Since they took our desks by storm a decade ago, mechanical keyboards have become the essential mainstay of every gamer’s setup. But what the intervening years have shown is that not all boards are born equal.
Pro-gamers need tournament-grade precision from their inputs, and frankly you don’t need to be on the Mousesports payroll to enjoy that in your own gaming life. But everyone has a preference about how they want the mechanical switches under their keys to feel—loud and clicky or smooth and silent? Then there’s RGB customisation to consider, not to mention comfort and additional media controls.
Enter Razer’s ever-popular keyboard, the Blackwidow Elite. Available for £140, it brings that pro-level performance actuation together with ultimate comfort and customisation options, from the function of the unique digital dial up in the top-right corner right down to the type of switch beneath each key and the colour of the led illuminating it.
The Blackwidow Elite’s available in three mechanical switch options. Green switches offer that mega-clickiness, while orange switches dial the noise back while still giving you that same tactile experience, and yellow switches give a quieter and more linear response. You can hear the difference between all Razer switch types here.
It goes without saying that there’s RGB lighting underneath every key, including the digital dial, powered by Razer Chroma. Using Chroma you can sync lighting profiles across multiple peripherals, even devices not made by Razer, so that your mouse matches your keyboard, your PC case matches your headset and your room lighting reflects the on-screen action. Ok, so your desk looks like a flyover of Vegas on fight night - but it’s super-immersive and a great tactical aid when you colour-code your controls.
Speaking of customisation, let’s talk macros. Using Razers Synapse software, programming in macros and assigning them to a key is simple. You can even program in pauses to allow for multiple complex commands in a sequence on one key press. That takes away the potential headache of stretching across the board to hit a dedicated macro bay when you’re in the heat of the moment. Just load up the Synapse software program, head to the ‘macros’ tab, hit the + sign, and record your inputs. Easy as. This can then be combined with the Hypershift function, which basically assigns a secondary key to any other key, think A as being A, except in Hypershift mode when it’s B. So you can assign a macro to the P key, then assign the P key to Q under Hypershift and now you’ve got Q’s normal in-game function, plus a macro on Q when it’s Hypershifted… very handy for today’s more complex MOBAs!
Onto that textured grip dial up in the top corner, where the Blackadder Elite’s play/pause, rewind and fast forward keys also live. By default it’s set up as a handy volume scroll with a mute button right in the middle, but you can set the dial to whatever function you need - it’s your call.
You’ll find both USB 2.0 and 3.5mm passthrough inputs on the lefthand side of the board, for attaching headsets, mice, or USB drives. A handy touch for cable routing and avoiding getting tangled up in your own setup - or stretching out that mouse cable between your PC and your mat so tightly it would sound a note if you plucked it. Not the optimal setup, that.
Finishing it all off is the ergonomic padded wrist wrest, featuring a subtle Razer logo in the centre. This can be detached when playing in smaller spaces, and attached when you want to treat yourself to maximum comfort while you play. There are two steps of vertical adjustment using the rear feet, too, so you can get that wrist action just right.
All bases covered, then. From super-deep binding and macro customisation to aesthetic tweaking and a choice of switches, the Blackwidow Elite is the most complete mechanical gaming keyboard on the market.