Razer Blackwidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed Wireless Gaming Keyboard Review
A great little keyboard, but who is it for?
The sixty-five percent form factor isn’t that common in the mainstream gaming keyboard space, but with Razer’s latest entry in their iconic Blackwidow series, that trend might soon change.
Smaller keyboards are perfect when for when you have a compact desk setup, or you want to maximize room for your mouse, or you just want to try something that’s sleeker and more stylish than typical full sized models. They retain nearly all the functionality of larger keyboards through smart shortcut keys, and usually come just as feature-packed as the big ones too.
The most common small form factors that you can find from the big gaming companies right now are “TKL” (which cuts the tenkey number pad) and “60%” (which only includes the core block of alphanumeric keys). The 65% layout is a compromise between these two, adding back in the arrow keys and a couple of important extra function keys, like delete.
This middle-ground-but-still-tiny layout has up until now lived in the realm of enthusiast and custom keyboards, but Razer’s first try at the size is a great example of it — at least on the design front.
Unfortunately, since this board comes from one of their two different “flagship” product families, it’s also burdened with a bunch of features you might not need that boost its price way up. And its value proposition is also undone by other better options within the Razer lineup.
Still, in spite of a few technical hiccups with its still-in-development multi pairing mode, this is a great little wireless keyboard when looked at in a vacuum. It’s one more piece of proof that Razer is on top of the mainstream gaming keyboard market right now.
Note: I bought this keyboard myself, and was neither compensated by Razer nor asked to write this. I don’t use affiliate links in any of my stories as I think it’s a bad practice for the industry. For more information about my monetization and reviews policy please click here.
The Razer Blackwidow V3 Mini sells for a premium price of $179.99 (official site here), and it’s available with either Razer Yellow or Razer Green mechanical switches. I bought the Yellow switch model. If you want to somehow spend even more on this keyboard and get a bigger one, you could check out the $229 Blackwidow V3 Pro. Unlike Razer’s other flagship/eSports Huntsman keyboard lineup, which uses optical switch technology, all of the Blackwidow models still use standard time tested mechanical designs.
The older switch innards help this model save on battery life, which is good for the two wireless modes of connection. In 2.4ghz HyperSpeed mode alongside the included dongle, you’ll get the full benefit of Razer’s class-leading wireless technology, and experience wired-like gaming and typing performance. There’s also a backup Bluetooth connection, and although it saves on power, it also slows down the internal processor of the keyboard, increasing input latency. Finally there’s a wired mode for both charging and playing, and it is just as fast as the excellent wired connection.
Battery life is solid, but it gets even better if you can put up with turning the Chroma(TM) lighting off. With the lights set to my preferred “Fire” effect, I get around two days of full work and gaming use before I have to think about plugging it in. Razer promises a max battery life of 200 hours — but that’s with the lights turned off in the Bluetooth connection mode, so your usage will vary between ~16 and 200 depending on your individual habits and choices.
The wireless connection with the HyperSpeed dongle has been excellent in a week of testing…as long as I don’t use the new multi pairing mode. I’ve seen mixed results for other folks using this online, and indeed it was challenging to get it working right. Some day this mode should roll out to all devices using Razer’s current slim dongle, but for now it only supports the DeathAdder Pro, Naga Pro, Orochi V2, and these Blackwidow keyboards.
I paired my Orochi V2 and the Blackwidow V3 Mini to the same dongle and tried it out on both my desktop and laptop to see if I could manage the interference better. In both cases the mouse worked perfectly but the keyboard had immediate issues. It would lose connection to the Synapse software repeatedly, causing the lighting to either freeze or glitch out. Further, key presses would sometimes cease transmitting, causing my character in-game to stop walking forward, for example, while holding “W.”
When using it in standard pairing mode with one dongle for each device however, the Blackwidow V3 Mini is exceptional latency-wise and it really does provide wired-like performance. I know that the multi pairing system is still early on in its life, so I expect it’ll improve for more users over time, but right now I wouldn’t say that it’s a main selling point of this keyboard. Corsair’s multi pairing system works much better for me right now, so hopefully Razer can catch up.
The actual typing and gaming experience on the keyboard is pretty good. The Yellow linear switches in my model are Razer’s “speed” variant, so they have a quick actuation time and a shorter bottom-out than some other keys. They’re also dampened to help reduce noise. Unfortunately, they’re still a little bit loud and clacky. The larger stabilized keys are the loudest on the board, with my backspace and left shift keys being the worst offenders.
In spite of the high price here, this keyboard doesn’t include PBT key caps by default, something that also bothers me about the SteelSeries Apex Pro. Instead, Razer has gone with their new doubleshot ABS caps. I like these better than I thought I was going to. They do a surprisingly great job of mimicking the feel and performance of PBT, though in a direct comparison they are just a touch more hollow and loud sounding.
Overall then, the Blackwidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed presents an enjoyable typing and gaming experience and it has a solid wireless connection when used with an exclusive dongle. The problem is that this keyboard has to exist alongside Razer’s other models, and in the larger market as well. At $179, it’s not quite Razer’s most expensive keyboard, but it’s up in the upper third.
And also, the Huntsman Mini Linear exists. At $129, it’s much cheaper, and although it doesn’t feature a wireless connection, it provides many benefits over this newer model. It has Razer’s faster optical switches (also present in the newly-announced Huntsman V2) complete with silicone dampeners that are softer and quieter than those in the Blackwidow V3 Mini. It has a sleeker, flat design that angles the keys a little better for intense gaming sessions. It has true PBT key caps for guaranteed durability. And its stabilizers are much more consistent and nice to press.
The Huntsman Mini offers a noticeably better and more enjoyable typing and gaming experience in a smaller frame, and it does so for less money. Sure, it may not have dedicated arrow keys or a fancy wireless connection, but the improvements in feel make it hard for me to choose the Blackwidow V3 Mini instead.
The same set of challenges exists for this keyboard against many other options in the current Razer lineup. The Huntsman TE (~$99–$129) and new Huntsman V2 TKL ($149) are both cheaper, have faster switches, and have slightly nicer PBT key caps. Even if you stick to Razer’s Blackwidow products, the standard wired V3 TKL is just $99 and although it comes with standard ABS caps, could be upgraded for around $30 to one of Razer’s PBT sets and then it’ll offer a nigh-identical experience without wireless.
I fully recognize and appreciate that Razer’s HyperSpeed Wireless tech is exceptional and industry-leading (as long as you don’t use the multi pairing mode) but they’re charging a huge premium for it in this particular keyboard. The Blackwidow V3 Mini is an excellent little 65% keyboard with a nice design, surprisingly good key caps, and an enjoyable typing and gaming experience. But you can do even better for less money even within Razer’s family as long as you don’t need the wireless support.
I still like this and I’m going to keep it around, and if it really speaks to you then it’s still an okay buy…but the usage experience of the cheaper Huntsman Mini linear is so much better that I could never reasonably tell you to rush out and buy the Blackwidow V3 Mini instead. The Huntsman lineup is also a better overall pick if you care about having the latest and greatest technology, as it seems like that’s where Razer’s real development attention is focused right now. They offer even faster performance, Razer’s best key caps, and the latest sleek designs.
The Blackwidow V3 Mini feels more like a last hurrah for a once- great keyboard lineup rather than an excellent new flagship product.