With each iteration of Razer’s flagship BlackWidow mechanical keyboard, the tech giant continues to (re)define what works for gaming enthusiasts, such that its allure has become a mainstay over the years. And its legacy continues to charm with the Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro, the newest member of the family that adds just about everything to a familiar, beloved formula.
The highlight this time, however, belongs to a more unconventional form of functionality: macros. As compared to the average full-sized keyboard, Razer’s latest offering is larger and wider due to its addition of convenience tools, which include a volume roller, dedicated media keys, eight macro buttons, and a multi-function dial that supports up to 100 custom modes. This is on top of its other features, such as a magnetic, plush wrist rest with an RGB underglow, that further reinforce its premium status. It’s a one-stop keyboard fit for the mightiest of battle stations, but pushes the price-to-performance tradeoff a little too far.
Measuring 46.5 cm long, 15.2 cm deep, and 4.4 cm tall with keycaps, the BlackWidow V4 Pro isn’t the best choice for small desk spaces. It feels sturdy and stable, with its aluminum alloy case adding some extra heft to the frame and eliminating any sign of flex. At the top, a USB-A passthrough port is joined by two USB-C ports, used for powering the keyboard and as an additional USB passthrough, while the kickstands on the underside allow the keyboard to be propped up at two different heights.
There are some design elements that, naturally, have been carried over from its predecessor. Like the BlackWidow V4 Pro, the keyboard has a dedicated row of media keys above the NumPad on the right, ships with a wrist rest, and is decked out in a stealthy slab of black. Beyond that, though, the similarities come to an end – the volume wheel is replaced with a textured roller bar, the buttons have a metallic sheen to them, and the wrist rest received an upgrade.
More prominent are three new additions to the left side of the device: three programmable switches on the edge, a column of five macro buttons, and the command dial. On paper, the idea of the former two features sounds nifty, but the execution isn’t fully intuitive, requiring users to first get accustomed to the changes.
The left-frame placement of the three keys, for one, makes them susceptible to mis-clicks, particularly for those who often adjust the keyboard’s position. Even while fixed in place, there’ll be moments where the knuckle brushes against them on accident, resulting in the default Xbox Gamebar or Snipper tool randomly popping up. At best, it’s a minor inconvenience; at worst, the disruption in workflow or gameplay can lead to some exasperation – even if the shortcuts do prove handy in certain situations, such as grabbing screenshots or starting and stopping recording with one quick press.
On Razer’s own Synapse 3 app, the keys can be manually disabled, but considering their limited and specific functionality, it might be better to have them turned off by default instead. The column of macro keys, likewise, falls prey to the same conceptualisation-to-execution gap, with the extra waistline pushing all the keys to the right, which displaces the typing layout that most are used to. Rather than the ‘Caps Lock’ or ‘Shift’ key, users may end up hitting one of the macro buttons, and it’s a muscle memory mismatch that occurs more often than one would like. While the frequency of these instances does decrease as users grow used to the placement, the execution is far from the best.
What’s useful, though, are the dial wheel on the upper-left, and media keys on the right side of the Black Widow V4 Pro. Packing multiple functions, the knob offers default access to keyboard brightness, task switching, track jogging, and zoom control, alongside four other presets that include horizontal scrolling. Clicking it will cycle through the various modes, highlighted by the change in the colour ring at the base, and new ones can be created in Razer Synapse 3.
The media keys continue in this vein of convenience. Likewise, pressing them brings up different mappings, which by default, are bound to playback, pause/play, skip, and mute audio. Volume is controlled by the roller at the top, upgraded from the V3 Pro, with the notched metal texture granting a tactile, grippy feel.
The kit is, in general, a nifty feature, but there are some minor design flaws: the roller is positioned too deep below the rest of the keys, resulting in awkward reach, while the lack of illumination on the buttons – not to be mixed up with the underglow from the base – makes it difficult to identify them in dark or low-light environments.
Typing proves to be a satisfactory, if hollow-sounding, experience. The Black Widow V4 Pro comes with two of Razer’s in-house mechanical switches, the clicky Razer Green, or the linear Yellow option. Armed with the latter, the keys are quieter, but the clicks sound a little too plasticky, so they lack the kind of refined oomph that some of the other keyboards boast. It’d also be nice to have more bounceback, especially since no tactile bump can be felt here.
In fast-paced shooters like Apex Legends and Overwatch 2, the 1.2mm actuation point of the keys lived up to the claim of faster reaction times. The keystrokes were quick and responsive, and the space bar remained wobble-free in other titles like Hades and Genshin Impact. For its price, PBT keycaps would have been a better choice than double shot ABS – the former tends to be of higher quality, with higher resistance to wear and tear.
Unlike its predecessor, the full-sized keyboard doesn’t ship with Bluetooth or wireless options. There might be a non-wired iteration available in the future, but wired mode is all users will get for now – a compromise that Razer makes up for with premium comfort. Gone is the leatherette wrist rest that peels easily after extended use, replaced with a sturdier, more comfortable one. Snapping it on activates the strip of RGB underneath, and it’s an effortless affair: a strong magnetic connection does all the heavy lifting, so users won’t even have to lift the board up.
With the sheer amount of bling, the BlackWidow V4 Pro isn’t the most low-profile of keyboards when fully kitted. On top of per-key lighting, it offers further customisation, where up to 100 custom Command Dial modes can be paired with various backlight colours. Here’s the catch – Synapse 3 needs to be run for the custom modes to work, and the same goes for macro key binding. It’s absurd, but the extra column of keys sitting on the left frame is disabled by default, and can only be used when users boot the software up.
The key binding experience is elevated by Razer Hypershift. Activated by holding ‘Fn’, one of the three keys that cannot be remapped (the other two being the dial and Windows key), the feature allows users to unlock a secondary set of functions and assign them to already-existing key binds, resulting in another six additional buttons for use. While casual users will likely not benefit from such a niche tool, it’s still nice to have options nonetheless.
The BlackWidow V4 Pro is a gaming keyboard that largely succeeds at being everything and more, even if the price to pay for macro key convenience and versatility doesn’t come cheap. At S$359, it does an excellent job at covering all its bases, packing in a feature-rich slate for both work and play. In the hands of the everyday user, the keyboard won’t be able to reach its fullest potential, making it more ideal for fans of macro keys and customisation. There are some flaws to consider here, but none of them qualify for deal breaker status, which leaves plenty for users to enjoy – so long as they have the desk space and pretty pennies to afford it.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
So close, yet so far. The Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro falls just shy of being the best in its class, bogged down by its hefty price tag and some slight oversights, but excelling in everywhere else that matters.
Aesthetics - 8/10
Build Quality - 9/10
Performance - 8.5/10
Value - 7/10
Geek Satisfaction - 8.5/10