HAS RAZER BUILT A BET­TER SWITCH?

Razer Black­Wi­dow Ul­ti­mate Stealth 2014

HWM (Singapore) - - Test - by James Lu

CON­CLU­SION Razer’s new switches prove to be bet­ter for gam­ing, but it’s not the best for typ­ing.

Razer’s new Black­Wi­dow Ul­ti­mate is some­thing of a nov­elty. As Razer states on the pack­ag­ing, it’s the only key­board us­ing a me­chan­i­cal switch de­signed specif­i­cally for gam­ing – most key­boards use Cherry MX Switches, which were orig­i­nally de­signed for typ­ing. But is Razer just try­ing to fix some­thing that isn’t bro­ken?

Two vari­ants of the Black­Wi­dow Ul­ti­mate 2014 are avail­able; the stan­dard ver­sion comes with Razer Green switches, which are sim­i­lar in specs to Cherry MX Blue switches, while the Stealth edi­tion is fit­ted with Razer Or­ange switches, which are closer to MX Brown switches. The main dif­fer­ence be­tween Razer’s switches and the MX line is a higher ac­tu­a­tion point, roughly 0.2mm higher in the case of the Or­ange switches.

But can you feel a 0.2mm dif­fer­ence? Sur­pris­ingly, you can. The ac­tu­a­tion point on the Razer Or­ange switches are no­tice­ably closer to the key­cap’s rest­ing point. On MX Brown switches, there’s a dis­tinct ridge above the ac­tu­a­tion point that can be pressed with­out the switch ac­ti­vat­ing, whereas with Razer’s switches it pretty much goes straight from touch­ing the key to the tac­tile bump. Ad­di­tion­ally, while Razer states that the switch re­quires the same 45g ac­tu­a­tion force as MX Brown switches, it ac­tu­ally feels a bit heav­ier than that. As a re­sult, the tac­tile bump is more de­fined than on MX switches, and it’s im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous once you’ve hit it. Like MX Brown switches, the Razer Or­ange switches are non-clicky and fairly quiet.

Gamers will cer­tainly ap­pre­ci­ate the re­duced dis­tance and stronger tac­tile bump from the Razer Or­ange switch, as it’s very in­tu­itive to activate the key with­out bot­tom­ing out, which can make dou­ble-tap­ping very fast. On the other hand, the key­board prob­a­bly isn’t the best for typ­ing as the heav­ier ac­tu­a­tion point can lead to fa­tigue af­ter a while.

There’s a col­umn of five macro keys on the left side of the board, which you can pro­gram us­ing Razer’s Synapse soft­ware. An­noy­ingly, all set­tings are stored in a per­sonal pro­file in the cloud in­stead of on-board mem­ory, mean­ing you have to in­stall Razer’s Synapse soft­ware in ev­ery com­puter you want to at­tach the key­board to.

As for the rest of the key­board, not much has changed from the 2013 ver­sion. It uti­lizes the same rub­ber­ized matte black fin­ish and in­di­vid­u­ally back­lit keys in Razer’s trade­mark neon green, with 22 lev­els of bright­ness, rang­ing from com­pletely off to brighter than the sun (if the sun was green). Whether or not you’re a fan of Razer, if you’re a gamer you’ll want to give these new switches a try. You might just like them a lot.

The Black­Wi­dow Ul­ti­mate 2014 is the only gam­ing key­board with switches de­signed specif­i­cally for gam­ing.

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