NEW PERIPHERALS, PCs & GADGETS REVIEWED
Forget those rusty old mechanical switches; what you need is optical ones...
MICROSOFT CLASSIC INTELLIMOUSE: THE ORIGINAL GAMING MOUSE RETURNS WE HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT: RAZER 'OPTO-MECHANICAL' KEYBOARD ASUS PG27UQ GAMING SCREEN: 4K, G-SYNC & HDR... FOR HOW MUCH?
Circuit-based actuation has been considered the gold standard in gaming keyboards for some time now, but Razer believes it has an even better key switch that could revolutionise the market. Taking the best bits of the mechanical switch and blending it with a new optical sensor, Razer’s secret weapon is a hybrid ‘opto-mechanical’ switch. While the tech’s not exclusive to Razer, the company is one of the first to market with the hybrid switches, which appear o n it’s new Huntsman Elite flagship keyboard.
The headline feature of these new switches is that they’re supposedly 30% faster than traditional mechanical switches, using infrared light beams to trigger keystrokes and allowing virtually instantaneous response times, which considerably outpace the contact-based electrical circuit mechanisms in traditional mechanical keyboards. They’re combined with new Razer-made ‘purple’ keys that are supposedly more durable, containing fewer moving parts and, therefore, reducing the opportunity for malfunction through wear. Razer claims this amounts to durability ratings of 100 million keystrokes, effectively doubling that of most mechanical keys. You might be sceptical about durability if you’ve kept up with the news of Apple’s increased malfunction rate on it’s optically-triggered butterfly switches, but Razer’s reps assure us that its purple switches are encased in a fully dust-proof enclosure, making it impervious to interference from dust.
The new opto-mechanical switches have an actuation force of 45g and a travel distance of 1.5mm, making them most similar to a Cherry MX Silver switch at 45g actuation force and 1.2mm trigger travel. This tuning makes them exceptionally responsive and comfortable to type on, but still offers the kind of feedback you’d expect from a heavyweight ‘clicky’ gaming keyboard.
The Huntsman Elite is a full sized frameless keyboard complete with numpad, dedicated media controls and a detachable palm rest. Razer has taken a leaf out of Logitech’s book by adding a scrollable volume wheel in the top right-hand corner, alongside three other dedicated media controls. You can switch to different gaming profiles using the 12 function keys across the top of the device, but there are no dedicated macro buttons or USB passthrough sockets. The streamlined facade is rather subdued for a gaming keyboard and it wouldn’t feel out of place in an office setting — at least until you turn its lights on. It wouldn’t be an ‘elite’ gaming keyboard without per-key RGB lighting, but Razer has taken this a step further by skirting the entire edge of the ‘board with downward- firing LED lighting that’s even integrated into the palm rest.
Price is the Huntsman Elite’s main shortcoming: at $340, it’s one of the most expensive gaming ‘ boards in Australia. If you’re open to ditching the palm rest and media controls then you can bag this new set of switches on the standard Huntsman for around $250. Other than the price and a media control wheel (which we feel could do with some WD40), there isn’t much to complain about, so if you’re keen on the keys to the future of gaming keyboards, then this is a solid bet.
GAMING KEYBOARD $339.95 | WWW.RAZER.COM