Razer’s Huntsman V2 Is One of the Quietest, Softest Mechanical Gaming Keyboards I’ve Ever Used

Razer’s Huntsman V2 Is One of the Quietest, Softest Mechanical Gaming Keyboards I’ve Ever Used
This is one of the quietest mechanical keyboards I've ever used — and it's a gaming keyboard! (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)

When I reviewed the first-generation Razer Huntsman Elite, I liked its overt gamer look and was even a fan of the wraparound RGB lighting on the wrist-rest. But it had its drawbacks, too. It took up a ton of space on my desk, and while its purple optomechanical switches were comfortable to type on, they emitted a loud noise with every keypress.

Razer took the lessons from that first-generation model to refine the Razer Huntsman V2. Razer cut down on the overt lighting, thinning the keyboard’s frame in the process and adding sound dampening foam to cushion each key. The result is a buttery smooth typing experience that I never thought possible with a gaming keyboard.

Razer Huntsman V2

WHAT IS IT

A mechanical gaming keyboard

PRICE

$259.95 to $344.95

LIKE

Soft and comfortable Linear Red switches, pared-down RGB lighting, only takes up one USB port

Goodbye, Underglow

Razer didn’t do much to change the design of the Hunstman V2. It’s ostensibly the same giant, gamer-centric keyboard as the Huntsman Elite. The full-sized version of the V2 comes with Razer’s Clicky Purple optical switches for $324.95, or the second-generation Linear Red for $344.95, the latter of which contributed to my pleasurable typing experience. The Huntsman V2 TKL version comes with the same options for $259.95 and $279.95, respectively.

The Razer Huntsman V2 is still a massive behemoth of a gaming keyboard, so prepare to make space for it.  (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo) The Razer Huntsman V2 is still a massive behemoth of a gaming keyboard, so prepare to make space for it. (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)

If you’ve seen or used the Razer Huntsman Elite, the first difference you’ll notice with the V2 is that there’s no more underglow. Razer limited the Chroma RGB to the keycaps and as background flair on the four media buttons on the right side. I prefer this, and I think most adult gamers with money to spend would, too. The wrist rest has also had its lights removed in favour of softer leather. Magnets keep it in place on the bottom of the keyboard.

Razer improved the keycaps it includes with the keyboard right out of the box. The Huntsman V2 has textured Doubleshot PBT Keycaps, compared to the Huntsman Elite’s spraypainted ABS keycaps, which felt chintzy and cheap. Razer also standardised the bottom row of the keyboard this time around so that you can swap out keycaps as you please more easily, perhaps with the help of Razer’s own colourful PBT keycap upgrade sets.

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Like its predecessor, the Razer Huntsman V2 has media controls on the right side, complete with a slimmed-down volume control knob.

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

The keycaps are Doubleshot PBT rather than cheaper-feeling ABS.

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

The wrist rest is much cushier this time around.

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Razer removed the wrap-around RGB lighting for a more sophisticated look.

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

You can customise the RBG lights for every key on the board, however, including the media controls.

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

My favourite tweak to the Huntsman V2 is that there’s no longer a thick cable taking up two ports on my already scarce laptop dock. Razer did away with the USB passthrough, and the cable now requires only a singular port to power up.

Buttery-Soft Switches

Razer has clearly been prioritising the mechanical keyboard-using crowd, and it’s no more evident than in how the company has been refining its switches. I am typically a Cherry MX/Gateron Brown user because I prefer a quieter typing experience, but the second-generation Linear Red switches are pretty good. The switches aren’t bouncy, but they don’t feel mushy either. I can tell there’s sound-dampening foam between the keycap and when I bottom out on the keypress because there’s still a resounding “click” after pressing each key. That soft landing makes it so that my fingers aren’t fatigued by the end of the day from bouncing around, which I’ve felt before typing with the Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini Wireless, the last mechanical keyboard I reviewed from the company.

Razer's Linear Red optical switches offer a quiet, soft typing experience.  (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo) Razer’s Linear Red optical switches offer a quiet, soft typing experience. (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)

Unfortunately, the comfortable typing experience did not translate into a fast one. In my line of work, I need to be quick. My typing test ranked me at 105 words per minute (WPM), which is generally higher than the average person, but not when compared to the 111 WPM I managed with the HyperX Alloy Origins I reviewed last summer, which is about the same size in terms of length as the Huntsman V2. There is a bit of drag with every keypress — like stepping in thick mud that takes a second to let go of your shoe when you pick your foot up. That leads to a sinking effect as my fingers travel across the board.

I prefer my typing to be slower than jumpy, however. Ultimately, keyboards are subjective because everyone has their preferences and needs when it comes to typing. At the very least, the Razer Huntsman V2 remains one of the quietest mechanical keyboards in my arsenal.

Beware the Synapse Software

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo, In-House Art

The reason you’d buy a mechanical gaming keyboard is not only for the hardware tailormade for your esports experience, but also for the bundled software that enables lighting effects and macro recording. The lighting effects are a neat way to customise the keyboard to your liking. You can browse through different gaming profiles to enable macros specific to that title — something I am most definitely going to do once that 10th anniversary edition of Skyrim hits.

I use the Razer Synapse software nearly every day in my use of the BlackWidow V3 Mini wireless keyboard, and it’s not the most friendly app if you’re operating on an older PC. Synapse was part of the mechanical keyboard software exploit a while back, which isn’t great! On the plus side, to help combat the bloat that often comes with this software, Razer has limited how many of its “modules” it automatically downloads when you install the software. If you don’t care about the Chroma Studio and customising the light of each key, you can leave it up in Razer’s cloud.

The Razer Huntsman V2 is a worthy buy if you're trying to keep quiet while gaming away in your cave.  (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo) The Razer Huntsman V2 is a worthy buy if you’re trying to keep quiet while gaming away in your cave. (Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo)

Mechanical gaming keyboards have become hugely popular in the last few years, helped by the keyboard customisation community, which found new ways to achieve typing nirvana through independently-made switches and group buys. Seeing what it’s up against, Razer seems to be working on making its product lineup a little more sophisticated for those willing to drop this kind of cash on their daily typing habit. But if you’re content with the keyboard you have on hand, and there’s no need to spend the $300 for the new Razer Huntsman V2.

Unless, of course, you’re driving everyone up the wall with your loud typing — then Razer’s Linear Red switches may be the only thing that keeps your loved ones and coworkers from hating you.