When talking about gaming peripherals, the first brand that consumers immediately think of is Razer. After all, they are one of the most prominent brands in the gaming and eSports scene. Even people who don’t play video games have heard of Razer.
What truly defines Razer is the brand’s innovative products, support for eSports, and dedication to its cult-like community. They were the first ones to introduce the modern gaming mechanical keyboard as well as groundbreaking gaming mice. They also keep on pushing the boundaries and help the gaming industry move forward.
In many ways, they are Apple’s counterpart in the gaming industry. They are incredibly good at marketing their products as well as introducing products that people didn’t know they needed.
One example of a product that Razer popularized is the mechanical keyboard. They launched the Razer Blackwidow, which was one of the first models in the market. And to this day, they still have a good grasp of the gaming keyboard market.
If you are interested in learning more about Razer or if you wish to purchase their gaming keyboards, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we are diving deep into Razer’s history and past product catalog. We will also be discussing their current gaming keyboard lineup.
And, of course, we will be talking about Razer’s reputation as a brand as well as whether or not Razer’s gaming keyboards are right for your needs. Keep on scrolling to learn more.
Razer Brand History
Foundation of Razer
Razer began as a subsidiary of Karna LLC. The goal of the company was to create specialized products for the rapidly evolving PC gaming industry. The general manager at the time, Robert Krakoff, sought the advice of Min-Liang Tan who had very interesting ideas regarding potential gaming peripherals.
In 1999, the company released the Razer Boomslang, which was highly regarded as the first gaming mouse to have ever existed. It had two variants, the Boomslang 1000 and 2000. Bought units sold very well and proved that there was a market for gaming products.
However, due to the financial issues of Karna, Razer was not able to take off fully. The company was forced to shut down in 2000, which left Razer’s future up in the air.
This event did not stop Min-Liang Tan and Robert Krakoff, who were very passionate about the project. And fortunately, the pair was able to acquire the rights to the Razer brand. In 2005, the current iteration of Razer was born under the leadership of Min-Liang Tan, who was appointed CEO, and Robert Krakoff, who acted as the president.
It was during this period when Razer utilized the now-iconic triple-headed snake logo to represent their company. It was inspired by the Boomslang, which was a South African snake that also inspired their first gaming mouse.
They believed that their company would become as dominant as the Boomslang. It was also a precursor to Razer’s fondness of naming their mice after venomous snakes.
It was during this period when Razer released the Diamondback as the successor to the Boomslang as well as the Copperhead. Both products were very innovative for introducing the first 2000 DPI sensor in the market.
The Diamondback became Razer’s best-selling product. Both mice were later reissued with updated hardware in 2015.
After a year of exclusively creating gaming mice, Razer expanded their peripheral lineup with their first gaming keyboard, the Razer Tarantula. They also offered their first gaming headset, the Razer Barracuda.
But despite now offering different products, Razer was relentless with their gaming mice. In 2006, they released the Razer Deathadder, which is now one of the most iconic gaming mice.
Collaboration with Mainstream Companies
In addition to developing their own products, Razer had a brief stint with Microsoft. The two companies collaborated with making Microsoft’s gaming mice and gaming keyboards.
The partnership of these two companies gave birth to the Microsoft Reclusa, which received a Best of CES award in 2007. This successful collaboration attracted other companies such as Belkin.
The two collaborated to release the Belkin Nostromo N52, which was launched at the World Cyber Games Grand Final held in Seattle. Razer would eventually acquire the N52’s design and rebrand it as the Razer Nostromo, which later evolved into the Razer Orbweaver and Razer Tartarus.
Razer’s Dominance in the Gaming Market
With the number of successful products in the market, Razer was quickly becoming one of the most well-known brands in the PC Gaming industry. However, it was arguably in 2010 where Razer started fully taking off. After the release of the Blackwidow, which was one of the first gaming mechanical keyboards, Razer was able to assert dominance.
They were able to gather loyal fans, which was collectively known as the cult of Razer. And with how good their fanbase interaction and marketing is, Razer was touted as the Apple of the gaming scene.
Nothing was able to stop Razer’s momentum. They continued innovating and creating products that competitors were too afraid to attempt. Razer was able to introduce the world’s slimmer gaming laptop in the form of the Razer Blade. They were also able to develop the Razer Edge, which was the world’s first gaming tablet.
To say that Razer massively impacted the gaming peripherals market is an understatement. A lot of the design elements in the gaming products that we take for granted were pioneered by Razer. And even after almost two decades of creating products, Razer keeps on changing the game.
