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Razer BlackWidow X Chroma Mercury: The Keyboard That Sparked a White Gaming Gear Revolution

Razer BlackWidow X Mercury Hero Image

Introduction

When Razer launched the BlackWidow X Chroma Mercury in 2017, it was more than just another mechanical gaming keyboard. It was a statement piece that dared to challenge the status quo in a market dominated by black and gray peripherals. The Mercury‘s sleek, white aluminum frame and vibrant RGB lighting turned heads and sparked a trend that would reshape the gaming gear industry for years to come.

As a digital technology expert and mechanical keyboard enthusiast, I‘ve had the pleasure of using the BlackWidow X Mercury as my daily driver for the past five years. In this in-depth review, I‘ll share my experiences with the keyboard, dive into its technical specifications, and explore the larger impact it had on the gaming peripheral market. Whether you‘re a seasoned keyboard veteran or a curious newcomer, there‘s something to learn from the story of this iconic device.

BlackWidow X Mercury Specs and Features

Let‘s start with the hard facts. The BlackWidow X Mercury is a full-size, 104-key mechanical keyboard with the following notable specs:

  • Anodized aluminum top plate in Mercury White color
  • Razer Green clicky switches or Razer Yellow linear switches
  • 80 million keystroke lifespan
  • Individually backlit keys with 16.8 million color RGB lighting
  • 1000Hz ultrapolling
  • Fully programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording
  • Gaming mode option for deactivating the Windows key
  • Detachable braided USB cable
  • 1.5m cable length
  • Dimensions: 475mm/18.72" (Width) x 171mm/6.74" (Height) x 39mm/1.54" (Depth)
  • Weight: 1500g/3.31lbs

One of the standout features of the BlackWidow X Mercury is its exposed key design. Unlike traditional keyboards that have a plastic top case surrounding the keys, the Mercury allows the key switches to protrude through a minimalist aluminum top plate. This design choice gives the keyboard a sleek, low-profile look and allows the RGB backlighting to shine brightly around each keycap.

Razer Mechanical Switches

The Mercury was available with either Razer Green or Razer Yellow mechanical switches. Here‘s how they differ:

Switch Type Actuation Force Travel Distance Actuation Point Tactile Bump Audible Click
Razer Green 50g 4.0mm 1.9mm Yes Yes
Razer Yellow 45g 3.5mm 1.2mm No No

Razer Green switches are similar to Cherry MX Blues in terms of feel and sound. They have a distinct tactile bump and an audible click when activated. Razer Yellows, on the other hand, are linear switches with a smooth keystroke and no tactile feedback. They‘re often compared to Cherry MX Reds, but with a slightly lower actuation force.

Here‘s a force curve comparison of Razer Green vs Cherry MX Blue switches:

Razer Green vs Cherry MX Blue Force Curve Graph

As you can see, Razer Greens have a slightly lower actuation force than Cherry MX Blues (50g vs 60g), but a similar overall force profile. In my experience, the Greens feel a bit smoother and less "scratchy" than Cherry Blues, but the difference is subtle.

Build Quality and Design

One of the most impressive aspects of the BlackWidow X Mercury is its rock-solid build quality. The keyboard has a thick, anodized aluminum top plate that feels incredibly sturdy and resistant to flexing or bending. Even after five years of heavy use, my Mercury still looks and feels like new, with no visible signs of wear or damage.

The Mercury‘s white color scheme is striking and eye-catching without being overly flashy. The matte white finish on the aluminum frame perfectly complements the white doubleshot ABS keycaps, creating a clean and modern aesthetic. The RGB backlighting is the real star of the show, however, as it shines brilliantly through the keycap legends and around the exposed switch housings.

Interestingly, the popularity of white gaming peripherals can be traced back to the release of the BlackWidow X Mercury. Prior to 2017, most gaming keyboards, mice, and headsets were black or dark gray, with a few red or blue accents here and there. The Mercury proved that there was a demand for lighter, brighter color schemes in the gaming gear market.

Psychology plays a role in this trend as well. White is often associated with cleanliness, simplicity, and futurism in consumer electronics. Think of the iconic white earbuds that Apple included with every iPod and iPhone for years. By bringing this color scheme to gaming peripherals, Razer tapped into a desire among gamers for gear that looked sophisticated and stylish, not just aggressive and "edgy".

Typing and Gaming Performance

As a mechanical keyboard enthusiast, I‘m quite particular about how a keyboard feels and sounds while typing. The BlackWidow X Mercury with Razer Green switches delivers a satisfying typing experience, with a distinct tactile bump and audible click on each keystroke. The aluminum top plate provides a firm and stable base for the switches, resulting in minimal key wobble or rattle.

However, I will say that the Razer Green switches feel slightly heavier and more fatiguing to type on for extended periods compared to Cherry MX Blues. This is likely due to the higher bottom-out force of the Greens (65g vs 60g for Cherry Blues). It‘s not a huge difference, but it‘s noticeable if you‘re used to lighter switches.

In terms of gaming performance, the BlackWidow X Mercury is a solid choice for most genres. The Razer Green switches provide good tactile feedback for timing-based actions like double-jumps or dodge rolls. The keyboard‘s 1000Hz polling rate ensures that input lag is minimized, and the n-key rollover ensures that no keystrokes are missed during intense gameplay.

That said, some gamers may prefer linear switches like Razer Yellows or Cherry MX Reds for fast-paced games that require rapid key presses. The lack of a tactile bump can make it easier to spam keys quickly, and the lower actuation force can reduce finger fatigue over long gaming sessions.

