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Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro review: More than enough buttons, too much software

Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro
Enlarge / Razer’s BlackWidow V4 Pro wired mechanical keyboard.

Scharon Harding

Specs at a glance: Razer BlackWidow V4 Pro
Switches Razer Green (clicky) or Yellow (linear)
Keycaps Doubleshot ABS plastic
Connectivity options USB-A cable
Backlighting Per-key RGB
Size (with wrist rest) 18.3×9.35×1.73 inches
(466×237.5×44 mm)
Weight (with wrist rest) 3.37 pounds  (1,530 g)
Warranty 2 years
Price (MSRP) $230
Other 1x USB-A passthrough port, detachable wrist rest

If you’ve ever wished your keyboard had more buttons, Razer’s BlackWidow V4 Pro may be for you. It expands the full-size keyboard layout to include a column of macro keys and three non-mechanical buttons on the keyboard’s left edge. The keyboard also has a volume roller and a so-called Command Dial, which lets you twist your inputs to control zoom, scroll through a long spreadsheet, or tweak the size of a Photoshop brush.

Despite Razer’s gaming focus, the BlackWidow V4 Pro fits well in work settings thanks to its extreme, multi-layer programmability, a strong but imperfect typing experience, and a USB-A passthrough port. It’s easy to dim the RGB lighting and get to work with complex key bindings; you can launch frequently used apps and sites with a keypress and navigate programs with the dial.

But many of the BlackWidow V4 Pro’s best features require you to keep Razer’s Synapse app open, and while this isn’t a new complaint, the introduction of the multi-function dial puts a harsh spotlight on this limitation.

Enough keys for ya?

The BlackWidow V4 Pro is marketed as a gaming keyboard, but I spent hours doing work with it. The keyboard’s handiest productivity feature is the extra programmable keys. The 5-key macro bank doesn’t compare to the 18-key one on the 2014 Corsair K95, but it still has all the keys I need from a productivity keyboard—including the beloved numpad—and then some.

The layout holds great potential for power users. I often put macros on the function row, but the BlackWidow V4 Pro’s extra keys meant I didn’t need to. I used the bonus key bank for everything from launching commonly used programs to quickly entering long text strings or controlling Photoshop layers. Onboard memory (with five profiles) and the ability to link keybindings with certain apps gave me plenty of options for customizing the board to the exact type of work I was doing.

The three side macro keys didn’t get as much use, though. They’re not visible from a typical seated position, so you have to take your hands off the keyboard’s main rows and feel up and down to figure out which of the buttons you’re about to press.

Out of sight, out of mind.
Enlarge / Out of sight, out of mind.

Scharon Harding

I was also prone to pressing the side buttons accidentally. I tend to adjust my keyboard as I work, and when I would lift the keyboard on its left side (my go-to side since my right hand is usually on my mouse), I’d press one of the side buttons. I could get around this by programming the side keys to do nothing, but that’s a waste of keys. I’d prefer having an “M6” key in the macro column, like Corsair’s K100 and K95 and Logitech’s G613 have, rather than these non-mechanical side pieces.

The aluminum roller is textured and provides tactile movement.
Enlarge / The aluminum roller is textured and provides tactile movement.

Scharon Harding

A full set of programmable media keys completes the layout, but their legends are hard to read because of their shiny designs and dark-gray-on-black styling. I also dislike dedicated mute buttons, especially when there’s a volume roller in play. A volume wheel that can adjust and mute sound (such as by pressing it in) feels more intuitive and saves space.

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