Razer Cynosa Chroma: Per-key RGB has never been this affordable

Razer Cynosa Chroma
  • Razer Cynosa Chroma
  • Razer Cynosa Chroma
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Razer Synapse offers easy customization

Cons

  • Mesh-based keys

Bottom Line

For those who want to either dip their toes into that experience, or get a gaming keyboard that isn’t a pricey or loud as a fully-blown mechanical, the Razer Cynosa Chroma range is a pretty good option.

Would you buy this?

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The Pitch

Looking in from outside the gaming and tech enthusiast bubble, you could easily come to the conclusion that RGB lighting is gaming tech at it's the most pointless, superficial and self-indulgent. A PC that lights up when in use might make for a spectacle - but it doesn’t really add all that much to the experience. Right?

Wrong! Well, sort of. The truth is that it’s very much a matter of personal taste. For some people, PC gaming is all about customization. Where console gaming is standardized and homogenous and straightforward, PC gaming is all about digging down into the nitty-gritty. Sometimes, this comes down to picking and installing the components you want. Other times, it manifests as a set of per-key RGB effects that make your keyboard, mouse and headset all light up whenever you win a game of Overwatch.

For those who want to either dip their toes into that experience, or get a gaming keyboard that isn’t a pricey or loud as a fully-blown mechanical, the Razer Cynosa Chroma range is probably going to look like a pretty good option.

Specs

The Razer Cynosa Chroma is a mesh-keyboard with a spill-resistant design, fully programmable keys, 1000Hz ultrapolling and support for per-key RGB customization via Razer’s Synapse software. It’s also boasts 10 key rollover with anti-ghosting, while the ‘Pro’ variant (priced a little higher than the standard Cynosa) also lets you even customize the RGB underglow on the peripheral.

Design

The Razer Cynosa Chroma sticks to the basics when it comes to design. However, as you’d expect from a gaming tech company with Razer’s pedigree, these basics are all executed really, really well. For most users, this amounts to a keyboard that feels like doesn’t take up any more room on your desk than is absolutely. What’s more, even if you don’t get the satisfying and responsive click of Cherry MX switches, the Cynosa’s tried-and-true mesh-based keyswitches still end up pretty comfortable to use.

It helps that there’s a distinct lack of media or macro keys here, which usually end up feeling much like gimmicks anyway. Call me crazy, but there’s definitely something refreshing about a gaming keyboard that just sticks with the essentials. The keys that vendors knows its users are going to spend the most time with - and doesn’t bother trying to sell them on reinventing the wheel. All that said, I would have liked the option of a wrist-rest here.

Setup & Performance

Obviously, the biggest thing to note with the design of the Cynosa Chroma is the per-key RGB. Most membrane-based gaming keyboards tend to use zone-based backlighting and as well as offering a more robust solution, the Cynosa actually lands cheaper than most of these inferior offerings. As you’d expect, you can customize each key on the keyboard using Razer’s Synapse software - setting up patterns, colors, animations, light effects. It’s all pretty intuitive and - if you wanted to - you really could spend a lot of time tinkering here. If you’re not, however, Razer do also have a number of easy-to-setup presets available. There are also a number of game-specific profiles that’ll add some light and color to your existing gaming experience with minimum hassle.

As mentioned above, Razer are a company known for their robust and high-quality gaming accessories. Unsurprisingly, that continues to be the case with the Cynosa. Even if you don’t get the tactile buzz and responsiveness of a mechanical, it’s still super-easy to easy to use and rarely a note hits wrong.

It’s not quite eSports ready. However, for most gaming, it’ll suit just fine.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking to dip your toes into the RGB gaming keyboard world, you could do a lot worse than the Razer Cynosa. Sure, it’s mesh not mechanical. However, it still holds up as a pretty clean and undiminished per-key RGB experience.

Razer know their stuff - and it shows here. Their Chroma lighting tech is pretty much the gold standard and when you consider that the asking price for the new Cynosa is well-below the competition, those flashing lights start to paint a pretty picture.

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