No frills. All performance. That’s literally the first thing you read on the webpage for the new Razer Huntsman V2 Tenkeyless keyboard. And you know what? For once, it’s actually not some silly marketing spiel. The Huntsman V2 is really nothing to look at as far as gaming keyboards go but looks are deceiving; something you’ll figure out as soon as you start pressing on its absurdly quiet linear optical switches.
Retailing for $259.95, the Huntsman V2 is fairly expensive as far as keyboards go but I wager once you are using it, you’ll forget the dent in your wallet. On top of those quiet optical switches, the Huntsman V2 brings 8000Hz HyperPolling, double shot PBT keycaps, a plush wrist wrest and detachable USB Type-C cable. After spending a few weeks with the board, I can happily say that, yes — it really is all performance!
Razer Huntsman V2 TKL Review
I want to touch on the physicality of the Razer Huntsman V2 TKL first. Indeed there is a noticeable lack of frill with the design. Razer went with a vanilla, all matte black finish with ordinary looking keycaps, no media keys and straight, precise edges on the chassis. An aluminium top plate sits on top of a plastic body which keeps the overall weight down and combined with it’s size, makes for a portable keyboard. Being tenkeyless, there’s no numpad, dedicated media or macro keys. I lust after the full-size Huntsman V2’s sexy volume dial and media keys and wish they had made their way onto the smaller board.
Alas you have to live with using Fn key combinations for such things and the board smartly turns off the Chroma lighting to all keys except the function keys when you press it. The Doubleshot PBT key caps on the Huntsman V2 immediately caught my attention. They have a slight, sandy texture that prevents the fingers from slipping across the keys which made typing errors far less common than I’m used to with such fast switches. It also means the legends won’t fade over time. Speaking of legends, these ones let the Razer Chroma lighting shine through brilliantly although we still have to suffer with non-illuminated secondary function keys.
For switches, the Huntsman V2 TKL comes in a choice of Razer’s Red Linear Optical switches or Purple Clicky Optical Switches. My review unit had the former and thanks to some new foam dampening, the new switches are almost silent; certainly much quieter than any other mechanical switch I’ve ever used. To this day, it still brings a smile to my face that I can type away and my wife won’t complain about the noise. The Linear Optical Switches are wicked fast — 0.2ms fast which when combined with the 8000Hz HyperPolling means virtually zero input latency. Only your slow machine can be blamed for not being fast enough to keep up with the keyboard.
Now, whether you’ll actually notice the speed increase over standard 1000Hz polling keyboards is debatable though. That said, I’ve played a fair bit of Destiny 2 PVP and never once felt that my presses were missed or lagging. These brilliant optical switches will also last you about 100 million keypresses so button mashers celebrate. Typing, as I’ve alluded to already is a joy on the Huntsman V2. Speed typists will love how responsive and smooth the keys are even without the tactile bump that most of us typists prefer.
And because you’re likely to spend countless hours each day hacking away on this board, Razer has included a plush leatherette wrist rest to keep you from ruining your hands. I like how soft and comfortable it is but I didn’t like that it’s not magnetic. Every time you move the keyboard, you also have to reposition the wrist rest which while not a deal breaker, is somewhat tedious. But seeing as even some cheaper boards don’t come with a wrist wrest in the box to begin with, I just count my blessings.
All the Huntsman V2’s customisations for lighting, key binds and macros are done using Razer Synapse software. The software is fairly straightforward having matured over the years. If you really want to go wild with your lighting, then you’ll have to download the Razer Chroma Studio app which is something I still find confusing to use so I stick with the standard presets available in Synapse. After you’re happy, you can save the profiles to the Huntsman’s Hybrid memory which is a combination of on-board storage and cloud storage.
The Razer Huntsman V2 TKL is a fantastic gaming keyboard that gaming puritans will appreciate more than the over designed boards out there. Razer set out to build a no frill, high performance board and succeeded with flying colors. The Huntsman won’t look conspicuous in an office setting and certainly won’t make traditional mechanical keyboard levels of noise to disrupt your colleagues.
I do wish they had found a way to keep the media keys and volume dial on the board just as Roccat does with its Vulcan TKL boards. It would certainly give the Huntsman V2 a much needed visual flair. But to be honest, I never once sat down at my desk and thought “I really wish this keyboard looked better than this”. And I’m a design snob.
The $260 asking price is pretty damn steep though and for less money, you can get some really amazing boards like the aforementioned Roccat Vulcan TKL(which possibly the most gorgeous keyboard ever), the HyperX Alloy Origins Core TKL or the Steelseries Apex 7 TKL with it’s OLED display. All those cost close to $100 less than the Huntsman V2 which is no small amount. So unless you really, really want a Razer keyboard, the price just isn’t right.