I reviewed the BlackWidow X Chroma not too long ago, and I was very impressed. That keyboard is sort of a stripped-down spin-off of Razer's popular BlackWidow model, and I still use it at home to this day, which is a clear testament to how much I liked it. So naturally I was excited when I saw the newest BlackWidow Chroma (creatively called V2) sitting on my desk.
Because the X line is the more minimalistic version of the BlackWidow, some changes are to be expected. So how does the V2 it compare? Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. There are some serious new improvements, and a few things I still prefer on the X.
The Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 is currently available on Newegg for $169.
One of the biggest differences between the BlackWidow X and the V2 is the material used to build the body. The X Chroma was a delightfully solid chunk of metal, whereas with the V2 the chassis is plastic. It’s not the end of the world, and it does make the board lighter, but I definitely prefer the solid metal. Of course the plastic on the V2 isn't cheap and the board still feels super solid, but I can’t help but feel it’s a downgrade in that department.
The actual visual design isn’t all that different, the same large body and sharp edges that I like from the X. Essentially the V2 looks like the Xs bigger brother, and that’s definitely a compliment, though the board does have a rather large on-desk footprint (especially with the wrist rest included).
The More Things Change…
There are a few other big changes from the BlackWidow Chroma X. First, Razer changed the font on the keys to a much more standard looking set of letters. It was never really a problem for me on the X because I don’t really look down when I type, but some did find them hard to read, so this is probably an improvement.
Speaking of keys, there are five macro keys on the left side so you can program macros to activate at the touch of a button. This isn’t something I really look for, but for macro-crazy gamers there’s no doubt it’s an upgrade.
Another thing that's a little different is the high quality braided USB cable. It’s a bit thicker than the BlackWidow X cable, and that's because there’s an additional USB and ⅛ inch audio cable bundled in there. Losing an additional port on your PC is never ideal, but it does allow you to connect audio and USB directly to the keyboard via passthrough, and for some people that’s perfect.
I prefer a single USB cable, but that’s purely personal preference (and of course you don't need to plug both USB ends into your PC if you don't want to use the passthrough). Either way, the braided fiber feels super tough, and there’s no doubt that either version of the Blackwidow is tough as nails.
A generous wrist rest
Probably the biggest change from the last version of the BlackWidow is the inclusion of a magnetically attached wrist wrest. This plush, comfy black wrist rest is made from a very soft material that didn’t irritate my sensitive skin in the least, and the base is made from the same durable, hard plastic as the rest of the keyboard.
The magnets stick to the base of the keyboard very nicely, but it’s still easy to remove. Overall it’s a great addition because it does what it’s supposed to do very well, and it’s optional. I don’t like when wrist rests are built in, so I’m pleased Razer didn’t go that route.
Razer's own mechanical switches
When it comes to mechanical keyboards, switches are everything, and Razer knows this as well as anyone. They’ve been making their own switches for a while now, and though the model we received is using Razer Green, they’re also coming out with some brand new switches that you’ll be able to use if you prefer.
To quote Razer:
“We’ll be offering the keyboard in three flavors – Razer Green, Orange and now Yellow. Razer Yellow switches are mechanical but don’t provide a tactile bump. This means gamers can hit keys faster which is desirable in FPS and MOBA-style games. It’s the fifth key switch we’ve developed internally and designed for gamers, joining the Razer Green, Orange, Mecha-Membrane and Low-Profile mechanical switches.”
We’re all about options around here, so good on you Razer. We’ll keep you posted with our thoughts on these Yellow switches when we get our fingers on them.
Synapse, Razer’s RGB software, offers all the usual button-mapping and lighting control features. Other than the fact you have to register an email in order to access it, it’s some of my favorite peripheral control software, and that hasn’t changed here.
If you have multiple Razer devices (like the sweet RGB coffee mug you can see in the photo above) you can sync it all up for super cool light shows. Synapse provides pretty much every level of control you can imagine, down to individual key color customization, so RGB enthusiasts should be pleased.
Do We Have A Winner?
First, it’s important to remember that the BlackWidow X and the BlackWidow V2 are not in direct competition, as they are two parts of the same line. Beyond that, it’s entirely personal preference, because at the end of the day the two are so alike in design and function that deciding one is superior would be a pretty tall order.
As for me, I think I'll be keeping my BlackWidow X. I prefer the minimalist design, don’t need macro keys, don’t use USB passthrough, and the solid metal body is a huge selling point for me. The wrist rest is definitely a nice addition, and being able to choose from an even larger variety of mechanical switches is pretty awesome, so anyone going for the V2 would get no argument from me.
Whichever you prefer, there’s no denying that Razer is killing it with their BlackWidow line (pun unapologetically intended). I’d be more than happy with the V2 as my everyday board, I’m just not ready to move on from my X quite yet.
Can’t wait to see what the BlackWidow gets up to next.