Razer established an office in South Korea to work with professional gamers who were testing their products. In the same year as 2007, many competitors started releasing gaming products in the market. Razer then launched the Razer Lachesis, which is a mouse with a 4000 DPI laser sensor.
In December of 2007, Razer released two products, the Razer Lycosa, a gaming keyboard, and the Razer Piranha, a gaming headset. Both of these products were used in many professional gaming tournaments and became very popular with the gaming community.
Razer was also one of the first companies to support professional Esports organizations. They were already helping build the industry before Esports was even called Esports. They continuously support different organizations, which are collectively known as Team Razer.
Razer Blackwidow History
Razer played a very big role in popularizing the concept of mechanical gaming keyboards. They pioneered and set a lot of the standards that we see with modern mechanical gaming keyboards. And with how big the impact of the Blackwidow is, let us give you an in-depth look into its evolution.
The models that we will be going through here are Razer’s legacy models. The current versions of the Blackwidow will be discussed in a separate section below.
Original Razer Blackwidow (2010-2013)
The Razer Blackwidow was launched in 2010 and was one of the world’s first gaming mechanical keyboards. It featured Cherry MX Blue clicky mechanical switches as well as a full layout with macro keys. It also featured USB and audio pass-through, which were features that were also found in the older Razer Tarantula.
This model was later updated into the Ultimate Edition, which featured blue LED lights on each key. A revised model was also released called the Razer Blackwidow Stealth and Stealth Ultimate. The main differences were its use of Cherry MX Brown tactile switches as well as a non-glossy plastic surface.
The current Blackwidow models at the time were updated in 2013. They mostly featured cosmetic changes such as Razer’s now-signature green backlight.
Razer also released the Blackwidow Tournament Edition, which was a Tenkeyless version of the Razer Blackwidow. The Tournament Edition was marketed as a more budget model that did not feature backlit keys. However, one thing that these models introduced was the detachable USB cable.
Razer Blackwidow Chroma (2014)
The next true evolution of the Blackwidow was in 2014 when Razer released their Chroma line of peripherals and their own Razer Green and Razer Orange gaming switches. These were some of the first non-Cherry switches and switches that were specifically designed for gaming that were available in the market.
The other highlight of these 2014 models was the new Chroma lights. Instead of featuring the static green color, you can now customize the color of the Blackwidow. Razer’s Chroma technology has continuously evolved and is currently one of the best RGB backlight implementations in the market.
Razer Blackwidow X (2016)
The Blackwidow evolved yet again in 2016 with the release of the Blackwidow Chroma X. This model featured a completely new floating key design as well as a metal top plate. It also ditched the macro keys and featured keycaps with a simpler font giving it a more minimalistic look.
The Blackwidow X was also the first keyboard to have alternate colors, such as the now-iconic Mercury finish. In addition, Razer also revised their switches to have a longer lifespan.
Blackwidow Chroma V2 and Blackwidow Ultimate (2017)
The Razer Blackwidow Chroma V2 was a more updated version of the original Blackwidow Chroma. It featured the Blackwidow’s classic design as opposed to the Chroma X’s floating key design. The Chroma V2 also has the macro pad that was omitted from the Chroma X.
The Chroma V2 had a lot of new features. The main highlights were the new magnetic wrist rest and Razer’s new Yellow linear switches. The addition of a linear switch option was much needed, considering how it was becoming the preferred switch by gamers.
Razer also introduced the 2017 version of the Razer Blackwidow Ultimate, which featured a further improved version of Razer’s switches. This revision featured a design reminiscent of Kailh’s Box Switches and was more stable and more dust and spill-resistant.
Blackwidow Elite (2018)
The Blackwidow Elite is a hybrid of the Blackwidow Chroma V2 and the Blackwidow X. This revision features the floating key design of the Blackwidow X but with the improved switches and lighting of the Blackwidow Chroma V2.
But unlike the Blackwidow X and the Chroma V2, the Elite features media keys and a digital dial. These are features that are now commonly seen in high-end gaming keyboards as well as custom mechanical keyboards. The Blackwidow Elite features all of the switch options featured in the Chroma V2, as well as the magnetic wrist rest.
Blackwidow Lite and Blackwidow 2019 (2019)
The next version of the Blackwidow took a completely different approach to its predecessors. The Blackwidow Lite was a simpler and cleaner version of the Blackwidow and was aimed more towards productivity rather than gaming.
The Blackwidow Lite featured floating keys and was only offered in a tenkeyless form factor. Also, unlike the other recent Blackwidow models, the Blackwidow Lite only features white LEDs. The Blackwidow Lite was highly considered to be a more mature model that was similar to custom keyboards which were quickly gaining popularity.
