Small form factor keyboards are swarming the market and, frankly, it was about time! Razer, one of the more confident and proactive companies on the market, is once again trying to make waves by announcing the BlackWidow V3 Mini! It’s not quite as “game-changing” as their Huntsman V2 Analog, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
At its core, we’re talking about a slick 65% mechanical keyboard that brings quite a lot to the table, although at a fairly steep price — $179.99. So not exactly budget-friendly. Still, it’s more than worth our time and attention, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty!
Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini | Spec Breakdown
The BlackWidow V3 Mini carries all the visual cues and hallmarks of your standard BlackWidow keyboards — the floating switches, aluminium top plate, and a shiny logo in front. There are two flip-out feet for height adjustment along in-body storage for the USB receiver on the back. The most interesting thing is that the BlackWidow V3 Mini supports both 2.4Ghz wireless connectivity as well as Bluetooth.
There’s a braided USB-C cable in the box, with the port itself being located on the left. Finally, there are four extra keys on the right-hand side of the keyboard that can be used as macros along with your standard arrow keys right underneath. That’s one of the biggest benefits of the 65% form factor: it’s not as cramped as 60% but is still noticeably more compact than TKL. Plus, some folks just can’t live without their arrow keys for whatever reason.
Let’s Talk Switches
As for switches, you’ll be able to choose either the Razer Greens (clicky) or Razer Yellows (linear and sound dampened). Although, according to initial impressions, the switches aren’t all that silent, so the aforementioned dampening is either marketing fluff or hasn’t been implemented appropriately. Either way, if you want a silent keyboard you’d be wise to look elsewhere.
Finally, battery life always warrants a bit of coverage. With lighting disabled, you’ll be able to get around 200 hours of use. With lighting set to 30%, you’ll get around 50 hours (measured with the Spectrum cycle effect). And on the off-chance you decide to let ‘er rip at 100%, you can expect a bit less than 20 hours on a single charge, regardless if you’re connected via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. You can also connect to three different devices, and there’s even on-board memory so you won’t have to install Synapse to get the most important (i.e. basic) functionality. Any further customization, however, will require you to use Razer’s oft-criticized (and pretty darn bloated) software.
Optical Switches — Why the Omission?
At $179.99, the fact that we’re getting such “basic” switches is definitely a bad value proposition. Still, there is a relatively good explanation: battery life. Optical switches are “always on” meaning they draw a surprising amount of power. So, in short, it’s either acceptable battery life, wireless connectivity, and outdated switches, or the latest and greatest switches available (factory lubed, no less) but with a cable. The choice is up to you.
All in all, the Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini is definitely an interesting take on the 65% formula. Whether it’s worth the asking price, however, is up for debate.