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Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro Gaming Keyboard Review: Optical Switches FTW

The new low-profile optical switches in its overhauled DeathStalker line of slim, wireless gaming keyboards are the icing on a great -- albeit expensive -- cake.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
4 min read
Razer DeathStalker V2 gaming keyboard
Lori Grunin/CNET

DeathStalker's new gaming keyboard retains its predecessor's branding and low profile, but it has little else in common with the chiclet-keyed, membrane-switch-based model from 2016. The DeathStalker V2 Pro uses a new, low-profile version of Razer's optical switches in your choice of the clicky Purple or linear Red. But as much as I like it, its $250 price tag seems awfully steep.

In addition to a multidevice 2.4GHz dongle, which allows for best-performance wireless, you can pair the DeathStalker with up to three Bluetooth devices. It looks sleek and feels like a premium keyboard, with the exception of the plastic underside, while the aluminum top and plastic bottom make it exceptionally light for a gaming keyboard. With the feet down and backlight a boring static color it can even pass as a full-size everyday work keyboard. Razer's new low-profile linear mechanical switches feel a lot better when paired with the shorter-travel keys than they do with deeper keys. 

The DeathStalker V2 Pro is available now. The DSV2 Pro Tenkeyless and DeathStalker V2 will both ship in the second half of 2022 for $220 and $200, respectively.


Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro


  • Relatively light and compact for a full-size keyboard
  • Quiet with optical switches
  • Uses multidevice dongle
  • Comfortable to use without a wrist rest

Don't like

  • Secondary functions on the function and numberpad keys aren't backlit

Both the Red and Purple switches both have a full travel distance of 2.8mm, less than their full-size equivalents' 3.5mm. The linear Reds have the same 1.2mm actuation point and 45-gram actuation force as their full-size kin, while the clicky Purples have the same 1.5mm actuation point but a higher force of 50 grams (compared to 45 grams).

One of the first things that struck me about the feel of the keys is that the shorter total travel feels a lot more natural for the linear optical switches. Linear optical switches feel like typing in "freefall" to me, like there's little between me and the keyboard deck -- there's no feedback at the actuation point and they require minimal force, both by design. So with a shorter travel time, it feels less like I'm slamming my fingertips directly against the deck.

The Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro's low-profile switches seen in profile

The low-profile switches and lightweight design make it a solid choice as a general-purpose keyboard.

Lori Grunin/CNET

Optical switches are far less prone to bounce and have lower latency, meaning they're almost immediately ready to accept a subsequent press. (If you're into double negatives, that's called "zero debounce delay.") The switches perform well, and the shorter travel distance makes them feel even faster than their deeper siblings. 

If you have stuttery fingers or tend to let your nondominant hand rest on the keyboard, optical and linear switches can sometimes result in random keypresses, higher force clicky switches may be a better option. The other benefit is how quiet the linear versions are. The latest-generation switches have a soft, muffled landing. 

There are no PBT keycaps for the DeathStalker, which makes sense: The thick, extra durable caps don't match its slim profile. Razer uses laser etching, which doesn't wear off, and an "ultra-durable coating" on the traditional ABS keycaps which the company claims rival its own doubleshot PBT for durability. Plus, the top plate is 5052 aluminum alloy, which helps keep the keyboard light. The bottom is plastic, though, and only time will tell how well that holds up. It doesn't come with a wrist rest, but your fingers hit the keys at a low angle, making it comfortable without one.

Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro's programmable rollerbar and media button in the upper right above the numeric keyboard

The keyboard includes a volume roller and button that controls media playback.

Lori Grunin/CNET

Another nicety is that the keyboard is almost completely full featured without having to run the Synapse utility. It comes with onboard lighting presets, macro recording and an LED battery status display in 25% increments. It also means you can get a reasonable set of features when connected to a Mac, which isn't supported by Synapse. To create custom lighting profiles or full keyboard remapping profiles you do need Synapse, but you can store up to five profiles on the keyboard once you've customized it. 

You can pair the DeathStalker with up to three Bluetooth devices and switch among them through dedicated buttons, which is nice, but it seems like in order to pair them initially you have to be connected to a PC (via the dongle or wired) in order to power it up. I had no issues connecting to my Android Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or 2021 iPad Pro 11-inch but my iPhone 13 Pro couldn't pair for some reason.

Razer DeathStalker V2 Pro's garage next to the right foot for its tiny 2.4GHz dongle

Every dongle needs a home.

Lori Grunin/CNET

The DeathStalker Pro and Pro TKL come with Razer's multidevice dongle, which lets you connect two HyperSpeed Wireless peripherals simultaneously, though not all of them. So if you plan to take advantage, check the compatibility list. There's a garage to store the dongle when not in use, which I appreciated -- especially since it's a relatively small dongle, and those tend to evaporate in my presence.

Even taking inflation into account, the keyboard's $250 price is on the high side, but that's unsurprising for a Razer. Razer usually has some decent sales during typical shopping seasons, though, if you have your sights set on it. There aren't a lot of competitors for the DeathStalker V2 Pro: There are other low-profile gaming keyboards, but many are tenkeyless and few are wireless. So if you need the number pad and the connection flexibility, there's a price to pay.