Another model that was released in 2019 was the Razer Blackwidow 2019. This keyboard was more of a budget version of the Blackwidow Chroma V2. It did not feature media keys, macro keys, or magnetic wrist rest. It also did not feature any premium materials and only utilized a plastic case.
This model was marketed as a no-frills entry-level gaming keyboard and served as a gateway to the more premium models in the Blackwidow lineup.
Razer Keyboard Lineup
Razer’s current 2021 lineup consists of three main categories: the Blackwidow series, the Huntsman series, and their entry-level series. The Blackwidow series is their long-running mechanical keyboard series which uses their self-developed Razer switches.
The Huntsman series is currently their flagship professional series that is utilizing their Razer optical switches. And lastly, their entry-level keyboards are utilizing membrane switches and hybrid mechanical and membrane switches.
Razer Blackwidow Series
Razer Blackwidow V3 Po
The Razer Blackwidow V3 Pro is the upgraded model of the Blackwidow V3 and is currently the flagship model in the Blackwidow Series. What sets this model apart from the standard V3 model is that the Blackwidow V3 is wireless.
This model features Razer’s hyperspeed wireless technology which effectively eliminates any noticeable latency making its performance very similar to wired mechanical keyboards. Also, the V3 Pro works via its included dongle or in Bluetooth mode, making it a very versatile keyboard.
Additionally, the V3 features clear housing on the switches, which allows the RGB lights to shine through better when plugged and still maintain a good brightness in wireless mode.
There are also several improvements to the switches in the V3 Pro, specifically the Yellow switches. There is now an additional acoustic dampening system to remove some of the high frequencies produced when bottoming out the switches.
But in a nutshell, the PBT keycaps here should feel better and more durable than their older keycaps. The Razer Blackwidow V3 also features the return of the media keys that were found on the Blackwidow Elite.
Razer Blackwidow V3 Mini
The Razer Blackwidow V3 Mini is Razer’s foray into the 65% keyboard market. This model shows that Razer is adapting to the needs and wants of enthusiasts and modern gamers.
The Blackwidow V3 Mini is considerably more compact than Razer’s older TKL Blackwidow Tournament Edition models. However, unlike the 60% Huntsman Mini, the Blackwidow V3 retains key functionalities such as the number pad and the delete key.
The V3 Mini takes a lot of the features of the V3 Pro, including its wireless technology. It can be used in both wired and wireless modes and also features both a dongle and Bluetooth wireless.
Unlike the V3 Pro, the V3 Mini features double-shot ABS keycaps. This does not mean that the quality is lower since the type of plastic is the same one that is used with higher-end keycap sets such as GMK sets.
It is worth noting that the V3 Mini is the smallest model in the current Blackwidow models. This is the first time that Razer has omitted a TKL model in their Blackwidow lineup. With that said, Razer still offers a TKL model in the form of the Huntsman Tournament Edition.
Razer Blackwidow V3
The Razer Blackwidow V3 is the current iteration of the Razer Blackwidow. It presents a huge jump from the previous Blackwidow models and shows Razer’s willingness to listen and adapt to the demands of modern gamers.
The Blackwidow V3 takes a lot of cues from custom mechanical keyboards. Unlike older Blackwidow models, the V3 has a standard bottom row meaning it is compatible with almost all aftermarket keycaps. It is also compatible with Razer’s first-party keycaps that are sold separately.
Unlike the higher-end models, the Blackwidow V3 is utilizing ABS double shot keycaps. They aren’t as high quality as Razer’s PBT keycaps but are significantly better than Razer’s older laser-etched ABS plastic keycaps.
The feature set of the Razer Blackwidow V3 is pretty standard and does not have any of the cutting-edge features of Razer’s other gaming keyboards. You are getting media keys as well as a magnetic wrist rest.
Razer Huntsman Series
The Razer Huntsman Series features their new optical switches, which is basically their take on the new optical keyboard technology. It is very similar to the one used in the optical switches of their gaming mice.
In a nutshell, optical switches work by blocking light that is emitted inside the PCB. This mechanism makes the switches more durable and faster since the keyboard isn’t relying on the metal contact found in traditional switches. You can learn more about optical switches in our in-depth optical switch guide.
Razer isn’t the first company to utilize optical switches. Brands like Gateron have already released optical versions of their switches before the release of the Huntsman series.
But with that said, their optical switches are not rebranded versions of existing switches. These switches have been designed by Razer and are the only mechanical switches that are primarily designed for gaming.
