Razer Ornata Chroma gaming keyboard review

Matt Sayer 15 November 2017

By combining the best elements of both mechanical and membrane keyboards, Razer has created something very special with the Ornata Chroma.

Quick Verdict
The Razer Ornata Chroma gaming keyboard makes a terrific case for the versatility of Razer's new Mecha-Membrane technology, delivering a soft and fluid typing experience that doesn't skimp on the satisfying tactility of mechanical feedback.

The Good

  • Mecha-Membrane switches are pliable yet resilient
  • Chroma customisation is as versatile as ever
  • Magnetic wrist rest is comfortable and convenient

The Bad

  • A little on the pricey side
  • Switch feedback is not as punchy as Cherry MX Blue or Brown switches

The battle between mechanical keyboards and their traditional membrane counterparts has long been something of a one-sided affair, at least in the premium space. The sharp response and solid resistance of mechanical switches simply offer a superior typing experience, whether it be during high-stakes gaming sessions or day-to-day office work.

Nevertheless, the soft rubber domes used in membrane switches do have their advantages. They're far easier to depress, reducing the strain on your fingers during extended periods of fast and furious typing. Membrane keyboards also tend to support a wider range of customisation options, with more options for programmable lighting and custom macros.

This trade-off has meant buying a premium keyboard always involved sacrificing some measure of comfort or control, even if those sacrifices have become less significant in recent years. But what if you want the best of both worlds without any sacrifice at all? Well, Razer might just have the answer for you. The PC peripheral manufacturer has devised a new technology it's calling Mecha-Membrane, a hybrid switch construction that combines the soft feel of a membrane key with the firm activation of a mechanical one. The first keyboard to take advantage of this technology is the Razer Ornata Chroma, and if it's anything to go by, Mecha-Membrane could well mark a turning point for premium keyboards going forward.

razer-ornata-chroma-2

Razer Ornata Chroma Specs

Size
463mm x 154mm x 31mm
Weight
950g
Backlighting
16.8 million colours
Connectivity
USB 2.0
Switch type
Mecha-Membrane
Price
RRP: $169.95

Upsides: Why you'd want the Razer Ornata Chroma

razer-ornata-chroma

  • Mecha-Membrane switches are soft without feeling spongy. Each key on the Ornata Chroma requires only minimal pressure to activate, making it a breeze to knock out long documents or multi-task like a madman in a real-time strategy game. And because of the mechanical switch lurking beneath each key's rubber dome, every keystroke feels punchy and satisfying, with no room for doubting whether you actually hit a key or not.
  • The firm feedback from each keystroke is as satisfying as any fully-mechanical keyboard. Razer's Mecha-Membrane tech is definitely putting its best foot forward since the action of each key on the Ornata Chroma is easily on par with the popular fully-mechanical Cherry MX Red switches. In fact, unless you're testing the two side by side, it's difficult to tell them apart.
  • Razer's comprehensive Chroma customisation suite remains unmatched. As with Razer's entire Chroma line, the Ornata supports a staggering amount of lighting options that are programmable through the bundled Razer Synapse app. The user-friendly app lets you define unique lighting patterns combining effects like waves, ripples and explosions with a pool of over 16.8 million colours to ensure your Ornata stands out from every other keyboard within a ten-kilometre radius.
  • Full macro support. Not only can you build a library of macro shortcuts for running specific programs or executing complex key combos with a single button press, you can rebind every single key on the Ornata to any function you like. Want to make the Esc key instantly minimise whatever you've got open on your screen? Piece of cake.
  • The included wrist rest makes typing even more comfortable and ergonomic. The Ornata comes with an incredibly comfortable wrist rest that attaches magnetically to the bottom of the main board, making it far more convenient for travel than boards with built-in wrist rests. The rest itself is as well-crafted as the Ornata, providing ergonomic support and making long sessions at the computer significantly less taxing on your wrists.

razer-ornata-chroma-split

Downsides: Why you might not want the Razer Ornata Chroma

  • Mecha-Membrane switches don't offer the same degree of force-feedback as Cherry MX Blue or Brown switches. If you're a fan of the firmer resistance and louder click provided by Cherry MX Brown and Blue switches, you're not going to find it here. The Ornata's Mecha-Membrane switches offer a similar level of actuation and aural feedback as the softer Cherry MX Red mechanical switches, and there are currently no firmer Mecha-Membrane variants available to swap in.
  • Not cheap. At $169.95, the Ornata Chroma isn't exactly the cheapest of keyboards around. Still, you definitely get what you pay for, with every element of the Ornata's construction as premium as its price tag.

Where can you get it?

You can purchase the Razer Ornata Chroma from Razer directly for an RRP of $169.95 as well as from online retailers like Kogan, Scorptec and mwave.

Buy Razer Ornata Chroma gaming keyboard from Razer

The Ornata Chroma gaming keyboard features Razer's new Mecha-Membrane switch technology, combining the soft actuation of membrane keys with the firm feedback of a mechanical trigger.

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