Low-profile mechanical keyboards are a relative niche in the keyboard community, but they’re becoming more common as people demand options. Low-profile keyboards have a similar look to laptop keyboards, and they might feel like they type a little faster with the shorter travel between keys, though your mileage may vary. Potential downsides include lessened feedback and keycaps that that aren’t as customisable as the standard.
Razer’s trying its hand at something in the low-profile realm, with a smaller physical footprint than the rest of its full-size mechanical gaming keyboard lineup. The DeathStalker V2 Pro, essentially the successor to its last generation of DeathStalker chiclet gaming keyboards, is one of the lightest, thinnest Razer boards I’ve handled since starting this beat over two years ago. I like it much more than my long-standing low-profile favourite, the wireless Logitech G915. But there are always concessions; in this case, this isn’t a board you buy for customisation. And it isn’t a board to consider if you prefer the chunky press of a regular mechanical key.
Light as a feather, stiff as a keyboard
My two biggest concerns when shopping for a mechanical keyboard are whether it can fit comfortably on my desk and whether I can type on it at full speed with my claws. The Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro gets one point in the right direction for taking up very little real estate.
I mentioned I liked the Logitech G915, and that’s because of its slim profile and easy-to-tap keycaps. But its downfall is that it also comes with an extra row of keys for Macro-led gaming and computing, and I ended up retiring the keyboard because I didn’t like dealing with that extra row on my desk. The Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro is much less demanding on my desk space than that Logitech G915 — or any of Razer’s previous full-size mechanical keyboards that I’ve tested and reviewed, including the full-size Huntsman V2.
The DeathStalker V2 Pro comes in three sizes: full-size wired, wireless Tenkeyless ($AU349), and wireless full-size ($AU359), otherwise known as the Pro model. Razer sent me the wireless full-size version — the Pro — which connects via Bluetooth or a 2.4 GHz USB-A dongle that uses the company’s Hyperspeed wireless technology. It also works plugged in via USB-C, which I prefer so I can justify how much money I’ve spent on vanity cables. I gotta use ‘em.
The full-size DeathStalker V2 Pro is about 5.5 inches wide and 17.2 inches long. It’s smaller than the Logitech G915 by about half an inch, and that keyboard takes up nearly an inch more in desk space. The Corsair K70 MK2 low-profile mechanical keyboard, which we also tested as part of our buyer’s guide a while back, is longer than the Razer and Logitech keyboards by about an inch and a half, though it’s about the same length as the Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro. All that said, the DeathStalker V2 Pro is a full-size keyboard, so you’ll have to accommodate a number pad off to the right on your desk even when it’s not in use. If you don’t like that idea, you might consider the TKL layout.
I was impressed by how light the DeathStalker V2 Pro is compared to the other Razer branded full-size mechanical gaming keyboards I have stacked in my gadget closet. Those keyboards felt chunky despite their relative lightness, especially the Huntsman V2. The DeathStalker V2 Pro’s aluminium alloy case feels light as a piece of cardboard at 1 kg, and surprisingly it’s only half a pound lighter than the full-size Huntsman V2. The thinness and consolidation of parts seem to help contribute to that.
As per Razer’s usual style, a volume controller is affixed in the keyboard’s upper right-hand corner. It’s far enough out of the way that you don’t have to worry about accidentally hitting it. There’s an additional media button next to it that you can program using the Razer Synapse software. By default, it starts and stops media playback. You can also push down the volume roller for instant mute.
Can you handle low-profile typing?
The thing about a low-profile mechanical keyboard is that it’s very different from a regular mechanical keyboard despite sharing some bones and terminology. Razer’s DeathStalker V2 Pro is as svelte as gaming keyboards get, but the typing experience may not work for everyone.
The DeathStalker V2 Pro uses ABS low-profile keycaps coupled with
Razer’s low-profile optical switches. The boards are available with an option of Red Linear or Purple Clicky switches. The former offers an actuation point of 1.2mm and require less force than the latter Clicky switches. The Red Linears are what Razer calls its “sweet spot” switches, because they’re not as noisy when typing and offer “substantial feedback.” Since I’m a writer by trade, that’s the version I received for review.
I use Red Linear switches daily on standard mechanical keyboards, but I didn’t do well with the low-profile variant. While the keystroke feels soft and offers a pillowy landing, my long nails hate that, because it produces less feedback with the low-profile keycap than on the hollowed-out square keycap of a regular mechanical keyboard. I need that physical push back against my nail to feel like I’ve hit the key.
I had a rough start with the MonkeyType typing test, which I typically use to see how fast I can type on any given keyboard. In the beginning, I was typing fast but with lots of errors. I maintained a more consistent performance throughout the 30-second test by slowing down my stroke and being more methodical about the presses, but that required concentration that’s hard to keep up at speed while also parsing through words in my head. It’s clear that for my preferred style of typing, the Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro wouldn’t be my first choice for banging out 1,000 words (though I did write this entire review using the keyboard).
I also had a hard time with the this keyboard’s angling. The two kickstands on either side of the board are adjustable between three heights. But I require a wrist rest for typing, and when paired with one of Razer’s off-the-shelf leather wrist rests, my hands were too high for my fingers to naturally angle onto the DeathStalker V2 Pro.
This is a gaming keyboard, so it does have all the bells and whistles for playing first-person shooters, MMOs, and the occasional round of Fortnite. The DeathStalker V2 Pro is a fully programmable keyboard with on-the-fly macro recording abilities, akin to Razer’s previous releases.
The DeathStalker V2 Pro is battery-powered. Razer claims up to 40 hours of battery if you keep the backlight low. There are also software-side options within the Razer Synapse app to help prolong battery life, like turning off the backlight when idle. I didn’t get a chance to put the 40-hour promise to the test, but the board was at about 83% after two days on standby and over 10 hours of typing.
It’s still Razer’s software
If you game or want to adjust the per-key Razer Chroma RGB backlights, you’ll have to download the Synapse software on your PC for the full experience. I’ve said before that I’m not a big fan of the Synapse software because of how bloated it feels when you’re not using any of the gaming-specific features bundled in — like the ability to download particular macros specific to a title. It’s definitely not a friendly app for older PCs. But at the very least, Razer has made the app more module-like, so that you can download only the plug-ins and abilities you want to actually use on the DeathStalker V2 Pro. You can also store various keyboard profiles in the cloud if the three on-board ones aren’t enough for your usage.
Are you a low-profile typist?
Razer’s DeathStalker V2 Pro is a stylish gaming keyboard and a compelling low-profile keyboard for those tired of clunky builds taking up their desktop. But as I mentioned, before you spend the $AU359 on a full-size keyboard, there are considerations.
For one, the low-profile look means this keyboard is not as customisable as one with regular mechanical keycaps and switches. You can try to buy knock-off keycaps around the internet, but I’ve never successfully found a compatible set. I’d love to see Razer venture into customisation within this low-profile lineup like it did with its other gaming keyboards.
A low-profile keyboard is not for everyone, which I quickly realised after archiving some of the other low-profile and chiclet keyboards I’ve reviewed. On the flip side, a person looking for a quiet from-day-to-night keyboard might like this precisely because it’s like typing on a laptop.
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