Sturdy, reliable and good-looking, the Razer Huntsman Elite might be one of the best mechanical keyboards currently available.
The Huntsman line is Razer’s first attempt at using optical switches instead of traditional mechanical ones. I’ve been testing the Razer: Huntsman Elite for the last couple of months and I have to say I’m really starting to like it. Despite its minor design flaws, it’s one of the better-looking keyboard’s out there, with exceptional build quality, and badass lighting options.
My previous keyboard was a less impressive Logitech G213 membrane keyboard, which I’ve also reviewed, so the Razer: Huntsman Elite was definitely an upgrade. Although I only had two mechanical keyboards before, I’ve also briefly tested every other keyboard in our round-up.
What we played: Apex Legends, Mass Effect 3, DOOM, PUBG (yes, some people still play PUBG in 2K19).
*This item was not provided by Razer. It was purchased by Unleash The Gamer for review purposes only.
|The Good||The Bad|
|Fastest key actuation||No USB passthrough|
|Comfortable RGB-enabled wrist rest||Clunky keyboard – wrist rest attachment|
|Gorgeous & innovative light rings||Requires two USB slots to power RGBs|
|Sophisticated design and intuitive keyboard layout|
Razor Huntsman Elite Keyboard
Razor Huntsman Elite Keyboard
The Razer Huntsman Elite has one of the most elegant wrist rests I’ve ever seen on a keyboard. It’s also the only keyboard with an RGB-enabled wrist rest.
I’d like to take a moment to thank Razer for introducing plushy materials in keyboard designs. My hands deserve more than just plastic. The plush leatherette is very comfortable. Its overall design is similar to that of the BlackWidow Chroma V2, although the latter is slightly better (in my opinion). Instead of a plastic matte frame, the Huntsman’s wrist rest features an aluminum top plate.
Although I prefer heavier keyboards, the central magnetic pin cannot hold the added weight on aluminum top plate very well, so the wrist rest detaches easily. This shouldn’t be a problem if you aren’t planning on moving the keyboard around, but it’s something you should consider.
Furthermore, the keyboard and wrist rest do not attach perfectly. There is a small seam between the two, which make it a bit uncomfortable. The backwards facing retractable feet make things even more awkward because they create an unnatural angle between the wrist rest and the keyboard frame. I keep my Huntsman perfectly horizontal most of the time, but on the rare occasions when I did try to elevate it, I spent more time than I care to admit fiddling around the feet.
One thing I’ve noticed after longer gaming sessions is that my hands do not feel tired at all. Thanks to the new opto-mechanical switches, you don’t have to press super hard for the keys to register.
Razer really nailed the design on the Huntsman Elite. It’s a gorgeous keyboard. It looks great on my desk, next to the Mamba mouse and Sphex V2 pad (not a Razor fan-girl by the way). The simple, yet visually appealing aluminum plate design, superb backlighting, elevated keycaps, and protuberant multi-function dial give it an elegant and mature feel. I also like the fact that there is no excessive-branding. The Razer logo is only visible on the leatherette wrist rest as a subtle engraving.
When you connect the wrist wrest to the Huntsman keyboard, it continues a ribbon of light that illuminates the entire base of the keyboard. You might not see it very well while using the keyboard, but it gives soft accents to my desk. It’s also worth mentioning that, while each key is separately lit, illumination is not as strong as on the BlackWidow Chroma V2, which for me is a huge plus. The outer ring of light emanating from the keyboard is absolutely gorgeous. I never knew how much I love RGB lighting until I got my hands on the Huntsman.
Another thing I noticed, when comparing to other keyboards in our round-up, is that the letters on the keycaps are super crisp. I’ve read a few reviews and noticed some people aren’t too happy with the media keys on the Razer Huntsman: Elite. Personally, I think they are intuitive.
The volume dial, which sticks out a bit, is also easy to find. Maybe they could have put a little more thought into the three other media dials, but I think it will take a few more upgrades to get them to the level of Corsair or Logitech controls.
On the negative side, the Huntsman does not feature a USB passthrough, which might be a deal breaker for some. Furthermore, lighting both wrist rest and keyboard will require two USB ports. For those struggling with USB space, this can also be a major issue.
Without the wrist rest, the Razor Huntsman: Elite is like any other standard frameless keyboard. Interestingly enough, this keyboard is the company’s first frameless design. Most Razer keyboards feature a thick plastic frame, which I personally hate because it makes them too bulky.
Without the wrist rest, the Huntsman: Elite will take-up 17.6 x 5.5 x 1.44 inches (44.7 x 13.97 x 3.65 cm) from your desk. You can easily grab the keyboard in one hand. The wrist rest will take up an extra 3.5 inches, adding to a total width of 9.05 inches (22.98 cm).
