The Razer Cynosa Chroma is an entry-level keyboard that offers some cool gaming-oriented features but lacks in the performance sector for the most part.
Having already tested many of Razer's premium-grade keyboards and mice, we thought it was about time we put their less expensive offerings through the same stringent testing process. So, with that in mind, today we're going to be taking a look at the Razer Cynosa Chroma - a flashy, RGB-riddled, budget gaming keyboard that falls into a very competitive pool of similarly priced alternatives.
The Cynosa is a keyboard that comes to shelves offering an array of cool RGB options, decent build quality, and fully programmable keys. However, it is a budget offering - meaning features are fairly limited. It doesn't come with mechanical switches and has no dedicated media keys either. So, it's gonna be very interesting to see how this stacks up against the likes of Corsair's K55, HyperX's Alloy Core RGB, and the Redragon K552.
So, with all that in mind, let's waste no further time and dive straight into it.
- Nice Aesthetics - A decent looking design considering the price point
- Hotkeys - Users can adjust media settings via hotkeys found on the F-buttons
- Decent value for money - A keyboard that showcases good value for money if you like RGB
- Anti-ghost and Key Rollover - Great for games that require several key-binds or "button bashing"
- Build Quality - Plastic construction that does feel a little flimsy
- Limited Features - Doesn't' really offer many premium features
Keyboard Size & Weight
- Weight: 950g
- Size: Full Size
- Length: 463mm/ 18.22 inches
- Width: 154mm/ 6.06 inches
- Height: 31mm/ 1.22 inches
- Switches: Membrane Rubber Domes
- OS Support: Windows 7,8,10
- Media keys: No
- RGB: Full RGB
- Passthrough: No
- Connection: Wired
- Cable length: 2m
What's In The Box
Like all Razer products, the Cynosa keeps the same green-on-black color theme. The box is fairly generic and showcases the Cynosa Chroma in full RGB mode on the front. The back offers more details regarding the keyboard including sizing and weight, along with some additional info regarding the features too.
Inside we get:
- Razer Cynosa Chroma Keyboard
- Razer Manual
- Welcome Notes
Razer's Cynosa doesn't really offer anything new when comparing its design to other models within the Razer keyboard family. However, this is a keyboard marketed around its RGB. So, when Razer unveiled this model, offering almost nothing in terms of physical design, it wasn't the end of the world - as long as the RGB could live up the name.
With that in mind, the Cynosa Chroma comes to the table with an all-black color theme and a fairly boxy design for the most part. The main body of the keyboard is comprised entirely of plastic (what we expect at this price range) and has been finished with a subtle matte roughness for additional grip whilst gaming and typing. The Cynosa has been further stripped-back and now loses almost all signs of Razer branding, apart from the small RGB logo that is found at the bottom of the keyboard.
The underside of the Razer Cynosa offers very little in terms of design features as well. There are no cable routing options or USB/Audio passthrough either. It does, however, offer four rubber pads to help secure the keyboard on most surfaces, and comes with two pop-out feet that can be used to adjust the height of the keyboard. The feet have two height settings - more than the HyperX Alloy Core RGB - which raise the rear of the keyboard. The cable, although not braided, is 2 meters in length and feels fairly robust and non-abrasive.
Overall, the design is extremely basic, there really isn't much to talk about - until you flick the RGB on. Now, we're going to discuss the RGB in more detail further down, but from a design-point-of-view, it's definitely the saving grace of this keyboard. The almost endless list of customizable options contrasts nicely with the black keycaps to create a nice gaming aesthetic. We won't go into much more detail for now, but know this, the RGB that comes with the Cynosa Chroma is up there with the best when it comes to budget keyboards.
Razer has always been renowned for packing as many features as possible into their peripherals - whether it's a high-end keyboard or a budget mouse. Thankfully, they've used that same ideology here with the Cynosa Chroma. With this being a keyboard that retails under $50, we were extremely intrigued to see what this keyboard brought the table - apart from the RGB.
