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Razer BlackWidow Elite Review: A fantastic gaming keyboard

Our Rating :
$199.00 from
£361.19 from
Price when reviewed : £130
inc VAT

Once prohibitively expensive, the Razer BlackWidow Elite is now an extremely tempting proposition


  • Excellent build quality
  • Feature packed
  • Comfortable wrist rest


  • Fiddly software to get the most out of it
  • No dedicated keys for certain functions
  • Initially hard to follow ‘activation lights’

At launch, the Razer BlackWidow Elite was a mechanical gaming keyboard with a price tag (£170) that could easily put off those without one eye on big esports tournament money. 
But, a few years into its life, the Razer BlackWidow Elite has come down in price nicely and can now be had for as little as £90 at Currys. Granted, that may seem a lot for a keyboard if you’re still using the pack-in one that came with your computer but, for what Razer is offering, it’s a compelling package.

Razer BlackWidow Elite Review: What do you get for the money?

A very solid keyboard with a whole bunch of handy features designed to make gamers’ lives easier – although in truth, many of the quality-of-life improvements will appeal to anybody who has to use a computer for extended periods.

For a start, there’s a comfortable wrist rest that clamps to the front of the keyboard with magnets to give your palms a comfy resting place while your fingers work overtime. There are also dedicated media controls, located on the top right-hand side of the keyboard, allowing you to skip tracks, play and pause, or pump up the sound with a cute little volume knob (although like everything else on the keyboard, this can be reprogrammed for other functions with enough patience).  
And, although it’s a wired keyboard, Razer has clearly thought about how to make your desk tidier, with room to push the cable out the left, right or back of the keyboard. While you can just connect the one USB cable to the back of your PC, the braided cable actually has an audio jack and extra USB connector integrated and attaching these allows you to plug in headphones or a USB device directly to the left-hand side of your keyboard. Sadly it’s only USB 2.0, though, and limited to 480Mbits/sec.
Then there are gaming specific functions. Gaming mode disables stray keys or buttons that’ll immediately take you out of the game – like the Windows key – and with the Razer Synapse 3 software, you can remap keys, create macros and even link specific games to certain profiles. Some titles, like Overwatch, have ready-made presets that will – for example – give you different lighting depending on the character you pick.

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Razer BlackWidow Elite Review: What’s it like to use?

The Razer BlackWidow Elite is a mechanical keyboard, and as such Razer sells it with three different kinds of switches, depending on your typing and playing style. Greens are loud and tactile, oranges are quiet and tactile, while yellows and quiet and linear.

Using the keyboard with the orange switches, I found typing an absolute treat, with keys making a satisfying clickety-clack without the sound travelling too aggressively. I was also able to get real speed quickly, too, managing 75wpm and 95% accuracy in a one-minute typing test after only a short period with the keyboard. The optional wrist rest makes long assignments a whole lot more comfortable, although it does add about 3.4in to the keyboard that may not be ideal for smaller workspaces.  
And, of course, it feels nice and responsive for gaming, too. Which is kind of what you’d hope for in a gaming keyboard. It also has anti-ghosting tech, recognising up to six keys pressed simultaneously, though Razer points out on its support site that this isn’t technically the same as N-key  rollover (NKRO) which “only works with a direct connection to a native PS/2 port on the computer.”

Razer BlackWidow Elite Review: What isn’t it good at?

There’s really not that much to take issue with. As gaming keyboards go, it’s certainly not the most aggressively gamey and, by default, the RGB lighting is remarkably modest. This can be turned off completely, or changed to something a bit more hypnotic – my favourite is “Reactive”, which briefly lights up each key as you press it, making me want to type as quickly as possible to fill the keyboard with light.
For me, the fact that the gaming, macro and brightness settings are allocated to the Function keys, thus requiring a double press, is a little irritating but it’s clearly designed to ensure the keyboard doesn’t take up too much desk space, so it’s definitely forgivable. Still, it wouldn’t have hurt to put a shortcut for swapping effects on the keyboard somewhere, to save you having to dive into Razer Synapse 3 every time you want to spruce things up a little.

On that note, I wouldn’t say Razer Synapse 3 is the most intuitive software I’ve ever used and, while setting up profiles is relatively straightforward (if a little fiddly), there’s some advanced stuff in there that’ll be over the heads of most people, like the ability to create custom patterns. You can download other people’s, of course, but even this isn’t the most intuitive thing in the world.
One final thing: the lights to tell you that caps lock, num lock, scroll lock, macros or game mode are engaged are absolutely tiny, and I had to flash a torch at the keyboard to see the explanatory icons underneath. Obviously, this is something that you’ll learn pretty quickly, but it feels like a poor design choice in an otherwise brilliantly designed bit of hardware.

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Razer BlackWidow Elite Review: Should I buy it?

If the above points feel a little picky… well, I agree. There’s really not a great deal wrong with the Razer BlackWidow Elite, especially if you can pick it up for under £100, where it now seems to regularly sit.

If you want to spend a little less money, the MSI GK50 Elite (£80) offers a similarly impressive typing experience and slim form factor, though does offer slightly fewer bells and whistles.