The Razer Blackwidow V4 Pro is a sturdy keyboard, with the same edgy charm as those that came before it. With a legacy of top-tier keyboards, Razer had a lot to live up to with the Blackwidow V4 Pro. And while the wealth of features certainly makes this a premium keyboard—even a slightly more affordable one than some of its major competition in the premium gaming keyboard space—it has taken some getting used to. Let's walk through it.
Razer has opted for a line of macro keys down the left hand side of the board this time around. At first glance it seems like a great idea and although I admit they're convenient once you get used to them, damn do they get in the way at first.
For context, I don't keep my fingers glued to the home ASDF row when typing, instead I use my pinky and slide up the edge of the board to get a feel for where I am. Thanks to Razer's macro placement, though, I had to type the start of every sentence several times for the first couple of days I was using it as my main board. I'd try slapping the caps lock but would end up hitting the macro keys instead. It's been such a pain for typing, I've even considered mapping the actual Tab, Caps, Shift, and Control keys to their respectively placed macro keys, having had my main method of navigating the keyboard foiled. That said I have gotten more used to it as time's gone on, I'm just not a huge fan of their placement.
I tried mapping out my GPS, crafting book, inventory, and the like to the macro keys in Sons of the Forest, too, and while it was nice to have my commands all in one place, I could just as easily have mapped my most used commands somewhere more easily reachable with my index and middle fingers. Using the pinky for anything is a little jarring, and I still find myself having to look down at the keyboard before I press them, which almost defeats the object of their convenience.
Switch: Razer Yellow Mechanical
Connectivity: USB Type-C
Size: Full size
Polling rate: 125–8,000Hz
Actuation: 1.2 mm
Backlights: Per-key, underglow
Features: Pre-lubed stabilisers, NKRO, anti ghosting, —MB onboard memory (5 profiles), doubleshot ABS keycaps, underglow, detachable USB Type-C cables
Media controls: Pause/play, skip forward/back, mute, horizontal volume wheel, command dial
Macro keys: 8
Wrist rest: Yes, magnetised also with RGB underglow
Price: $230 / £230
We've seen similar issues with the Logitech G613, as well as the G915—the macros on which Jacob hardly ended up using either—though as long as you don't mind retraining yourself to pay attention to typing ergonomics there's no doubt these are more accessible than the average placement. MMORPG players with lots of spells will relish the prospect of having everything within reach of their pinky, while retaining the ability to move around.
Razer has gone hard with the macros too, adding another line of three macro buttons to the left edge of the board. These have meant not only am I pressing the wrong buttons when typing, I'm spamming commands when I'm just trying to shift the board out of the way for my lunch, too. It's just such an uncommon, hidden feature it's easy to forget until the default Xbox Gamebar or Snipper tool pops up randomly, or I get win-tabbed out of my game.
We've only ever seen them placed like this in NZXT's Function boards, and not to great effect there, either.
That said, the media controls laid out along the top of the Blackwidow V4 Pro are much appreciated. With a distinct shine, they do look a little out of place against the rest of the board's plastic, textured facade, but they really are gorgeous. The aluminium knobs are adorned with a criss-cross pattern, too, which means they double as a nifty nail file—and I'm only sort of joking. The command dial in the top left corner is also super versatile.
The command dial is easily the most exciting thing this board has to offer. Its default control is set to keyboard brightness, but should you decide to brave Razer's Synapse software, you'll be met with a host of other options from simple zoom control, to track select, browser tab switching, or horizontal scrolling. I can select more than one of these options, even all of them at once, and clicking the dial itself tracks through each one. Every click is accompanied by a colour coded LED shining out from beneath the dial, and a popup in the corner of the screen to remind you which is which.
The dial is one of only three keys that cannot be remapped in the Synapse software, the other two being the Windows and function keys. What that means is that every other key can be remapped, so if you fancied trying a new keyboard layout—Colemak for example—you can do that. This is kind of standard when it comes to keyboard remapping nowadays, however.
Something that's not so standard, though, is Razer's own key switch choice. With unusual box-surrounded cross stems, they won't just work with any old keycaps. And as for the switches themselves, I'm not overly taken with the linear ones. I'm not a massive linear fan, but the closest I've come to being swayed was by the Logitech G715's linear GX switches.
Compared to Razer's, they not only sound a little less hollow but feel faster. That's even despite the Razer switches requiring less force to actuate, with around 0.6mm shorter pre-travel. There just doesn't seem to be as much bounceback, which makes Razer's linears feel more laborious to use. The only other option for the V4 Pro, is Razer's clicky green switch.
I really do love the new wrist rest, too. It feels super premium and the textured, carbon fibre aesthetic doesn't look as bad as I thought it would. I especially love that it clips on so effortlessly, even without the need to lift the board up, and lights up around the base—a fancy touch.
While the Blackwidow V4 Pro is not too shabby when it comes to price-to-performance. It beats out other premium boards like the Corsair K100 Air by jamming all the same features in, plus the fancy command dial, for $50 less. Though the problem comes in the fact this is a wired keyboard.
Compare it to the wireless Blackwidow V3 Pro that's still going for the same price, however, and there's something of a disconnect. The only major differences between the two are 8k Hyperpolling over the V3's 1k Ultrapolling, a USB passthrough, and the fancy command dial. And although the Hyperpolling does mean I can't blame my board's latency for how crap I am at FPS games, my gut tells me I shouldn't pay the same price for a wired keyboard, no matter how fancy the media dials are. Especially when the macro key placement makes the darn thing so awkward to use.
Alright, I have gotten used to it somewhat after a week or so of non-stop use, but it'll undoubtedly be a pain for some users.
Of course, there are other options if you want finer control over your macros—you could pair an Azeron keypad with a nice TKL gaming board, for example, but certainly not for as low as the Blackwidow V4 Pro's $230 asking price. Alternatively, you could grab the Wooting Two HE for $35 less and get hot-swappable, analogue key switches with adjustable actuation, then put the money saved toward one of the best gaming mice for MMOs. That way you get the best of both worlds and don't have to relearn how to use your keyboard.