It’s been a busy year for Razer with the release of many new gaming peripherals, among other things. We just recently reviewed the Razer Basilisk FPS gaming mouse, and now it’s time for a gaming keyboard review. Our Razer Cynosa Chroma review takes a look at the more affordable version of two of the latest additions to Razer’s gaming keyboard stable.
The Razer Cynosa Chroma gaming keyboard has the following features and specifications:
- Soft cushioned keys with gaming-grade performance
- 104 individually customizable backlit keys
- Spill-resistant durable design
- 10 key roll-over with anti-ghosting
- Individually backlit keys powered by Razer Chroma™
- Razer Chroma™ backlighting with 16.8 million customizable color options
- Razer Synapse enabled
- Fully programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording
- Gaming mode option
- 1000Hz Ultrapolling
What’s in the box
- Razer Cynosa Chroma gaming keyboard
- Product Information Guide
- Razer Stickers
- 1-year limited warranty
By looks, the Razer Cynosa Chroma gaming keyboard doesn’t look much different than your standard 104-key computer keyboard. All the keys are located where they are supposed to be, with three groups of four Function keys across the top. Full-sized arrow keys with your ins/home/del/end/page up/page dn keys above it and your print screen/scroll lock/pause are located between the alpha-numeric keys and the full-sized number pad. A row of five circular LEDs sit above the number pad and indicate caps lock, num lock, scroll lock, macro recording, and game mode.
The bottom portion of the keyboard is angled downward and the Razer Snake logo sits squarely in the center. When plugged in, the entire keyboard (including the Razer logo) lights up using Razer Chrome backlighting. Each key can be individually assigned a colour and/or effect using the Razer Synapse software. Unfortunately, due to the way the RGB lights are displayed under the keys, colours can bleed together and the desired effect is hard to achieve. For example, when making the WASD keys red and nothing else lit, the WASD keys look fantastic. Make every other key a different color and the colour on the edges of the WASD keys shift towards an orangey-yellow hue.
The USB cable is plastic coated and at roughly 6 ½’ is a great length for desktop setups. Flipping the keyboard over you’ll see four rubber pads on each corner to prevent slippage. The two feet near the top of the keyboard offer up two height adjustments. Unfortunately, even with the tallest height adjustment, the Razer Cynosa Chroma didn’t feel quite angled enough and took a bit of getting used to. It’s quite possible that the included wrist rest with the Razer Cynosa Chroma Pro might make all the difference as well.
Ease of Use
Like any other USB keyboard, simply plug the Razer Cynosa Chroma into a free USB port on your computer or laptop and you’re good to go. While you’ll be able to take advantage of the basic Function keys like music playback and brightness control, you’ll want to also install the Razer Synapse 3 software in order to further take advantage of the keyboard. If you don’t have it installed, you will be prompted to download and install it when you first plug the keyboard into your computer.
The Cynosa Chroma also offers on-the-fly Macro Recording for PC. It’s not that difficult but can be a bit tricky depending on how complex your macro is. Pressing Fn+F9 will start the Macro Recording. After the Macro Recording LED lights up, simply type in the key combination you want to record as a macro. When completed, press Fn+F9 once more and then press the desired key where you want to save your macro when the Macro Recording indicator is blinking. While it does work fine, it is much easier to set up macros through the Razer Synapse software.
On that note, a neat feature that I’ve also noticed in a couple other backlit keyboards and is present on this one as well is the dimming of non-function keys when the Fn button is pressed. It’s minor but allows you to tell at a glance which keys can be used in conjunction with the Fn key for extra functionality.
The Razer Synapse 3 software is currently in beta and has been receiving regular updates. While it had plenty of options for the Razer Basilisk gaming mouse, for the Razer Cynosa Chroma the software is limited to two settings pages: Customize and Lighting.
The Customize page is by far the screen you’ll spend the most time on with this keyboard. Here you can re-map any key on the keyboard to keyboard or mouse functions, macros, launching programs, multimedia controls, windows shortcuts, or even text functions. While you can set up different profiles, you have to switch them in the app unless you assign a key to switch profiles.
As with the Basilisk, the Lighting settings page lets you customize the lighting of the keyboard. In addition to manually setting the brightness and the time to turn lighting off after your computer goes idle, you can apply quick effects or advanced effects through the Chroma Studio. As mentioned in the design section, however, some of the advanced effects or customization don’t look the greatest due to the way the LED lights are set up on the keyboard.
As far as keyboards go, the soft-cushioned keys don’t generate the same tactile or sound feedback that mechanical keyboards do. That being said, the keyboard was very responsive. I had no issues with missed keystrokes while gaming or even during general day-to-day use. In fact, I actually came to prefer it for my daily computer work as it is much quieter than my usual mechanical one. The few macros I had set up and tried worked as expected, and overall I had no issues with performance or typing on the keyboard. While it is a more basic gaming keyboard, it does get the job done and allows you to fully customize it based on what game you’re currently playing with it.
The Razer Cynosa Chroma also has a Gaming Mode feature which, once configured in the Razer Synapse 3 beta software will disable the Windows key, Alt+Tab, and/or Alt+F4 while enabled. It can be enabled or disabled quickly by using Fn+F10 by default. As any gamer knows, accidentally pressing the Windows key can be the difference between life or death in some games, and being able to decide if you want to disable Alt+Tab (switch focused program) or Alt+F4 (close current program, in this case, current game) as well is a nice touch.
With an MSRP of $59.99USD, the Razer Cynosa Chroma gaming keyboard isn’t the most expensive, but it’s also not the cheapest. While it seems pretty basic and standard at a glance, you do get to customize the lighting and every key through the Razer Synapse software to your liking. There is another version available, the Cynosa Chroma Pro. The Pro keyboard also has under keyboard lighting and includes a wrist rest which, I suspect, might make typing just that much more comfortable for extended sessions. The Pro does cost an extra $20 so it’s tough to say if the included wrist rest and added lighting is worth the upgrade cost.
With its soft cushioned keys, the Razer Cynosa Chroma is definitely great for typing and general use. Personally, I prefer the more clicky mechanical keyboards for gaming but if you like a softer touch, the Razer Cynosa Chroma offers decent performance and is a good all-purpose keyboard for both gaming and everyday office work.
*We were sent a sample of the Razer Cynosa Chroma for the purposes of this review.
Razer Cynosa Chroma$59.99 USD
- RGB lighting
- Soft-cushioned keys
- Pleasant to type on
- Gaming mode
- On-the-fly macro recording
- Affordably priced
- Fairly basic design
- Soft-cushioned keys
- Not angled enough when feet fully extended
- On-the-fly macro recording can be tricky
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