Author Topic: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma Review  (Read 11353 times)

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Offline Zar7

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Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma Review
« on: Sun, 04 December 2016, 20:34:29 »
Greetings Geekhack! This is Zar7, and I am back again with another mechanical keyboard review. Today I am going to review one of Razer's latest offerings in their mechanical keyboard lineup: the Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma.

Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma

Introduction
The Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma is a TKL mechanical keyboard, which makes it compact and portable enough for carrying it around to LAN parties or tournaments (hence why it is named the Tournament Edition). The X version is an updated version of the original Blackwidow Tournament Edition Chroma, with several key changes in aesthetics and specifications (more on that later). I collaborated with Razer previously as a technical reviewer, discussing about the original Blackwidow TE Chroma and how the design can be improved. So far Razer offers the Blackwidow X TE Chroma in their signature Razer Green switches (tactile and clicky, 50g actuation force), but in the future, other options will be available as well, such as the Razer Orange switches (tactile and non-clicky, 45g actuation force) and Cherry MX Blue switches (tactile and clicky, 50g actuation force).

Let's dive into the review now shall we?

Packaging
It's Razer, so you can expect the packaging to be well-designed and professional. The box is simple and clean, with no crazy graphics or anything of the sort. It's just a simple image of the keyboard with the name on top. I really love how Razer kept it simple this time around. Much appreciated :D

The new Razer logo looks so much better than the previous one. Nice improvements so far! Inside the box you will find the usual user manual and product guide, as well as the Razer stickers packaged neatly with the rest of the documentation. The keyboard itself is tucked very firmly in the centre, complete with a dust cover on top for users to use later on. A dust cover is always a welcome addition, so props to Razer for that.

Core Design
For the Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma, Razer has overhauled most of the design aspect to make it a much better product for the customers.
The top surface of the keyboard is made of military-grade aluminium, which makes it very durable and heavy. There is no numpad on the right side, which minimizes the keyboard's footprint, making it much more compact (saves a ton of space on the desk). The LED indicators are right above the arrow keys, which lights up a solid white.

The logo for caps lock, scroll lock, gaming mode (Windows lock) and macro indicator is etched onto the aluminium in a semi-reflective black color, which blends in with the color of the aluminium. As a result, it might be hard to see which indicators are active. Not a deal-breaker, that's for sure, but it is something to be pointed out.
They could have etched it white so that it contrasts with the aluminium face plate. Also, you cannot change the color of the LED indicators (static white, with the exception of the macro indicator, which lights up red)

Since Razer opted for the aluminium face plate this time around, the keys and switches are exposed in its full glory. The floating keys design, along with the aluminium top plate, makes the keyboard looks premium and professional.

As for the fonts, Razer changed it from the previous, gamer-focused blocky font to the new, simple yet elegant font that truly looks better. It is a font both gamers and non-gamers can appreciate, and it fits very well with the rest of the updated aesthetics. The symbols are no longer unidentifiable, and all of the clean fonts can be read easily now.

The bottom row is now standard (which I am really thankful for), which makes it so much easier for us to browse and look for after-market custom keycaps. Previously for my Blackwidow TE Chroma, I outfitted all of the keys on the keyboard with PBT keycaps, except the spacebar (which has a 6.0 spacing). As a result, it ticks me off time to time when I knew that non-standard bottom row can be an issue for keycaps upgrade later down the road. With the exception of Max Keyboard (which does offer PBT keycaps with 6.25, 6.5 and 6.0 spacebar spacings), a complete keycap set for non-standard bottom row can be hard to find.

With the standard bottom row, users can now customize their Blackwidow X TE Chroma to their hearts content with custom keycaps and whatnot. I am now waiting for a set of new Doubleshot PBT Keycaps (backlight compatible) from Vortex to arrive, so I am already halfway there. XD

Another notable change is the stabilizers. Previously the Blackwidow TE Chroma sports a Costar-based wire stabilizers, but the Blackwidow X TE Chroma now utilizes Cherry-style stabilizers, which makes changing keycaps such a breeze. Personally I love the feel of Costar wire stabilizers, but the new generation of Cherry-style stabilizers is not so bad after all. The Cherry-style stabilizers on the Blackwidow X TE Chroma feels solid, durable and crisp, with no hint of mushy keypresses at all.
Another advantage of Cherry-style stabilizers is that it will accommodate all kinds of keycaps you throw at it, no matter how thick it is. Costar wire stabilizers sometimes have issues with thick keycaps, as the inner wall of the keycaps grinds with the wire stabilizers, which impacts the feel of the keys by a huge margin.

The keyboard comes with a non-detachable braided USB cable. Underneath the keyboard, cable routing channels are provided so users can route the braided cable through the center, left and right side respectively. However, the cable routing channel at the center seems to be too tight, to the point that I am hesitant to route my channel through the middle because it might damage the USB cable. The cable routing channels that leads to the left and the right side of the keyboard however is perfectly functional. The cable will not be damaged if it is routed through the right or through the left. As for the center channel, I would not suggest it as it might damage the cable itself.

