Review: For My Next Million Words, the Razer Ornata Keyboard

Posted on November 24, 2017 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 17 Comments

When you write for a living, a keyboard is an essential part of your day. Last week, I wrote about 40,000 words which means using a keyboard you don’t love, isn’t an option.

About three weeks ago, I bought a Razer Ornata keyboard and tossed my old Black Widow Chroma into the trash. Why? Well, it was worn down, the coating on the keys had become a smooth polished surface which made for an uncomfortable experience.

One thing I did not like about my previous keyboard was that the keycaps were full height. Yes, this is fine if all you do is type on a desktop but I transition between my desktop and laptop several times a day. Because of this, I wanted to find a keyboard with a smaller cap height to make it feel a bit closer to that of the Surface Book 2 but I also wanted a mechanical setup as well.

The Ornata fit the profile so I made the purchase for $79.99 when it went on sale, typically sells for around $89-99.99. The short story here is that I really like this keyboard, the longer story is that it is far from perfect.

The Ornata does a lot of things well; the key travel distance is excellent, the crack of the mechanical bindings is solid and the backlighting is fully customizable. While LEDs add little value to your setup, they do let you make it uniquely yours.

For basic operations, this keyboard is great. Typing is easy, the keys are not nearly as loud as my old keyboard which is a good thing, and it’s easy to tell if a function lock is enabled with the lighted indicators on the top right corner of the layout.

What’s not great about this peripheral is that it shows the oils from your hands easily and no matter how much you try to keep it clean, you will never win the battle. I had this issue with my last keyboard and it’s showing up on this device as well.

The keyboard has a good amount of heft to it but the base is also made of cheap plastic. While you don’t touch the base all that often, it reminds me of the dashboard from a 1999 Dodge Neon. The keys, while they do feel sturdy on their switches, are a bit wobbly and the keyboard needs reinforcement as well. Are these showstoppers, absolutely not but something you should know about before buying,

The keyboard has all the media and function keys you would expect as well as a few gaming features like 10-key rollover and anti-ghosting for multiple key presses. I’ve used the Ornata for quite a bit of PUBG and it has worked well but I am still awful at that game.

The Razer Synapse software that you must use to control the lighting and macros of the keyboard is relatively easy to set up. One feature that I do use frequently is key mapping as I remapped the scroll lock key to open a .txt file with a bunch of code that I use frequently for quick copy and paste.

The backlighting has multiple options like a color cycle, wave, ‘fire’ which shows a bunch of orange and red colors, and a few others but I keep it on a more simple slow color cycle as everything else is a bit too busy for my personal taste.

On the back of the keyboard are feet that you can extend or you do have the option to keep it flat on your desk. On the side are cutouts (shown above) where you can route the USB cable as well which is a nice touch for improved cable management.

Included in the box is a wrist rest which I think should be included with every keyboard sold. It helps with keeping your wrists level for a more ergonomic writing position and it is held in place with magnets on one side. Oddly, though, I prefer to have the rest turned 180 degrees as I feel that position is more comfortable; Razer should have included magnets on both sides of the wrist pad.

This isn’t the keyboard for everyone as it is quite loud for typing and if you are in an open office setting, your coworkers may get upset. That being said, if you work in a closed office or by yourself, I quite like the typing experience it offers and I’ll be curious to see how long this peripheral can last considering how much typing I do each week.

If you need a new keyboard, this one may be worth checking out. Keyboards are insanely personal, what works for me, may not work for you and I highly recommend you try to get your hands one on at a retail store before purchasing as mechanical keyboards are not for everyone. But for me and me consistent pounding on the deck, this one will suit me up until I wear out the keys.

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Comments (18)

18 responses to “Review: For My Next Million Words, the Razer Ornata Keyboard”

  1. Chris

    I've got a Steelseries Apex Gaming Keyboard, which unfortunately uses a membrane, rather than Cherry MX Switches. The keyboard is still working well, apart from the odd key that intermittently doesn't quite respond right, and needs an extra press to get it moving (I think it's mainly one of the shift keys that does this). The main reason why I am still holding onto this keyboard is the macro keys. I'm mainly using one layer that is available on this keyboard, but I'm using all the macro keys on the first layer for WoW.

    I'm yet to find another keyboard that has enough macro keys, plus MX switches. The Corsair Gaming K95 RGB Platinum is about the closest thing I can find. If Steelseries could make a version of the Apex Gaming (now called the Apex 350) with MX switches, I'd happily replace my membrane-based Apex Gaming with that new keyboard...

  2. Waethorn

    I've been using a KeyTronic E03601 for 10 years now.

  3. Tommy Stuart

    If it was just the keycaps that were worn out on your old Black Widow, those are easily—and affordably—replaced. I know you wrote that you wanted a keyboard with a lower profile, so you likely would have replaced the Black Widow anyway, but it's good for all of us to keep in mind that it's more economical and sustainable to replace the keycaps before replacing the entire keyboard.

  4. RonH

    Ergonomics are not good...

  5. IanYates82

    MS natural keyboard 4000 all the way for me. No longer made but I have a few spare in the cupboard unopened for the future :)

  6. RobertJasiek

    As I type for living, I highly recommend Cherry B.UNLIMITED, which is available in different layouts (I know of German QWERTZ and English QWERTY), has preconfigured 128b AES encryption, wireless USB-A connection, USB-rechargable battery lasting ca. 3 months per charge in cases of frequent use, solid and very stable construction, the most pleasant typing I have had for separate keyboards by far, the second-most pleasant typing I have had for all keyboards (a Compaq notebook of 1995 was even better). The typing is soft with resistance and the keys move ca. 2mm (cannot measure it exactly). Price ca. €45~60 (without mouse; with mouse ca. 70~75). Only disadvantages: the left SHIFT key is not wide; a bit of dust can gather below the keys. Depending on preferences, one can like the decent design (as I do) or regret the missing background light.

  7. mikiem

    What would be great, Brad, is if you could let us know how it holds up after a few &/or several months down the road.

    3 name brands have failed to last a year -- the Logitech 610 warranty replacement [new] only lasted 3 months. I've been keeping my eye out to see how the new optical switch keyboards hold up -- I have seen customer reviews of lower end keyboards failing the same way as mechanical/electrical switches, so I'm waiting to see how the name brands versions hold up.

  8. Jeff Jones

    What was your previous "full height" keyboard? I've been looking at the Logitech G610 Brown as a mechanical switch replacement for my current Logitech Internet 350. One thing I've gotten really used to on the 350 is it's dedicated calculator key. I'm probably going to miss that. I think all keyboards should have a mandatory calculator key right above the numeric keypad.

  9. rfog

    Brad, can you compare the Mecha Membrane with any Cherry actuator?

  10. hrlngrv

    > Last week, I wrote about 40,000 words which means using a keyboard you don’t love, isn’t an option.

    I checked, and Grammarly does allow this, but I believe the 2nd comma is in the wrong place, specifically, it should precede which, and there should be no comma after love. The former because the entire which clause is parenthetical rather than a modifier just for about 40,000 words. The latter because using is the subject and isn't is its verb, and there's no valid reason to separate them with a comma. Note that using a keyboard you don’t love could be rewritten equivalently as using a keyboard which you don’t love, an example of a which clause which does modify the noun preceding it, thus should not have a comma.

    A strictly grammatical reading of the quoted sentence would mean the ca. 40,000 words were about using a keyboard you don't love.

    Eats, shoots & leaves.

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