Razer BlackWidow V4 75% Review: A Colorful Entrance

Razer’s “By Gamers, for gamers” tagline has always held true in its keyboard offerings, which have focused almost entirely on bright RGB lighting and maxed-out spec sheets. It’s why I’ve always felt its keyboards were about as far as you could get from a premium, enthusiast-oriented typing experience—they never felt great to type on, nor did they sound satisfying. Razer also typically discouraged user customization.

But its latest hardware, the BlackWidow V4 75%, shows a company that understands what makes a good mechanical keyboard. Razer’s first foray into the world of custom keyboards checks off all the boxes. The BlackWidow V4 looks classy and sleek on a desk, feels fantastic to type on, can be customized without much effort, and manages to perform well for gaming. The tactile switches it ships with aren’t ideal for fast-paced games, but they function well as a hybrid gaming and typing solution—a welcome improvement to Razer’s classic clicky Green switches.

Superb Switches

My black review sample came fitted with Razer’s Gen 3 Orange tactile switches, the component underneath keycaps that tell your PC what keys you are pressing. They’re shockingly nice here, delivering a balance of tactility and smoothness that makes them feel responsive to type on without being too aggressive or harsh.

The switches have a large, rounded, tactile bump that occupies most of the travel distance, starting immediately at the top of a keypress and continuing almost to the bottom, with a small amount of additional travel afterward. Their tactility (the strength of this bump) is about on par with something like a Glorious Panda switch, more distinct than a Cherry MX Brown, and less so than a Durock T1 or a Zealio—all of which to say it’s a middle ground I find satisfying and comfortable in day-to-day use.

Photograph: Razer

Razer lets you swap out the switches using hot-swap sockets manufactured by Kailh. A hot-swap socket connects the switches to the keyboard without soldering, allowing you to swap out components on your keyboard in a matter of seconds with hardly any risk. Kailh is probably the largest and most reputable manufacturer of hot-swap sockets, so I’m glad to see Razer went with it instead of something proprietary.

My gripes with the switches are minimal. They have north-facing LEDs, which makes sense with the included keycaps as it allows for brighter shine-through RGB. However, it also means the lights face away from the user, which can potentially cause interference with certain switch and keycap combinations if you plan on swapping them out.

The stabilizers—wires that connect either end of longer keys for a smoother keypress, like the space bar—are plate-mounted instead of being mounted on the printed circuit board (PCB), which means they will likely rattle over time. My test unit ended up having a slight rattle after a few weeks of constant use. That said, Razer includes mounting points for PCB-mounted stabilizers in case you want to make the upgrade later on.

I loved typing on this keyboard. The only modification I’d make to the switches would be to add switch films, thin layers of plastic sandwiched between the top and bottom half of the switch to limit space between them, to mitigate any rattling from the top housings. This isn’t a huge issue when typing, but it can be noticeable. The fix is quick without the need to disassemble the keyboard’s case at all.

Peak Productivity

In terms of ergonomics, this keyboard does everything right. The mostly aluminum build quality is exceptional, the layout is simple and intuitive, the flip-out feet can be adjusted for three typing angles, and the case’s high profile doesn’t obstruct the typing experience. The included wrist rest uses magnets to attach to the keyboard, which is a nice way of ensuring it will stay in place and remain comfortable at any angle.

Photograph: Razer

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