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These unique switches are amazing

Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

The office may hate me, but Razer's new Huntsman Elite keyboard feels so good that I'm ready to endure the lightning for all the noise I make , It feels a little silly to say what the expensive keyboard that habits with me collects. Razer keyboards, however, never come into the collection. For me, Razer is too mainstream and often seems to forego quality and pin-up experience for gamer aesthetics and flashing lights. The former is still very obvious in the $ 200 Hunstman Elite, but it has now been paired with some of my favorite keyboard switches I've entered. These switches are so good that I can overlook a lot.


What is it?

A really nice keyboard for players and typists.


The optomechanical key switches are simply charming.

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It looks like a nerdy greasy gamer keyboard.

They are a new kind of switch that Razer calls opto-mechanical. Mechanically, because they are essentially mechanical switches – especially a click-like type reminiscent of the Cherry Blue or Alps switch. That is, they are loud and not very office friendly. The difference between these mechanical switches and the previous mechanical switches from Razer lies in the "opto" part of the name. They use optical technology – in this case infrared light rays – to detect the actuation.

Actuation occurs when the key switch detects that it has been pressed. It's different than traveling – that's the distance a key needs to reach the underlying strike plate. The operation is usually just over half the distance traveled. Thus, a mechanical key switch will "pierce" from a distance of slightly more than 4 mm and, on average, introduce about 2 mm into a press. Tactile keyswitches lightly signal this actuation point to your fingers as you press the button. Clicky buttons like Cherry Blues, Razer Green and Alps add a click. You hear the click, so you know that the keystroke has been signaled and you continue. That's why click buttons are so popular despite their noise.

The Razer "Opto-Mechanical" switch. It is much nicer than his name.
Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)
The interior of the opto-mechanical switch.
GIF: Razer

These "opto-mechanical" switches were developed, according to Razer, to have a much shorter operating distance. Only 1.5 mm. Razer claims it is the shortest travel distance in a key switch. That's true when compared to Razer's current switches and the range of Cherry switches found in mechanical keyboards at most major manufacturers. It's the shortest point on a keyboard that you can buy at Best Buy, and definitely the shortest trigger point a keyboard from a company you already heard of.

Animation of how most click switches work.
GIF: Gizmodo

But it is not the shortest. This claim belongs to a series of "speed" switches of the Chinese company Kailh. Kailh first started making Cherry clones before expanding into his own series of switches, and his copper, silver and bronze switches all have a pitch of only 1.1mm.

How I happen to have a keyboard with Kailh I decided to play with them to see if I could make a significant difference between Razer's posh counter and Kailh's.

And I did it! Not when it comes to the speed of the two switches. It turns out, if you're a heavy typist like me, that .4mm difference will not be very noticeable. If I have both keyboards in front of me and press the keys at the same time, keeping my eyes closed to focus on the feeling that my fingertips are feeling, then I can feel that a little faster with the Kailh switch.

The lighting on the wrist rest is a nice touch.
Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

But if my fingers fly over the keys, like me, say, write keyboard checks, the .4mm difference is just not that obvious. Obviously, the pleasant sound of the Huntsman Elite key. This thing sounds good, as I am not used to from a cherry counter or one of its many derivatives. Instead it sounds very much like my old Alps keyboard. Alpine keys are known for this "ping", which follows the click of a button. This ping is like an acoustic flashback for a typist. Suddenly, you're in front of a keyboard that's really built for eternity – like a typewriter, an 80's IBM keyboard, or the first really good old-school Mac keyboard. The opto-mechanical switches in the Huntsman Elite feel essentially in a way I'm not used to in a gaming keyboard – even a $ 200.

But there is something that keeps me from recommending this keyboard to people who just want a dream machine to type. With all the joy I bring to the Huntsman Elite switches, I get the same amount of secondhand shame from the thing's appearance. It will not look good on an Instagram photo next to your coffee and MacBook Pro. It is built for the dark cave of a player. There is RGB lighting not only in each switch, but also on the edge of the keyboard and the supplied leather palm rest. It looks good when RGB light and a very black keyboard are your preference – and I really love the glowing volume wheel.

This is after only a few weeks of use!

It just looks so greasy y "All."


But this man is not my bag. I especially hate the keycaps. They become smooth and greasy and look incredibly fast. This means that your keyboard will be guaranteed to be uncomfortable within a few weeks of purchase. Big!

At least the caps can be replaced with any Cherry-compatible cap. It's not the end of the world, but it reminds more than anything else why Razer keyboards – even truly spectacular ones like the Huntsman Elite – are not thrilled in the keyboard community . They still feel like a product for dark rooms where the only light comes from a monitor and the keys themselves. Keys that are as beautiful as these deserve a keyboard that can show their face in public.

The media control is lovely.
Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

If you're a player, this is a no jester. Buy the $ 200 Huntsman Elite or the $ 150 Huntsman (it does not include the media control, lighting around the edge of the board, or the palm rest). This keyboard is really darn nice to type and play, and will work well with the high-end hardware designed for gamers. But if you're like me and have trouble getting past this greasy black keyboard with RGB light, then you'll have to go through it.


  • The switches may have a silly name, but Razer's new opto-mechanical key switches are really darn good at typing.
  • The media controls and the glowing edge of the Huntsman Elite keyboard are a nice touch.
  • The palm rest is very soft.
  • The keycaps turn greasy fast, which means that your keyboard looks evil and is used quickly.

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