When Razer reached out to see if I’d be interested in reviewing its new Huntsman Mini Analog mechanical keyboard, I was at a bit of a crossroads. The HyperX Alloy Origins Core I’d been using since completing a previous review was solid, but it also had Cherry Brown switches. Every keystroke created a huge amount of noise and when I was writing or in the middle of a busy game, it was absolutely deafening.
Wait, what the hell is a 60% keyboard?
The Razer Huntsman Mini Analog is a 60% gaming keyboard. What that means is it’s very small, smaller than a tenkeyless. A tenkeyless keyboard is when the keyboard drops the number pad off the right-hand side of the board so that it ends at the arrow keys. A 60% keyboard goes smaller again, lopping off everything east of the enter key.
I’m one of those lunatics that use one keyboard for just about everything. People in the office hate that I use mechanical boards for writing. They flinch and duck when I type as though I’ve fired a gun.
This little keyboard made me realise how often I use the arrow keys on any given day. In my first week with the Huntsman Mini Analog, I felt like I had a phantom limb. I kept reaching for the arrows as well as the home, end, pg up and pg down keys, knowing full well they were not there.
Here’s the thing though: after just a few weeks of using the Huntsman Mini Analog, I’ve gotten used to not having arrow keys. Quick movements of the mouse have replaced the arrow keys’ rapid cursor adjustments. It’s not as precise as the arrow keys, but I’ve gotten used to doing it this way. When I came into the office this week and forgot to bring it with me, I broke a full-size Logitech out of the spares cupboard. Within five minutes, I caught myself using the mouse in place of the arrow keys. Not only did I have to remind myself that they were there, they now felt thorough weird to use.
There’s now a sense of growing dread that this keyboard has stuffed me beyond repair. It’s changed how I write for the worse, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to put it right later.
In my experience, a product review rarely provokes a full-blown existential crisis, but here we are.
The thing is, the missing keys do still exist, they’re just bound as secondary functions on other keys. The arrow keys, for instance, are on J, K, L, and I. To use them requires pressing the Fn key on the lower right. This means, that if you’re using the board outside of gaming, you’re probably going to spend a lot of time with your right pinkie on the Fn key. It turns the basic operation of the keyboard into a dexterity exercise.
Of course, if you aren’t using the board for day-to-day activities the way I am, I doubt any of this will be a hassle. When used purely for gaming, the Huntsman Mini Analog does everything it needs to in a compact little package. It’s only when you need it to stretch beyond gaming that it starts to get a bit hairy.
What do they mean by Analog, exactly?
So, ok, let’s talk about what it’s like for gaming.
The ‘Analog’ part of the Huntsman Mini Analog comes from the fact that it uses Razer’s new analog optical switches. These switches have all the responsiveness of a Cherry, but without the crisp clacking sound that pierces microphone noise gates everywhere. Instead, they produce a dull thwack as the bottom of each key strikes the board base. I can actually hear the office sighing with relief because there is no clackety gunfire keyboard noise drowning them out.
The board itself is in Razer’s preferred matte black with RGB backlights to accentuate each key. When pressing the Fn key, these backlights will change to a secondary colour as a tell.
Beyond that, this is a fairly standard Razer board. It comes in matte black and is powered by USB-C. The actuation point sits quite high and keystrokes record an input with very little pressure. If you’re looking for a board that is nimble but still provides some keystroke feedback mid-game, this is a good option. I will say that the sound of the keys striking the board was still sharp enough to break through the noise gate on my Blue Yeti X, but not to the extent that my Cherry Brown HyperX would.
The Razer Huntsman Mini Analog is an interesting little board. If what you want are rapid response times and instant feedback, this board will provide that and save you some space on the desk. But moving to a 60% board comes at the price of relearning the layout, and it may lead to a bit of confusion if swapping boards. Despite the cognitive dissonance it created within me, a shattering of my relationship with PC inputs that reverberates through me still, it is nevertheless my favourite of Razer’s modern boards.
Where to buy the Razer Huntsman Mini Analog?