When I first saw the brand new Razer Ornata Chroma keyboard on display at IFA 2016 in Berlin, I thought it was just another Razer keyboard with RGB backlighting. When I looked closer and realised that it’s actually a brand new Razer keyboard equipped with brand new Razer switches, I immediately asked a Razer representative if the Ornata was available for a quick hands on.
Thankfully, there were a few units of the Ornata available for trial, and after playing a few minutes of Overwatch with the keyboard, I can safely say this: I have never been more excited about a Razer keyboard before.
In comparison to previous keyboards from Razer, the Ornata Chroma is particularly unique: it’s a hybrid between a membrane and mechanical keyboard. While the Ornata is technically a membrane keyboard – in the sense that it has a rubber dome – it feels incredibly similar to a mechanical keyboard. If i wasn’t told the Ornata was a membrane keyboard, I would’ve been none the wiser.
Razer calls this new switch “Mecha-Membrane,” and as much as I pestered the Razer representative at the company’s booth in IFA, he refused to reveal exactly which company manufacture this new switch. Nonetheless, I really, really like this Mecha-Membrane switch: it is light, tactile, and feels very responsive, which is probably due to the lower 3.5mm travel. For the sake of comparison, the Razer BlackWidow keyboard has 4.0mm of travel instead.
Interestingly, the Ornata keyboard also comes with a wrist rest which is magnetically attached to the keyboard. This is quite an odd – but welcomed – addition; other premium Razer keyboards like the Razer BlackWidow and BlackWidow X only ship with the keyboard itself.
Although I really like the Ornata keyboard, its build quality could definitely use some work. Unlike conventional mechanical keyboards, the Ornata is incredibly light; after all, it’s technically a membrane keyboard. The keyboard as a whole also feels very plasticky, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence as far as durability is concerned.
That being said, there is a very good reason why the Ornata Chroma doesn’t use more premium materials like metal in its construction: it is meant to be an affordable keyboard. Retailing at RM469.90, it is one of Razer’s more affordable keyboards. If you can forego the Chroma lighting, the Ornata can be purchased for merely RM379.90 as well.
For that kind of money, I would recommend the Razer Ornata to anyone who is looking to get a brand new keyboard – mechanical or not. Yeap, I’m that impressed by it. However, I only spent a brief amount of time with the keyboard, so there may be other issues with the Ornata that I did not notice.
As far as first impressions go, however, I absolutely adore the Razer Ornata Chroma. It is affordable, it has RGB backlighting, and the new Mecha-Membrane switch is one of Razer’s most exciting switches yet. I absolutely cannot wait to put the Razer Ornata Chroma through its paces in a full review.