Review: Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2 (2017)

The best feature of the Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2 (2017)  isn’t found in its switches, software, or technology. Instead, Razer made something most of us usually toss into a box somewhere in a dark storage closet into a useful, almost must-have feature.

Razer’s Blackwidow Chroma keyboard continues to be one of the best—albeit expensive—gaming keyboards you can own. The Blackwidow Chroma V2 doesn’t change Razer’s successful formula, but it does come with some new touches and continues the legacy of its predecessors.

 

The Blackwidow Chroma v2 wrist rest is da bomb. Seriously.

Feature highlights and specifications

The key additions for the Razer Blackwidow Chroma ‘V2’ are relatively minor. It still hogs 2 USB connectors, but it’s now available in a new switch type called ‘Razer Yellow’, and it now includes a detachable wrist rest.

And don’t sell the wrist rest short, because as wrist rests go the Chroma v2 wrist rest is da bomb. Seriously. More on that shortly.

For mechanical switch aficionados, the Razer Yellow switch is similar to Cherry MX Red, with a very soft, quiet and linear key press. Note that I didn’t get to formally test a Blackwidow Chroma v2 with Razer Yellow switches, although Razer sent a little ‘key sampler’ device to illustrate the difference in feel between their switch types.)

chroma-key-sampler
Razer Chroma ‘key sampler’. (also pictured: Razer Vespula mouse pad). Credit – Bryan Edge-Salois

The Razer Yellow switch is the polar opposite of Razer Green, which is Razer’s equivalent to the noisy, clicky, and highly tactile Cherry MX Blue switches.

rzr_bwchromav2_v02_wristrest
Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2 (Credit – Razer)

Razer Orange, just for comparison, is roughly equivalent to Cherry MX Brown switches, being quieter than Razer Green (no click), but with some tactile feedback and a slightly stiffer press than Razer Yellow/Cherry MX Red switches. (See below for a comparison chart.)

Razer Blackwidow Chroma v2 features and specifications

  • Razer™ Mechanical Switches (Green, Orange, or Yellow)
  • 80 million keystroke life span
  • Chroma customizable backlighting with 16.8 million color options
  • Ergonomic wrist rest
  • Razer Synapse enabled
  • 10 key roll-over anti-ghosting
  • Fully programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording
  • Gaming mode to disable Windows key, ALT+F4, and ALT+Tab
  • 1000 Hz Ultrapolling 1000 Hz
  • Braided fiber cable
  • 1 x USB pass through
  • 1 x 3.5mm audio pass through

Razer Mechanical Switch characteristics

All Razer mechanical keyboard switches are rated for 80 million keystrokes, which is about 30 million more than standard mechanical switches, which is in turn still likely millions more than you’ll ever reach.

Razer Green Switch Razer Orange Switch Razer Yellow Switch
Actuation Point 1.9±0.4mm 1.9±0.4mm 1.2±0.3mm
Actuation Point vs. Reset Point 0.4mm 0.05mm 0.0mm
Actuation Force 50g 45g 45g
Description Clicky, tactile, and loud.  

Outstanding for typists, but anyone within earshot may descend into madness or call for your death.

Tactile but not ‘clicky’.  Quieter than green switches.

Less likely to induce madness or murder plots.

Quiet but not tactile.

Neighbors remain sane and non-homicidal.

Key terms

  • Actuation Point: The distance the switch travels to register an input. Measured from the top of the keycap.
  • Reset Point: The distance the key needs to travel (rebound) for the switch to reset.
  • Actuation Force: The amount of force required to press the key. The higher the number, the more force required to press the key.

Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2 performance evaluation

The Blackwidow 2010 with Cherry MX blue switches was my ‘first love’ mechanical gaming keyboard. Razer has continued to improve and refine the design, and it remains a favorite to this day.

There really is relatively little that is ‘new’ to the Blackwidow Chroma V2 (2017) in terms of technology, apart from being available with a new switch type (Razer Yellow) and a detachable wrist-rest. It otherwise performs like its predecessors, particularly the 2016 models which also featured the Razer Green switches; and Razer sent me a ‘green switch’ board to review because they know I’m partial to the clickity-clack.

rzr_bwchromav2_v03_wristrest
Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2 (Credit – Razer)

Razer has made a few slight changes over previous iterations of the Blackwidow that are evident on the Blackwidow Chroma v2. For example, the funky ‘Razer Typeface’ used on older models has been replaced by a standard keyboard typeface . And the Razer Synapse software is still among the best and most intuitive peripheral driver software from any manufacturer; its cloud-based profile storage is especially convenient if you don’t mind creating a username/password to take advantage of it.

But the biggest and arguably best addition to the Blackwidow Chroma v2 is the wide, soft, and ultra-comfortable, detachable wrist rest.

Most wrist rests included with keyboards are useless, plastic nuisances many of us probably toss away with the packaging. But the Chroma v2 wrist rest is arguably as good a wrist rest as you could hope for –  a luxurious bed of faux leather on memory foam, that attaches to the Blackwidow magnetically,  making it easy to remove if you hate luxury. It’s an elegant, comfortable design, and it seems almost ironic that the best addition to Razer’s high-tech flagship gaming keyboard is very low tech.

The Razer Synapse software has gotten a little better in places, offering a few new tweaks and more intuitive interface–particularly for the Chroma Configurator, which lets you create custom color combinations. Although still not quite as powerful as Corsair’s K95 software in terms of overall programmability, it’s also a bit easier to use. (Although it’s worth noting that Corsair has made significant efforts in improving their software in the last year or so.)

Personally, the only  thing I’d like to see added to the Blackwidow design is a volume roller similar to the ones found on the Logitech Orion Spark and Corsair K95 boards. I use the volume control on the Orion Spark constantly and definitely miss it when it’s not there — so much so that I used Razer Synapse to set the Numpad +/- keys to act as volume controls. It’s an effective but less satisfying solution.

Overall: 9/10 Highly Recommended  

While the Blackwidow Chroma V2 isn’t the least expensive mechanical keyboard you can buy, it’s a fantastic and worthwhile investment. And with the addition of the ultra-comfy wrist rest, one you’re sure to enjoy for a few million keystrokes or more.

Sooper Sekrit Codes:  PCMV591F1FCC70208  PCMV597B553370208 PCMV59C79C8770208

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