Razer Ornata v2 keyboard remains a mechanical-membrane-mashup fave

If you've acquired a taste for Razer's Mecha-Membrane switches, the new model of this gaming keyboard adds some useful media-control keys.

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
2 min read

The Ornata v2 doesn't have per-key RGB lighting.

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I've been a huge fan of the Ornata's hybrid keys since I first laid fingers on it a few years ago. I love the keys on the newer SteelSeries Apex 5 as well -- at least for typing. Razer's $100 Ornata v2 follows directly in the earlier model's footsteps with a small tweak: There are now media keys above the number pad and a big jog wheel you can press to mute audio.

People tend to either love the 4-year-old Razer Ornata Chroma keyboard or hate it. Its hybrid Mecha-Membrane switches have a dampened clicky-tactile feel, which can put off mechanical devotees. It has a too-bouncy nonlinear feel that membrane lovers won't like, plus it's a little louder than traditional membrane. Some complain the keycaps are an odd mid-height that causes keystroke inaccuracies or that it's not as durable as they expected. 


These media keys are new.

Lori Grunin/CNET

To the latter point, I did have an issue with my last one: The piece of plastic that snaps the keycap into the switch broke off on my z. (Since "z" is a prominent letter in my nonsensical passwords, that was a bigger issue than it sounds.) It was an easy fix, though. 

But if you like a keyboard that feels like it's fighting back when you're typing -- if you're a keyboard pounder you know what I mean -- the Mecha-Membrane switches deliver the perfect feedback. And I find it makes my touch typing more precise. I'm able to hit the center of the keys decisively than with almost any other keyboard I've used. It also lessens the interpersonal work-from-home friction since it's quieter than the clickety-clackety mechanical model it's replacing at my desk.

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The v2 feels identical to the original in that respect, and the media keys are certainly welcome. The volume wheel doesn't look like it has a sturdy axle, but only time will tell if it can stand up to frequent mute presses.

I'm not as big a fan of the keyboard for gaming , however -- at least for games that require speed and a less forceful actuation, like first-person shooters. The concave keycaps make it more precise for typing, but they're also a little slippery. You can customize the lighting, but it's still restrictive since it doesn't support per-key RGB (neither does the Apex 5). That means no WASD highlighting, for example. 

The wrist rest magnetically attaches. While it's not exceptionally padded, it does the job. Along with the keyboard, we'll see how it stands up over time. 

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