The Razer Blackwidow V4 Pro is a sturdy keyboard, with the same edgy charm as the previous one. With a legacy of premium keyboards, Razer had a lot to live up to with the Blackwidow V4 Pro. And while the wealth of features certainly makes this a premium keyboard – even slightly cheaper than some of its major premium gaming keyboard competitors – it took some getting used to. Let’s walk through it.
Razer has opted for a series of macro keys on the left side of the board this time around. On the surface they seem like a great idea and while I admit they are useful once you get used to them, they do get in the way at first.
For context, I don’t keep my fingers glued to the ASDF home row when typing, instead I use my little finger and slide up the edge of the board to get a sense of where I am. However, thanks to Razer’s macro placement, I had to type the beginning of each sentence several times during the first few days of using it as my main board. I would try pressing the caps lock but would press the macro keys instead. It was so tedious to type that I even considered reassigning the actual Tab, Caps, Shift, and Control keys to their respective placed macro keys, as my main method of navigating the keyboard was foiled. That said, I’ve gotten more used to them over time, I’m just not a big fan of their placement.
I also tried to map my GPS, craft book, inventory, and the like using the macro keys in Sons of the Forest, and while it was nice to have all my commands in one place, I might as well have my most used commands somewhere more convenient accessible with my index and middle finger. Using the little finger for everything is a bit jarring, and I still have to look at the keyboard before pressing it, which almost defeats the purpose of their convenience.
Razer Blackwidow V4 Pro Specs
Switch: Razer Yellow Mechanical
Connectivity: USB Type C
Mate: Full size
Poll: 125–8000 Hz
backlight: Per key, underglow
Functions: Pre-lubricated stabilizers, NKRO, anti-ghosting,—MB built-in memory (5 profiles), dual ABS keycaps, underglow, detachable USB Type-C cables
Media controls: Pause/play, skip forward/backward, mute, horizontal volume wheel, command wheel
Macro keys: 8
wrist support: Yes, also magnetized with RGB underglow
Price: $230 (opens in new tab) / £230 (opens in new tab)
We’ve seen similar issues with the Logitech G613 (opens in new tab), as well as the G915 – the macros that Jacob ended up barely using either – although as long as you don’t mind retraining yourself to pay attention to typing ergonomics, these are undoubtedly more accessible than the average placement. Spell-heavy MMORPG players will enjoy the prospect of having everything within reach of their little finger while retaining the ability to move.
Razer has also hit hard on the macros, adding another line of three macro buttons to the left edge of the board. These have resulted in me not only hitting the wrong buttons while typing, but spamming commands when I’m just trying to push the board aside for my lunch. It’s just such an unusual, hidden feature that’s easy to forget about until the default Xbox Gamebar or Snipper tool pops up randomly, or I get a win tab out of my game.
We’ve only ever seen them placed like this in NZXT’s feature boards (opens in new tab)and not with much effect there either.
That said, the media controls along the top of the Blackwidow V4 Pro are much appreciated. With a clear sheen, they look a bit out of place against the rest of the board’s plastic, textured facade, but they really are gorgeous. The aluminum knobs are also decorated with a criss-cross pattern, meaning they double as a handy nail file – and I’m just kidding. The command dial in the top left corner is also super versatile.
The command dial is easily the most exciting thing this board has to offer. The default controls are set to keyboard brightness, but if you decide to brave Razer’s Synapse software, you’ll find plenty of other options, from simple zoom control to track selection, switching between browser tabs or horizontal scrolling. I can select more than one of these options, even all at once, and clicking the button itself takes them through each option. Each click is accompanied by a color-coded LED shining from beneath the watch face, and a pop-up in the corner of the screen to remind you which is which.
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The dial is one of only three keys that cannot be reassigned in the Synapse software, the other two being the Windows and function keys. That means any other key can be remapped, so if you fancy trying a new keyboard layout: Colemak (opens in new tab) for example – you can do that. However, this is sort of the standard these days when it comes to keyboard remapping.
Something that isn’t quite as standard, however, is Razer’s own key switch choice. With unusual box-encased cross stems, they don’t just work with old keycaps. And as for the switches themselves, I’m not very taken with the linear one. I’m not a huge linear fan, but the Logitech G715 came closest to impact (opens in new tab)‘s linear GX switches.
Compared to Razer’s, they not only sound a little less hollow, but also feel faster. That’s even despite the fact that the Razer switches require less force to actuate, with pre-travel about 0.6mm shorter. There just doesn’t seem to be that much bounce back, making Razer’s linears more cumbersome to use. The only other option for the V4 Pro is Razer’s green click switch.
I also really love the new palm rest. It feels super premium and the textured carbon fiber aesthetic doesn’t look as bad as I thought. I especially love that it snaps on so effortlessly, even without you having to lift the board, and lights up around the base – a chic touch.
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While the Blackwidow V4 Pro isn’t too shabby when it comes to price-performance ratio. It beats other premium boards like the Corsair K100 Air (opens in new tab) by packing in all the same features, plus the fancy command dial, for $50 less. Although the problem lies in the fact that this is a wired keyboard.
Compare it with the wireless Blackwidow V3 Pro (opens in new tab) that’s still going for the same price though, and there’s something of a disconnect. The only major differences between the two are 8k Hyperpolling over the V3’s 1k Ultrapolling, a USB passthrough, and the fancy command dial. And while the Hyperpolling means I can’t blame my board’s latency for how lousy I am at FPS games, my gut feeling says I shouldn’t pay the same price for a wired keyboard, as nice as the media buttons are. Especially when the placement of the macro keys makes the damn thing so awkward to use.
Okay, I’ve kind of gotten used to it after about a week of non-stop use, but it’s bound to be a pain for some users.
Of course there are other options if you want more control over your macros – you can hook up an Azeron keyboard (opens in new tab) with a nice TKL gaming board, for instance, but certainly not for as low as the $230 asking price of the Blackwidow V4 Pro. You can also grab the Wooting Two HE (opens in new tab) for $35 less and get hot-swappable, analog keyswitches with adjustable controls, and spend the money saved on one of the best gaming mice (opens in new tab) for MMOs. That way you get the best of both worlds and don’t have to relearn how to use your keyboard.