Razer has made huge strides in their gaming accessories department is poised to really take huge swathes of market share in late 2019 and beyond, the Razer Huntsman TE is Razer’s best overall gaming keyboard offering, it features (finally) PBT keycaps, super smooth optical linear switches and a great form factor for gaming.
You’re out of luck if you prefer tactile, clicky or even non-speed linear switches, the Huntsman TE only comes with Razer Optical Linear switches which are super fast. The switch also has a fairly harsh bottom out sound, so not the best choice for gamers with a preference for quieter keyboards.
The Huntsman TE is ready to go to war for TKL supremacy with the Logitech Pro X and Cooler Master MK730, I think Razer definitely has the keyboard to to claim the cohort of gamers that love speed switches.
- PBT keycaps!
- Detachable USB Type-C cable
- Smooth switches
- Clean understated design
- Decent build quality
- Good RGB modes
- Standard bottom row
- Decent stabilizers
- Still a bit pricey
- Loud switches
- One switch option (speed linear)
Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition
- Width: 36 cm
- Length: 14 cm
- Height: 2 cm (case) | 3,5 cm (with caps)
- Case color: Brushed aluminum top, plastic black bottom
- Weight: 771 grams
- Keys: 87 TKL size
- Cable Length: 1.8m, braided, detachable
Keys & switches
- Switch options: Razer™ Linear Optical Switch
- Keycap material: PBT
- Keycap legends: Doubleshot
- Keycap profile: OEM profile
- Media keys: Through fn layer
- Backlight: Full RGB
- Software: Razer Synapse 3
- Polling rate: 1000 hz
- Connectivity: Detachable USB type-c device, USB-A to host, no pass through
The Razer Huntsman TE features the Razer Optical Linear Switch, a switch that actuates by light instead of relying on metal leafs making contact.
Here’s a quick refresher on how the switch works:
There are two perceivable benefits to optical switches, the lack of physical friction required of the switch should result in a more durable switch, and the nature of light based actuation should reduce the need to delay sending an input signal to factor in for switch debounce.
What is debounce? Bouncing happens when two metal contacts touch to send a signal, when the contact happens the metal contacts usually sent multiple quick signals instead of just one clean signal. To account for bouncing, mice and keyboards with metal actuation will delay sending a signal, in milliseconds, to avoid sending multiple tiny signals and accumulate them all into one clean signal.
The Huntsman TE only comes with the linear variant of the Razer optical switch, so if you’re looking for tactiles or clicky’s you’re going to have to look at another keyboard. The linear is a very fast switch with an actuation point near the very top at 1 mm, for comparison, a Cherry MX Red switch actuates at 2 mm, I definitely felt the speed of the switch and it took me a while to type more lightly on the Huntsman TE.
The actuation force of the Optical Linear has an actuation force of 40 grams, this is comparable to the Cherry MX Red actuation force. This switch is designed for gaming and performs as such, it’s a great fast switch that lets me play games without fatigue for hours on end, however, I don’t find the short actuation distance particularly good for typing.
The stem of the switch is still compatible with all cherry mx cross keycaps, allowing you to put whatever set of key caps you’d like on the Huntsman TE.
The switch is exceptionally smooth, the linear switch is the best version of the Razer Optical switches, the stabilizers are decent, very low wobble and I’m not noticing a huge amount of chatter and rattling. On bottom out, the switch produces a harsh sharp noise that resonates throughout the case. I thought the noise might’ve been the cap hitting the top plate on bottom out, but no, it looks like the switch with its plastic ears tab the top of the plate making a very sharp tapping noise. I’m hoping Razer can figure out how to produce a stable switch without the use of the plastic ears, it’s really the only downside of this Linear Optical.
I can’t believe that it’s finally happened, I really hope Razer has set a trend in motion here, DECENT KEYCAPS HAVE ARRIVED. The Razer Huntsman TE comes with double-shot PBT keycaps, gone are the thin ABS keycaps that we found in the Huntsman Elite and basically all mainstream, brand name keyboards.
PBT caps are going to be more shine/slick resistant for a longer period of time, the double-shot legends are never going to fade while still providing ample RGB shine-through. This is kind of a big deal, thin ABS caps is always something I find shocking at these high end keyboard price points, and I feel it greatly detracts from the typing/gaming experience. The sub legends of the key caps are unfortunately still not shine through.
The thickness of the PBT is pretty good, the keys have that signature PBT plastic texture. Unfortunately, the harsh bottom out of the Optical Linear Switches dominates any sound that these keycaps produce.