So, let's dive straight into it.
Let's begin by discussing the most important aspect of any keyboard when it comes to gaming - the switches. The Razer Cynosa, unfortunately, does not make use of mechanical switches. Yep, in the case of the Cynosa Chroma, users will be treated to the quiet and mushy feel of the membrane rubber dome switch. Oh, joy. Razer is calling their specific brand of membrane switches "Soft cushioned keys with gaming-grade performance", but we'll take that with a pinch of salt.
The switches on the Cynosa are pretty much what you would expect from this price point. They're membrane switches and, like most switches of this ilk, feel pretty spongey for the most part. Having said that, they do offer a slight tactile edge which was welcomed. When comparing the Cynosa switches to the Alloy Core RGB switches (from HyperX), there wasn't a great deal of difference between the two. If I had to give any critiques, I'd say the Razer probably offered a slightly heavier actuation point. But, Overall, they were pretty generic in design and feel.
On a more positive note, the Cynosa does offer spill resistance thanks to the membrane design it uses. Unlike the HyperX Alloy Core, which can effectively handle 120ml of spilled liquid, the Razer's survival limit is not published on their product page. I did try tipping a little bit of water on the keyboard, and it seemed to work fine afterward. So, yeah, water-resistant.
RGB lighting is an area Razer has exploited over the last couple of years, offering some of the best RGB lit peripherals the market has to offer. So, with that in mind, we naturally expect big things from a keyboard that has been named after their proprietary RGB technology. Thankfully, we were not disappointed.
The Cynosa, even though a budget keyboard, offers excellent RGB that pretty much outperforms anything in its price range. Most keyboards of this price point offer specific RGB zones on a keyboard, usually around 5-8 running vertically or horizontally across the board. However, on the Cynosa, that is not the case. Each and every key is customizable within the Chroma RGB Studio. Alongside an almost infinite amount of RGB customization - making use of 6.8 million colors - the Cynosa also comes equipped with a ton of presets to choose from. Whether you're looking for a generic color cycle or something a little more elaborate like the ripple effect, you'll be happy to know this keyboard's RGB offers it all.
Unfortunately, this keyboard does not come equipped with media keys. Then again, neither does the more expensive BlackWidow that outperforms this in most areas - so it was no real surprise. What it does come with, however, are handily placed hotkeys, making the Cynosa a bunch more versatile. Hotkeys are basically media keys but require a function button to be activated before they work. Users will find an FN button to the right of the spacebar, which when pressed, lights up all the relevant media keys - darkening every other key. It's a nice feature if truth be told, and whilst these aren't proper media keys, they're probably the next best thing.
Anti-Ghosting & Key Rollover
Like a lot of modern keyboards, the Cynosa comes equipped with anti-ghost and Key rollover - a feature crucial for certain gaming scenarios. Keyboard ghosting is a name given to the un-registered keypresses that occur when several keys on the keyboard are pressed simultaneously. To stop this occurring, keyboard manufacturers implement key rollover technology into their boards. This technology allows the keyboard to read and register every pressed key, no matter how many are pressed at the same time.
It's worth mentioning that key rollover comes in a number of different variations ranging from 2-key to every key. On this particular board, Razer has equipped 10-key rollover, meaning 10 keys can be pressed simultaneously and all will register. So, more than enough for most gaming scenarios.
Synapse III Software Package
Lastly, we have the Synapse III software utility. Now, even though this is a software package that can be used with other Razer peripherals, it's still worth mentioning for the versatility and customization it gives to this keyboard. Synapse has come a long way in the last couple of years. Every time we review the software it seems to get better. This time around, it feels almost user-friendly!
For the most part, consumers use Synapse III to set up their RGB configurations. However, it offers much more than that. Inside Synapse, users will be able to create custom profiles for certain scenarios - whether it be video editing or gaming - program each and every button on their keyboard to their specific needs, and link all their peripherals together - yes, for RGB purposes.
