Razer BlackWidow Lite review: A highly portable mechanical keyboard

Razer’s BlackWidow Lite keyboard is a compact version of the company’s mechanical BlackWidow keyboard. It’s a very similar design, but does away with the number pad, making it more ergonomic to use alongside a mouse.

This “tenkeyless” form factor – TKL for short – has become increasingly popular, as it reduces the distance between users’ left and right hands, which can promote better posture and reduce wrist strain. With several TKL keyboards already on the market, is the BlackWidow Lite the best choice?

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Razer BlackWidow Lite review: What you need to know

The Razer BlackWidow Lite is a compact mechanical keyboard. It’s smaller than your average keyboard, since it lacks a numeric keypad, and thanks to its all-plastic design it weighs a modest 660g. That makes it highly portable, and it connects to your computer via a conveniently removable micro-USB to USB Type-A cable.

Another distinctive feature is the near-silent design. The BlackWidow Lite’s Orange Switches are far quieter than Razer’s renowned Green Switches, and a provided set of rubber rings can be fitted to make the action even quieter. And for late-night gamers and workaholics, each key has a white LED backlight, the brightness of which can be dynamically adjusted.

The keyboard has a standard layout, with media controls available by pressing the function keys while holding down the Fn key. You can set up extra customisations using Razer’s Synapse 3 software, with the Hypershift function letting you assign key commands or complex macros to any key, effectively doubling the number of controls available. The keyboard itself has no onboard memory, however, so these will be forgotten if you plug it into a different machine.

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Razer BlackWidow Lite review: Price and competition

The Razer BlackWidow Lite is priced at £95, which is quite expensive for a TKL keyboard: the Corsair Gaming K63 has the same form factor, plus Cherry MX Red switches, dedicated media keys and a red backlight for a more affordable £70. It doesn’t have a removable cable like the Razer, however.

Alternatively, you could consider the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro, costing around £95. It’s near-identical to the Corsair Gaming K63, but has a sturdy metal frame and a removable cable. The catch is that it’s only available with a US layout.

For something a bit more colourful, Razer also sells the BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma V2. At £100, this comes with the same near-silent Orange Switches, but includes a soft wrist rest and RGB backlit keys.

Razer BlackWidow Lite review: Performance

In use, Razer’s Orange Switches are certainly quiet, and for those who want to get as close to silence as possible, Razer includes rubber O-rings in the package that further dampen the sound. However, these need to be individually inserted under each key, and they do change the overall feel of the keyboard – so I’d suggest trialling them on a few keys before removing all 87 keycaps.

Without the rings fitted, I found the BlackWidow Lite very responsive. A 4mm travel distance and actuation point of 1.9mm give it a very similar feel to the Cherry MX Brown, which quotes figures of 4mm and 2mm respectively. The main difference is that the Razer’s keys are a touch lighter, requiring only 45 cN of force, compared to the 55cN of the Cherry MX Brown.

In time though I found myself gravitating back to the Cherry MX Brown. It’s a subjective judgment, but I felt that Razer’s Orange Switches sat uncomfortably between the Cherry MX Silent Red (a lightweight linear switch) and the heavier, tactile Cherry MX Brown.

The all-plastic design also isn’t as rigid as the HyperX Alloy FPS Pro, which has a metal top plate; as a result, the BlackWidow Lite suffers from some flex. The fold-out plastic legs meanwhile were a touch short for my liking, not tilting the keyboard up to what I’d consider an optimal typing angle – and there’s no wrist rest included either.

Razer BlackWidow Lite review: Verdict

With its compact, lightweight design and detachable USB cable, the Razer BlackWidow Lite is a good mechanical keyboard for those who plan to travel.

Personally, though I’d opt for the Corsair Gaming K63, instead: it’s £30 cheaper, has dedicated media keys, and maintains the TKL form-factor. Or, for around the same price as the BlackWidow Lite, consider the Razer BlackWidow Tournament Edition Chroma V2, which offers RGB backlit keys and a soft wrist rest. Either way, with better alternatives available for the same price or less, the BlackWidow Lite is hard to recommend unless you’re expecting to unplug your keyboard regularly.

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