Let’s set aside the odd name for a Razer keyboard–the Huntsman–and focus on the fact that the company finally announced its optical switch keyboards bearing the Razer Purple Optomechanical switch.
Razer has been teasing this thing since August 2017–or rather, it’s been teasing the “optomechanical” Purple switches since then. As soon as the Purple switches leaked out, astute keyboard nerds noted that they bore an uncanny resemblance to the latest Bloody (A4tech) Lightstrike switches. That’s because A4tech is the OEM for these switches, just like Kaihua and Greetech manufacture Razer’s other mechanical switches. And like those other switches, the Purples aren’t exact clones of their manufacturer’s switches; they’re built to Razer’s specifications.
I don’t have enough data to determine what exactly is substantively different about Razer Purple switches from Bloody Lightstrike, but we do have a handy pseudo force curve for the Purple ones from Razer:
These are quite light switches at 45g actuation, and the short actuation point (1.5mm) and total travel (3.5mm) will make them feel speedy under your fingers. It’s funny. Those specs are nearly identical to Logitech’s Romer-G tactile switches, although the latter have a total travel of 3.2mm instead of 3.5mm. But hey, what’s 0.3mm between friends, err, competitors? They even (appear to) have similar pressure points; Romer-Gs are 50g, and looking at Razer’s force curve (which is approximate, of course), the Purple switches are the same. The actuation and reset points are at the same point, on both of those switches, too.
The Razer Purple switches are also designed such that the click and the actuation point are one and the same.
And, of course, these are optical switches, so there’s no metal contact. Razer and Bloody will both proclaim very loudly that this means they’re faster than other switches.
Who is Hunting the Huntsman?
The Purple Optomechanical switches are debuting right this very moment on a pair of Razer keyboards, the Huntsman and the Huntsman Elite. Both have full-size layouts, but there some other key differences.
The Huntsman looks fairly stripped-down. It’s a simple, solid black chassis with a minimal bezel. It has an aluminum top plate and floating key design, and no dedicated keys, but of course there’s RGB backlighting. Razer loooooves its RGB, and in fact its Synapse 3 software is debuting alongside these keyboards.
In structure, the Huntsman and Huntsman Elite look about the same. I suspect they have the same chassis. The Huntsman Elite, though, has RGB underglow all around its base and a magnetic wrist rest borrowed from the Razer Ornata. It uses Pogo pins, which Razer cryptically said could be used for expandability down the line. (I am intrigued by this statement. If it’s an RGB cupholder that actually cools or warms my beverage, I’m in.)
Other features include a hybrid onboard and cloud-connected memory/storage situation for macros and keybindings, 10KRO, and Razer Hypershift (which functions like the Fn key often does, to unlock another layer of keys.)
The wrist rest also has RGB lighting all the way ‘round, completing a bright and peppy racing stripe sort of thing. Razer told me that when you add up all the LEDs, including the 24 in the wrist rest and 38 around the edge of the keyboard, there are 168 customizable lighting zones on the Huntsman Elite.
In addition to the extra glam and the wrist rest, the Elite differs from the Huntsman in that the former has a snazzy “multifunctional digital dial” and three additional dedicated media buttons. The buttons get you the standard play/pause, forward, and back, and the big button in the middle of the dial mutes the sound. Razer said that you can use the dial to control other multimedia, like zooming in/out of photos and such.
The Razer Huntsman is available now for $149. Another fifty bucks gets you the Huntsman Elite with the snazzy and mysteriously future-looking wrist rest, the dedicated media buttons, and the dial o’ fun.