Razer is on the move again with the new Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition keyboard; it ditches the numpad and trims the original design down to a tight 36cm across. Making this keyboard portable – specifically for slipping it into a rucksack to take to competitive gaming tournaments – was the goal here, and Razer have achieved that with flying colors.
So, we’re essentially looking at a tenkeyless version of the original Huntsman (not the Huntsman Elite), and it utilises an improved version of Razer’s proprietary optical switches for incredible performance. At $130 / £130, does it live up to expectations? Let’s take a look.
(Image credit: Razer)
Switch type: Razer Linear Optical Switch
Switch durability: 100 million presses
Media keys: Integrated w/ function keys
Connection: Detachable USB-C to USB-A
Battery life: N/A
Dimensions: 5.5 x 17.3 x 1.3 inches
The key feature here is Razer’s linear optical key switches, which use light beams under every key to register input. This is ideal for a number of reasons, but it’s principally important for serious gamers who crave absolutely zero latency on keypresses. These optical switches can theoretically actuate at the speed of light.
The Tournament Edition of the Huntsman has the finest-tuned version of these switches yet, boasting a 1mm actuation point that only requires 40G of force to detect input. Since a light beam can’t wear down over time unlike electrical components, the Huntsman’s keys are only really limited by their springs; they’re rated for a stonking 100 million keystrokes, far better than the average mechanical keyboard. They’re also relatively quiet for mechanical keys, especially compared to others on our best gaming keyboard guide.
Besides its fancy switches, the Huntsman TE has a few other cool features. Onboard memory allows you to save lighting profiles directly to the keyboard, which you can activate via Razer’s Synapse software. The bottom row of keys (excluding the spacebar) are also uniformly sized, making it easy to swap in your own custom keycaps.
The Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition lacks the flab of other Huntsman keyboards; the design is clean and compact, with a metal upper plate and double-shot keycaps made from extra-durable thermoplastic. The keys have a pleasingly textured surface that feels resilient and keeps finger slips to a minimum.
Meanwhile, the USB-C power cable is detachable and braided, immediately marking the keyboard itself as a high-quality product. It connects in the upper-right corner of the keyboard, which is convenient for playing on cramped desktops. This is an eminently portable gaming keyboard as a result, easy to chuck in a bag for a train trip to a tournament (or just a friend’s house).
However, although this keyboard does have per-key addressable RGB, it falls somewhat flat. The lighting is fully customizable, but it’s quite dim and the color doesn’t pop; there’s very little illumination coming from underneath the keys, too. It makes sense given the more serious focus of the TE, but it just looks a bit unimpressive.
The Huntsman TE’s optical keys feel almost freakishly sensitive. In fact, I’ve never used a keyboard that feels as sensitive as this. It takes a bit of getting used to, but I quickly realized that not only was I playing better, but I was owning my mistakes. If you take too long to hit the button with this keyboard, there’s no blaming it on your switch actuation.
Obviously the TE excels in fast-paced shooters (it handled like a dream in Ubisoft’s new battle royale Hyper Scape), but it’s definitely viable for any game that requires quick reactions: racers, space sims, fighting games, you name it.
These optical linear switches are hot garbage for typing, though. I used the Huntsman TE for a week while working from home, both for gaming and typing, and mis-types were far higher than usual even as I became accustomed to the sensitivity. For regular use with a home desktop, the Huntsman TE is not ideal.
So: if you actually attend gaming tourneys on the regular, this is the keyboard for you. It’s small, but not too small; robust but still lightweight. The Razer Huntsman TE feels fantastic when used properly, and any linear key switch fans are going to want to try out these optical red stems. However, if you’re looking for something for typing a lot as well as gaming? Keep on stepping.
Yes, I still prefer the chunkier Huntsman Elite. Although the TE has slightly more sensitive key switches, the Elite’s feel just as snappy and the bigger keyboard retains features like dedicated media keys. However, the Elite is a lot more expensive; at this price, the Huntsman TE is good value for a high-end keyboard.