Razer Cynosa Chroma keyboard review: Membrane can still be great

Cynosa Chroma
Cynosa Chroma (Image credit: Windows Central)

The latest Cynosa Chroma is Razer's new entry-level keyboard, naturally targeted at gamers, but those on a tighter budget. It comes in two versions, but the one I have here is the standard one, retailing for $60.

On the face of it that represents great value. It's a Razer keyboard through and through from its design through its build and of course, the Chroma lighting.

And for a lot of people, this would be a great step into gaming keyboards.

What you'll love about the Razer Cynosa Chroma

Razer Cynosa Chroma

Cynosa Chroma

The Cynosa Chroma is very typical of a Razer keyboard design. There's little frivolity in the overall shape and appearance, it's a black rectangle with a sloped front edge and the company logo pride of place in the centre.

The Cynosa is a full-sized layout with a number pad, so it's larger than a "tournament edition" keyboard such as the Blackwidow TE, but has that added convenience for the times you're not gaming and need to do something boring. Like a spreadsheet. For less boring things you have staples such as media control keys.

Gamers will be more interested in what you can do with the Razer Synapse application, and even though this is an entry-level keyboard, it's a lot. Some of the basics include disabling the Windows key, alt+tab and alt+f4 either all the time or automatically when you launch a game.

Razer Hypershift allows you to add secondary functions to keys without changing their primary, with a specific key press enabling it then you can just hit the keys normally. The Cynosa Chroma also has support for Macros and a bunch of other shortcuts like launching specific programs and Windows shortcuts all from specific keybinds. If you want customization, the Cynosa Chroma has it in spades.

That stretches to the lighting as well. Each key is individually lit and as it's Razer Chroma so you get all the fancy effects and colors associated with that, as well as keeping it in sync with your other equipment. My mouse and keyboard are in perfect harmony. And if you go for the Chroma Pro version (which does cost more) you also get underglow lighting as well as just behind the keys. So much Chroma.

The actual physical keyboard is really nicely done. Even though it's membrane, not mechanical, there's great key travel and the keycaps are a really nice finish and great to type on for long periods. They feel almost soft to the touch, and because it's not mechanical, it's really quiet. It also has 10-key rollover anti-ghosting, and perhaps most impressively (for me at least) is it's spill resistant.

I can't count how many times I've spilled a cup of coffee on a keyboard, it's comforting to know it'll still work after.

And if you're a traveling gamer, it'll stand up to being tossed into a bag over and over, as well as being light enough that you'll barely know it's there.

What you'll hate about the Razer Cynosa Chroma

Razer Cynosa Chroma

Cynosa Chroma (Image credit: Windows Central)

There's not really anything particularly wrong with the Cynosa Chroma, it's a really good entry level keyboard. But, there are certainly some things that may put you off buying.

The first is the obvious one: It's not mechanical. Gamers will often prefer a mechanical keyboard and given you can buy an 'off-brand' mechanical in this price bracket, it'd be really tremendous if one of the big name brands were to do the same. What you do get with the Cynosa over one of those cheaper mechanical keyboards is stacks of features thanks to the Synapse companion software.

It's worth mentioning the price of the Chroma Pro model, too. The regular Cynosa Chroma is $60 and I think it's great value for that when you look at the whole package. The Chroma Pro is $79.99, and personally, I'm not sure an additional $20 is worth the extra lighting. Chroma is cool and all, but when you're spending $80 the argument changes a little.

Bottom line on the Razer Cynosa Chroma

Razer Cynosa Chroma

Razer Cynosa Chroma (Image credit: Windows Central)

Sure, it isn't a mechanical keyboard, but for $60 the overall package the Cynosa Chroma provides is both good value and feature packed.

The difference maker isn't the Chroma lighting, no matter how good it looks, it's the Synapse software that goes with the keyboard. There are so many tweaks you can make, add macros, set custom keybinds and such that you'd normally expect to find on a much more expensive keyboard.

If you're not absolutely set on mechanical and want a great starter keyboard for PC gaming that's also perfect for everyday use (and won't deafen those around you) then the Cynosa Chroma is worth getting.

But maybe not the Pro, unless you're really into your Chroma.

See at Amazon

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine