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When I first started playing StarCraft II, it was brought to my attention that the weapon-of-choice for many players was a mechanical keyboard. Me, being the poor bastard that I was, only rocked a fairly simple rubber-dome keyboard. Finally, I had the chance to take to my games with the Razer BlackWidow, one of the most prolific mechanical keyboard models available. I can safely say that, with that keyboard, I certainly felt like a better player. Louder player, too.
The Razer BlackWidow is a full 101-key keyboard with 50g mechanical keys, five macro keys, braided fiber cable and a handful of other features that may or may not be of note to you. Suffice it to say, it’s a very nice keyboard. The one major thing that people who look at mechanical keyboards need to be aware of is the fact that these keyboards are loud – VERY loud. This is especially true if you’re used to the average dome keyboard which is like a whisper to the clack-clack-clack of a mechanical switch clicking into place with every keystroke. However, if you can handle the volume, these keyboards are well worth their weight.
I first took the BlackWidow through a few rounds of StarCraft II, as not only did I feel that was going to be the best place to really test it out but I was also on a particular StarCraft kick. I could tell right away that, versus a low-cost office-type membrane keyboard, this one literally made me feel like a better player. I associated it with the tactile and auditory response I got by pressing keys. On a membrane keyboard, it wasn’t easy to tell how many times I may have hit a button or to make sure a button indeed got pressed enough to issue whatever command I needed. There was no doubting that with the BlackWidow. I felt every keystroke go through, heard it loud and clear, and could feel my APM get higher and my control get better. Was it just my imagination? Can’t really say, but I definitely did better.
Beyond that, the keyboard was a great addition for day-to-day use. The clack-clack of the keys was a bit grating at first, but even though I write a lot, I got used to it over time and the rhythm of the keyboard just blended in with the usual background noise of writing an article or an email. There were some moments, late at night, when maybe I hoped my keyboard was a bit quieter, but beyond that I had no complaints while using the BlackWidow.
I haven’t had the chance to compare it with a large variety of any other mechanical keyboards, but even compared to similar keyboards from Razer (see our review of the Razer Marauder), I still prefer the hard keystrokes and full keyboard size of the BlackWidow. Overall, I felt like the keyboard was more durable, was more responsive and felt better especially when playing certain games where keyboard speed and accuracy are so important. That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t recommend the BlackWidow to any other gamer, because I would. Mechcanical keyboards are designed to last longer, and any sort of responsiveness advantage is well worth it.
EXTRA FEATURES: 7/10
OVERALL SCORE: 9.8/10
Razer BlackWidow | MSRP $79.99USD | Available at www.razerzone.com