perfectly with their new actuators in the keys. The new Opto-Mechanical switches are a marked improvement over the hybrid switches seen in some competitors.
The Razer Huntsman Elite comes with the standard limited warranty from the manufacturer which covers for all defective parts for up to two years.
Razer BlackWidow Chroma - The Final Verdict (4/5 STARS)
After reviewing all four boards, we have to say that the Razer BlackWidow Chroma is definitely the best. The macro recording paired with a streamlined Synapse application makes for a great introductory gaming board. You still have the full capabilities of the Chroma RGB system and can even use certain SDK commands from supported games. It’s for these reasons and more we have given the BlackWidow four out of five stars.