a guest Nov 11th, 2019 171 Never
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- Razer, I feel very weird saying this - you should be extraordinarily proud of the products you've put out in the past few months. Between the Viper, Viper Ultimate, the Tartarus Pro (assuming we fix the stuck input bug), and now the capstone being your Huntsman TE, you've created an exceptional, premium and worthwhile suite of products that even the enthusiast community will appreciate. I got this out of sheer curiosity to be completely honest. I had full intent of returning the keyboard once I had messed around with it. However, I am retiring my custom builds for this keyboard because you tick so many important boxes with this keyboard that I feel like you've become an entirely different beast.
- We'll start off the review by saying the inclusion of PBT key caps makes the biggest difference out of any changes and choices you've made. The PBT key caps feel so good, its insane. The texture, and muted lighting make this feel like RGB for adults. I love it. I had one issues with a cap showing some plastic flashing from the mold, which made the D key feel gritty and unstable. This is being fixed by a simple replacement, but I'm sure if I really wanted to I could just grab my file or an exacto-knife and remove the flashing with no issue.
- The best place to go with this review is the switches themselves. My first experience with the opto-electric switch design was with your tartarus pro, and while my experience with the tartarus has not been flawless, the switches themselves are very, very good. The era of Cherry MX and MX-style switches is over, or well should be over, by now. The hall effect and opto-electric switches are far superior and hold the promise of being able to offer features and reliability that cherry switches simply never could due to their design. The extremely fast actuation speed of 1mm is insane, ALMOST too sensitive, but you quickly adjust to their responsiveness, and the fact that no de-bouncing circuitry is required means that you will never run into the issue of key chatter. That means you are left with an incredibly reliable switch design that will far outlast ANY peripheral that uses a mechanical switch many lifetimes over. The switches also have been designed with a somewhat overkill, but greatly appreciated (no seriously I freaking love this feature), stabilizer system. Every. Single. Switch. is stabilized. It is AMAZING. There is very, very little key cap movement - creating a very solid monolithic feel as if every key was directly attached to the chassis. Each stabilizer has also been individually lubed from the factory using a very, very, good lubricant. The beset part is that because the switches have an MX stem you are able to use custom key caps and the larger key stabilizers are removable from the OLD key caps so you can use custom key caps and transplant the special stabs over to your new key caps.
- Did I mention custom key caps? We have a STANDARD BOTTOM ROW! All custom key cap sets will work, if you ever wanted or needed to replace your caps with something else, you have the entire enthusiast community of key caps to pick from. More and more manufacturers are thankfully starting to do this, and hopefully now that Razer has followed suit, hopefully even more will now as well (COUGH LOGITECH COUGH).
- The form factor is extraordinarily attractive. No gaudy design here, and the only manufacturer logo here is an incredibly subtle razer logo in a slightly polished aluminium relief right above the nav cluster. It reminds me, very much, like a Massdrop CTRL board with less lights everywhere.
- The black matte design of the chassis keeps the lighting muted, which is personal taste, I personally very much prefer it. The legends have mostly uniform lighting, but the Function row and some of the larger keys have a little dark spot near the center for most of them. Maybe this can be improved on later designs, but overall it is a huge step in the PBT+POM design for backlit capable pbt keycaps.
- The only real downsides, and there are two of them, are that the chassis itself is plastic. Yes, there is an aluminium plate on the top, but the vast majority of the chassis is plastic - sturdy well made plastic, but still plastic. I think a more premium model could be sold with a full aluminium or steel chassis for a higher price that would appeal to many enthusiasts who normally would never look twice at a razer board, myself included. This however, really, is a matter of preference, as the plastic body design does mean that the keyboard is lighter and makes this a really viable travel board option. The only other downside is Synapse, but I am going to preface this by saying that Synapse 3 is MUCH, much improved. It is significantly ahead of both iCUE and G Hub offerings from Corsair and Logitech respectively. But its still bloat that really isn't needed - and its not needed in fact. As far as I can tell, there is nothing that Synapse is required for, so you can safely set up your customizations and then uninstall.
- Speaking of software customization though, in a pleasant change every single key is programmable and nothing is locked in. You can, for example, even change function keys to do other things - which also means opening up Hypershift as an option for a variety of macros and functions that you can program directly onto the board itself.
- In conclusion, this is my new daily driver, as I said I am retiring MY custom builds with Tealios switches that are lubed and dampened - I am surprised at the steps Razer have taken in making a keyboard that even an enthusiast will look twice at. PBT key caps, individually stabilized switches, opto-electric switch design that is far superior to other options out there and equally reliable as something like Hall Effect switches, with the potential for far more interesting features later down the line, like full analog key presses. I hope this is a new normal for Razer, and if so - I will put down the soldering iron for awhile and continue to support the Razer eco-system. I love the direction you're going Razer, and can proudly say I'm happy to support Razer as a brand again after not having owned a Razer keyboard for over ten years.
- You guys got this in the bag, and Logitech and Corsair should be shaking in their boots. You've bit back, and bit back hard.
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