I was hoping for the cable to be detachable (just like the previous version), but unfortunately it is not. With the reinforced connection on the keyboard, as well as the braided USB cable, I am sure the connection will be fine for years to come. At least Razer moved the connection port jutting out from the rear of the keyboard to the underside of the keyboard (which protects it even more). So far so good Razer!

The keycaps are ABS translucent keycaps, which allows the brilliant Chroma lighting to pass through. The keycaps themselves are not bad at all (albeit notably thin), and it is actually one of the better stock keycaps out there. But for me personally, I would always go PBT plastic for my keyboards.

Gaming Performance
I tested the keyboard on games such as Starcraft II, Counter Strike Global Offensive, Dota2, GTA Online and Assassin's Creed Syndicate. As expected out of a gaming keyboard, the Blackwidow X TE Chroma performs extremely well, and it is hyper responsive to each and every action and keypresses made. The lack of a wrist rest does not impact my comfort level in using this keyboard for gaming, and it feels so smooth gaming with it, even during intense Zerg ambush or ace clutches on Dust2.

I even had the opportunity to use this keyboard during my second-ever Starcraft II tournament a week ago. It performs consistently and reliably, as I used it during the semi-finals clashing against an experienced Zerg player. I won the tournament using my trusty Leopold FC750R (Cherry MX Red), triumphing over a skilled Terran player with my Protoss army. :D

Typing Experience
Typing experience is solid, crisp and consistent across the board. I wrote this review using the Blackwidow X, and it feels comfortable and smooth to type with. Each and every keystrokes feels responsive as ever, and I have not experienced any double-keypresses so far with this one.

Switches
The new Razer Greens switches does not disappoint. Why did I say new? Because previously (pre 2016 models), Razer collaborated with Kaihua Electronics (famous for their "increasingly getting better" MX-clone Kailh switches) to produce their proprietary mechanical switches. As for 2016, Razer switched out the collaboration, choosing Greetech (which also manufactures MX-clone Greetech switches) to help them manufacture a new batch of switches instead. This explains why Razer bumped up the switch life of its new batch of mechanical switches from 60 million keystrokes to 80 million keystrokes. This claim is yet to be verified, but so far, the new Razer mechanical switches feels durable, reliable and strong. It wobbles less as compared to Cherry MX switches from what I have noticed.

Razer Greens (Kailh) VS Razer Greens (Greetech)
Old vs New
Simple rundown:
- Newer version feels a bit more refined and crisp
- Newer version is more consistent across the board
- Newer version reduces key wobbles even more
- Sound signature is pretty much the same for both new and old
- Less quality issues with the new one (sticky switches and such)
- Older version feels a tad bit lighter than the new ones
- Older version feels just a little bit smoother on the upstroke

How to check version:
Old version: If you see a logo right under the Razer name on the switches, it is made by Kailh (the logo belongs to Kaihua Electronics).
New version: If you do not see a logo, it is made by Greetech (if you diassemble the switches, you can see the Greetech company logo etched on the inner wall). 

Function Keys
F1, F2 and F3: Media Keys, which controls Mute, Volume Down and Volume Up respectively.
F5, F6, and F7: Controls previous track, play/pause and next track respectively.
F9: Macro Key - used to record macro keys
F10: Gaming Mode - disables Windows keys, locking it from functioning which prevents you from kicking yourself out from games by accidentally hitting the Windows key.
F11 and F12: Controls Brightness Down and Brightness Up, respectively.

Razer Synapse and Lighting
By downloading Razer Synapse, you can customize the RGB Chroma lighting on the keyboard, making it do a rainbow wave, ripple effect, static, starlight, spectrum cycling, reactive and breathing. You can even use the Chroma Configurator to assign and customize your own lighting (such as combining static lighting and ripple effect together, or mapping different colors to keys for macros, micros, etc.).

Since there is no white back plate this time around (due to the aluminium surface), the lighting is not as bright as the previous version, but on the plus side, the keyboard glows more vibrantly with the aluminium reflecting off the lighting. It looks better this way in my humble opinion.

Underside Perspective :P
Four rubber feet which stops the keyboard from sliding around, and two flip-out feet that you can use to elevate the keyboard to an angle (I personally prefer it at a non-angled elevation, so I do not use the flip-out feet at all). Good news is, the flip-out feet feels sturdy this time around, and it is also rubber coated unlike last time.

