After the 2020 release of the Huntsman Mini, Razer jumps right back into the mechanical keyboard market with yet another small peripheral. This time, it is their flagship line, the BlackWidow, that gets the tiny treatment. With all of the features crammed into the BlackWidow line, has Razer given us a glimpse into a smaller future or did they shave too much off? Let’s find out!
- MSRP: $179.99
- Switches: Razer Yellow Mechanical Switches (available in Razer Green)
- Form Factor: 65%
- Actuation Force: 45 G
- Actuation Distance: 1.2 mm
- Travel Distance: 3.5 mm
- Key Caps: Doubleshot ABS
- Polling: 1000 Hz
- Connectivity: USB, Bluetooth, Razer HyperSpeed Wireless (2.4 GHz)
- RGB: Razer Chroma equipped (16.8 million customizable color options)
- Software: Razer Synapse 3
- Anti-ghosting N-key roll-over
- Fully programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording
While Razer had been no stranger in the market of PC peripherals designed for gamers, it was the release of the BlackWidow that brought mechanical keyboards into center stage. Since 2010, the BlackWidow remains Razer’s top tier offering in the gaming keyboard space. With the resented release of the BlackWidow V3 Pro, the big question on our minds has been this: where do you go from here?
You go smaller.
With the growing number of peripherals taking up desktop spaces and the growing time spent at those desks as gaming PCs have pulled double duty, the war for extra real estate is a constant battle. Enter the BlackWidow V3 Mini - a full-featured mechanical keyboard, carrying the BlackWidow pedigree at a fraction of the size… 65% to be exact.
Don’t take that 35% shrinkage as the V3 Mini being a diminished keyboard; the switches and keycaps are full sized. The keyboard has been minimized to the essentials by removing the F-key row as well as the tenkeys, with some keys having an alternative function. Razer did opt to leave in four navigation keys (which double as macro keys) and four arrow keys.
Speaking of keys, the Razer BlackWidow Mini V3 comes equipped with either Razer Green or Razer Yellow switches. For our review, I got to try out the Yellow Switches and, I have to say, I was impressed by their responsiveness as well as how quiet they were when compared to other mechanical switches I have tried. That is, in no small part, due to the addition of sound dampeners to the Razer Yellow Switches. If you are looking for a more clicky or tactile feel from your keyboard switches, the Razer Green Switch is probably more up your alley.
These switches are capped off by a doubleshot ABS keycap. Razer uses these same caps on the BlackWidow V3 Pro, but offers a PBT variety for those who are looking for a more premium feel. If you’ve been around the mechanical keyboard world, ABS caps tend to be a bit less desirable as they tend to hold grease and wear down easier. However, Razer has assured us that the ABS caps they use are designed for longevity and to limit labeling wear.
If size and keys were all that there was to the BlackWidow V3 Mini, I would celebrate it as a well-built, small form factor keyboard… but if I did, I would be missing one of its fantastic features. Did I mention that it can also function as a wireless keyboard? Since that is the case, we need to talk about battery life as well as connectivity.
As far as battery life goes, I ran the BlackWidow V3 Mini with RGB on color cycle for around 12 hours. This wasn’t 12 hours of being idle either… It was my day off and I needed to do some last-minute preparation for Destiny 2’s Vault of Glass raid to drop. At the end of my day, I had around 40% battery life left.
This experience tracks with the information Razer gave us about battery life while using HyperSpeed Wireless. With Chromo RGB enabled at 100%, the BlackWidow V3 Mini can operate for around 17 hours on a charge. At 30% brightness, it will last 48 hours, but with no Chroma RGB enabled, the BlackWidow V3 Mini will last a whopping 200 hours on one charge. Considering that I didn’t have 200 hours (8.3 days) to test it, I am going to have to take Razer’s word for it!
When it comes to connectivity, the BlackWidow V3 Mini can connect to your PC via USB (USB-A to USB-C cable included) as well as Bluetooth (with connectivity to up to three devices) or via Razer’s HyperSpeed Wireless technology. HyperSpeed Wireless provides a low-power, high-response solution to wireless input devices while allowing users to connect more than one HyperSpeed Wireless-equipped device to your system.
To test the HyperSpeed Wireless option out, I used the Razer Orochi V2 wireless mouse alongside the BlackWidow V3 Mini. It was awesome to have the two devices running side-by-side wirelessly without much of a hitch. I say that because there were a few moments where it seemed as though my keys stopped moving my character forward in-game. Now, that could have been user error, but I did not experience the same thing when wired or when using my “daily driver” - the Razer Huntsman TE.
Editor's Note (5/27/21): Razer reached out to us following the review to confirm that a firmware update is in the works to correct the intermittent connectivity issue. A test version was offered to us, so we expect an official release soon.
The Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini delivers a feature-packed, wireless mechanical keyboard which gives a ton of versatility in both connectivity and in its uses. The best part? This 65% keyboard that doesn’t feel cramped… and that’s coming from a dude with freakishly large hands!
The options for wireless connectivity with both Bluetooth and Razer’s HyperSpeed Wireless technology is great it you are looking to utilize the BlackWidow V3 Mini with devices other than your PC. Throw exceptional battery life into the mix and what you have is a space-conscious, well-built keyboard that you can “grab and go” wherever the action takes you.
If you are looking for a mechanical keyboard that is big on features and smaller on footprint, the Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini keyboard might be worth considering, especially if creating space on your desktop is needed in the near future!
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.