PERFORMANCE & OPTO-MECHANICAL KEYS
Apart from the RGB-enabled wrist rest, the biggest innovation of the Huntsman: Elite is the opto-mechanical switch technology. Razer may not be the first to implement optical switches (the Tesoro Excalibur SE Spectrum and Aorus K9 were first), but their system is very unique. Pulling out a keycap will reveal a purple switch, with the usual cross-shaped peg, and a box surrounded by metal frame.
Razer’s opto-mechanical technology uses a combination of short mechanical actuation and light beams to fire commands to your computer at the speed of light. That’s exactly 186,000 m/s. Similar to the Cherry MX reds, the Huntsman features 45g actuation force. Enough with the fancy talk. What does all of this mean? Well, the Huntsman’s opto-mechanical switch actuates almost as soon as you press the key. The tactile board also feels lighter than other switches, including Corsair’s Cherry MX speed.
I don’t want to talk too much about the sound of the Huntsman Elite, since we will cover that in the noise section, but I would like to mention the satisfying clickyness of the opto-mechanical switches. They feel premium and different and incredibly satisfying. I haven’t had any problems while fast-typing or gaming. As a matter of fact, picking up items in PUBG felt a lot smoother from my Razer: Huntsman Elite than from my Logitech board.
Razer claims that each switch will last around 100 million keystrokes. That’s over a decade of game time. The floating keycaps and exposed metal backplate make it easy to clean the keyboard. Since the Huntsman features the same Cherry MX stems, you can also easily replace the native keycaps with higher quality ones.
Despite its thinner frame, the Razer Huntsman Elite feels incredibly sturdy. It connects to your PC through a solid dual USB braided cable that will probably last longer than the keyboard itself. The keyboard also offers two height adjustments for better elevation and six rubber anti-slips pads.
You can program key lighting individually using Razer’s Synapse 3 application. The lighting on the wrist rest and functionality of the media dial can also be customized from the app.
This is my first time playing with the Synapse software. I heard the previous iterations were pretty crap, but the Synapse 3 feels intuitive and practical, once you get the hang of it. Here’s what you can do with Synapse:
- Sync up to 5 profiles to the Synapse cloud.
- Configure secondary key assignments with the Hypershift key.
- Assign keyboard, mouse, or multimedia functions, window shortcuts, and macros to the keyboard.
- Ability to sync light modes with another Razer peripheral.
- Use preset lighting modes or create your own mode from the Chroma -> Studio tab. The under-glow light ribbon alone has 38 customization zones, 20 of which are on the wrist rest wrist rest.
- Link your favorite games to Chroma lighting effects.
For more info about the Razer Huntsman: Elite, please read the official manual. There also a few other functions that can be programmed without Synapse, like on-the-fly macro recording with the FN + F9 keys, brightness adjustment, and game mode.
Before we reach the end of this Razer Huntsman: Elite review we need to talk about noise. This keyboard is loud. Really loud. Most mechanical keyboards are loud, but the Huntsman is the loudest we tested. The key switches are also high-pitched. I unboxed the Huntsman: Elite on stream and immediately plugged it in. Even two meters away from my Yeti microphone (with pop filter and noise suppression filter on) people could still hear its hollow thunk.
While the noise will probably annoy everyone in a 10-meter radius, you will probably enjoy it. I certainly do. It’s a crisp, satisfying sound, kind of like writing on a badass typewriter. I wouldn’t recommend it for office use, but if you enjoy the clicky sound of mechanical keyboards, then the noisiness of the Huntsman should not be off-putting.
All in all, the Razer Huntsman: Elite is an incredible keyboard. It’s not perfect and considering its price range. It is missing some essential features, but the innovative opto-mechanical technology and RBG-enabled wrist rest more than make up for it. If you’re on the market for the opto-mechanical switches, but can’t afford the full price of the Elite, you can also settle for its smaller brother, the standard Razer: Huntsman.
Razor Huntsman Elite Keyboard
Razor Huntsman Elite Keyboard
|Height||36.5mm / 1.44 in|
|Width||230 mm / 9.05 in (with wrist rest) 140 mm / 5.5 in (without wrist rest)|
|Length||448 mm / 17.6 in|
|Weight||1.75 kg / 3.76 lbs|
|Connection type||2 x USBs|
|Backlighting||16.8 million color RGB backlight|
|Switches||Razer Opto-Mechanical switch with 45 G actuation force 100 million keystroke lifespan|
|Macros||Fully programmable keys with on-the-fly macro recording|
|Actuation point||1.5 mm, 3.5 mm travel distance, 0 + 0.2mm actuation vs. reset point|
|Cable||Braided fiber cable|
|Miscellaneous||Cloud storage for up to 5 profiles; 10 key rollover with anti-ghosting; Dedicated media controls; Multi-functional volume dial|
|Accessories||Ergonomic wrist rest with 20 under-glow lighting customization zones|
|Software||Razer Synapse 3|
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