There are currently four models in the Huntsman lineup: the Huntsman Elite, V2 Analog, Tournament Edition, and the Huntsman Mini. The Huntsman series is the first line of keyboards to have an in-depth lineup that rivals the ones found on the Blackwidow series.
Razer Huntsman V2 Analog
The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is currently the flagship model of the Huntsman Series. The main defining features of this keyboard are its ability to simulate analog inputs, adjustable actuation point, and dual step actuation. Unlike the other models in the Huntsman series, the Huntsman V2 Analog is only offered with Razer’s linear optical switches.
With all of its new features, the Huntsman V2 Analog is the most daring model in Razer’s lineup. But with that said, it still employs a lot of the standard features that you come to expect with Razer’s keyboards. These include the magnetic wrist rest and the media keys on the upper right of the keyboard. And, of course, the Huntsman V2 Analog is powered by Razer’s powerful chroma software.
Razer Huntsman Elite
The Razer Huntsman Elite was the first model introduced in the Huntsman series. It is the oldest model still offered in the current lineup. It features a lot of the design language found on Razer’s other Elite models, such as the Razer Blackwidow Elite.
Like the rest of the Huntsman keyboards, the Huntsman Elite can be purchased with Razer’s purple clicky optical switches as well as their red linear optical switches. These switches are touted by Razer as more stable, more durable, and faster than their regular mechanical switches.
The Huntsman Elite also features other signature Razer features such as the Chroma Lighting, media keys, and magnetic wrist rest. But what’s unique with the Huntsman Elite’s lighting is that it features underglow making the overall look more aggressive than Razer’s other keyboards. Overall, the Huntsman Elite is pretty much just an optical switch version of the Blackwidow keyboards.
Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition
The Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition is the TKL version of the Razer Huntsman. It features the same switch options and the same reliable performance as the larger Huntsman Elite.
This model may seem very straightforward and more of a budget version of the Huntsman Elite. However, the Tournament Edition was well received by both fans and enthusiasts due to how well it was executed. It manages to give the Huntsman experience in a smaller form factor but does not sacrifice key functionality and features such as the backlight.
Also, it features PBT keycaps which are now pretty standard with most of Razer’s keyboards. Overall, the Tournament Edition is a solid keyboard that is made for those looking for maximum performance.
Razer Huntsman Mini
The Razer Huntsman Mini is the smallest version of the Huntsman. It is Razer’s first 60% mechanical keyboard and serves as their answer to the growing needs of the gamers and the mechanical keyboard enthusiast community.
This model gets rid of the F-Keys, the number pad, the arrow keys, and the rest of the navigation cluster. What’s left are the alphas and the main modifiers.
Like most 60% keyboards, this model won’t be for everyone. But for FPS players who are looking to conserve space and professional players looking for the lightest and most efficient keyboard, the Huntsman Mini is a solid choice.
Razer Cynosa V2 and Ornata V2
The Razer Cynosa V2 and Ornata V2 are Razer’s budget-priced keyboards. Unlike the Huntsman and Blackwidow keyboards, both of these keyboards do not feature mechanical switches.
The Cynosa V2 is the lower-priced option of the two. It features membrane switches which are pretty similar to the ones used in common office keyboards. However, the Cynosa V2 makes up for it by adding signature Razer features such as the media keys and Razer’s chroma technology.
The Ornata V2, on the other hand, utilizes a hybrid of membrane and mechanical switches. These Razer mecha membrane switches are technically still membrane switches but emulate the accurate and tactile feel of mechanical keyboards.
Both options are considerably not as good as the Blackwidow and Huntsman keyboards. They are also not used by professional gamers. However, they are great entry-level options for anyone who wants to try out the Razer experience.
What Makes Razer a Good Brand?
The best asset of Razer is the brand’s ability to market its products and to communicate with its fanbase. Unlike most brands that came before them, Razer was able to effectively sell their gaming products and prove that they are tools that gamers needed in order to have “the unfair disadvantage.”
It also helped that Razer was incredibly good at designing products. Their aggressive designs did not always work out but attracted gamers who were bored of the basic mice and keyboard that were available at the time. Just like Apple, Razer was good at giving customers what they didn’t know they even wanted.
But what truly separates Razer from other brands is how they communicate with their fanbase. Razer treats their fans as part of one big family where everyone is always welcome. Their CEO, Min Liang Tan, is often seen directly interacting with fans in his personal social media account.
Razer’s interaction with their community can be directly seen with the birth of their Viper lightweight professional mice as well as their small form factor keyboards. These products are made in response to the growing needs of modern gamers and enthusiasts.
