The most recent version of Razer’s function-rules gaming keyboard makes amends for earlier transgressions and introduces some novel features.
The Black Widow V4 Pro, a $230 (£230, AU$400) full-size variant with several noticeable enhancements over its predecessor, is the fourth version of Razer’s customizable mechanical gaming keyboard line, Black Widow. Expanded lighting, more customizable controls, USB passthrough, and an enhanced wrist rest design are some of these enhancements. These are all noteworthy modifications, however even though I applaud each change’s intention, I’m not always happy with how well it was carried out.
With the exception of an increase in the maximum polling rate to 8,000Hz—which I’m not sure you actually need here—nothing essential about the keyboard has changed. The keycaps and switches are unchanged: Razer’s newest generation of tactile Green or linear Yellow switches, as well as their long-lasting Double Shot ABS keycaps, are your options.
With the addition of under glow strips on the left and right, a front strip on the wrist rest, five new illuminated macro keys down the left side, and a new programmable control dial in the upper left corner, there are much more lighting zones.
According to Razer, each backlight LED now has lenses attached, which does seem to increase the focus in specific directions. The quantity of observable brightness levels, if you require that level of granularity, has also changed in my opinion. I wish you could take advantage of that by adjusting the brightness levels for specific keys or key groups in the same way you can adjust color settings. In this approach, the keys you use the most frequently might be brighter and a different color while still remaining somewhat visible.
You can map zooming, scrolling, and other customizations to your profiles with the new control dial. For instance, the default mappings include track jogging, task switching, keyboard brightness, and zoom. These days, that is a feature that is more typical and beneficial for purposes other than gaming. The physical control is adequate, if somewhat constrained. The disadvantage is that there are just the basic presets available; often, these controls come with sets. As a result, it takes a lot of time to set up a control that you might not use.
On the left, there are three further switches. The concept is fantastic, but the execution isn’t as good. I frequently hit keyboards because I have a nervous tic where I constantly reposition them in little increments when I’m not actively typing. It doesn’t help that I’m getting used to avoiding the left-side macro keys when reaching for alt-tab, causing my compensatory tendency to cause my ring and pinky fingers to land on those switches. Also, they are too simple to activate, which may be a more general problem.
Although these aren’t truly complaints—the keyboard isn’t the first to have the macro keys on the left side—if your muscle memory is accustomed to another layout, you may need to retrain it.
Moreover, there is the newly created multi controller, a roller bar with a bank of five tall, rounded buttons above the number pad. It has a comparable layout to other keyboards, however my hands can’t use the placement or elevation. It’s difficult to operate since the keys are too tall for the device. Also, because you have to touch the control dial to cycle between the various mappings, remapping it to perform the same functions, such as adjusting audio level, isn’t particularly convenient.
For your modifications to function, you must be using Razer’s Synapse application; you cannot save many of them to the internal keyboard memory. On the other hand, a popup appears as you cycle through the control dial’s mappings, describing the setting and the function of the rotation. Each mapping also has a backlight color, but it is not persistent, thus it is impossible to tell at a look which setting the dial is now mapped to.
The new wrist rest is much more comfortable than the old one, and it now securely attaches to the keyboard. The USB passthrough is a good addition. The grainy synthetic leather might irritate you, though, if you’re someone who wears their clothes inside out since the seams drive you nuts.
Even though it’s still massive and hefty, a keyboard’s solidity is nothing to be upset about. Although Razer has increased the switch rating to 100 million keypresses, the switches themselves remain the same; more testing has simply been done on them. Although I don’t place much value on durability ratings, it’s comforting to know that banging on the keys won’t destroy them any faster than it did in the past.
Since I’ve been using linear switches more recently after using optomechanical ones for so long, switching back to the tactile mechanicals has required some getting used to. But it’s comforting to know that if I lay my fingertips on the keys, they won’t unintentionally initiate strokes. That’s one of the benefits of other sorts of switches that I miss.
The Black Widow V4 Pro makes a lot of sense for games where quick keyboard combos you can programmed are more crucial than single-key quick responsiveness. Yet, $230 can seem overpriced for your requirements if you’re not comfortable with how all the controls operate.