Razer is finally cutting the cord on one of its mechanical gaming keyboards. The Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro combines the Hyperspeed 2.4 GHz and Bluetooth wireless tech introduced in its productivity keyboard, the Editors’ Choice award-winning Pro Type, with the coveted design and features of the 2018 BlackWidow Elite. The V3 Pro delivers a tried-and-true Razer flagship keyboard experience without the wires, which is nice, especially since wireless keyboards with mechanical keys are few and far between. At the same time, though, the V3 Pro has flaws that diminish the appeal of going wireless, like many other cordless mechanical keyboards. Plus, it carries a big $229 price tag.

BlackWidow V3 Pro no rest

Wireless and Mechanical? If That’s What You Want…

The BlackWidow V3 Pro, like the BlackWidow Elite before it, is a fairly stacked mechanical gaming keyboard. Its 104-key full-size layout measures 1.94 by 17.69 by 6.22 inches (HWD), but its desk footprint grows to 1.94 by 17.69 by 9.25 by 1.94 inches (HWD), as it comes with a matching wrist rest. The black top plate and black ABS doubleshot keycaps create that RGB-forward look that’s defined Razer for years. It’s classic Razer from edge to edge.

The keyboard comes with Razer’s traditional Green clicky or Yellow linear mechanical switches. Testing on Razer greens, the company’s most popular switches, the keyboard has a comfortable, deliberate typing feel while writing or playing games. (Linear switches, on the other hand, tend to have a quick action, which leads to high speeds while gaming and low accuracy while typing). If you like tactile switches, this keyboard may be especially appealing: While optical switches confer some benefits, like increased durability, even “clicky” optical switches have a decidedly light touch.

BlackWidow V3 Pro volume wheel

In addition to the standard keys, the BlackWidow V3 Pro sports discrete media buttons in the top-right corner — three tall, round buttons for play, back, and forward, as well as a low, circular volume wheel with an exposed dial jutting out of the keyboard’s upper-right edge. The center of the wheel features a mute button. Unlike many keyboards with media controls, the BlackWidow V3 Pro has buttons and a wheel that are programmable, which is nice if you don’t watch a lot of video on your PC.

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Let’s talk about that wrist rest. The 0.97-by-17.69-by-3.63-inch rest is black, with a padded leatherette cushion covering most of the panel. The padding is soft enough to let your wrists sink into it a bit, and deep enough that sinking doesn’t mean your wrists don’t meet the hard plastic base. Weirdly, the wrist rest does not attach to the keyboard in any meaningful way. The leading edge of the keyboard and rear edge of the rest are slanted at complementary angles so the rest can sit flush just below the bottom row of keys. That said, there are no magnets, hinges, or clips to keep the rest from moving. It’s not really an issue when you put your weight on the rest—it ain’t movin’—but I found myself fiddling with its position more than usual because I had to adjust it every time I moved the keyboard.

BlackWidow V3 Pro wrist rest

Obviously, all of the the BlackWidow V3 Pro’s big changes revolve around the fact that it’s wireless. Luckily, the wireless-related aspects of the keyboard are mostly great. The BlackWidow V3 Pro connects to your PC via either Bluetooth or a 2.4 GHz wireless connection using a USB dongle. Both connections work smoothly, without producing a detectable amount of lag and remain stable, even in a room full of potentially disruptive wireless connections. You can also use a wired connection while charging, using the keyboard’s USB-C charging cable.

Battery life, on the other hand, may be an issue, depending on how you feel about RGB lighting. Razer will very happily tell you the BlackWidow V3 Pro lasts up to 192 hours with the RGBs off. And they’re right to be stoked about that number, because that’s a really long time. However, the number dramatically trails off the moment you turn on the RGB lighting. By Razer’s account, the keyboard should only last 13 hours on a single charge with the RGBs shining at full power. It’s completely normal for a wireless gaming keyboard to last less than half as long with RGBs on versus off, but this is a serious drop-off.

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BlackWidow V3 Pro vertical shot

The good news is there are lots of ways to set up a satisfactory compromise. Using keyboard shortcuts or Razer Synapse, the company’s configuration software, you can adjust the brightness on a scale from 0-100 percent, set up RGB dimming when your PC is asleep, or set the keyboard to turn off after a certain amount of downtime. With the lighting set at 30 percent power and with power-saving features turned on, I only needed to charge the keyboard after a week of daily use. Still, this feels like a conundrum, especially in a Razer device, given the company’s love of RGB peripherals.

BlackWidow V3 Pro keyboard settings

Synapse Software

As always, the BlackWidow V3 Pro supports Razer’s configuration software, Synapse. Razer Synapse allows you to remap all of BlackWidow’s keys and buttons, create macros, configure its RGB lighting and, most importantly for the BlackWidow V3 Pro, adjust power-related settings. The BlackWidow V3 Pro features onboard storage for up to five keyboard profiles, which is standard for high-end keyboards, and Synapse can store an unlimited number of additional profiles locally.

Generally speaking, Razer Synapse is a great utility. It looks clean. Its menus are relatively flat and intuitive, but also allow for deep customization when you want or need to tune things. Once you’ve updated Synapse with the BlackWidow V3 Pro’s drivers, the keyboard can connect to Synapse over a wireless connection, so you’ll only need to plug it in to charge or update its firmware.

The wireless connection between the BlackWidow V3 Pro and Synapse seems to have created some new rough edges for the app. Switching connections with Synapse running, including plugging and unplugging the charging cable, causes Synapse to momentarily forget the keyboard. That, in itself, isn’t a big deal, but the hiccup led Synapse to freeze on multiple occasions, forcing me to quit manually. It makes the wireless aspect of the BlackWidow feel more like a chore, rather than a benefit. While the issue doesn’t affect your work and play day-to-day, getting jammed up abruptly will make you think twice before connecting and disconnecting the keyboard, or using Synapse.

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BlackWidow V3 Pro Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Not Quite the Dream

The BlackWidow V3 Pro is well-made and great to type on, but I’m not entirely sure it sells the dream of the wireless mechanical keyboard. Under ideal conditions, a wireless mechanical keyboard is a best-of-both-worlds situation: You get the comfortable typing feel of Razer mechanical keyboards, while giving you the extra freedom of being untethered to your PC. The feature set throws a lot of obstacles that conflict with that scenario. Some of them are technical issues, like hiccups around Synapse and the battery life drop-off while using RGB lighting. Others, like a wrist rest that needs to be adjusted and readjusted, just re-enforces the idea that this keyboard should be placed and left alone, which diminishes the need for a wireless keyboard. 

On top of all that, the BlackWidow V3 Pro goes for a whopping $229. That’s in line with wireless mechanical gaming keyboards like Logitech’s G915 Lightspeed, but significantly more expensive than many of the best, most feature-rich wired gaming keyboards on the market. If you’re determined to buy a wireless keyboard to reduce cable clutter, the BlackWidow V3 Pro is a great mechanical keyboard that lets you to do that. It’s still a few tweaks away from the blending the ideal wireless, mechanical, and gaming keyboard experiences together into a single package.

Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Specs

Number of Keys 108
Interface Bluetooth, USB Wired, RF Wireless
Key Switch Type Razer Green
Key Backlighting RGB Per-Key
Media Controls Dedicated
Dedicated Shortcut Keys No
Onboard Profile Storage Yes
N-Key Rollover Support Yes
Passthrough Ports None
Palm Rest Detachable (Magnetic)

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