I’m a very vocal person and it’s not every day that I get to use a product that I can’t almost immediately start complaining about. I’m generally a pessimist when it comes to hardware and nitpick reason’s not to buy it, but on first encounter, the BlackWidow Chroma v2 had me quiet, for all the right reasons.
The BlackWidow Chroma v2
Building on the success of the BlackWidow Chroma, Razer introduced the Version 2 adding a third mechanical switch type and making small optimizations to improve the general feel of the device. The BlackWidow Chroma v2 is a full sized keyboard with numeric keypad measuring 475mm in width, 171mm in height and 39mm deep.
There’s also an included magnetically removable wrist rest for those non gamer typing peasants. The USB cable is braided, non removable and is split into two USB cables at the end for powering and running the keyboard, as well as allowing USB and Audio pass through for your mouse and headset. Build quality is top tier due to the premium materials used for manufacturing and little to no flexing is seen when using the keyboard or doing a light bend test in hand.
Razer’s Mechanical Switches
Instead of using genuine Cherry MX mechanical key switches, Razer opted to create their own mechanical switches. Razer’s logic behind this is that Cherry MX switches were originally developed with typing as their main use, Razer has rather optimized their design for gaming with low actuation force. These switches have higher durability than Cherry being rated up to 80 million keystrokes. In practice these switches feel near identical to their Cherry MX counterparts, which is welcomed as it doesn’t feel different, but has increased quality.
It’s worth noting that Razer’s switches are also compatible with Cherry MX Keycaps allowing for third parts accessorizing. The switch in my BlackWidow is the Green variant which is the loudest, but felt amazing after hours of gaming. If you’re in a relationship and you don’t want to drive your significant other insane I’d suggest getting the Orange version.
Here’s more information on the three different switches :
- Razer Green Switch : Audible click and tactile feel.
- Razer Orange Switch : No audible click (silent) and tactile feel.
- Razer Yellow Switch : No audible click and linear feel.
The Razer BlackWidow Chroma v2 is mostly customized by using the downloadable software – Razer Synapse, or using the “fn” key found towards the bottom right of the keyboard. Using the function key allows you to use F1 through F7 for media keys such as volume up, down, play and pause etc. This is probably the only part of this keyboard that I feel drastically needs improvement in the v3. To change volume I need to use two hands as the distance between fn and F2 is greater than the length of my hand. Competing keyboards at this price point include dedicated media keys or at least a scroll-able volume wheel in the top right corner of the keyboard – why Razer didn’t do this is beyond me. A gaming mode can also be enabled to disable the windows key when in games, which is welcomed when I’m microing with Meepo in Dota 2. Razer Synapse can be used to customize profiles or one of the 5 macros found on the far left of the keyboard. Synapse can also be used to adjust lighting effects on the keyboard.
Using Synapse you can turn lighting off completely, create custom lighting profiles of your own using the chroma configurator, or use one of the following eight presets :
- Breathing: Lighting increases and decreases in brightness in the colour of your choice.
- Fire: Lighting flows from red to yellow to simulate a lit flame.
- Reactive: Individual keys light up in the colour of your choice when pressed.
- Spectrum Cycling: The lights cycle between different colours.
- Starlight: Random keys light up to simulate the twinkling of stars.
- Static: Full lighting stays static on the colour of your choosing.
- Wave: Waves of colour flow from one side of the keyboard to the other.
- Ripple: Coloured light ripples outward from the pressed key.
Using the chroma configurator allows you to take the presets further by customizing them per key, or in sets, changing the colours, speeds, width and even something crazy – the angle of the animation. The possible outcomes are practically endless and can be synchronized with other Razer Chroma products or even be customized per application. Razer has created the Chroma Workshop for downloadable presets for game and application integration. An example is having lighting flash or change colour in Overwatch to show a players health in game. You can check out the Chroma Workshop here.
The Razer BlackWidow Chroma v2 is quite easily the best keyboard I have ever laid my hands on, and had it included a scrolling volume control I would probably score it 10/10. It’s arguably the best value keyboard due to its inclusion of practically every other feature possible… except the volume scroller, but that’s just me.