HAS RAZER BUILT A BETTER SWITCH?
Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth 2014
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.