Are Razer purple opto-mechanical switches worth the price?
What is the opto-mechanical switch?
The opto-mechanical switch from Razer is equal parts simple and breathtaking. You can identify it by its purple color (compared to the green, orange, or yellow switches on other Razer keyboards).
So what is it? Simply put, it's a mechanical switch that uses a light beam to actuate over an actual piece of metal. The switch itself is similar in design to Razer's other switches, but instead of a metallic contact being made when you press the key down, a beam of light passes through the switch and then actuation happens.
It all sounds fancy, but what it actually means is that the opto-mechanical switch is insanely fast. So much so it might catch you out at first. Actuation occurs the exact instant you feel the bump on the switch. There's absolutely no delay, something you simply can't achieve by using a traditional mechanical switch design.
Substituting light for a physical object makes it as fast as it can be, but Razer made sure that the feel of the opto-mechanical is still on par with its regular mechanical switches. They feel similar to the Razer Green switches, albeit lighter and with less noise, but you still get that click and bump just as you would on a green switch.
How it stacks up against Razer's regular mechanical switches
We've previously covered the differences between Razer switches, but where does the opto-mechanical fit in? It combines the best of all three with, of course, that instant actuation.
It has the same light actuation force as both the orange and yellow switches, with an actuation distance somewhere in the middle of the two. The difference over the yellow is that while the distance is marginally further, when you hit that point the switch actuates with zero delay. These kind of 'delays' aren't something you'll be able to time or visibly see, but over time you'll begin to feel the difference. When gaming, instant response is better than any delay, no matter how small.
The opto-mechanical switch then has the light feeling you get from an orange or a yellow, with a bump and clicky feeling similar to a green switch. It's essentially the best of all worlds. And with less moving parts, the opto-mechanical switches are rated for double the number of lifetime clicks that the regular ones are. So it's faster and more durable.
Which keyboard to get
You might be thinking: "great, I need these switches in my life right now" and you'd be perfectly justified in doing so. The opto-mechanical switch has to be experienced to truly understand how good it is, but right now there are only two keyboards which use it.
Those are both in the Huntsman family. The regular Huntsman and the Huntsman Elite both use these switches, with the only difference being more overall features such as a dial control, dedicated media keys and an included wrist rest on the Elite.
If you're a fan of the BlackWidow in particular, give the Huntsman a shot. It feels a lot like the next evolution of the BlackWidow, which is no bad thing.
Unlike anything you've used before
Whatever the fastest keyboard you've used is, this is faster, and with a light, clicky feeling switch that's utterly joyous to type and game on.
All the good of the Huntsman with a little more on top
The Huntsman Elite adds some extra features, like a magnetic wrist rest, a control dial and dedicated media control keys to the already excellent Huntsman.
Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
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