The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog makes a statement I never thought I'd see: it implies that controllers can do a better job than mice and keyboards on PC (in certain games, anyway). Namely, the keyboard implies this in order to mimic thumbsticks through the more you press a key, the greater the response. That makes it perfect for first-person shooters and racing games.
It's also a first. The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog does something we've never experienced before, and it stands out in any lineup of the best gaming keyboards as a result.
Average price: $249.99 / £249.99
Switches: Razer Analog Optical
Keycaps: Double-shot PBT
Media keys: Dedicated keys, volume dial
Wrist rest: Magnetic, leatherette
USB passthrough: USB 3.0
Tested on an Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti-powered gaming PC
The selling point of the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is right there in the name: it exists to bring the feel of an analog stick to the keyboard. It does this via variable actuation points, meaning you can use degrees of pressure to get a different response in-game. Push harder and your character will run faster, for example.
You can even set up a dual-step action for the likes of grenades. A half-press will equip your weapon, while pushing the key down throws it. Want to cancel that order, on the other hand? Just let go.
That's not to say the Analog abandons recent advances, though. Much like the Razer Huntsman Mini, it still uses optical switches for a quicker response. They maintain that tactile mechanical feel, too.
Dedicated media controls round out the package. Besides separate play, back, and forward buttons, the V2 Analog brings us a volume dial with a mute option on the top for greater versatility - as does a port for USB 3.0 passthrough (even if it does require a double USB-A / USB-C power cable).
A magnetic leatherette wrist rest offers a final, RGB-laden touch. Much like the underlit doubleshot PBT keycaps and the bottom of the device itself, it features a Razer Chroma lighting strip to make the underside glow.
If you're already a fan of Razer keyboards, your first impression of the Huntsman V2 Analog will be good. This is a heavy-set monster with some real heft behind it, especially thanks to its braided cable with split USB-A / USB-C wires.
The wrist rest is equally chunky, but the bezel-less design gives it a sleek, modern edge. Whack in some RGB tomfoolery and you've got what is very clearly a premium bit of kit.
That RGB is rather smart to look at, by the way, and as with the Razer Huntsman Elite, the Chroma strip that goes all the way around the device's side elevates its design.
This is Razer through and through, then, complete with a matte black aluminium body and tall, weighty keys. Indeed, the media controls match the rest of the Huntsman and BlackWidow ranges; we're getting wide plastic buttons and a textured rubber dial for volume that can be rolled up or down.
To put it bluntly, the V2 Analog isn't reinventing the wheel and nor is it trying to.
So, how is the Razer Huntsman V2 Analog to use? As you'd expect from the price tag (more on that in a bit), it's wonderful. While it's not as 'clicky' as the Razer BlackWidow Pro, its keys offer a fantastic action that's satisfying to type with nonetheless. It gives off a more muted sound as well, so nobody in your house or office will have to wear earplugs to escape the incessant, noisy clacking of rival keyboards.
In terms of those analog features, the V2 is an even greater success - for the most part. To start with, it makes a surprising difference in games such as Watch Dogs Legion. Most keyboards lack subtlety when it comes to movement, but the Analog? It gives WASD keys a sense of precision they simply haven't had before. Rather than sprinting everywhere unless you've hit a specific 'walk' function, this one allows you to stroll down the streets of London before breaking into a jog - and then a run - after seeing a mugging in progress. You can also gently amble around corners in your car rather than pinballing across the city.
It's the same story with Apex Legends. Nudging the Analog's keys down just a little lets you move so much more cautiously, especially if you're a player that prefers to take a softly-softly approach with sniper rifles in tow. Sure, none of this is 'necessary' to enjoy the game. But it makes a huge difference, particularly if you're more familiar with controllers than keyboards.
Similarly, hopping into a starfighter for Elite: Dangerous with the Analog at your beck and call allows for gentler, more gradual movements. It won't match the ease of the best joysticks, but it's certainly less jerky than a standard keyboard. More specifically, I was better able to edge around asteroids and quietly adjust my flight path to avoid collisions instead of relying on the imprecise, sweeping motions I was used to. The competition feels clunky by comparison.
However, the V2 Analog is not without issue. In Legion, it's a hammer rather than a scalpel. It's easy enough to swap your keys around to joystick mode, but the game becomes convinced you're using a controller if you so much as touch WASD. This makes driving a nuisance, because the game thinks that acceleration and braking are assigned to triggers… which obviously don't exist. As such, you've got to assign these inputs to yet more keys, resulting in a slightly awkward contortion as you try to speed up and turn at the same time. So yes, you can use the Analog as intended out of the box (well, nearly - you've got to assign everything in Razer Synapse first). But it requires fine-tuning.
It doesn't always work with the games you'd expect it to, either. I struggled to get Call of Duty Warzone on board, for example; it refused to acknowledge my WASD keys at all when swapping them to their controller function. Because you can play Warzone with a controller normally, I'm not sure what the issue is.
What's more, the literal cost of all this is staggering. The Huntsman V2 Analog will set you back $250 / £250, and that's a tremendous amount of cash to drop on any keyboard.
I'm not saying it isn't worthwhile, of course. It's a gorgeous device. But this price tag is high enough for me to advise proceeding with more caution than normal.
Overall - should you buy it?
The Razer Huntsman V2 Analog is a curious experiment, and an ambitious one too. It sets out to do something no-one else has, and it's largely successful in the effort. It won't necessarily work with all of your games, but it's a nice enough device to warrant a look in spite of that. In fact, it's one of the best keyboards I've ever used.