Photos and Features
So if the packaging pictures of the Huntsman Mini weren’t an indication. It is a very small keyboard, coming in at 11 and a half inches wide, four inches tall, and an inch and a half thick at its tallest section. Now if you have ever seen, had, or used a 60% keyboard none of this will be a surprise at all. But I still suspect that given Razers reach which is well beyond even the gaming community, let alone the smaller nitch enthusiast keyboard community that a 60% keyboard is more comment, that a LOT of people will be surprised with its size. Basically what a 60% keyboard is just another step beyond a TKL or tenkeyless keyboard which drops the number pad from a normal full-sized keyboard. For the 60% though they go beyond that and they take out the F key row at the top and the direction pad and keys above it giving you a total of 62 keys. Razer also kept things small by keeping the bezel around the keyboard small as well with it coming in around 1/8 of an inch thick. Now I will explain here in a minute how things work without those keys. The ultimate goal however is a smaller footprint, especially on the right side of your keyboard where a majority of people use their mouse. The keyboard being smaller means low DPI players have more room. It also gives fans of simple clean desks a minimalist look, people at LAN events, or with small desks gain room they wouldn’t normally have, and if you are like me they are perfect if you have more than one PC at your desk for a second keyboard. The Huntsman Mini that I am testing is black, but it does come in Razers mercury color as well which is a white and silver combination.
So how do you drop the entire F key row, the direction pad, and even things like the delete button and print screen? Surely you need those right? Well for a lot of people they rarely get used. If you use any of those ALL the time then this isn’t going to be for you. A big example of that is the direction pad, if you use it for games you like this may be a no go. The same goes for the number pad, if you need it for inputting a full-size keyboard is still the best option for you. This is why I still use a full-sized keyboard as my work computer, inputting test results into graphs sucks with the top number row. So how do you still get things done without those keys? The short answer is you don’t. The Huntsman Mini still actually has all of those functions, you just have to access them through a function layer. This is just like when you hold shift to get capital letters, we don’t have keyboards with two sets of letters just for that. You hold the Fn key which is in the bottom row two to the right of the space bar and then press the key you need. Razer is nice enough to light up the function keys and dim the others when you press it to help and then each key has a function legend that is printed on the under edge of the keycap. You can see the F keys are all of the number keys which is easy to remember. Delete is Fn and backspace, and even the direction pad is there with IJKL and the function button. They also slipped in normal extras like media controls over in the QWERT area including volume as well. Once you get used to everything it isn’t nearly as complicated as you might imagine. It also helps that most of these are the same on past 60% keyboards like the Vortex Keyboard Pok3r which I reviewed 4 years ago.
As for the overall profile of the Huntsman Mini, I was really happy to see that they went with a traditional layout. Meaning full-sized switches and keycaps that are profiled depending on the row to angle up near the bottom and down at the top. When Cooler Master brought out their 60% I was excited for it, but the flat keys and low profile just weren’t for me, though it is very portable. Razer going this direction is good, adding 60% into a mainstream lineup rocks the boat as it is. There is no need to change too much else with the norm. The side profile also shows that the case bezel doesn’t come up over the side of the keycaps leaving the side view open and it open for easier cleaning as well.
Now the Huntsman Mini has a plastic case as well as a plastic backplate which from a durability and stability standpoint I’m not a huge fan of. Our Pok3r for example has a proper metal case and backplate and you can see the huge difference in weight below. The pok3r feels much higher quality because of its extra strength and weight and it feels like it is less likely to move around. On the other hand, the lightweight of the Huntsman Mini also means it won’t add as much weight to your LAN bag or your backpack if you take it with you to places. Changing the weight from grams to pounds may help us Americans to understand the difference. The Pok3r comes in at 794 grams or 1.75 lbs where the Huntsman Mini is 453 grams or .998 (basically 1) lb. For reference, the LG Gram laptop comes in at 2.2 lbs total.
So looking at the top and bottom edges don’t give to much information about the keyboard. The plastic case is visible and you can see that it does get smaller down below the keys. There is also no Razer branding slipped in. There is just one gap along the back edge which is for the detachable cord. The top is thicker to give a default angle to the keyboard.
On the bottom, the entire bottom is plastic and has “For Gamers by Gamers” which has been Razers moto forever debossed into it. The center has a sticker which of course has all of the required certification logos and your model and serial number information. They also include the model name and fine print like warnings. Each corner has a half-inch square rubber foot for traction to keep it from moving around. Then on the back edge, there are two flip-out feet which look like smiley faces. They are double flip out to give you two different height options and they both have a thin rubber foot on each. At the back edge, there is also a hole where you plug in the detachable cord. Razer went with a USB Type-C connection which I love simply so you don’t have to worry about which way you plug it in. The opening is spaced perfectly for the unique shape they went with for the cord which would normally worry me that they were trying to make a proprietary cable. But it is wide enough that if you want a standard sized Type-C cable would work. Meaning you can replace this on the cheap if you damage it or you can resleeve it for a custom look. The proprietary connection is there for the plug to be tight and to not damage the type-c if it gets pulled on which you can see the tabs that help hold it sticking out.
Speaking of the cord, it is interesting that it ships with both ends having caps on them. It has sleeving on the entire length of the cord as well as a silicon strap that comes attached that you can rewrap the cord up for transport or to hide extra length. The plug ends both have the Razer logo in them and they even went with green inside both plugs. I’ve seen custom colors on the Type-A connection but never on the Type-C. I like the label and color because it can help you figure out which cable is your keyboard when behind your PC.
Now for the switches, I) haven’t taken a look at a Razer keyboard for a while. These are their Razer branded linear optical switches. I’ve had a few optical keyboards in the office so no big surprises there. But there are a few things going on here that I like, they aren’t all Razer exclusive but they do tell me what they have been focusing on. For starters, they all have stabilizers built in which help with wobbling that a lot of optical switches get. The same goes with the overall switch design which has a boxed top which then helps with twisting. They of course have their Razer branding down at the bottom, then up top is the light diffuser for the RGB light that comes on the PCB. They also have a clicky version as well. I’ve heard and these look like the Light Strike MJ3 switch. If you look closely though on the left and right side of the mounting cross are rubber pads to help dampen things. One of the big features of this design is that the switch does still use that cross for keycap mounting so Cherry MX support is there. Combined with a traditional layout means this is a Razer keyboard that can take a standard keycap set.
For stabilizers, the stabilizers are inside of the keyboard, up under the backplate which is similar to a Cherry stabilizer. But unlike a cherry, the stabilized keys do still use plastic clips. Only this design is simpler and you never have to fight with rehooking the stabilizer bar. They plug into the PBT keycaps, that’s right RAZER is using PBT plastic which holds up to overall wear significantly better than the ABS keycaps that are normally used. On top of that, these are doubleshot meaning both the black and translucent layers are molded in together. Normally cheap OEM ABS caps are painted and then the legend is etched off. That is why when they wear the whole key starts to glow. With this, not only will it wear less but when it does it will never wear through. The keycaps are also thicker as well. Not the thickest I’ve ever seen, but thick enough. This makes a big difference in typing feel and sound, which I will test in the performance section later.