If you know anything about mechanical keyboards, it’s actually quite a huge market, especially for gamers. And of all the brands, Razer is probably the most well known. They recently released their Blackwidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed. It’s definitely not a tenkeyless (TKL), but it’s not a 60% either.
It’s actually a 65%, and this might just be the next hottest form factor.
Now for those of you who aren’t too familiar with the terms used in the keyboard scene, here’s a quick rundown.
Your standard keyboard which includes the f-row and the numpad, and perhaps a macro column, that’s considered full-sized, also known as 100%. If you remove the numpad, you get the most popular keyboard layout, commonly known as TKL and is also known as 80%.
Now if you take the home and arrow cluster away, along with the f-row, you then get a 60%, which is really popular for those who want a really compact keyboard, without losing a whole ton of core functionality.
But there are a lot of people out there who can’t live without dedicated arrow keys, and for that, we have the 65%, which isn’t really all that much bigger compared to 60%, because it’s just an extra column of keys.
So all in all, it’s still a really compact keyboard and 65% is definitely a layout I like.
In any case, if you’re familiar with the Blackwidow series from Razer, this fits right in that family, with that familiar wedge shape design, that glossy front lip with the illuminated Razer logo and that aluminium top that acts as the plate for the exposed switches while also providing rigidity and a little bit of heft to an otherwise all-plastic board.
But now, let’s talk features.
At the back, you get a USB-C port and a power switch that toggles between the two main wireless modes. You get your standard Bluetooth and Razer’s Hyperspeed Wireless technology using 2.4GHz via a dongle which can be found and kept away in a small compartment underneath the keyboard, should you not want to use it.
But, if you want to get that 1000Hz ultrapolling rate, you have to use Hyperspeed.
The dongle is also clearly labelled, which is a really good thing because all the Hyperspeed dongles across Razer’s products are exactly the same, like the one on my own personal Basilisk X Hyperspeed. So just simply knowing which is which will definitely help.
But what’s really cool is that you can pair up to two Hyperspeed devices to just one dongle, so it’ll free up one USB port on your desktop or laptop which I think anyone will appreciate. But do note at the moment that there is only a limited list of compatible devices that can utilise the function at this point in time.
So for example, while the new Orochi V2 supports it, my Basilisk X Hyperspeed doesn’t. Slight bummer.
Now I wasn’t able to fully test out this feature but there are already reviews out there that do mention the issues that may arise, such as Synapse acting up, the Chroma RGB not synchronising and latency issues. So personally, I would just suggest using both dongles separately, one to one.
On the bottom, you also get flip out feet for two different angles at 6 degrees and 9 degrees respectively. So a total of 3 different angles for you to choose to get comfortable with.
Speaking of which, let’s talk keycaps.
These are double-shot ABS keycaps and I would say that they are of pretty high quality. The legends are clean and sharp, and of course, it’s see-through, so you get the full force of that RGB illumination. As this is a compact keyboard, to not create too much of a cluttered look, the secondary functions are printed on the sides and if you press on the function key to access those layers, the RGB would actually switch to white and illuminate only those keys, helping you identify them just a tad quicker, which is a nice touch.
As for the switches themselves, you get two options. Either the Razer Green, which is a clicky tactile switch, or the Razer Yellow, which is their silent linear switch and has been improved with sound dampeners this generation.
On our review unit, we have the Razer Yellow and it is my preferred choice between the two options.
The switch is linear, which means a smooth travel through the entire stroke, and has an actuation force of 45 grams, an actuation point of 1.2mm and a total travel distance of 3.5mm. If you know anything about mechanical switches, the specs on the Razer Yellow are almost exactly the same as a Cherry MX Speed Silver.
Honestly, the Razer Yellow feels really good and I actually quite like it, especially on the alphas. Even more so considering that these are stock switches.
Just don’t be fooled when Razer says they are silent, because it’s not quite silent. But honestly more so than anything, even if the Razer Yellow were much more silent, the stabilizers or stabs on the V3 Mini really doesn’t help it at all. You can hear that rattle, clear as day.
But now let’s talk battery life, and Razer claims up to 200 hours, which I’ve yet to reach for sure, given my short time with it. But that number can only be reached if you turn off the RGB, and personally, that’s what I do, but for most of you who are looking at this keyboard, you probably want that RGB.
So, if you have the RGB at max brightness, you’ll get roughly 13 or 14 hours of use out of it. If you lower it down to 50% brightness or lower, you’ll basically get about twice that at 27 or so hours.
Regardless, Razer does have some battery saving options in Synapse, where the board will turn off after a period of inactivity or dim the lighting before that happens to help save battery.
So all in all, the Blackwidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed is honestly a pretty great board.
But here’s the catch, and it’s what everyone is talking about: the price. This board retails for US$179.99 or S$309.90.
That’s pretty expensive to be honest, especially when it’s basically a simple 65% keyboard with wireless functionality. This single factor basically killed all my excitement for it.
To put the price into perspective, the closest competitor would be the ROG Falchion, and that keyboard not only comes with more switch options to choose from, double-shot PBT keycaps, a unique touch panel on the left and more than twice the battery life. On top of all that, it is more affordable than the Razer.
And if you’re just looking at the 65% layout and don’t need the wireless functionality, there are even more options out there for the same price or lower, such as the Streak65, the Ducky One 2 SF or even the Keychron K6 which is Bluetooth-capable. To that end, we’re already approaching entry-level custom territory with the likes of the NK65, the Ikki68 and the KBD67 Lite. But that’s a story for another day.
In short, unless you really need both Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless connectivity and/or you really like the Razer Green or Yellow switches, I can’t really recommend this keyboard. Not at this price.
Content by Soon Kai Hong