Mouse and keyboard is arguably the best gaming input device for the majority of gaming genres. They can range from dirt cheap to organ-selling prices and what they will always lack, is the one key feature that controller players love to brag about, until now…
For as long as we can remember controller joysticks have been able to provide fun assertive and, mainly, analog input. Razer has decided to take the best the controller has to offer and add it to a keyboard. Thanks to this we now have the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog. For those who do not quite understand how an Analog input differs from usual digital input, Analog makes it capable for you as a player to use one key, for example, the W, to both slow walk, run, and sprint, all depending on how far the key is pressed, much like a joystick will do the same by how far the stick is pushed forward.
So we spent some time with the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog and really enjoyed our time with it until we saw the price tag…
The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog replaces the outgoing Razer Huntsman Elite, which sits firmly in the high-end section of the keyboard world. It features all the premium features, with premium design, spectacular media keys, and dials, and premium price, mostly due to its optical switches. Where the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog really shines and differs from the outgoing Huntsman Elite, is the obvious move to analog switches, as well as a rather unexpected wrist rest.
For most, a wrist rest is something insignificant and extra creature comfort that, if you have the extra cash, it’s something you might get. Personally, I tend to usually not use the wrist rests on the keyboards that I review. But unlike the previous wrist rests from Razer, the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog version is by far the plushiest one they have made. Razer has also decided to go with a bezel-less design which makes the rest seem much more sleek and minimal, which for me is always a win. The wrist rest is stuffed a decent amount and is firm enough while still providing a soft and comfortable feel. Spending significant time typing on the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog, I really appreciated the wrist rest as the wrist fatigue is definitely limited thanks to it. The wrist rest attaches to the main keyboard via magnets which also serve as the power connection for the RGB strip that runs around the sides and bottom of the wrist rest.
The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog features a USB3.0 passthrough that is situated on the left shoulder of the keyboard. This is nothing new, but it is a very handy feature. This does however cause the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog to have two non-detachable braided cables coming from the keyboard itself. One of these cables is a USB cable and the other is a USB-C, but if you do not have USB-C on your motherboard, do not fret, Razer supplies a USB-C to USB-A converter in the box. The double cable does mean cable management is a bit more of a chore and possibly binding both cables in one loom might have been the better play here by Razer but still no real train smash.
Just like the previous versions of the Huntsman, and the Blackwidow Elite, the media keys are still a wonderful addition to this keyboard. Personally, I feel the media keys are a deal-breaker for me. If the keyboard doesn’t have it, it needs to do a rather good job of impressing me because I simply LOVE the option to change your volume with a dial on the keyboard, and/or skip to the next song on your playlist right there and then without having to find the correct tab. The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog media keys do feel extremely premium. The volume wheel is made from some metal and is textured enough to easily grip while having enough resistance to not be accidentally bumped and turned. The rewind, play/pause, fast-forward and volume/mute keys are exceptional, near perfection,, Razer has even given them RGB, the only problem is that the signs on the buttons are not illuminated by the RGB causing you to have to memorize them. A small oversight, to an otherwise perfect media key setup.
Speaking of RGB, the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog much like the whole Razer catalog is extremely pro-RGB and the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog with the RGB on the wrist rest does wonders to give the sometimes harsh Razer RGB a softer yet still very bright look. The PBT keycaps are double-shot and with their slightly textured finish do not allow for grease and fingerprints to appear as other keyboards do. The bright RGB and PBT keycaps all provide for a wonderful environment and with the aluminum top plate is brushed slightly to resemble the same finish as the keycaps and the finish does cause some RGB reflection which I, personally, like.
