Gaming keyboards are starting to look and feel very similar. Matte black chassis, LED lighting and advanced customization suites are pretty much standard. To distinguish themselves new arrivals have had pack more features into their decks and Razer’s no exception, adding things like waterproofing and even building its own key switches. The latter not only reduces its dependency on outside companies like Cherry for parts, but it also lets the company customize its products for different users’ needs: Some of its keys give you a bit of kick when you press them while others are smooth, and you can also choose between clicky and silent.
But the keys were always mechanical, because that’s the gold standard for a responsive keyboard. Now Razer’s decided to go in a different direction with its newest keyboards, the Huntsman and Huntsman Elite. These two new decks still have some mechanical parts, but now they’re combined with an optical sensor that Razer feels will make this new deck even more responsive.
Razer calls them “opto-mechanical” keys. What that means is that they’re still largely mechanical on top with purple plastic bits and a metal hinge, but the point of actuation down below — the part where the signal gets sent to your computer — is a beam of light. Pressing the key down blocks that beam, indicating to your computer that a button has been pressed. In theory, not having to wait for some kind of physical activation should make it faster than standard mechanical switches, but honestly, I didn’t notice the difference.
I still had to push the key down until I felt a click and saw the keypress register, unlike Corsair’s K70 Rapidfire and its Cherry MX Speed keys, which I sometimes found myself accidentally activating if my fingers or palm brushed over a key a little too heavily. Razer promises a 1.5mm actuation in comparison to the Rapidfire’s 1.2mm actuation, but in the middle of a tense match you probably aren’t being so delicate you’d notice the 0.3mm difference.
One difference you’ll definitely notice is the clicks and clacks of the Huntsman. It’s loud. Some noise is to be expected, of course, because it still employs some mechanical bits. But there’s a distinct difference from Razer’s green “tactile and clicky” keys that’s somewhat grating. The green keys give a quick snap when depressed, with a slight jiggle if you listen closely. …read more