Razer BlackWidow X Chroma – A Closer Look
As with all the Chroma products, at first glance the BlackWidow X Chroma’s most striking feature is the 16.8 million colors, but don’t let the bling blind you to the first class hardware under the hood. The lighting can be changed for every key or set to pre-set patterns of lights. Each key having the ability to be lit differently gives you the edge in gaming because game-specific keys can be colored to indicate different game functions. Having your game keys highlighted cuts down on key mistakes and makes you a more deadly gamer, and until you have experienced the difference you can’t understand how mind-blowing that advantage is. Fire up Razer Synapse and set your movement keys to yellow, grenade to green, reload to red (etc) and you have all but eliminated the game’s learning curve. Cutting down the learning curve means you get into serious gaming faster and are more deadly from the start.
The BlackWidow X Chroma utilizes the Razer Green mechanical switches with an expected lifetime of 80 million keystrokes per key with an actuation force of 50g and actuation travel is 1.9mm. This is probably the first time that Razer has gone minimalist. Normally Razer goes full-dress, full-blown and way over the top in both design and bells and whistles.
The body of the BlackWidow X Chroma is military grade metal and the back-lit keys stand up and away from the board which may cause problems snagging keys while moving the keyboard so we wouldn’t put this board in the road warrior category. The longer we look at the board the more we wonder did Razer trim too much from the board? The price difference between the BlackWidow X Chroma and the BlackWidow Chroma is a mere $10, and for a $10 difference it seems like too much was trimmed away.
Shown in traditional “Razer Green”, you get a good look at the minimalist feel of the keyboard. One thing we would really like to see are dedicated multimedia buttons, which none of the BlackWidow lineup have. Very few people are going to spring $169.99 for a keyboard for typing; the end-user is going to be a gamer, and gamers like multimedia controls. It dampens the fun when you have to dig for key combinations to lower the volume.
You might think that this is an angled shot to look under the key caps but in reality the key caps stand up that high from the Military grade metal. It’s almost like Razer removes the plastic cowling and didn’t adjust the height which is going to make it harder to keep dirt out of the keys.
Here’s a side shot of the keyboard and you can see the real height of the keys. We aren’t big fans of exposed hardware for the simple reason that you opened an avenue for dirt and dust which will inevitably shorten the life of the product.
With the space bar open you get a look at the Razer Green switches and the Costar key stabilizers. We actually like the Green Razer switches construction but the actuation pressure need to drop from 50g and the bump point for the tactile response needs to produce less noise. This is a case of more (noise) is less (appealing).
Exposed plate mounted switches like this Razor uses is a more sensible design than keyboards with the switches mounted directly to the PCB with a plastic shroud to protect and hide the switches. Dust and debris are easily removed from the plate mount design (no place for debris to get stuck) while the plastic shroud/cover variety tends to let dust and muck accumulate under the plastic and in the corners. Makes it harder to clean without taking off all the caps and blasting it with air. The plate also protects the PCB, though a lot of newer keyboards with plastic shrouds are using a plate between the PCB and the switches to improve backlighting.
Other than all that it comes down to esthetic preferences; I like the minimal design thing. In fact I thing Razer’s as well as Corsair’s plates are still too big. And what is this military spec metal? That is silly when referring to a keyboard. It is a piece of aluminum.
I agree–I think the open design of the Black Widow X Chroma actually allows it to be cleaned much easier than one with a plastic cowling. Dust might get through but it can also easily be cleaned out by blowing–something that would be hard with a more enclosed keyboard. There wouldn’t then be a need to take out the key caps much while cleaning, unlike that of a more regular keyboard. So really I think this is good for those who would like a keyboard that is easy to maintain and clean, contrary to what the article states.
Other than the part about maintenance and cleaning, overall this is a good, comprehensive article about the Razer Black Widow X Chroma. I have been thinking of getting this or the regular Chroma keyboard, but with its open feature I would think this would actually be much better since it can easily be maintained.