Razer Huntsman v2 Analog Review
Despite all of their different design , keyboards have felt static for years. Razer is set to change that with the new Huntsman V2 Analog. This new flagship gaming keyboard uses optical switches to provide joystick-like control in gaming. This is an innovative variant that combines keyboard and controller support into one premium package that can change the way you play. But at $ 249, these upgrades don’t come cheap. Do these innovations justify the high price? Let’s take a closer look and find out.
Razer Huntsman V2 Analog – Design & Features
The Huntsman V2 Analog should immediately sound familiar to anyone who has been following Razer’s keyboards over the past few years. The V2 Analog is a full-size keyboard and almost identical to last year’s Razer BlackWidow V3 Pro , which itself was extremely similar to the Razer Huntsman Elite launched in 2018. It has an excellent multi-function dial and multimedia controls at the above the numeric keypad, and the same sleek matte black deshfrance adopted by all major. Razer keyboards. And yes, it’s Chroma enabled, because what’s a Razer keyboard without a bit of RGB customization?
I’m happy to say that with this release Razer seems to have done everything ked-out with the BlackWidow V3 Pro and Huntsman Eliteand improved on many other things.
The board is heavy which immediately makes it more premium and sits impeccably on my desk. It features Razer’s excellent doubleshot PBT keycaps that feel and sound great (albeit a bit loud, which is becoming a hallmark of Huntsman keyboards) while keeping the light well insulated behind the legends.
It comes with an upgraded leatherette wrist rest which is by far the best looking I have ever seen that comes with a keyboard. It’s magnetic, snaps into place so quickly, and removes unsightly bezels from the BlackWidow V3 Pro. Razer also included an upgraded USB relay port which clap uses USB 3.0. Finally, you can use one with a USB stick and get decent transfer speeds.
Strangely, this resulted in the biggest wiring harness I’ve ever seen with a gaming keyboard. Instead of having a thicker cable with two ends like most with a passthrough, it has two separate cables, each braided. And quite stiff out of the box. I was able to use the included wrap to keep this somewhat manageable, but there’s no getting around the mess for cable management.
As you would expect from a Razer flagship, everything is RGB stuff, and it looks awesome. The Huntsman V2 Analog uses individual LEDs under each key, as well as under the multifunction dial and media keys. More strikingly, it brings back the wraparound RGB band from the Huntsman Elite, and which also includes the wrist rest. Using a series of POGO pins at the bottom of the board, the keyboard is able to power the palm rest and sync lighting effects under light. All of this is easily personalized in Synapse or by selecting a preset or customizing your own intricate effect. If you are not sold in RGB, you will probably find that the illumination of the wrist rest is excessive
The downside to these double-hit PBT keycaps is that they reduce the overall brightness of the card. In a well lit room, the backlighting of the keys seems dim. The underlight is a bit brighter but remains quite dim in normal lighting. This is not the keyboard to choose if you prefer a splash of color around your keys. Instead, its well insulated lighting looks a lot more intentional. The keys also have a lightly textured surface that feels great under my fingers while playing. Since they’re double-injected PBTs, they won’t shine or have the legends scratched off over time, and should look just as good after several. Years of heavy use they do it right away.
The real magic of this keyboard is what happens under these keys. The Huntsman line, unlike Razer’s BlackWidow series, uses optical switches.
Unlike a traditional mechanical key switch, there are no mechanical contacts that wear out over time. Instead, a beam of light is projected under each switch. When the key is pressed, the beam of light hits a sensor and triggers a key press. Optical switches are inherently more responsive, eliminating electrical interference known as debounce delay, and less prone to failure due to wear and tear on their internal components.
The Huntsman V2 Analog builds on this system to provide full analog control to each optical switch on the keyboard. In other words, each key is capable of providing the nuanced control of a joystick or trigger on a controller. Normal switches operate in the “on” or “off” states. The key is “on” when pressed and “off” when not, with nothing in between. Here, Razer’s new analog switches are able to measure exactly how hard the key is pressed to provide depth sensing, just like the sticks on a controller.