All of these make fans believe that they are talking to real gamers instead of just a soulless peripheral company. All of these have led to Razer’s massive cult following known as the Cult of Razer.
Razer has also been a solid proponent of Esports. They already have major contributions to the scene and were one of the few brands that were supporting the movement before the term Esports was even coined.
Do Pros Use Razer Keyboards?
Razer is affiliated with different Esports organizations, which are collectively known as Team Razer. Organizations that are part of Team Razer exclusively use Razer’s peripherals.
Several high-profile professional players have used Razer’s products throughout the years. Lee Sang Hyeok, better known as Faker, has won several world championships using Razer products. He has won the 2015 and 2016 League of Legends World Championship using Razer’s Blackwidow mechanical keyboard and Deathadder gaming mouse.
The Alliance GG has also won The International 3 in 2013 using Razer’s gear. There are countless examples of champions who have used Razer’s mice and keyboard.
Team Razer is currently packed with talent from different organizations such as China’s Edward Gaming, Philippines’ BREN Esports, The Alliance, MAD Lions, and many more.
Why Buy Razer Keyboards?
Razer is a very innovative brand. They were one of the first brands that pioneered the mechanical gaming keyboard market and one of the few brands that continue to innovate. When purchasing Razer keyboards, you get access to a lot of unique features that are not found on competing gaming keyboards.
Some of these features are their wireless technology, small form factor keyboards, optical switches, and Chroma RGB. Additionally, since these keyboards have been tested and are used by professional gamers, you are guaranteed to have a solid keyboard.
Also, if you have other Razer peripherals, such as their gaming mice, it makes a lot of sense to also use their keyboards. Not only will you be able to sync all the lighting of your peripherals, but you will also be able to control all of them using one software.
Also, when it comes to innovative features, Razer is one of the few brands that are not afraid of experimenting. Not all of their designs work. However, these attempts to push the industry forward are something that anyone should respect.
Razer is also incredibly good at adapting existing technologies. They are arguably not the first to create optical switches and analog switch technology. However, they are the ones who are continuously developing it and are bringing it to the mainstream community.
Why Should You Look for Alternatives?
Razer is, without a doubt, a very successful company in the gaming peripherals market. And as we have stated earlier, there are plenty of reasons to buy their keyboards. However, Razer’s keyboards have not been well received by the keyboard enthusiast community.
You may think that these issues will not affect you if you are a regular consumer or gamer. However, there are plenty of things that you have to consider with Razer’s keyboards. And depending on your needs, you may have to look for other alternatives.
Some of the biggest issues with Razer’s keyboards are their hefty price tag, subpar materials for their price point, and overly aggressive gaming aesthetics and branding. Given how premium Razer’s offerings are, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that their products would also be commanding a higher price tag. However, when you consider that Razer is competing with premium custom keyboards at this price point, then everything changes.
For the asking price of Razer’s most premium mechanical keyboards, you are getting a lot of downsides. Razer’s highest-end keyboards only come with a plastic chassis, the keys are not lubed or filmed, and the stabilizers are prone to rattling.
Another thing that turns users off with Razer’s products is their aggressive gamer aesthetic. This has become less of an issue with Razer’s more recent offerings that have a more minimalistic design. But at the end of the day, Razer’s keyboards are, at their core, gaming keyboards, and it would be impossible to totally get rid of their gaming DNA.
Additionally, Razer’s products were previously known for having quality control issues. While this does not seem to be an issue today, it has certainly left a bad taste in the eyes of veteran gamers.
If you find Razer’s keyboard technology to be appealing and want something that is proven to be tournament-worthy, then Razer’s keyboards will be right for you. However, if you are an enthusiast who demands the best typing feel, customizability, and acoustics, then you already know that Razer keyboards are not for you.
Which Razer Keyboard To Buy?
The Razer Huntsman series is currently Razer’s best offering. They feature great switches with a variety of options as well as a solid overall design.
You will also be getting the most variety since the Huntsman models are offered in full-size, TKL, and 60%. However, if you are looking for a wireless keyboard or a 65%, then you will have to go with the Blackwidow models.
Where to Buy Razer Keyboards?
Razer keyboards can be bought directly from the Razer online website. Their products are also available in most mainstream online stores including Razer’s Store on Amazon. You can also find them in most physical retail stores.
Razer Keyboard Warranty
Razer offers a two-year limited warranty for their gaming keyboards. Check out Razer’s official website to learn more.
The KBE team is dedicated to sharing our knowledge and creating useful resources about computer keyboards. This article was written as a team collaboration, combining our knowledge and years of experience using, building and modding keyboards. Meet the team here.