When we reviewed the Razer Huntsman Elite back in July 2018, we praised it for having the fastest key actuation of any gaming keyboard we'd tested, and now the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition looks to take that original keyboard's success and transfer it to a smaller, more esports-oriented format.
The ultimate goal of the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition is to pack the fastest and most reliable keyboard in a package small enough to easily carry around to, well, tournaments. This is something that Razer definitely pulled off through some clever design work, but the price might be a bit hard to swallow.
At $129 (£129, AU$220), this keyboard is a bit expensive, especially for a wired tenkeyless keyboard, but that just comes with the flagship territory. It's actually a bit cheaper than SteelSeries' flagship tenkeyless, the Apex Pro TKL, which will set you back $179 (£189, about AU$270). However, SteelSeries' keyboard comes with user-adjustable switches, and a small OLED display, two things Razer's keyboard definitely doesn't have.
At the end of the day, though, the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition is designed first and foremost with esports in mind. That means stripping back any distracting extra features and doubling down where it counts: sheer performance.
One of the first things you'll notice about the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition is that it's small. Really small. There's maybe half an inch of chassis on each side of the keyboard after the keys end, which when combined with the unassuming black aluminum build means that it both blends in to its environment and looks extremely classy.
The Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition is a tenkeyless keyboard, which means that it doesn't have a numpad, which might put spreadsheet addicts into a frenzy, but really it's a design choice that makes sense for the target audience here.
One of the coolest design elements here is the removable cable. Rather than have a cable that can get jostled around in transit or during particularly erratic gaming sessions, the cable is simply removable. On the back of the keyboard on the left hand side, there's a recessed USB-C port, where you connect a USB-C to USB-A cable that will run to your PC.
However, don't take the removable cable to mean that this is a wireless device: it isn't. More than any other subset, esports gamers care about accuracy and reliability, both of which come hand-in-hand with the freedom that wireless peripherals offer.
Of course, because this is a Razer product, the Huntsman Tournament Edition is completely packed with RGB lighting. Over the years, Razer Chroma has been getting more customizable and visually appealing. And coupled with the minimal chassis design of the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition, it looks simply brilliant. After messing around with the Synapse software, which is how you'll customize all the lighting and macros, we left it on the default wheel effect just to stare at all the pretty colors. We did it for the aesthetic, just like Razer.
Of course, as a device aimed primarily at esports gamers, performance is all that matters. Performance and reliability. This means we have to just get one thing out of the way right off the bat: we're not professional gamers here at TechRadar. We're old folks that just like to relax in front of a fire, playing Journey on PC. So, just keep that in mind.
Still, playing Overwatch on the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition feels pretty great. Our character is extremely responsive, and it didn't feel like there was any delay in our commands. However, take this with a grain of salt because we're generally terrible at Overwatch.
But, the tech backs us up on paper. The Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition uses a new iteration of the optomechanical switches present in the Razer Huntsman Elite, which should come as a surprise to approximately no one. When you press down one of these keys, they interrupt a laser underneath the switch, triggering the keypress immediately, with pretty much no latency.
This means that no matter how pro you are, you should be able to notice some improvement in how fast this keyboard is.
One of the other benefits that a switch like this offers is that there are less moving parts, which means it should last significantly longer. Esports gamers are typically extremely hard on their hardware, so it's good to know that this keyboard can stand up to even the most rigorous abuse. Razer rates it at 100 million keystrokes. We obviously don't have the time to put that claim to the test, but if it's true, this keyboard should last years, even for the most avid gamers out there.
If you're an esports player looking for a keyboard that's quick, reliable and portable, you really can't go wrong here.
The Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition might seem a bit expensive for what is essentially a barebones keyboard on face value. But, the fast keyswitches, removable cable and travel-friendly design could propel this keyboard to a must-have peripheral for aspiring pro gamers.
And, while we are definitely not pro gamers, we can't help but be in awe of the design of this thing. It's a pleasant keyboard to look at, and might be worth picking up even if you just want a simple keyboard for your desk at home. At least, if you're willing to pay.