Razer BlackWidow X Chroma Review

Manufacturer: Razer
UK price (as reviewed):
MSRP £134.99 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): MSRP $159.99 (ex Tax)

In case you missed it, Razer announced its BlackWidow X range late last week. It's designed as a stripped back and less expensive alternative to the current BlackWidow family, which continues to be sold. The BlackWidow X Chroma is the top-of-the-line model at £135, which is £15 less than the MSRP of the normal BlackWidow Chroma but roughly the same as current retail prices. That said, once the BlackWidow X Chroma starts shipping next week, prices are likely to fall to lower than the non-X version.

Razer BlackWidow X Chroma Review
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There's no question that Razer is going after Corsair fans with this design. The metal faceplate and raised keys have been something of a signature look for Corsair since the K60, although others have used it too and Corsair itself has branched to more traditional embedded designs with the Strafe series. Razer is also undercutting Corsair on price too – even the MSRP here is £15 under the current price of the K70 RGB, the closest comparison from Corsair's range.

Razer BlackWidow X Chroma Review
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The metal cover is made from the same steel carbon alloy that's found in all BlackWidow keyboards. This maybe isn't quite as nice as the K70 RGB's premium brushed aluminium faceplate, but it's nevertheless fairly thick and very strong. The matt coating is also resistant to fingerprints. It's a slightly wider keyboard than the K70 RGB, but it nevertheless looks pretty neat on your desk.

Razer BlackWidow X Chroma Review
Click to enlarge

The BlackWidow X Chroma only has a standard, full set of keys, with Razer having reserved the dedicated macro keys for the flagship BlackWidow Chroma. You do retain the additional functionality given by the FN and F keys like media, volume and brightness control, however. The previously seen audio and USB pass-through ports are also absent, and there are no accessories given in the box – a key puller would have been nice for cleaning, for example.

Razer BlackWidow X Chroma Review
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The exclusion of pass-through ports means the BlackWidow X Chroma gets by with a thin, braided cable and it only needs one USB connection unlike the K70 RGB, which requires two despite also having no pass-through ports. Razer has added cable channelling underneath this keyboard so that the cable can pass out of the right, left or centre of the board depending on what best suits your setup. Also, on the underside is a set of flick-out rear legs to increase the typing angle, and these are sturdy too. We do wish the cable was properly detachable, however; this is our only real complain with regards to build quality.

Razer BlackWidow X Chroma Review
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As you'd expect, the BlackWidow X Chroma uses Razer Mechanical Switches, which Razer now effectively produces in-house – see here for a more detailed explanation. They are offered in Clicky (green, tactile and clicky) and Stealth (orange, tactile and non-clicky) varieties, and it's the former we have on our sample. We've detailed these before, but the latest versions of these switches are now validated up to 80 million key presses, compared to 60 million before and 50 million on Cherry MX switches, upon which the design is based. This may seem like a meaningless difference, and to most people it is, but Razer claims it's possible for hardcore gamers to start hitting these numbers over a period of years on certain switches (i.e. those under WASD) – it reached this conclusion using data gleaned from its opt-in stat tracking capabilities in the Synapse software. Either way, all keyboards using the Razer Mechanical Switch will move to these latest generation switches, not just the BlackWidow X family, and it will be a silent changeover.
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