Technology has seen many trends relating to size. There was a time that everything went smaller and smaller. Phones became the size of pebbles. Then as tech evolved more size increased again, to the point where its tough to distinguish whether your phone is a tablet or your tablet is a phone…
PC hardware is no different, but as a general rule of thumb, bigger is better. Gaming keyboards were the keyboards that featured the most buttons and gadgets and even displays. Endless amounts of programmable keys and USB ports galore. With the increase in eSports and general competitive gaming to the masses so has the demand for more dedicated competitive keyboards. Queue the 60% keyboards!
For those who don’t know, a 60% keyboard takes the footprint of a standard 115key keyboard and cuts 40% of it reducing it to roughly ~65keys depending on the keyboard. This means that the Numpad and, usually, the arrow, scroll, delete etc keys will be removed or relocated and used in conjunction with a function key. Taking this approach really is a big gamble if you are Razer or any brand in this case. The 60% keyboard is very polarizing to the audience. If you are a gamer only, the Huntsman mini will be a pleasure to use as it will provide you will much more mousepad real-estate to fling your mouse around on as well as being easier to pick up and take to your next LAN event. On the flip side, for users who do not solely use they keyboard for gaming, productivity will take a knock, and even more so if you are someone who needs to enter numbers into fields often.
The Huntsman Elite, Razer’s flagship keyboard has a list of features that is difficult to envision fitting on to a keyboard. USB ports, media controls, volume dials, wrist rests, and the list continues. The Huntsman Mini, however, is a stripped-down, bare-bones version. Only sharing the name and optical switches from its feature-laden brother.
The Huntsman Mini is clearly targeted to take the fight to the Ducky One keyboards and boasting impressive dimensions of 30 x 10 x 3cm it is definitely placing itself firmly in the fight. The slightly raised keycaps allow for the Huntsman Mini’s RGB to really show its true ability. The keycaps themselves feel really solid and premium to touch and the cheeky font, when illuminated, looks really nice. For the more keen-eyed, there is a subtle Razer inscription on the lip of the keyboard, and no more bombastic illuminating Razer logo.
Looking to the bottom and the back of the Huntsman Mini, you will find the usual “For the Gamers by Gamers” pattern across the back. The braided USB C-type cable, which is also interchangeable with other type-C, slots perfectly and clips in and out with ease, without feeling flimsy or like it might disconnect and the slightest tug. There are also two sets of feet to raise the keyboard, 6- or 9 degrees respectively.
So you have the Razer Huntsman Mini but now you need to use your arrow keys or the delete key, what do you do? Luckily Razer was merciful and provided for a Function key ( Fn) and adequate amount of side-printed functions. These keys can easily be seen from a seated position and when the Fn key is pressed all illumination will be killed off and the function-binded keys will light up in white. Apart from these keys you can do other things like changing preset RGB effects, do macro-binding or even use media keys using the Fn key.
Gaming and features
The biggest appeal of the Huntsman mini, apart from the size, would be the Purple optical switches. For those who don’t know the difference between Optical and mechanical, mechanical uses a mechanism to move the keycap down and activate a microswitch that is placed under the keycap. Optical switches have a stem attached to the bottom of the keycap that, when pressed, will interrupt a light source. This break in the light will then indicate a keypress, essentially making the response time, the speed of light.
When typing the optical switches, even though not mechanical, still give you a pleasant sound and resistance. Just enough to give a sense of confidence when pressing but not too much to make it a pain. The biggest pain with 60%’ers is to use some of the keys that are readily available on normal keyboards, you need to use the Fn key, so as mentioned before using the Huntsman mini for writing and office work could be a little more cumbersome.
Moving to gaming, like what the Huntsman mini was intended for, it is fantastic. For the first time, I have enough space on my desk to try turning my keyboard more towards the vertical orientation as many pro’s do. The new orientation does a lot for comfort and I would recommend it to most. Something that I had to get used to is the short travel of the keys, (3.5mm) this had me moving sooner than anticipated and often losing gunfights while playing Rainbow Six Siege. This has become a normal situation by reviewing peripherals and getting used to new mice and keys regularly.
The happy-medium of firm, yet soft, when it came to keypresses was greatly appreciated while playing Escape from Tarkov where the slightest accidental keypress can be the end of your raid. Resting fingers on keys have often had me blowing my team, or myself, up with accidentally thrown grenades. The Huntsman Mini keys are firm enough to provide rest for weary fingers without causing unpleasantries ingame.
The Razer Huntsman Mini uses the same software as all the other mice and keyboards, Razer Synapse, is a rather simple to use software allowing you to tweak everything possible on the hardware. But, seeing as the Huntsman mini is aimed at esports, Synapse is not needed for everything. Although small, the Huntsman mini has space for 5 onboard profiles which include keybinds and RGB settings.
The Razer Huntsman Mini is the first 60% keyboard the brand has released, and it is a successful one. The Huntsman Mini feels very premium with its optical clicky switches and double-shot keycaps. Although pricey, the feel of ease and confidence when pressing down on the keys make the price tag seem as little of a concern as that last enemy you shot.
If optical switches are what you are after, and a 60%’er is something you are considering, the Razer Huntsman Mini is a no-brainer!
Special thanks to Apex Interactive for supplying the hardware