Blog » ForemostList Reviews » Razer Huntsman V2 Analog Optical Gaming Keyboard Review 2021

Razer Huntsman V2 Analog Optical Gaming Keyboard Review 2021

The $249.99 Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is a textbook example of the “flagship keyboard.” It’s big. It’s flashy. It has luxurious bells and whistles. Its highlight, though, is the keyboard’s namesake feature: Razer’s Analog Optical switches. They let you adjust the point where keys send signals to your computer, plus recreate the “half-press” functionality found in gamepads. In the past, Razer’s put some of those features into the Tartarus Pro keypad and other niche devices, but the V2 Analog adds new tricks, and brings the ideas front and center. We’re still not sold on using a gaming keyboard to emulate a gamepad, but the extra customization options have many, cool uses. Overall, the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is an excellent keyboard and an Editors’ Choice pick.

A Big Day for Analog

The Huntsman V2 Analog is sleek for a mammoth, full-size keyboard. Despite measuring 1.81 by 17.45 by 5.5 inches (HWD), or 1.81 by 17.45 by 9.03 inches (HWD) with its magnetically attached wrist rest, the black-on-black chassis has a streamlined body. The compact key grouping, which lets narrow, RGB light shafts emanate from the gaps between them, makes the keyboard appear svelte, despite it taking up a significant amount of desk real estate.

The Huntsman V2 Analog’s wrist rest has received a substantial upgrade. The thicker, bezel-less design looks better than previous version’s build, and makes it easier to find a comfortable typing position. (No more sharp edges jabbing into your wrist!) The magnetic mechanism that connects to the wrist rest now features wireless charging contacts that power an RGB light edge that runs around the keyboard’s base. The RGB “underglow” rim has become popular in the past year, but Razer is the first company I’ve seen incorporate the feature into an included wrist rest, ensuring that the glow never goes away.

Razer Huntsman V2 RGB underglow

In many ways, the V2 Analog looks like a typical Razer Huntsman keyboard. In the top right corner, you have the same media controls as the last few top-of-the-line Razer keyboards: A set of round, dedicated media buttons, and a clickable volume wheel with an exposed edge for easy turning. The V2 Analog swaps in Razer’s PBT doubleshot keycaps that were first released in the Huntsman Mini, but they’re functionally the same as previous Razer keyboards (though they’ll last longer). Razer’s biggest, baddest keyboards—the Huntsmans and the BlackWidows—carry a universal look, and the V2 Analog follows that design decision. There’s nothing wrong with that; the V2 Analog looks and feels great.

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The Huntsman V2 Analog’s enhancements lie under the hood. While they aren’t new, Razer’s Analog Optical switches have gone from an experimental keypad concept to being the centerpiece of Razer’s top-of-the-line keyboard. For the uninitiated, pushing the linear-style, optical switch uncovers a beam of light that completes a circuit and actuates the input. According to many companies, optical switches are more durable than mechanical switches, but that’s not what makes them special. The V2 Analog features numerous, advanced, actuation-focused customizations that theoretically give you more fine-tuned controls.

Razer Huntsman V2 media keys

As its name suggests, the V2 Analog’s optical switches let you simulate the control gradient that you’d get from a gamepad’s analog stick. It works by detecting the difference between a half press and full press. The most popular example, and the thing that Razer and other companies have been chasing for years, is the ability to simulate the experience of using an analog stick to walk in third-person action games, such as Assassin’s Creed or Grand Theft Auto. For example, you press a movement key down halfway to walk, or all the way down to run. In Synapse, Razer’s configuration app, you literally have the ability to assign Xbox-style gamepad inputs to your keys, which forces games to read the keyboard as a controller.

Though it’s a neat idea in theory, I’ve always found this particular pursuit pointless, and the V2 Analog hasn’t changed my mind. It technically works, but you don’t have the same level of 360-degree control as you’d have with a gamepad. There are some games where you want a mouse and keys, and some games where you want a controller. This doesn’t change that.

As with the Tartarus Pro, the Huntsman V2 Analog supports dual actuation at any time, not just when you simulate a controller input. Dual actuation is essentially a more freeform version of the simulated gamepad analog stick inputs. You can assign two inputs to a single key—one that triggers when you press the key part-way down, and a second that triggers when you push the key all the way down. It can be useful in specific instances when you have two related game actions, or two inputs where one always follows the other. For example, you can set a dual-crouch in Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War that lets you go prone with a half press, then move up to crouch with a full press.

Razer Huntsman V2 side profile

Though it gives you the capacity for incredible customization and efficiency, dual actuation is a niche feature. It requires more consideration and planning than standard keymapping: Generally, you want the half-press function to feed into the full-press one. If they’re unrelated, one often overrides the other. The commands must be created on a game-by-game basis, and making one that fits well with how you play requires a fair amount of knowledge about the game in question. It’s a master-level consideration for power users who are true tinkerers.