Analog Optical switches, and how they Perform
|Switches||Razer Analog Optical|
|Onboard Storage||4 profiles (no RGB)|
|Cable||USB Type-C, plus USB Type-A for USB passthrough|
|Additional Ports||1x USB 3.0 passthrough port|
|Key Caps||Doubleshot PBT|
|Dimensions (LxWxH without wrist rest)||17.53 x 5.52 x 1.71 inches|
|Extra||USB-C to USB-A Adapter|
The biggest thing that needs to be understood is the difference between digital and analog. Basically, digital signals separate small signals that can be put together to make a full signal, where analog on the other hand is one continuous signal. So in our case, most keyboards use a digital input which is as simple as is the button pressed, yes or no. With analog switches it is no longer, is the button pressed, it is, is it pressed, if yes, how far is it pressed. This is what makes joysticks and triggers on controllers so much better when you are driving a car for example where you can feather the throttle or brake and steer and correct with smaller increments compared to a digital keyboard where you can accelerate 100% or take the foot off the gas pedal, those are your two options on digital, 0% or 100%.
In the Razer Synapse software, you are able to set the keyboard to work like the functions of an Xbox controller. When starting up games, the game will even pickup as if a controller is connected. Like with Ubisoft connect, the play option will have a green A icon next to it like when a controller is connected. Although analog switches have been done before Razer has improved on this significantly by coupling it with their optical switches. This means that when a key is pressed the light travels down a triangular opening in the switch’s stem. The further the key is pressed the more light is picked up by a photosensor and this way the analog signal is created and interpreted by the software.
The analog goodness doesn’t stop there, Razer allows for the actuation points for the keys on the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog to be individually adjusted. This means you can set each key to be activated anywhere from 1.5mm all the way to 3.6mm at 0.1mm increments. The amount of force needed for a 1.5mm actuation is a mere 54g where the full 3.6mm travel comes in at 74g of pressure. Once again the Razer Synapse software is fantastic at showing you just how far you have pressed the key by way of a live graph, that does unfortunately not show actual mm representation but it is still a great idea from Razer.
The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is also capable of having two different keys assigned to one key on the keyboard. The only downfall to this whole feature is that the game that you are playing needs to support mouse/keyboard and controller input otherwise the assigned key that you have now assigned to the joystick feature, will simply not work at all. This means that the analog advantage is only available in games that support this feature and this is a possible hurdle for the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog at launch especially.
General Gaming and Software Features
The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog’s key feature, being the analog switches, was tricky to use as not many games actually support the feature. But even for general gaming, the fact that you can set your actuation and reset distances on each key does already offer a big advantage. Especially since the keys can be set to activate at a mere 1.5mm of travel, which gives you 0.5mm less travel to most Cherry switches, this means that you will be able to get your press in faster than you would on a different keyboard. To us mere mortal gamers this might not be much but for the top tier Pro players that 0.5mm difference might be the difference between winning and losing.
Razer Synapse is one of the best software out there, with a few coming close in certain departments but as a whole, Synapse blends, ease of use with great looks, and very powerful features. As expected, Synapse allows you to assign custom functions to any key, including the media controls. The list of functions is nearly endless as you are even able to assign programs to launch to certain key presses. Hypershift allows for another set of assignments to each key. The amount of custom assignments you can make to the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is quite literally limited by your memory as there is no way you will be able to remember all the keys you have re-assigned. The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog has five onboard profiles of which four can be accessed on a different PC without having to install Synapse.
The biggest thing that needs to be mentioned is the hefty price tag of the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog. Hovering around the R5000 mark at the time of writing, this is a massive price to pay for “just a keyboard”. But this is where the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog really pulls out all the stops to justify the price. Giving you the premium build quality that has become synonymous with high-end Razer products. A splendid wrist rest that will be a staple feature for anyone who plans on using the keyboard for some work and typing between gaming. Wonderfully textured and double-shot keycaps and an impressive list of software features. Did I mention my favorite media controls…
An extremely large chunk of the price will naturally go towards the Analog switches which is great, but you need to be aware that, if your game of choice does not support the needed controller feature then many of the features that make the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog truly wonderful, might be lost until it is supported. So if you are sure that you will make full use of the wonderful optical analog switches then maybe steer clear. But for the advanced gamers among us, who know that they will make full use of the numerous and wonderful features that the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog and the Razer Synapse software brings to the party
The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog destroys what is expected from keyboard technology and moves the goalposts a good few meters further for all future keyboards. But it would be amazing if it did not destroy the wallet quite as much in the process.
special thanks to Apex Interactive for the review content