Razer’s newest keyboard, the Huntsman V2, is all about velocity. It’s geared up with optical mechanical switches that may theoretically register key presses far quicker than their conventional mechanical counterparts. Then, its 8,000Hz polling fee means it will probably report that key press to your PC practically instantaneously.
So sure, it’s theoretically very quick, arguably quicker than most individuals will discover. However this velocity doesn’t come on the expense of every other essential components of a contemporary mechanical keyboard. There’s RGB lighting help, software program to customise the keyboard’s key maps and lighting results, and — within the case of the full-size mannequin — a quantity wheel and devoted media controls. However Razer has additionally made some selections with the linear switches specifically, that signifies that the Huntsman V2 may not be to each gamer’s tastes.
The brand new Huntsman V2 is available in at 4 totally different value factors relying on whether or not you desire a numpad, and whether or not you want your switches clicky or linear. The tenkeyless mannequin begins at $149.99 with clicky switches, or $159.99 with linear, whereas the full-size mannequin is $189.99 or $199.99. That’s comparatively costly by off-the-shelf mechanical keyboard requirements, that means the Huntsman V2 has so much to show.
I’ve been testing two of the variants for this evaluation, a Razer Huntsman V2 with clicky switches and a Razer Huntsman V2 Tenkeyless (aka TKL) with linear switches, each with a UK structure (US can also be obtainable). The latter comes with out a numpad, quantity wheel, or media keys. However the core performance of each keyboards are equivalent, together with their change choices, polling fee, and building, so it is smart to speak about them as a pair.
I’ve by no means been a lot of a fan of Razer’s shiny inexperienced and black gamer aesthetic, however I used to be pleasantly stunned with how understated Huntsman V2 keyboards are beneath their rainbow-colored RGB lighting, which is well disabled of their settings. Each the TKL and the full-size fashions are plain black, and their keycaps use a pleasant impartial font for his or her lettering. Solely the TKL mannequin really has any seen Razer branding, and even then it’s restricted to a lettermark subtly printed above the arrow keys. On the full-size mannequin, this house is taken up with indicator LEDs for issues like caps lock.
This space-efficient design signifies that each keyboards are comparatively compact contemplating their layouts. There’s no massive brow right here such as you’ll see on Corsair’s keyboards: the footprint of each Huntsman V2s is just a bit greater than the keyboard layouts they include. Razer does embody a wrist relaxation with each boards — a comfortable cushion of pretend leather-based — which will increase their footprint a bit of, however I believe it’s a worthwhile addition. The USB cable is detachable on the TKL and makes use of a regular Sort-C connector on the keyboard finish. It’s weirdly (and annoyingly) mounted in place on the full-size mannequin.
The keycaps are created from comparatively skinny PBT plastic and use a double-shot design for his or her lettering, which permits their backlighting to shine via and will show sturdy over time. All of the keys listed here are commonplace sizes, so that you shouldn’t have any issues discovering aftermarket keycaps in the event you so select.
The exception to this in any other case understated look is the keyboards’ RGB lighting, which by default cycles via a kaleidoscopic rainbow of colours. I far desire an all-white color-scheme, and it was a easy matter of customizing this utilizing Razer’s Synapse software program. Utilizing this software program entails agreeing to Razer’s phrases of service, however you should use it in visitor mode in the event you’d reasonably not create a Razer account. Like Razer’s different merchandise, this lighting can sync with varied suitable video games in the event you so select. Its software program additionally permits for the keyboard’s keys to be remapped, and for probably the most half it’ll bear in mind these adjustments in the event you plug it into a distinct laptop, though there are exceptions like lighting profile.
Neither keyboard feels flimsy with little to no flex, however they lack the load and heft of keyboards just like the Keychron Q1. I believe that’s solely more likely to matter if you would like a heavy keyboard for the sake of getting a heavy keyboard.
Razer’s massive promoting level for the Huntsman V2 lineup, and its massive improve over its predecessor, is its 8,000kHz polling fee, which signifies that the keyboard is checking for key presses and reporting them again to your laptop 8,000 occasions a second. That’s eight occasions quicker than the unique Huntsman and most different keyboards.
We’ve seen different keyboards supply equally excessive polling charges like Corsair’s K70 RGB TKL, however Razer’s Hunstman has a few theoretical benefits. First off, whereas Corsair’s current keyboard stories over USB at 8,000Hz, it’s really solely internally scanning for key presses at 4,000Hz. In distinction, Razer tells me the Huntsman V2’s whole stack is 8,000Hz, which ought to give it a small benefit in responsiveness.
