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Home / Tips and Tricks / Programming remains the path of mini-keyboards – Review Geek

Programming remains the path of mini-keyboards – Review Geek



Grade:
5/10
?

  • 1 – Absolutely hot garbage
  • 2 – Sorta ljummet sopor
  • 3 – Strongly incorrect design
  • 4 – Some advantages, lots of disadvantages
  • 5 – Acceptably imperfect
  • 6 – Good enough to buy for sale
  • 7 – Good, but not the best in class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with some footnotes
  • 9 – Shut up and take my money
  • 10 – Absolute design Nirvana

Award: $ 120

Hunstman Mini on the desk
Michael Crider

The Razer Huntsman Mini is Razer’s smallest keyboard ever, shrinking the features of the popular Hunstman and BlackWidow lines to a semi-standard 60% keyboard layout. It’s a solid little whiteboard, with more features than I expected, and Razer’s sleek optical gears as the highlight of the list.

Here’s what we like

  • Small size and weight
  • Default layout
  • Detachable USB-C cable

And what we do not do

  • Very limited programming
  • “Rattle” sound on each key
  • Expensive

That’s why it’s such a shame that Razer neglected the software side of the equation. Huntsman Mini is intended to compete with a number of “enthusiastic” keyboards such as GK61 and Anne Pro. However, these keyboards allow full programming of their function commands, an important element of a smaller keyboard that requires customization to be usable.

Razer Huntsman Mini
Michael Crider

Razer allows some programming on the Huntsman Mini. But about half of the keyboard can not be redistributed on the function layer – you are stuck with the standard layout, as stamped on the front of the keyboard. It’s an unforgivable mistake on a painting like this.

Hunstman Mini could have been a 60% card for the masses – a portable mechanical keyboard that you can buy at Best Buy and customize to your heart’s content. Instead, it moves to a pleasant but deeply flawed entry into the Razer lineup. I can only recommend a purchase if you are willing to adapt to the keyboard instead of letting the keyboard adapt to you.

Hardware

If you look at the Huntsman Mini on your own, you would struggle to even say that it comes from Razer. The 60% layout leaves no room for logos or other embellishments: the only clue is in the flaming LEDs, which are not unique to Razer right now. You may notice a couple of premium details, in fact the aluminum plate and braided USB-C cable.

Razer Huntsman Mini, rear
Michael Crider

Turn the board over and you are no longer in doubt about who is doing it. “FOR GAMERS, BY GAMERS” is embossed in the lower shell plastic, together with the wide label and some very robust rubber feet. A nice touch: The fold-out feet are available in two steps, which enables three different angles for comfort.

Razer Huntsman Mini USB-C port
Michael Crider

An even nicer touch: The rugged, reversible, braided, six-foot-long USB-C cable is also removable, so the keyboard works well. In fact, it’s all good as a portable card, even though there’s no Bluetooth option. While the keyboard’s deck is aluminum, its lightweight plastic body means it will not be weighed down in a laptop bag.

Write and play

I was eager to test Razer’s optical switches, and the Huntsman Mini is equipped with Razer’s second generation linear design. This means that there is no bump at all when you press it, and it does not make as much noise as a clicky or tactile switch.

It is also optical – that is, it registers a keystroke by refracting a light beam instead of closing an electrical circuit like a regular mechanical switch. Razer claims that this makes the keyboard the fastest on the market. I take their word for it because I do not have the superhuman reaction time it takes to actually notice that difference.

Razer Huntsman Mini Key Switch
Michael Crider

Using the keys is actually nice enough. They are a little stiffer than regular Cherry or Gateron switches, with a little extra resistance at the bottom of a keystroke, which feels like the inner foam of a premium “silent” switch. Not because these linear switches are quiet: on the contrary. Because the unique shaft design has an outer metal stabilizer, each individual push of a button has a small bit of “rattle” on it when released as a small space. It’s quite dang noisy, and the mechanism is a little more wobbly than I’m used to. Razer also offers this card with clickable optical switches.

Using the Huntsman Mini as my keyboard for several weeks, I got used to its important feel and sound. I would say it is perfect to use if you like linear gears. It is especially nice that Razer contains PBT plastic for the keyboard covers, something that is not given even on the most expensive boards. It makes writing feel much better.

Razer Huntsman Mini WASD Cluster
Michael Crider

Playing games with the Huntsman Mini took a lot more adjustment. I usually drop the keys when I get into it, and the extra bit of firmness at the bottom of the action did not agree with me. I would love to come back to my normal switch for games, Kailh BOX Yellows, which is much smoother and smoother. This is not unacceptable but can take a lot of adjustments depending on what you are used to.

software

Which is more than I can say for Razer’s software on the Hunstman Mini. It is powered by the same Synapse software as all other Razer peripherals, allowing you to select your light and macro settings. The software itself is good … the programming restrictions are not.

While you can rearrange the layout of each default button, the default function layer for the first two rows and half of the second is locked. The intent is clear: Razer wanted to ensure that the feature’s legends – the white print on the front of the buttons – would remain true no matter what the user did in the Synapse software.

Razer Synapse screenshot, Huntsman Mini

In practice, this makes the Huntsman Mini almost useless to me. My preferred layout on a 60% standard card is to use the Caps Lock key as a function key, then the right Alt, Windows, menu and control keys as the default arrow keys (no Fn modifier needed).

It’s almost possible on the Huntsman Mini: the Caps Lock key can be reprogrammed on the top layer, but the Fn button itself cannot. So I tried my backup layout: standard Fn key, with the arrow keys tied to WASD in the function layer – also impossible. The function layer of the W key cannot be changed from volume up, but the buttons A, S and D can be changed.

Razer Synapse screenshot, Huntsman Mini

In an effort to make this keyboard more user-friendly, Razer has alienated virtually everyone who is used to a 60% card being adapted to its user style. It is a shocking failure for a product that is so clearly inspired by and intended to compete with enthusiast-focused mini-cards.

Better choices are out there

Razer may be able to update Synapse software and Huntsman Mini’s firmware to resolve programming issues. But as a gadget reviewer, I can only review what I have received, and even with a few weeks of rating, there is no indication that Razer actually wants to change the keyboard’s behavior.

And that’s a shame, because provided you like Razer’s optical switches, this is a good little card that makes an excellent travel companion. But with its lack of programming options and relatively high price, I can not recommend it to either newcomers or mechanical keyboard veterans.

Razer Huntsman Mini from the side
Michael Crider

For half the price of the Huntsman Mini, you can get a GK61 with similar optical switches, full programmability and admittedly a much cheaper case and keystrokes. Or if you are looking for something from a more well-known brand, there is the Ducky One 2 Mini, which admittedly requires quite tedious use of key commands and dip switches. But if you are going to spend money on a small premium keyboard, I would flush on Drop Alt, which has a better layout, body and programming and can use whatever you want.

In short: There are better options than the Huntsman Mini, no matter what your budget or functional requirements require. That may change if the software improves, but for now, look elsewhere for a small gaming keyboard.

Here’s what we like

  • Small size and weight
  • Default layout
  • Detachable USB-C cable

And what we do not do

  • Very limited programming
  • “Rattle” sound on each key
  • Expensive




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