When Razer released its Black Widow keyboard range a few years ago, it pretty much started a gaming keyboard cold war. Not only were its peripherals competitors hopping onto the mechanical keyboard bandwagon (including folks like Corsair, who’d never even been in that space before) to try and catch up, sparking a design war, but just getting hold of the mechanical switches themselves was a challenge. Both Razer and Corsair have boasted to us in the past of their efforts to buy up entire batches of the prized Cherry-made switches that power their keyboards, while companies like ThermalTake, under its Tt eSports brand, continue to produce boards featuring every possibility of switch.
And all the while, Cherry itself can only manufacture switches at a set pace. They do not, apparently, grow on trees. Which is the situation that brings us to Razer’s latest attempt to steal a march on its competition.
Razer’s latest iteration of the Black Widow, available in vanilla and Ultimate editions, features an all-new Razer-designed ‘Green’ switch (complimenting Cherry’s own Red, Blue, Black and Browns, natch). It might be Razer-designed, but it’s likely not Razer-built, however; which does beg the all important question -- would it have been a better-designed switch were that the case?
The Black Widow remains a fine keyboard in terms of build and extras, but the new Razer switches really are quite terrible, at least for our preferred methods of keying and gaming. The Green switches feature a relatively light actuation, good travel, and a very definable ‘click’ upon hitting the actuation point -- all good so far, but there’s also a second ‘click’ that you can feel when the key travels back to its position.
It’s a great idea in theory, delivering discrete feedback to key presses and the return to a ready-state, but in action the second click has a tendency to stick, especially if -- like us -- you rest your fingers on your keys during gameplay. In that case, the pressure of your fingers is enough to settle the key before it springs back into position, in such a way that it doesn’t register further key-presses.
Just about the worst thing you could want when you’re in the middle of a tense game, in other words. Even for day-to-day typing the Green switch just doesn’t feel comfortable. There’s a second, Razer Orange switch that we’re very curious to try, but for now, we’ll be avoiding further use of this particular keyboard.