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| 8. February 2021

Razer Huntsman V2 Analog | Are Analog Switches the Future?

Razer have just revealed their first full-sized gaming keyboard with analog switches — the Huntsman V2 Analog! Even if you’re not particularly interested in upgrading your gear, this is still an interesting moment that might push the entire market forward — so it’s definitely worth talking about.

But before we delve any deeper into its main selling point, let’s first go over the spec sheet.

The Huntsman V2 Analog is a full-sized gaming keyboard that comes with double-shot PBT keycaps, Razer Chroma support, a magnetic plush leatherette wrist rest, a multi-function digital dial (along with four media keys), USB 3.0 passthrough on the left-hand side, a nifty USB-C port for connectivity, along with hybrid onboard storage (for up to five keybinding profiles).

So, specs-wise, this is about as good as it gets. But no one’s going to shell out $249.99 on the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog because it’s built well or because it can charge your phone while you’re gaming. Instead, its main allure comes from what’s underneath the keycaps: analog switches.

Let’s Talk Analog Switches

Now, firstly, Razer is not the first company to equip a gaming keyboard with analog switches. In fact, they’re third in that regard. But you could argue that their offering is a bit more polished (at least hardware-wise) than the competition. Plus, they have a much bigger marketing budget it seems like, so it feels like they’re breaking new ground.

The big deal with analog switches is the fact that they bring adjustable actuation points to the table. They’re still linear (instead of tactile or clicky) but you can configure the actuation point of each key separately — between 1.5mm and 3.6mm. These adjustments are configured within Razer’s (pretty dreadful) Synapse software, so there are no third-party solutions at this point in time.

Simply put, analog switches provide more granular control. You can adjust them to your liking (and style of play), which should, in turn, give you an edge in-game. Maybe you’re playing something that requires immaculate precision? Then go for, say, 3.6mm in actuation, ensuring “deeper, more deliberate” keystrokes. Conversely, if you’re playing something more fast-paced, then opting for a shorter actuation point will make your keys as light and responsive as possible. Furthermore, analog switches give you the option of having dual-step actuation. So any given key can activate at two different points, therefore taking on two different functions within a single keypress.

They also provide the kind of fine control that you could only attain on gamepad joysticks prior to this point. So the harder you press an analog switch, the faster your in-game character will run (or do any other movement-based action). This kind of “scaling input” is perhaps an even bigger game-changer than adjustable actuation.

The Driver Conundrum

The biggest problem with analog keyboards right now (and this affects the Razer Huntsman V2 as well) is the fact that if you want to harness their true potential the game you’re playing needs to support three different control schemes at the same time — keyboard, mouse, and controller. That, in short, is quite rare, and even when it exists the implementation is often pretty darn buggy. By this we mean that one control input stops the other in its tracks, therefore nullifying any sort of cohesion between them.

In other words, the gaming world still isn’t ready for analog keyboards, although that’ll surely change with time. The same was once true for raytracing. What was once nothing more than a gimmick has grown into a very appreciable upgrade in regards to visual fidelity. The performance penalty raytracing incurs is still a bit too darn big, but DLSS 2.0 (and further optimization) definitely helps out.

In any case, if you’re looking to buy an analog keyboard, don’t expect an error-free experience. By buying such a model, you’ll basically be an early adopter of a piece of tech that still hasn’t caught on. And, well, that might not change any time soon (if ever). There are never any guarantees, and analog switches — fascinating though they are — feel more like an interesting gimmick than something worth splurging a bunch of money on.

Closing Remarks

All of that aside, the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is undoubtedly a technological achievement. It’s arguably Razer’s most advanced and well-rounded gaming keyboard thus far, and that’s really saying something.

But is it a worthwhile purchase? Well, that heavily depends on your budget and use-case scenario. Most gamers don’t need analog keyboards to have an enjoyable gaming experience. Heck, competitive pros have been making due with standard switches since the very inception of esports and no one had any complaints whatsoever. Could analog switches “unlock” a whole ‘nother layer in terms of competitiveness and gameplay? In theory: yes. In actuality: that sort of reality is still a ways off. And, again, it might never even come to fruition.

Regardless, kudos to Razer for joining Wooting and SteelSeries and offering a full-fledged analog keyboard of their own. A boarder set of options to choose from is always a good thing!