This has a few unique advantages
The first is, of course, analog control. Press the key lightly, your character walks, a little harder and he jogs, and harder still, he runs. A car in Grand Theft Auto can go halfway and go full speed the rest of the descent. If you’re a fan of racing or stealth games, you’re probably already playing with a controller for more nuanced control. The Huntsman offers a similar capability, while still being able to aim with your mouse and have the rest of the keyboard close at hand.
Likewise, depth detection allows the keyboard to perform other interesting tricks. Since it can distinguish half a push from a full push, you can tie an action to each, with what Razer calls two-step actuation. This system basically lets you have two keys in one, increasing your responsiveness in games: switching to a grenade with half a push and throwing it with a full is a prime example, but I also found it useful to link two single key zoom stages when running like a sniper. It’s a cool system but requires you to get a little creative and take the time to program what works for your own playstyle.
The ability to sense depth allows the Huntsman to support customizable actuation points. Out of the box, the keys are set to operate at 1.5mm. Although the new switches have more resistance than previous Razer’s linear optics, I still found this too sensitive and recomposed it to 2mm. Inside Synapse, the actuation point can be adjusted up to 3.6mm and synchronized with one click with all keys. It might seem like a small feature, but it’s one of the most meaningful in everyday life and basically lets you have the responsiveness of a speed switch while gaming and the precision of a traditional switch with everything else.
The first version of the software I used had a weird issue that sometimes detected a second keyboard when none were connected. Like all Razer keyboards, the programming takes place inside Razer Synapse but here it is essentially a requirement. For games, analog control works by associating controller commands with individual keys: WASD would be mapped to joystick movement, for example, or triggers if you place a racing game. Without Synapse, the Huntsman V2 Analog functions like a standard optical gaming keyboard.
Razer Huntsman V2 Analog – Performance
On paper, the Huntsman V2 Analog makes a lot of bold promises, and for the most part it works well. Being able to sneak into Shadow of the Tomb Raider or wander the streets of Red Dead Redemption 2 felt very natural, controller-like, but not quite. Likewise, jumping into a car in Grand Theft Auto Online and getting around town worked well and felt very natural over time. I also loved getting creative with the dual action shooters controls. In Call of Duty Warzone, mapping Run to a gentle press and sprint to a full press of W was natural and intuitive.
Getting to know it was easy, but there was more of a learning curve than I expected. I had to make a fair amount of adjustment to get the sensitivity just right. Even though the functionality is similar to that of a controller, the point is that each key has only 3.6 millimeters of total travel. It’s much less than a joystick or trigger, and it’s much harder to be precise about how far each key is pressed. To remedy this, Razer lets you adjust the sensitivity of each key – but there’s no getting past the lighter touch and the time it takes to get used to it.
Taken as a whole, however, the Huntsman V2 Analog is an exceptionally good gaming keyboard. Keyswitches are smooth and responsive, and the analog functionality has no impact on the actual feel of the keys. The extra resistance does, however, and I would consider these keys among the best feel keys I’ve ever used in a gaming keyboard. The extra weight of the keys also helps in learning to use its analog functions.
The multifunction dial continues to be excellent, and the ability to map controls to its rotations and buttons makes it useful for more than just gaming. I especially liked it in Creative apps, where I was able to map shortcuts to quickly navigate a timeline or adjust tools. The only thing I don’t like is the height of the media control buttons. If you’re tempted to pinch the button instead of rolling it to the side, you’ll quickly find the Skip Track button on the way.
During several days in gaming sessions lasting several hours, I was also satisfied with the ease of use of the keyboard. The wrist rest is plush and at the perfect height to support my palms and avoid straining my wrist while typing. The leatherette I tended to make my palms sweat, however, I would like to see a perforated option available in the future. Best gaming keyboards
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