However extra importantly, the Huntsman V2, just like the Huntsman earlier than it, makes use of optical mechanical switches. Meaning they use a small beam of sunshine to detect when a key has been pressed, reasonably than utilizing metallic contacts as with Cherry’s conventional MX change design. This solves an issue with mechanical switches the place the contacts can “bounce” collectively earlier than making last contact. It’s one thing that solely occurs for a fraction of a second, but it surely signifies that conventional mechanical keyboards endure from a “debounce delay” whereas they work out whether or not a keypress has really occurred. Optical switches don’t have this downside. So within the case of the Huntsman V2, it is best to be capable to press a change and have it report again to your machine with virtually no latency, in accordance with Razer.
That’s the speculation, however whereas I want I might say that I really feel the distinction, I struggled to note it in follow. I performed round 10 hours of Deathloop on the Huntsman V2 with my body fee at a kind of steady 90fps and struggled to note any enhancements in latency in contrast with my normal 1,000Hz Filco Majestouch 2 keyboard. That’s to not say there wasn’t an goal distinction in latency. Filming myself hitting the spacebar in Overwatch in slow-mo at 240fps with the sport working at 100fps confirmed that the Huntsman V2 does certainly have a quicker response time. It simply wasn’t acute sufficient for me to really feel in follow.
That mentioned, these outcomes will fluctuate so much relying on the sorts of video games you play, and the body charges they run at in your machine. So in the event you’re a fan of taking part in esports titles on a 240Hz and even 360Hz monitor, and have quicker reflexes, then it might make extra of a distinction. However, for me, the distinction was negligible. For most individuals, I don’t suppose the 8,000Hz refresh fee makes sufficient of a distinction to warrant recommending the Huntsman V2 over an in any other case equally specced competitor.
It’s at this level that I’d usually shortly define the change choices of a keyboard and let you know to observe your coronary heart: whether or not that be to easy linear switches, bumpy tactiles, or clicky… clicky switches. But it surely’s not that straightforward with the Huntsman V2, which is out there with both clicky or linear change choices.
Sure, each switches share numerous the identical fundamentals. They’re each optical, clearly, and each have stabilizer bars constructed into each change, which Razer says is to chop down on the quantity of shifting elements. However the linear switches particularly have been up to date for the reason that authentic Huntsman, and now have a in-built “silicon sound dampener.”
It means the 2 change varieties really feel radically totally different, way more so than you’d count on when evaluating the clicky and linear choices on one other keyboard. And I don’t suppose the adjustments Razer has made with its second era linear optical switches are essentially an enchancment.
That’s as a result of this silicon sound dampener has a serious affect on the way in which the linear switches really feel. It’s just like the impact you’d get by putting in rubber O-rings on a traditional mechanical change, solely constructed into their design with no choice to take away them. Sure, this makes for a quieter keyboard, but it surely’s on the expense of that crispness that I’d argue is a part of the basic attraction of mechanical keyboards within the first place. It feels such as you’re typing on a membrane keyboard, simply with the improved responsiveness and sturdiness of a mechanical keyboard.
The clicky switches are higher, however I nonetheless don’t suppose the typing expertise is nice. Though it’s not practically as comfortable because the bottoming out feeling of the linear switches, there’s nonetheless a slight mushiness to the sensation right here, and the keyboard’s stabilizers (the mechanisms beneath lengthy keys that cease them from wobbling) have a little bit of rattle to them. In order for you a beautiful crisp and clean-feeling typing expertise, this isn’t it.
On paper, it’s exhausting to knock both the Huntsman V2 or the Huntsman V2 Tenkeyless. They’re responsive due to quick polling and optical switches, effectively supported with Razer’s software program, and have designs that ought to work effectively on principally any desk. Every additionally has its personal good quality-of-life options, like a quantity wheel on the full-size mannequin and a removable USB-C cable on the TKL model.
However I believe the advance in responsiveness is marginal at finest and solely actually related in the event you’re taking part in an esports-focused title at increased refresh charges. Then, relating to the Huntsman V2’s general typing expertise, it merely can’t match as much as different equally priced keyboards obtainable elsewhere. It’s a really useful keyboard, but it surely falls in need of matching this performance with high quality.
Pictures by Jon Porter / The Verge