Review: Razer Blackwidow 2016

Razer is going to start running into a naming issue soon. The Razer Blackwidow Ultimate ‘2016 Edition’ is another great mechanical keyboard in the Blackwidow series, but in truth it’s slightly less ‘ultimate’ from a features standpoint than its siblings, the Razer BlackWidow Chroma (2015) or the Razer Blackwidow Ultimate 2014 Edition.
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Blackwidow 2016 (Credit: Razer) 

To clear up any confusion, the Razer Blackwidow Chroma (2015) represents the current pinnacle of features (and price) in the Blackwidow family of mechanical gaming keyboards, and the Blackwidow Ultimate 2014 sits just below it.

Fundamentally, the Blackwidow Ultimate 2016 is much the same as the 2014 edition, which is to say it’s the same great (and noisy) mechanical keyboard with a few nice tweaks, fewer keys, and a lower price point ($109) than its older sibling.

The Blackwidow in all its forms is still generally one of my favorite overall mechanical gaming keyboards.

Feature highlights & specifications

The key (pun intended) difference between the Blackwidow Ultimate 2014 and the 2016 edition is the lack of keys. The BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 does not have the 5 dedicated macro keys that the Chroma and 2014 (and earlier) editions of the Blackwidow series include. As a result, the Blackwidow Ultimate 2014 has a slightly smaller footprint, though not as small as the ten-keyless Blackwidow TE editions.\
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The Blackwidow in all its forms is still generally one of my favorite overall mechanical gaming keyboards. 

New features include a unified (a single 3.5mm connector) audio pass through cable, more customizable and individually back-lit keys, backlighting on the spacebar and Fn keys, and a slightly improved indicator panel.

The BlackWidow Ultimate 2016 only has green LED lighting, but you can assign more advanced effects (wave, breathing, more levels of brightness, etc.), individual key lighting, and other color features previously exclusive to Razer’s Chroma peripherals. With the Blackwidow Ultimate 2016, you’re just limited to green and various shades/brightness levels of it.

Blackwidow Ultimate 2016 features

  • Individually, programmable backlit keys
  • Green LED back lighting
  • Razer Green mechanical key switches rated for up to 60 million keystrokes and 50g actuation force
  • 10 key roll-over anti-ghosting
  • Reduced footprint
  • Backlit spacebar and Fn key
  • 1x USB and unified audio pass through
  • 1000Hz polling
  • Braided fiber cable

Same old (kick-ass) Blackwidow

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Razer Blackwidow Ultimate 2016 (Credit: Razer)

In 2010, the Razer Blackwidow was the keyboard that made me fall in love with mechanical keyboards in general, and it was *the* mechanical gaming keyboard that introduced generations of gamers to mechanical keyboards and made them a popular choice. (Even if you don’t buy a Razer mechanical keyboard, you can largely thank Razer for igniting the market for them.)

But there isn’t much to say to about the Blackwidow Ultimate 2016 edition aside from this: It’s another great Blackwidow keyboard. It may just be a relatively minor product update that is still much the same as its predecessors, but to this day it’s still one of my favorite mechanical gaming keyboards. Now you just have more options (and price points) for buying one.

In all honesty (and sincerity), Razer sends them to me to review because they know I love the boards and—barring some colossal f*ckup on their part, which is rare but no unheard of (I’m looking at you, TRON mouse)—Blackwidow boards are almost guaranteed a good review. (Don’t mess with success!)

And this review is really no different from my other Blackwidow reviews, which is to say that the Blackwidow Ultimate 2016 is a fantastic mechanical keyboard, and a pretty solid recommendation at around $110.

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Personally, I prefer to have dedicated macro keys at my disposal for both work and play. But you can still get them on the Blackwidow Ultimate 2014 or the Blackwidow Chroma (2015) edition boards if you’re willing to spend a little more. The difference in the desktop footprint isn’t enough to make much of a difference for most desks. On a side note, some features I’d like to see on the Blackwidow boards are dedicated media keys and a volume roller similar to what the Logitech G910 and Corsair K95 RGB have.

Also remember that any key on the keyboard can be assigned a macro through Razer’s Synapse software, which also synchronizes settings and profiles in the cloud—a feature I initially didn’t care about a few years ago, but it has become increasingly useful because I have Razer products both at home and at work. It’s nice, for example, to be able to record a macro at home and have it available to me at work.

Overall: 9/10 – Highly Recommended

The Blackwidow 2016 edition downsizes the popular design of Razer’s flagship mechanical keyboard in favor of a slightly smaller footprint on your desk and (more importantly) on your wallet. Most importantly, the Blackwidow Ultimate 2016 edition continues the ‘tradition’ of being an excellent mechanical keyboard, and one I firmly recommend considering to anyone willing to spend the money on a good keyboard.

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