Another huge improvement over the Huntsman Elite, the bottom row is now a standard bottom row, if you do want to customize your board with after market keycaps, basically any cap set will work with the Huntsman TE.
Build Quality & Design
The Huntsman TE doesn’t deviate very far from the Huntsman Elite and for good reason, I am very much a fan of the design of the Huntsman design with understated branding and sleek black colouring. The case is low profile showing the sides of the switch and the LEDs of the switches.
The Huntsman TE still features an aluminum top plate that is fingerprint resistant and adds a good level of sturdiness to the keyboard.
The Huntsman TE does feel lighter than the Elite, but that largely is the difference between a full size and a TKL. In general, I prefer heavier keyboards to maximize key feel and typing experience, but Razer likely made the keyboard intentionally light so this keyboard could be taken to tournaments and locals, hence the name.
No nice extras like the magnetic wrist rest with the Tournament Edition, but we’ll take the higher quality key caps over the nice extras. With its TKL format, you obviously lose the numpad, but the volume wheel and media keys. The media functionality is still accessible through a combination of the function key and f row.
The sleek RGB ring around the case of the keyboard is also gone in the TE version of the keyboard.
Comparing sizes directly:
- Huntsman TE: 36 cm x 14 cm
- Huntsman Elite: 44.45 cm x 14 cm
You save roughly 8 x 14 cm area of desk space with the TE, I definitely prefer the TKL size over a full-size keyboard, it’s just a better format for gaming.
The keyboard is well built with very little flex or creak when twisted. The case itself does feel a little hollow and could use with a little more weight to feel sturdier on the desk and to reduce the harsh bottom out sound present on the Huntsman TE.
The caps have an attractive standard and legible font, the RGB shines through strongly and smoothly, the legends are crisp and clear.
Razer has made a significant improvement to the Huntsman TE cable, making it a detachable USB Type-C that plugs in firmly into the keyboard.
The feet of the Huntsman TE are the same as the Huntsman Elite with two stage feet, one at 6 degrees and one at 9 degrees. The feet are coated with a thing sheet of rubber that only does an okay job at preventing slippage.
The back of the keyboard features this nice subtle For Gamers By Gamers pattern, the back of keyboard has 4 rubber corners that do an adequate job of keeping the keyboard in place.
Features & Software
I want to get the standard keyboard marketing stuff out of the way first, the keyboard has a 1000 Hz “ultra” polling rate and n-key rollover. This keyboard, like all modern keyboards will not become a bottle neck to your insane high APM input.
The TE has done away with the pass through USB on the side and cable management on the bottom, two features I generally don’t find super useful and would much rather have the detachable USB type-C, net win here.
There are no significant changes in terms of software between the Huntsman Elite and Tournament Edition. The TE still uses Razer Synapse 3 and has all the same programming options as the Elite.
One HUGE change that Razer has made to Synapse is removing the requirement to create an account and login to use Synapse, I really feel like Razer is listening and designing their products with feedback in mind.
You can check out our Synapse page here to go over what you can do on Synapse page by page.
The Razer Huntsman TE has the following RGB modes:
- Spectrum Cycling
- Ambient Awareness
- Audio meter
You can install Chroma Studio to produce and download more custom RGB lighting modes.
The Hunstman TE has a gaming mode toggle that lets you disable the windows key, alt + tab and alt +f4 so you don’t accidentally switch away from your game, something I’m sure we’ve all experienced.
the Hunstman TE can store up to 5 profiles on-board and in their cloud. You can switch between profiles using a hotkey combination: fn + menu key will cycle through your 5 profiles.
Other on keyboard hotkeys:
- Fn + F9: record macros on the fly and map them to a key
- Fn + F10: toggles gaming mode
- Fn + F11/F12: Control RGB brightness up or down
Warranty and Reliability
Looks like Razer has upgraded their warranty coverage, the Huntsman TE is covered for two years, up from 1 year previously.
Read Razer’s warranty policy here: https://www.razer.com/warranty
Value & Conclusion
Razer is moving in the right direction, this is the best keyboard offering Razer has ever come out with. The PBT keys are a very welcome change on the Huntsman TE, the switches are smooth and fun to use. In terms of mainstream TKL gaming keyboards the Razer Huntsman TE is a contending choice. There are a few shortcomings that I’d like a v2 address, primarily the harsh bottom out sounds of the switch and the keyboards general lightness.
If you have other Razer products, especially the fantastic Viper Ultimate, you can rest assured that investing in the Razer ecosystem is safe best with the Huntsman TE.