When Razer announced its light strike optical switch equipped Huntsman and Huntsman Elite, we’re assume that Razer might be planning to phase out its Blackwidow. Truth to be told, it’s been a very long while since its release and we’re finally seeing a proper upgraded Blackwidow instead of just giving it some extra RGB lighting and call it a new Blackwidow.
At first glance, we can see that Razer has done quite an amount of changes to it, but we’ll keep that for later and let’s find out what’s new with the Blackwidow Elite.
From the box, we can see that the Blackwidow Elite still resembles the Blackwidow X Chroma, but with some extra buff. It’s equipped with the same media control wheel as the Huntsman Elite, repositioned indicator LEDs, as well as the absent of the dedicated macro keys which is usually located at the most left of the keyboard.
Also, we’re sure that most of you have already noticed Razer’s current direction for package design of its product. Instead of the usual gimmicky messages at the front of the box, the box now looks very minimalist, less hard sell, less gimmicks, more pleasant looking.
More information of the product can be found at the back of the box i.e type of switches available and other on-board functions.
Inside the box, you’ll get the usual plastic cover with the cutout on the arrow clusters. Honestly, it’ll be great if Razer can actually come up with some alternative to make the plastic cover usable for those who really needs a keyboard cover to keep the dusts at bay.
Inside the box, you’ll get the usual welcome note from Min-Liang Tan, the CEO of Razer himself, user’s manual and the stickers for you to stick onto anything you want and of course, the keyboard itself.
The Blackwidow Elite
Here you have the Blackwidow Elite and the magnetic cushioned wrist rest that comes together in the box. The keyboard itself looks pretty similar to the Blackwidow X Chroma, except for the extra media wheel and buttons, as well as the repositioned indicator LEDs. Also, the cables are braided like usual for enhanced durability.
From the side, you can see that the wrist rest fits perfectly on the keyboard, giving it a very nice angle for you to rest your wrist on. Though, the wrist rest will cover up the Razer logo on the keyboard – just a little sacrifice in exchange for better comfort.
For the connectors, you have a USB for the keyboard, along with a USB and audio pass-through.
While it’s good to have a USB and audio pass-through at the side, the use of USB 2.0 instead of USB 3.0 for the USB pass-through is rather disappointing.
The media buttons and wheel is exactly the same as the one on the Huntsman Elite, which we find really convenient compared to the ones that has to be triggered with the function (FN) key.
The extra functions that remains on the function keys row (F1 to F12) is the macro key recording, gaming mode and the LED brightness adjustment. It’s good to see that these function keys are positioned nearer to the FN key for easier access, but it’ll be even better if Razer can consider to have these keys above the arrow clusters for better ergonomics.
If you’re planning to have custom keycaps set, a standard set will not be compatible with the Blackwidow Elite. You’ll have to go with those that comes with non-standard bottom rows, which can be a pain due to availability issue.
The quality of the keycap is pretty much the same as the new Huntsman and the previous Blackwidow, not that great, but usable. Since it’s the usual painted translucent cap with laser etched legends, the layer of paint will wear out over time.
As for the stabilizers, the Blackwidow Elite is using the commonly seen metal wire stabilizers. It’s not as thick as the one on a Costar stabilizer, but the behavior is roughly similar. Unlike most non Costar made metal wire stabilizers that we’ve came across, the one on this keyboard is perfectly straight and is not scratching against the switch.
Also, if you take a close look at the tip of the metal wire, you’ll find traces of grease / lubricant that helps to reduce the scratchiness with the stabilizer insert on the keycap.
There’s a total of 3 Razer switch available as of now (Green, Orange and Yellow) and 2 different stem design (standard and box-like design). The Blackwidow Elite we have here comes with the Razer Green switch that has a box-like design for its stem. Based on our previous experience on a mechanical switch with similar design, it actually helps to reduce the wobbling on the stem to achieve a smoother key travel.