The great thing about the Cynosa, as mentioned above, is that Razer allows users to re-map every single key on the board. That effectively gives users much more versatility when it comes to gaming scenarios. Unfortunately, this keyboard doesn't offer onboard memory, so you won't be able to save profiles for on-the-fly usage.
Finally, we come to the most important part of the review process, the hands-on testing. In this section, we will be putting the Razer Cynosa through performance tests to see how it stacks up in build quality and numerous gaming scenarios.
So, let's dive straight into it.
I'm the sort of person that plays a lot of competitive esports-type titles - think CS:GO. So, when I choose a peripheral, it needs to be of the highest quality, offering excellent responsiveness, accuracy, build-quality, and overall feel. So, when swapping out my Ducky Miya Sakura for the Razer Cynosa Chroma (a keyboard tailored to gamers that like RGB over accuracy) I was less than pleased, to say the least. However, for the purposes of this review, I will be holding a strictly unbiased opinion, for the most part.
Like always, I started off by playing my favorite fast-paced first-person shooter - CS:GO. It didn't take long before I concluded that these switches had nothing on mechanical - obviously. However, how did they fair when considering other similarly priced membrane style keyboards? Well, I have to reiterate what I said earlier in the article, the switches don't feel the best if I'm being completely honest. They are extremely mushy and have very little tactile response to them. Furthermore, the actuation pressure required to activate each keypress feels quite high, and the responsiveness is simply not up to scratch. I played for a good couple of days using this keyboard and the feeling of disappointment only grew with time. Annoying.
We took the Cynosa for a spin on some MMO titles shortly after CS:GO. Now, gamers that enjoy MMO style titles, usually look for keyboards that come equipped with macro keys - like the Corsair K55. Unfortunately, this keyboard doesn't come with that facility, meaning we weren't off to a great start. I played WoW for a good while and wasn't completely unimpressed with how the board felt. Luckily, Razer made sure this keyboard was equipped with their new HyperShift function which allows users to, effectively, double the amount of available keys they have on their board. So, a big plus for that one.
Gaming aside, I spent a good bit of time working my way through the seemingly endless amount of RGB options available to this keyboard. I now understand why they gave the Cynosa the Chroma title.
I started off testing some of the various presets. I was pleasantly surprised with the results if truth be told. You'll have access to a bunch of different settings which range from color cycles and soft gradient changes, to starlight and ripple effects - reactive RGB that sends a shockwave through your board after every keypress. After sampling the presets, I dipped my toe in the Chrome Studio sea to see what it had to offer. The short answer is a lot.
Users will be able to customize almost every key on their board within the Chroma studio package. The keyboard is split into a grid, with each segment of the grid housing a different key. Simply select the key you want to change, and use the sidebar of options to choose your preference. Very cool.
Overall, the performance testing of this keyboard left me a little confused as to what I thought of this board. On one hand, it's really not the best for games that require a rapid response or elaborate keybinds. On the other hand, it is extremely quiet and has one of the best RGB outputs of any keyboard at this price range.
With that, we finally make our way to the verdict section of this article. This is where we give our final impression on the Razer Cynosa while answering some of the big questions that might surround it - is it worth buying?
Ultimately, what you're looking at with the Razer Cynosa Chroma, is a bare-bones keyboard that does the simple things quite well. It offers excellent RGB, some good features geared towards gamers, and a very nice aesthetic for the most part.
That being said, this is a keyboard that is geared towards gamers, and from a gaming point of view, I feel it falls a little bit flat. The membrane switches are not the best by any reach, and the lack of macro keys means it falls short in the MMO market as well.
Comparing this to other keyboards of similar price, I would say its a keyboard that is great for first-time gamers. It comes to the table at a price point that is very affordable, whilst offering excellent aesthetics and some cool features. However, if you're someone who prioritizes response, accuracy, and build quality instead, I'd recommend looking at something a little more high-end.