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Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 review

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Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Variety of quality key switches
  • Excellent software

Cons

  • RGB lighting isn't perfect
  • No media buttons

Key Features

  • Razer Orange, Green and Yellow mechanical switches
  • 5 customisable ‘M’ Keys
  • RGB Chroma Lighting
  • USB & 3.5mm passthrough
  • Weight: 1.5kg
  • Manufacturer: Razer
  • Review Price: £169.99

What is the Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2?

The BlackWidow Chroma V2 is Razer’s flagship mechanical keyboard, and comes equipped with all the bells and whistles needed to please hardened PC gamers that want the best.

The keyboard is very well made, and uses Razer’s bespoke key switches for a satisfying typing and gaming experience. It’s also very rich on features, with assignable macro keys, RGB lighting and passthrough for both a headphone jack and a USB port.

It isn't perfect, though – and with an RRP exceeding £150, it sits alongside some very strong competition.

Related: Best Gaming Keyboards

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Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 – Design, Build and Features

The BlackWidow Chroma V2 is a full size RGB backlit keyboard, but while it's quite large, the spacing between keys is slightly less generous than some rivals. This results in the keyboard feeling smaller than the likes of the Corsair RGB K95 Platinum.

Nevertheless, the BlackWidow is very well built, with a solid plastic shell that feels indestructible; there aren't any traces of flex in the body. The matte-black finish is pretty minimalist, with a subtle illuminated logo on the front of the keyboard. This will be covered if you opt to use the included leather-like wrist-rest, which attaches magnetically to the front of the keyboard. The rest feels great in use: there's plenty of padding, and while it's unlikely to be as durable as Corsair’s plastic material, it’s a finish I much prefer.

The keyboard connects over USB, although you can also pass an additional USB port and 3.5mm jack through the keyboard for quick access when connecting a controller or headset. The braided cable isn't detachable as found on the Asus ROG Claymore, but it’s much thinner than that of the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB.

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Each key cap is finished with a soft-touch plastic, and can be removed to reveal the Razer Mechanical switches. Most manufacturers ship in switches from Cherry, but Razer goes a step further with a list of specifications for its own unique switch.

The BlackWidow can be fitted with Green, Orange or Yellow switches, with the characteristics varying by colour. My review sample uses the Orange switch, with a tactile bump for feedback and a travel distance of 4mm. Pure typists may prefer the ‘clicky’ nature of the Green switch, while hardcore gamers may want to opt for the linear Yellow switch. The Orange and Yellow switches are also branded as silent, since they make significantly less noise than clicky switches.

There are plenty of function keys to play with, with a bank of 5 ‘M’ keys along the left-hand side of the keyboard. These can be assigned as macro keys, or can be configured with more advanced options in Razer’s software. The function keys need to be activated by holding down the ‘fn’ key; they control your media, volume and lighting.

Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 – Performance

Using a mechanical keyboard is a wonderful thing, and I’ve been really pleased with the performance of the BlackWidow Chroma V2. The Orange switch is ideal for those who want to work and play – and as a result, I’ve been able to write, code and game without issue.

The Orange switches lend themselves well to typing, since each key press has a subtle tactile bump before the key will register. This makes it easier to feel each key, and I found myself making fewer mistakes than I'd have done with a Cherry MX Red or Speed switch. The switches feel very similar to Kailh and Cherry Brown’s, although the keyboard does sound slightly quieter in operation. The word ‘silent’ isn't apt, though: the BlackWidow is still louder than most membrane and chiclet-style keyboards.

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Gaming with the keyboard is excellent, too. For testing, I opted to explore deep space in Mass Effect Andromeda, and to rip players into thousands of pieces in Gears of War 4. A game such as Mass Effect Andromeda uses a fair number of keys, and the snappy nature of the BlackWidow helps keep on top of the Remnant onslaught. Activating abilities is quick and fast, with a great level of feedback for each key press.

Gears of War is a very energetic game, and takes proper advantage of the mechanical key switches. My character felt agile, with nimble cover-snapping and hurried action rolling. Having a mechanical keyboard certainly helps here, and I’m pleased to say that the BlackWidow Chroma V2 was more than up to the task.

The full-size nature of the keyboard does take up a fair amount of space on your desk, and while I love the assignable macro keys and number pad, I'd have preferred dedicated media buttons as found on Corsair keyboards, or the volume roller from the Asus ROG Claymore.

However, the larger size is still a compromise I’m happy to make, but it’s a shame that Razer hasn't taken full advantage of the available space.

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Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 – Software and Lighting

Any flagship keyboard needs RGB lighting to stand out, and the BlackWidow Chroma V2 is a little hit and miss in this regard.

The RGB lighting under each key is bright and vibrant, with a number of effects to choose from. It looks pretty snazzy, and if you’ve never used an RGB keyboard before then you’ll be pleased.

My issue here is that it simply isn't as good as the competition, with Cooler Master, Asus and Corsair offering more consistent lighting that suffers less from RGB separation. The lighting beneath the bottom row of the BlackWidow is barely lit at all; the function key engravings aren't lit; and there's a sizable bright spot reflected above the larger keys. While not a huge issue, the competition is better.

The lighting control and keyboard assignments are adjusted via the Razer Synapse software. It’s quite mature now, and is very easy to use. You can adjust the lighting with the Chroma Configurator for an advanced style, or easily select one of the pre-configured modes. Each key can also be assigned a new action, such as opening a program or firing a macro. It’s pretty cool that each created profile can be linked to different applications, enabling each of your games to have their own keyboard layout and RGB lighting effects.

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Should I buy the Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2?

The BlackWidow Chroma V2 is an excellent keyboard that delivers a brilliant experience, no matter what you throw at it. Razer’s key switches work very well, plus there are a range of styles to choose from.

But while it's very comfortable in operation, competitors have a more luxurious design and better RGB lighting at a similar price point. With all that said, I’d be very happy to use the BlackWidow as my everyday keyboard, and those who choose to do so are unlikely to be disappointed.

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Verdict

The Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 is well-designed mechanical keyboard that almost cracks the formula.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Build Quality 8
  • Design 7
  • Features 8
  • Performance 9
  • Value 7
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