I’m more partial to the V2 Analog’s new, adjustable actuation functionality. Using Synapse, you can adjust how far down the keys need to be pushed before they actuate and send an input. By default, the keys actuate at 2mm and max out at 3.6mm, which is a slightly lower profile than the Cherry Red linear or Razer Orange tactile switches. That said, you can give the keys a hair trigger—as little as 1.5mm to register—or force yourself to fully press every key.

You can also give different keys different actuation levels, so if you want to feather the movement keys to stay nimble, but force yourself to press hard on a key that does something you never want to accidentally press (like your ultimate ability in Overwatch). Setting aside its game-specific applications, adjustable actuation is a rare opportunity for you to explore what you want from keyboard switches. Most of the time, you’re forced to choose a specific switch with specific specs; adjustable actuation lets you experiment with what works for you.

Razer Huntsman V2

It’s worth pointing out that Razer isn’t the first company to come up with this idea. Two years ago, SteelSeries added an arguably more in-depth version in its Apex Pro keyboard. Still, Razer implements adjustable actuation well, and it absolutely sets the keyboard apart from the pack.

Though the switches are the main attraction, it’s worth noting that the V2 Analog has smaller features that have also received upgrades. For example, the V2 Analog features a rare, USB 3.0 passthrough port on its left side—most passthrough ports are USB 2.0. It comes at slight cost, though: Both the primary keyboard cable and the passthrough cable now require USB 3.0 for full functionality. Depending on your system, it may help that the primary cable is now USB Type C (though it is compatible with USB-A via an included adapter). I appreciate the upgraded ports in theory, but I feel put upon by them in practice. My PC has one USB-C port, and a limited number of USB 3.0 ports, so giving up two ports, even if I’m actually just moving one up to my keyboard, doesn’t feel as freeing as it should.

Razer Synapse keyboard software

Too Many Synapses Firing

The Huntsman V2 Analog relies on Razer’s configuration app, Synapse, for customization and software-based control. In the V2 Analog’s case, that means actuation-related configurations, general keymapping, macros creation, and RGB lighting customization.

As you might expect given the longwinded explanation, customizing the Huntsman V2 Analog gets complicated. Every key has more options to tinker with than usual. For example, you can make the keyboard mirror a gamepad or arcade-style joystick. Even if you simply want to set a standard keyboard function, you’re asked to set actuation, a custom release, and potentially add a secondary function. That’s on top of all the usual custom functionality Razer usually offers, like adding mouse inputs, Windows shortcuts, or a Hypershift key that lets you create a new set of custom hotkeys.

Razer does its best to make the system navigable. The UI flows somewhat intuitively, though it can be easy to miss the thing you’re looking for with so many options. There are also small question marks next to the actuation-related options to remind you what they do, so you won’t need to reference this review as a refresher every time you want to tweak something. Still, there could be more. Again, setting dual actuation keys isn’t an intuitive process, and there isn’t a great way to test the keys other than going out and testing them. If you love to optimize, this is your keyboard. If you don’t, the process may feel like a chore.

I generally like Synapse quite a bit, and the Huntsman V2 Analog’s configuration scheme seems as concise as it can be within its framework. With the ability to store five keyboard profiles in onboard memory, and as many as you need locally, the keyboard is prepared to handle your many customizations.

Razer Huntsman V2 wrist rest detached

Tinker Toy

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that the Huntsman V2 Analog, Razer’s flagship keyboard, is expensive. At $249.99, it’s up there with the Corsair K100 RGB and Logitech G915 Lightspeed as one of the priciest gaming keyboards we’ve reviewed. As a result, you may wonder if the keyboard is worth the price. It is, even if you’re not thrilled about creating dual-function keyboard profiles for every game you play.

There’s a lot to love about the Huntsman V2 Analog, from its deep customization options to its USB 3.0 passthrough functionality. It’s got everything you need from a traditional, flagship gaming keyboard. It also has extra features aimed at tinkerers. For its versatility, the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog flies high as an Editors’ Choice pick.

Razer Huntsman V2 Analog Optical Gaming Keyboard

Pros

  • Razer Analog Optical switches offer fine-tuned controls

  • Adjustable key triggers give you more customization options

  • Customizable media controls

  • USB 3.0 passthrough

  • Detachable wrist rest with RGB lighting

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The Bottom Line

The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog, a juggernaut of a gaming keyboard, offers numerous key customizations that replicate using a gamepad’s analog sticks. If you’re a tinkerer, it’ll be your new, favorite input device.

Razer Huntsman V2 Analog Optical Gaming Keyboard Specs

Number of Keys 108
Interface USB-C
Key Switch Type Razer Analog Optical
Key Backlighting RGB Per-Key
Media Controls Dedicated
Dedicated Shortcut Keys No
Onboard Profile Storage Yes
N-Key Rollover Support Yes
Passthrough Ports USB
Palm Rest Detachable (Magnetic)

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