It’s a solid effort, but also one of Razer’s most uninspiring.
Razer’s most affordable mechanical keyboard achieves its price by losing its ten-key numeric keypad. It otherwise boasts a similar feature set to most of the other keyboards on test, but misses out on one crucial factor: full backlighting. You can normally rely on Razer to produce stylish-looking kit, but the BlackWidow Tournament Edition doesn’t quite live up to its usual standard.
The illuminated logo on the front look as if it’s been tacked onto the unit as an afterthought, while the angular, rough black plastic base, lack of consistent backlighting and oversized multimedia logos on the keys make this keyboard’s design look a little clunky. It isn’t ugly, but it’s not the sleek appearance we normally expect from Razer.
Otherwise, it’s well built, with the base feeling stiff and sturdy and having a finish that will stand up to knocks well. At 950g, it’s also the lightest keyboard on test, so it doesn’t sit quite as solidly on your desk as some of the units on test this month. Conversely, however, that lack of weight makes the BlackWidow Tournament Edition a slightly more portable option than the other keyboards on test. To that end, the keyboard also has a removable USB cable that attaches via a standard mini-USB socket, and you get a felt sleeve to protect the keyboard when in transit.
Meanwhile, the base of the BlackWidow Tournament Edition rises around the edges of the keys, giving them some protection. Unlike the Corsair keyboard on test, though, the look of the backlighting doesn’t benefit from this edge, as this is the only keyboard on test that doesn’t have full backlighting. Instead, it’s just the Num Lock, Caps Lock, Scroll Lock, macro and Gaming Mode keys that are illuminated, along with the front Razer logo.
The overall key layout is entirely standard, with some secondary functions that are, like many other keyboards, activated via a combination of the Fn key and one of the other keys. F1-F7 provide volume and playback control, while F9 offers on-the-fly macro recording and F10 toggles the Gaming Made, which turns off the Windows keys.
Start typing on this keyboard and initially it feels like it uses typical Cherry MX blue key switches, but they’re actually Razer-branded switches made by Kailh. Rather than just using one of Kailh’s equivalents of the Cherry MX switches, though, Razer has slightly tweaked the switches in this keyboard.
Like Cherry MX Blue switches, they’re tactile and clicky, but the actuation point is slightly higher, resulting in a quicker response. Razer reckons this setup is better for gaming, and it may suit some gamers’ play styles. However, in our testing, it just made typing slightly harder than usual, resulting in slightly more typos. However, Cherry MX Blue switches can have a similar effect, and it’s largely down to your personal taste. For the most part, you can consider these Kailh switches to be equal to the Cherry MX blue in terms of feel.
What’s more, Razer’s switches are rated for even more actuations than the Cherry ones, with a claimed life of 80 million keystrokes. Either way, though, the BlackWidow Tournament Edition struggles to feel like good value compared with the rest of the keyboards on test, and lacks any other killer feature to make up the difference.
The Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition is a competent, compact keyboard, but at this end of the market, it struggles to stand out. It doesn’t demonstrate Razer’s usual eye for design flair, it lacks backlighting and it still only offers a tenkeyless design. There are better deals to be found elsewhere in this price range.
Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition
A solid, portable design, but a comparative lack of features means you can get better value for money elsewhere in this price league.
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