Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition TKL Gaming Keyboard Review
Too loud, too fast, too janky?
On paper, the Razer Huntsman TE does everything right. It has fast linear optical switches, perfect for near-instantaneous responsiveness in games. It has a sleek design complete with Razer Chroma RGB integration. And it has durable PBT keycaps included by default, something that many other companies still charge extra for.
What could go wrong? Pretty much everything, it turns out.
Note: I bought this keyboard at Best Buy. I don’t get a kickback if you decide to buy one, and none of the links in this article are affiliate links. You can read my reviews policy right here.
The Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition sells for $129.99 (official site here), and regularly goes on sale. I found it for just over $100. At that price, it has a great feature set. It has Razer’s Linear Optical switches, a detachable USB-C cable with an interlocking connection, and strong PBT keycaps. The build uses an all-plastic base with a thin aluminum plate on top.
Like the Razer Huntsman Mini, the Huntsman TE has a few basic lighting profiles built-in that don’t require Razer’s software. However, to have full control over all the functions of the keyboard, and access to advanced custom lighting effects and direct in-game support, you’ll need to install Razer Synapse. Keep that in mind if you’re averse to extra software.
Razer isn’t kidding when they say that this keyboard is fast. The keys here have the fastest, lightest response of any keyboard I’ve ever used. It feels like they’ll actuate if I breathe on them, and in typing tests I regularly had mistypes even after a month of solid use.
The keys are feather-light and require almost no force to use. Just resting your hands on the keys during a game might accidentally trigger an undesired press. I’m not even joking. If you need the most intensely fast keyboard on the market this should be on your list.
For gaming, this ludicrous speed and response is wonderful. It lowers the barrier between player and game, and if you get adjusted to using this keyboard it will likely improve your play. Unfortunately, that all comes at the cost of a miserable typing experience. The actuation point is very near the top of the key travel, and the light smooth keys are hard to type on without bottoming out, so you don’t really get the same level of control when typing text as when gaming.
And overall accuracy is so difficult. I’m a decently fast typist, averaging over 90 words per minute depending on the keyboard, but on this board my speeds shot down because I kept having to go back and make corrections when I’d gently brush the wrong key or accidentally press one twice even though it felt like I’d only pressed it one time.
This is the most rattling, loud, nightmare-sounding linear keyboard I’ve ever used. Each Razer Optical switch has its own dedicated metal stabilizer bar on it. This is great for ensuring all those quick key presses during games, but miserable for the sound of the keyboard. Picking it up and giving it a gentle shake emits a loud clanking rattle from every key, and that translates into the typing experience as well.
The keyboard is louder than many I’ve tested with full clicky switches inside, and not a great-sounding loud either. It’s a hard, chunky, metallic sounding keyboard unless you train your fingers to perfectly hover and only gently press each key till the actuation point. The metal top plate is great for durability, but terrible for sound dampening. Also, there doesn’t seem to be any damping material inside the keyboard’s frame.
That means on each key press you’ll hear a clack from the metal top plate, a clack from the hollow plastic base, a clack from the rattling stabilizer bar, and a clack from the strong shell of the PBT keycap. I saw some other reviews mention this when the keyboard first launched, but it truly has to be experienced to be believed.
The board has performance in spades. But the sound means that if anyone else is nearby they’re going to hear it and not love that you’re using it.
The PBT keycaps are a great touch in spite of the extra noise, and the doubleshot legends let a decent amount of the RGB light through…although you’ll probably notice some molding marks in the way of the letters on certain keys. The backplate is painted in a matte black color instead of the white used on some modern boards, so the lighting is fairly muted compared to the rest of the market and indeed the rest of Razer’s keyboards. The lights themselves also don’t seem all that bright even on max brightness, so this is a keyboard to buy for its insane speed first and its aesthetics second.
I like that it uses a USB-C plug, but the connector itself is thick and has a notch on it that locks it into the board, which seems unnecessary. Fortunately, the plug area is wide enough that you shouldn’t have a problem using a different cable if you want to.
The back of the keyboard has sturdy adjustable feet if you’d like to angle the board, and a nice textured Razer logo finish. The top is surprisingly free of obvious branding outside a simple printed Razer logo, which almost made me miss when Razer’s boards had their light-up snake logo at the bottom.
I loved this keyboard when I first got it, but the more I’ve used it over the last month as my main keyboard, the more I’ve grown to loathe it. It does indeed have some of the fastest-performing switches on the market today, but for every moment where that felt like an awesome advantage, I’d have another where I accidentally pressed a key I didn’t want to seemingly just by looking at it. It’s like a wound-up beast that’s so excited for you to press a key…and it’s so loud.
I get that Razer was trying to do something different with their key stabilizers, and they succeeded in making a very loud keyboard. The inclusion of PBT by default is arguably something that every gaming manufacturer should look into…but they would also probably do some testing and discover that they should take steps to quiet their boards down a little bit.
Linear keyboards are supposed to present a quieter, smoother option for those that don’t want to scare the whole house every time they type or game. The Razer Huntsman TE throws out those advantages in favor of raw speed and loud clanking noises. At a certain point, the returns from having a fast key press completely diminish. This keyboard sits right at that point.
I’d rather have a less feature-packed board that still performs 95 percent as quickly and doesn’t sound like a nightmare. I have no doubt that some folks will swear by the feather-light touch of this keyboard, but it’s not for me.