Layout and Design
The first thing I noticed about the BlackWidow Ultimate as I opened the box, is the look of durability that it exudes. The rugged matt finish plastic, the heavy weight and the thick braided fibre USB cable all help to give it the feel of lastability. It is a somewhat chunky beast, weighing in at 1500grams (or about 3.3 lbs for those of you who still work in empirical measures). Size-wise, it is comparable to most gaming keyboards, coming in at 475mm (width) x 171mm (height) x 20mm (depth).
The BlackWidow Ultimate is not an overly sexy looking keyboard, with its rather angular design. The layout is fairly standard for a keyboard though, with function keys at the top and numeric keypad to the right. On the left though, are five specialized macro keys (more on this later), which took a little time to get familiar with, especially when gaming in the dark. I was occasionally pressing these macro keys rather than the Shift and Control buttons, because I’ve been so accustomed to have those two keys on the far left.
The thick braided connector cable houses two USB cables and headphone jacks. One USB cable is used to connect the keyboard, whilst the second acts as a pass-through for a second USB port located on the right panel of the keyboard. The headphone jacks allow gamers to connect their headset directly to the keyboard (also on the right side panel). Once connected, the keyboard oozes a green backlight which can be dimmed or brightened as preferred.
The BlackWidow Ultimate is a mechanical keyboard and, as such, is quite loud. Even the box mentions that it is a ‘clicky’ keyboard. This isn’t so much an issue for gamers, as they’d usually have their fingers primed on the WASD configuration, but for someone who also types a fair bit, this could become a bit of an annoyance. It could also cause issues if you’re typing away next to someone who is watching TV. But the keystrokes are precise, which is perfect for PC gaming. The keys are also spaced far enough apart for those gamers with larger hands.
Function keys and Macro recording
The BlackWidow Ultimate comes complete with the usual Function/Multimedia keys. One-touch buttons to turn sound on and off, to reduce or increase volume, play and pause media. Fast forward and rewind buttons are also on hand. Also, because of the backlighting, there are two function keys to reduce and increase the brightness of the lovely green backlight. An on-the-fly macro recording button is also present, as well as a button to enter Gaming mode (essentially, it turns off the Windows button and can be programmed to turn off other button combinations – such as Alt-F4 – so that they can’t accidently be pressed during a gaming session).
Along the left hand side of the keyboard are the five dedicated macro buttons. Although macros can be recorded on-the-fly, use of the Razer Synapse software is required. The software does not come bundled within the box, but a simple download, registration and installation is all that is required to get you going. Once in the software, pretty much any key on the keyboard can be used to act as a macro button. But having said that, the five dedicated macro keys down the left hand side are probably adequate for most gamers.
Despite its functionality, I’m not sure you would want to lug around the keyboard to LAN parties, due to the weight. But the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate is superb as a desktop gaming device. The functionality of the on-the-fly macro recording works well and is simple to operate, giving gamers (and non-gamers, for that matter) quick use keys at their fingertips. The keyboard is robust, and although the mechanical keys make a reasonable racket, they are quick and precise. A wrist rest could have been handy, but considering the size and weight of the keyboard, this was probably deemed impractical. The green backlight certainly makes night-time gaming easier and gives the keyboard an eerie alien touch. In all, the Razer BlackWidow Ultimate does a great job and is definitely one that gamers should seriously consider.