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Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma Review

/ May 22nd, 2015 No Comments

International gaming peripheral manufacturer Razer creates unique and flashy hardware touted as being “For Gamers, By Gamers.” The new Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma mechanical gaming keyboard boasts full independent backlighting and macros for every key, as well as a new proprietary switch. It’s a great combination of performance, customization and aesthetics, but is the new keyboard as sharp as it looks or is it all show and no go?

How to Sharpen a Razer

The small, hefty footprint of the Tournament Edition is shocking once it’s set on a desktop. The narrow construction allows for much more space for mouse movement and placements. The cable is a detachable mini-USB cable, which makes it easier than ever to set up and break down. While it only takes up one USB connection, it would be nice to have a USB pass-through for easy headset connectivity. The height profile is slightly higher than a comparable mechanical board, but the lack of integrated wrist support makes it seem more drastic. There is no rear height or angle adjustment.

It only takes a single key press to tell the difference between the switches employed in the BlackWidow. Razer’s new switches boast earlier actuation than standard mechanical switches, as well as a more durable construction for greater longevity. However, the actuation is not only significantly louder than standard switches but also requires more effort, as the spring rate is tangibly stiffer.

Making the Cut

While the switches increase durability and activation, the rebound of a keypress to help move from one to the other comes at a cost. It also makes it harder to use the keyboard in standard applications, such as typing. Noise levels are noticeably louder; having a headset on might help the user, but anyone else in the area would be more than annoyed at the aural byproduct.

The keys also have a standard height profile. When the switch activates earlier, there is more dead space below that does nothing. As a result, the overall travel is the same as other switches. This leads to an effort in pressing the keys only enough to activate the switch without hitting the bottom, but because of the stiffer springs, it often leads to the key not being pressed hard enough to activate. Thus, there was not a noticeable improvement over standard mechanical switches in our testing.
 

The Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma

Razer’s BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma

Customization comes easily with Razer’s software suite, Synapse, which allows for everything from custom lighting and macro combinations, as well as profile switching. It’s easy enough to navigate and choose gaming profiles with custom backlighting. Built-in presets show off the variety and complexity in the possible illumination settings. Macros are easy to program and all settings can be backed up to a cloud, allowing for easy calibration on other systems with a simple login.

Keeping in the Black

The BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma comes at a sticker price of $139.99, which includes the keyboard, mini USB cable and a soft carrying case. However small of an inclusion a soft case can be, it gives more credibility to the owner and Razer that the contents are to be used as a weapon. Unfortunately, the perks don’t outweigh the oversights made while engineering the board. The Tournament Edition is a keyboard with tunnel vision, which makes it a specialty product. It faces competition not only from other leading manufacturers such as SteelSeries and Logitech, but from inside its own product line.

A Double-Edged Razer

The Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma is a good mechanical keyboard with a strong singular focus on competitive gaming. Its biggest drawback is its tunnel vision as a gaming keyboard, which makes it fairly impractical and awkward when not gaming. For those looking for a dual-purpose solution, Razer offers the BlackWidow Chroma, which adds in the missing dedicated macro keys and numpad for $169.99, as well as the countless offerings from competing manufacturers.

Because of the narrow application of the Tournament Edition, its only easy recommendation goes to Razer fans who need additional space for mouse movement or to those with limited desk space.

Note: The Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma was reviewed using a keyboard supplied by Razer.

 

Chance Asue

Chance Asue

Associate Editor & Multimedia Specialist at Gaming Illustrated
Chance Asue is a self-taught computer builder and hardware junkie. His favorite game franchises include Pokemon, Metal Gear Solid and Final Fantasy. He is Gaming Illustrated's Multimedia Specialist and reviews the latest hardware tech.
Chance Asue

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RAZER BLACKWIDOW TOURNAMENT EDITION CHROMA REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall83%

VALUE8

The Tournament Edition removes dedicated macro keys and numpad found on the standard BlackWidow, making it less practical in everyday applications. Hard to justify, even with the savings.

BUILD QUALITY9

The build is sturdy and durable, and gives the feeling that it is a high quality product. The proportions leave something to be desired.

PERFORMANCE8

The new switches offer a higher durability than standard mechanical switches, albeit with higher noise output and stiffer spring rates.

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