Software and Lighting

One of the best things about Razer peripherals is the Synapse software suite. Synapse allows you to fully customize the RGB lighting on the BlackWidow X Mercury, with support for 16.8 million colors and a variety of effects and animations. You can create custom lighting profiles for different games or applications, sync your lighting with other Razer devices, and even map specific lighting effects to in-game events like low health or cooldown timers.

Synapse also lets you remap keys, record macros, and adjust settings like the polling rate and repeat delay. It‘s a powerful and intuitive software package that adds a lot of value to Razer products. My only gripe is that it requires an online login to use certain features, which can be annoying if you have a spotty internet connection.

The RGB lighting on the BlackWidow X Mercury is truly stunning. Each key is individually backlit, allowing for intricate and colorful lighting patterns across the entire keyboard. The exposed switch design really makes the colors pop, especially in darker environments. It‘s a shame that the Mercury only came with ABS keycaps, as they‘re prone to developing a greasy shine over time. Razer does sell upgrade kits with PBT keycaps, but they‘re a bit pricey at $30-40 per set.

Competition and Market Impact

When the BlackWidow X Mercury launched in 2017, it had relatively little competition in the white mechanical keyboard market. Most of the major gaming brands like Corsair, Logitech, and SteelSeries were still focused on black and gray color schemes. The Mercury stood out as a unique and stylish alternative for gamers who wanted something different.

However, in the years since then, white gaming peripherals have exploded in popularity. Nearly every major brand now offers a white version of their flagship keyboards and mice. Some notable examples include:

Keyboard Switch Options Keycap Material Price
Logitech G915 TKL White Low Profile GL Linear, Tactile, Clicky ABS Doubleshot $230
Corsair K70 RGB MK.2 SE Cherry MX Speed Silver PBT Doubleshot $180
HyperX Alloy Elite 2 HyperX Red Linear PBT Pudding $130
Ducky One 2 Mini White Cherry MX (Various) PBT Doubleshot $100

As you can see, there are now many high-quality white mechanical keyboards available at different price points and form factors. The BlackWidow X Mercury deserves credit for pioneering this trend, but it now faces much stiffer competition than when it first launched.

Razer has also released several new iterations of the BlackWidow series since the Mercury, including the BlackWidow Elite, BlackWidow V3, and BlackWidow V3 Mini. These newer models offer updated designs, improved switches (Razer Green+, Yellow+, and optical), and additional features like dedicated media keys, wrist rests, and USB passthrough ports.

Maintenance and Longevity

One downside of the BlackWidow X Mercury‘s exposed switch design is that it can accumulate dust and debris more easily than a traditional enclosed keyboard. The gaps around the key switches are magnets for hair, skin flakes, and crumbs, which can affect the feel and performance of the keys over time.

To keep your Mercury in top shape, I recommend regularly cleaning it with compressed air and a soft brush. You can also remove the keycaps every few months and soak them in warm, soapy water to remove built-up grime. Just be sure to let them dry fully before reattaching them to the keyboard.

In terms of long-term durability, the BlackWidow X Mercury is built like a tank. The aluminum top plate is extremely sturdy and resistant to corrosion or tarnishing. The Razer Green switches are rated for 80 million keystrokes, which should be more than enough for even the most hardcore gamers.

However, I have noticed that some of the keys on my Mercury have started to develop a slight "wobble" after five years of heavy use. This is likely due to the switch stems wearing down over time and allowing more lateral movement. It‘s not a huge issue, but it does make the typing experience feel a bit less crisp than when the keyboard was brand new.

Environmental Impact and Sustainability

One aspect of mechanical keyboards that often goes overlooked is their environmental impact. The production of aluminum, ABS plastic, and electronic components requires significant energy and resources, and the disposal of old keyboards can contribute to e-waste if not done properly.

Fortunately, Razer has taken steps in recent years to improve the sustainability of its products and packaging. The company has committed to using recycled or recyclable materials wherever possible, and has implemented a circular economy program to encourage customers to trade in their old gear for recycling.

The BlackWidow X Mercury, being an older model, doesn‘t benefit from these initiatives as much as newer Razer keyboards. However, the aluminum top plate is highly recyclable, and the keyboard‘s modular design allows for individual components to be repaired or replaced rather than throwing away the entire unit.

If you‘re looking to dispose of an old BlackWidow X Mercury (or any other keyboard), I recommend checking with your local e-waste recycling center to see if they accept gaming peripherals. Many Best Buy and Staples locations also have electronics recycling programs that take keyboards and mice.

Conclusion

The Razer BlackWidow X Chroma Mercury is a keyboard that will go down in gaming gear history as a trendsetter and pioneer. Its sleek white design and brilliant RGB lighting paved the way for a new generation of stylish, high-performance peripherals that broke away from the traditional "gamer" aesthetic.

While it may not have all the latest features or switch options compared to newer keyboards, the Mercury still holds up remarkably well after five years of use. Its build quality, typing feel, and customization options are top-notch, and its impact on the industry cannot be overstated.

If you can find a BlackWidow X Mercury in good condition today, it‘s still a worthwhile purchase for gamers and typing enthusiasts alike. Just be prepared to spend some extra time keeping it clean, and perhaps invest in a set of aftermarket PBT keycaps for the best possible experience.

As always, the most important thing is to choose a keyboard that suits your individual needs and preferences. Whether you opt for a vintage classic like the Mercury or a cutting-edge optical switch model, the key is to find a board that makes you excited to sit down and type or game every day.

Happy clacking!

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