Moving on to the back of the keyboard, you’ll find 5 large rubber feet that provides better grip compared to most conventional design when the keyboard is placed on a smooth surface. Unlike most rubber feet that is so small and nearly insignificant, the larger piece of rubber feet stay attached longer over the course of time.
Similar to the Huntsman and Blackwidow X Chroma, the cable routing path design isn’t the usual 90 degree sharp bend, which is way much better than a lot of keyboards you can find on the market.
For those who are not used laying their keyboard flat on the desk, the Blackwidow Elite does comes with a 3 level adjustable keyboard feet to serve that very purpose. There are rubber feet on the keyboard feet as well, but that size is definitely not going to provide enough of grip to prevent the keyboard from sliding around when it’s raised.
Here’s a quick preview from the side for all 3 different level of the adjustable keyboard feet.
User Experience – Typing
The clickiness of the Razer green switch is fun for those who likes both tactile and audible feedback, but it can be pretty annoying over time, especially to those around you. While it shares similar actuation force with the Cherry Blue, the actuation point on the Razer green is slightly higher. However, it doesn’t really make that much of a difference when it comes to normal usage i.e office work, web browsing.
User Experience – Gaming
The default key rollover of the Blackwidow Elite is maxed at 6KRO just the same as most USB keyboard you’ll find out there, not including the modifier keys. Unless you’re working on something or playing games that requires more than 6 simultaneous input at the same time, the 6KRO will actually suffice in most of the time. Razer does seems to get the key matrix right as well on the Blackwidow Elite, as we didn’t notice any ghost trigger even after maxing out the input at the 6KRO.
If the necessity arises, you can enable up to 10 key rollover (10KRO) by enabling the ‘Gaming Mode’ via FN + F10. This will temporary disable the Windows key and allow you to register up to 10 keys simultaneously. The 10KRO feature is something rhythm game players will appreciate, but we highly recommend the Cherry brown and red equivalent Razer orange and yellow, which is much more suitable than Razer green or Cherry blue.
As mentioned earlier, both the Razer Green and Cherry Blue has a slight difference in its actuation point even though both switches shares similar actuation force:
|Switch Type||Actuation Force||Actuation Point|
Although it doesn’t really makes much of a difference when it comes to normal usage, there are some who claimed that the 0.1mm difference did helped them to gain a slight upper hand in game.
As there are 3 types of switches available from Razer, we’ll be only covering the user experience for the Razer green switch for the Blackwidow Elite we have here. For those of you who prefer non-clicky switches, the Razer orange and yellow will be a better choice to go for.
At the price of RM 669, the Blackwidow Elite is still pretty costly compared to others, but it’s a much more reasonable choice compared to the Huntsman Elite – apart from the optical switches used, the rest of the features are pretty much the same.
Even though the keycaps isn’t really that great to begin with, the Blackwidow Elite is still a pretty solid keyboard in terms of features and ergonomics. Less wobbly stem, dedicated media buttons and volume control wheel, comfortable magnetic arm rest are some of the features that we really like about the Blackwidow Elite.
There are still room for improvement which we think can make the Blackwidow Elite even better, but this is up to Razer to decide. Just to highlight some, the function keys on F9 to F12 can be relocated to the section above the arrow clusters for better ergonomics, longer lasting doubleshot keycaps instead of painted translucent keycaps, USB 3.0 pass-through instead of USB 2.0, include a 3.5mm audio jack splitter to cater for devices that doesn’t comes with a 3.5mm combo jack.
- Comfortable magnetic wrist rest
- Cables are braided for enhanced durability
- Comes with USB and audio pass-through
- Less wobbly switch stem
- Comes with dedicated media buttons and volume control wheel
- Good attention on the metal stabilizers
- Can toggle between 6KRO and 10KRO
- 3 level adjustable keyboard feet for users with different requirement
- 5 large rubber feet for extra grip on smooth surface
- Could have use USB 3.0 pass-through instead of USB 2.0
- Could have include 3.5mm audio jack splitter
- Mediocre keycaps