Conclusion:
Razer, thank you very much for listening. Basically they have made every effort to fix everything that have been pointed out as flaws on their mechanical keyboard, and came back with a new design that functions well and looks nice. Most of the things I pointed out to the Razer representative that discussed with me is well-heard:

My complains and suggestions : What Razer did
Rubber-coated top plate attracts fingerprints, use aluminium instead  : Use solid aluminium that does not register fingerprints at all
The font should be updated to adhere to more customer base : Changed to new, classy font
Bottom row should be standard so that users can customize their boards easily with after-market keycaps : Makes the bottom row standard
Flip-out feet is weak, should be strengthened and rubber coated : Makes the rubber feet sturdy and rubber coated
Detachable cable FTW! : Nope, non-detachable cable rocks man (me: nooooooooooo! XD)
Connection port is exposed, move it to the underside of the keyboard to protect it : Moves the connection to the underside
Use new batches of Cherry-style stabilizers : Uses new batches of Cherry-style stabilizers
Stock Razer PBT Keycaps FTW! : Nope, saving costs here man. (me: that would have been cool)
More Chroma customization : Yep, as you wish. (personally I don't really care about RGB lighting, but oh well)

Overall, the new Blackwidow X TE Chroma is a solid choice for both gaming and professional use. Razer hits the nail right on the spot this time, rectifying all the right spots and made nearly all the right calls. New Razer switches are nice, new design looks dope as hell, and new improvements comes a long way. Good job Min Liang Tan and the gang at Razer! Would love to collaborate with you all again!





 
 



Offline klennkellon

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Re: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma Review
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 18 December 2016, 04:41:05 »
Freaking Corsair, if Razer can do a standard bottom row so can you.

Offline mrboovn

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Re: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma Review
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 19 December 2016, 16:06:13 »
Thanks for detailed review Zar7  :thumb:
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Offline Cocopah

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Re: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma Review
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 21 December 2016, 16:04:53 »
Very detailed write up, I'm glad to see someone willing to give it a try to see if razer can redeem(or establish) their reputation.

Offline klennkellon

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Re: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma Review
« Reply #4 on: Sat, 24 December 2016, 17:37:14 »
Very detailed write up, I'm glad to see someone willing to give it a try to see if razer can redeem(or establish) their reputation.
I'd say Razer has a decent reputation in the mice market. Their mousepads are also good.

Offline Cocopah

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Re: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma Review
« Reply #5 on: Sat, 24 December 2016, 18:41:26 »
Very detailed write up, I'm glad to see someone willing to give it a try to see if razer can redeem(or establish) their reputation.
I'd say Razer has a decent reputation in the mice market. Their mousepads are also good.
Oh I agree, their mice have have always been good. The only issue is they went away from on board memory in favor of the synapse software. I've gone through many Razer mice. I bought a Deathadder Elite recently, I missed my old DA. I can't stand the synapse software though. I ended up replacing it with a Logitech G403.

Offline klennkellon

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Re: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma Review
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 25 December 2016, 01:54:31 »
Very detailed write up, I'm glad to see someone willing to give it a try to see if razer can redeem(or establish) their reputation.
I'd say Razer has a decent reputation in the mice market. Their mousepads are also good.
Oh I agree, their mice have have always been good. The only issue is they went away from on board memory in favor of the synapse software. I've gone through many Razer mice. I bought a Deathadder Elite recently, I missed my old DA. I can't stand the synapse software though. I ended up replacing it with a Logitech G403.
I recently aquired the G402 and while the G402 is overall a better mouse with better features and build quality, the Deathadders grip was just a lot more comfortable to me.

Offline Cocopah

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Re: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma Review
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 25 December 2016, 01:58:09 »
Ya the G402 has a unique grip. I always end up going back to the deathadder grip. The G403 is a little closer to the DA grip, but it has hump in the palm that takes some getting used to. The sensor is amazing though.

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Offline rabbitfire

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Re: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma Review
« Reply #8 on: Fri, 30 December 2016, 11:18:34 »
Thanks for your review!  :thumb:

Offline Waateva

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Re: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma Review
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 30 December 2016, 11:29:29 »
Glad to see Razer at least trying to improve on some things (standard bottom row, keycap fonts, etc) rather than not. 
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Offline Hyde

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Re: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma Review
« Reply #10 on: Tue, 17 January 2017, 20:29:40 »
Thanks for the detailed review.  And I have to say Razer basically fixed all the complaints I have about previous version of Blackwidow.

As you mentioned:

Standard bottom row.
No more macro keys (biggest YES, I use to hit the wrong key all the time).
Kaihl switch to Greentech switch seems to be a good move too.
Aluminum top plate.
I didn't have any issue with their Costar-like stabilizer but the new clipped Cherry stabilizer is good too.

Funny enough even though I know a lot of people here don't like Razer but I never had any glaring issue with Razer nor did any of my Razer products ever broke.

And this is still good to know they listen to their customers.

:)

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Offline vim_commando

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Re: Razer Blackwidow X Tournament Edition Chroma Review
« Reply #11 on: Sun, 21 May 2017, 00:29:23 »
This is a great review. I picked up this as my first Razer keyboard (Razer anything for that matter). I was wondering what all the Razer hate was about because the keyboard seemed pretty solid to me.

Go figure this was the first one they got most of it right  :))

I didn't see any mention of what the keycaps are made of (aside from not pbt). They are also not double shot. They are translucent white plastic with a black spray coat. They feel ok, but noting special.

The Synapse software was disappointing. I was hoping for individual (or at least key group) lighting configurations, unless I'm missing something it looks like its full-board or nothing. I do like how you can remap any of the keys (~ to esc, \ to backspace, etc); but the key remaps are tightly coupled to the lighting profile and are not remembered by the keyboard (making your changes non-portable.)