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Razer Launches Huntsman Keyboards: Hands-On With The Huntsman Elite

Since its release in 2010, Razer's BlackWidow keyboard has seen many iterations and been considered Razer’s premium mechanical gaming keyboard. That is, until the arrival of the company's new keyboard, the Huntsman. There are two models available now: the Huntsman ($150) and Huntsman Elite ($200).

Razer’s new Huntsman line will supersede the BlackWidow as the company’s premium mechanical keyboard offering. The keyboard will feature Razer’s new Opto-Mechanical switches, which Razer claims can actuate keystrokes at “the speed of light.” But unless you’re a professional gamer or a cyborg, you probably won’t notice the change.

Still, if the prospect of optical switches appeals to you, the Razer Huntsman Elite is a great keyboard, especially if you’re looking for a minimalist RGB experience with light, clicky switches.

Specifications

Razer HuntsmanRazer Huntsman Elite
Switch TypeRazer Opto-MechanicalRazer Opto-Mechanical
Actuation Force45 g45 g
Actuation Point1.5 mm1.5 mm
Travel Distance3.5 mm3.5 mm
Actuation Vs. Reset Point0 ± 0.2 mm0 ± 0.2 mm
Switch Lifespan100 million keystrokes100 million keystrokes
Lighting16.8 Million Color RGB Backlight16.8 Million Color RGB Backlight
Additional PortsNoneNone
Cable TypeBraided fiber cableBraided fiber cable
Dimensions17.5 x 5.5 x 1.4 inches17.6 x 5.5 x 1.44 inches (17.6 x 9.05 x 1.44 inches with wrist rest)
Weight1.9 lbs2.7 lbs (3.76 lbs with wrist rest)
Key CapsCherry compatible Cherry compatible
SoftwareRazer Synapse 3Razer Synapse 3
AccessoriesN/AErgonomic wrist rest with 24 underglow lighting customization zones
MiscellaneousHybrid On-board and Cloud Storage–5 profilesFully programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording10 key rollover with anti-ghostingHybrid On-board and Cloud Storage–5 profilesFully programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording10 key rollover with anti-ghosting4-sided underglow lighting with 38 customization zonesDedicated media controlsMulti-functional digital dial
Price$149.99$199.99

The Huntsman Elite is a stark departure from the BlackWidow and its heavily gamer-centric aesthetics. For one, the Huntsman and Huntsman Elite have sleek, minimal designs with a matte black top cover constructed out of solid aluminum.

The Huntsman’s and Huntsman Elite’s main selling point is Razer’s new Opto-Mechanical switches. When a switch is pressed past 1.5 mm, an infrared beam inside the switch will register the actuation. Theoretically, the actuation should be registered at the speed of light, which is much faster than a traditional mechanical switch.

In practice, we found the Razer Huntsman Elite to be quite fast. It’s incredibly light and satisfying to type with. Unfortunately, none of us have The Flash’s reaction speeds, so we can't know for sure if our clutch Play of the Game in Overwatch was the Huntsman's doing or our own.

Razer has been working on these switches for a while, but it isn’t the first to market with optical switches. We’ve seen a similar optical sensor approach in keyboards from A4Tech’s gaming brand, Bloody. In fact, Bloody’s LK Libra optical switches are strikingly similar to Razer’s Opto-Mechanical switch. When asked who will be manufacturing these switches, Razer said that it will use multiple switch partners.

Huntsman and Huntsman Elite Differences

While the Huntsman line aims to hit a more premium price point than the BlackWidow, Razer has split the line between the Huntsman and Huntsman Elite. The main differences between the two are the additional features added to the Elite.

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The biggest difference you’ll notice is the detachable leatherette RGB wrist rest. It receives power via pogo pins on the front lip of the Huntsman Elite, and the 24 custom lighting zones power on and sync to the keyboard’s lighting almost instantly.

The cushioning in the wrist rest is quite comfortable, and the material is pleasing to touch. We also found that the magnets secure the wrist rest to the Huntsman Elite well. The Huntsman Elite’s wrist rest is complemented by the keyboard’s 38 customizable underglow points.

The Huntsman Elite also features three media keys and a multi-functional digital dial on the top right-hand corner. The keys have satisfying clicky feedback and can be moved multi-directionally like joysticks. The dial is set to adjust volume by default, but you can change that in Razer Synapse to other functions such as adjusting microphone volume, weapon switching in game, or scrolling.

For $200, the Razer Huntsman is pricey. Gamers looking for a more affordable Opto-Mechanical experience will most likely consider the baseline Huntsman for $150.

Comparatively, the Bloody B975, which also has optical switches, retails for $150 as well and comes with an additional wrist rest, whereas the baseline Huntsman does not. However, Bloody’s aggressive aesthetics can be polarizing, whereas the Huntsman’s clean, minimal build seems like it will satisfy more shoppers.

  • ashburner
    You mention "clicky" switches... so is it loud? I game at night but work during the day, almost always on speaker phone and some of the mechanical keyboards I have used are obnoxious to take notes on during a call.
    Reply
  • SkyBill40
    Despite being a Razer peripherals fan, this is a bit much. I have a Black Widow Ultimate 2012 (blue only - no RGB) my wife bought me for Christmas back then and it's great. While it's clear there have been improvements in their tech in general and Chroma/RGB being all the rage, I'm sure this appeals to a group of gamers looking for some of the very best gear available and won't hesitate in slapping that money down to get it. Maybe it's just me, but $150-$200 on a keyboard is a tough sell. Even though their competition is fielding similar gear at a similar price point, this just seems like... a LOT for a keyboard.

    To each their own, I suppose. I will concede that it does look pretty sharp and if something were to happen to my keyboard, I'd *consider* taking a look at the lower cost version.
    Reply
  • captaincharisma
    21097378 said:
    You mention "clicky" switches... so is it loud? I game at night but work during the day, almost always on speaker phone and some of the mechanical keyboards I have used are obnoxious to take notes on during a call.

    well thats the thing about mechanical keyboards with switches. they are loud

    Reply
  • PseudoSudo
    21097378 said:
    You mention "clicky" switches... so is it loud? I game at night but work during the day, almost always on speaker phone and some of the mechanical keyboards I have used are obnoxious to take notes on during a call.

    I just bought it today and it is very loud. I would say it is on par with the blackwidow X, and I can't even make it quieter by putting o rings on it because the cherry stem shape is different than the standard switches on the blackwidow. However, it should be noted that the tone of the Huntsman is lower than the Blackwidow, which I like.
    Reply