MOST ‘serious’ gamers have a mechanical keyboard nowadays, and with good reason. They are responsive, tactile, and have low actuation points – all great for gaming.
The thing is, quality mechanical keyboards aren’t cheap and most of us aren’t made of money, so it’s important to know there are more affordable options on the market. There are also people out there who don’t like the clicky, tactile feel of a mechanical keyboard, or just want something simpler. That’s where a membrane keyboard comes in.
While a mechanical keyboard uses individual switches for each key, a membrane keyboard has the keys over a membrane connecting to a circuit underneath. The design has been around a long time, but isn’t usually found in gaming keyboards – although the subject of this review is one of the notable exceptions.
The Razer Cynosa V2 is an interesting beast in that it’s a wired RGB gaming membrane keyboard, which is not a combination of features I expected to be writing but here we are.
By and large, membrane keyboards are not great for serious gaming because they only register a few simultaneous keypress at a time, and the keys don’t always have a consistent actuation point. That’s absolutely fine for regular gaming and general word processing internet use, but in a high-skills competitive match it’s a good way to find yourself aboard the express to pwnd town.
I have to be honest and say I wasn’t spectacularly impressed by the Razer Cynosa V2 – not because of any issues with the unit itself, but largely because membrane keyboards really aren’t that good for serious gaming to begin with.
I found the keys quite mushy, especially when typing. It wasn’t too bad for single-player gaming, especially in more strategy-oriented titles like Transport Fever 2, and while it was serviceable in things like casual Overwatch matches the keys just felt mushy in a way I didn’t love.
The big selling point of the Cynosa V2 is that it has per-key RGB, controlled by the Razer Chroma software, as well as being able “sync with an ever-growing library of Chroma-integrated lighting effects for popular games” (as the press announcement says).
The keys, being membrane based, are also pretty quiet and don’t have the clickety-clack noise of a mechanical keyboard, which is something that may appeal to a lot of people.
They are also spill-resistant, which is a big plus if you’ve got a penchant for knocking drink mugs over or small children/pets on the loose in your house.
In a nod to the gaming nature of the keyboard, there are also some multimedia buttons above the numpad, along with a volume control.
As far as membrane gaming keyboards go (and I can’t remember the last time I encountered one), the Cynosa V2 is very good and does everything you’d want on that front; it also connects via USB so there’s no issues with wireless connections or batteries to worry about.
But it’s still a membrane gaming keyboard and thusly in that weird spot between “budget typing keyboard” and “Mechanical gaming keyboard”.
The Cynosa V2 also integrates with Chroma (to allow co-ordination with things like Nanoleaf, Lifx or Hue smartlighting, Discord and Twitch) which looks great in the marketing materials but realistically, if you’ve got all that stuff you’re likely going to buy one of Razer’s excellent mechanical gaming keyboards instead anyway.
The main challenge is I simply can’t see what makes the Cynosa V2 worth $119. Sure, the RGB is good and, as with all Razer’s stuff, it’s a well-made keyboard, and the individual keymapping is a great feature, but realistically you can get an entry-level mechanical keyboard for the same or even less money as the Cynosa V2. There’s also the inescapable fact a generic membrane keyboard (albeit without the full RGB lighting etc) costs much, much less.
Ultimately for me, the keys were too mushy for the amount of typing I do each day, and for the money as a gamer I would suggest you’d be better off getting a mechanical keyboard instead.
If you really want a membrane keyboard – there are folks out there for whom mechanical keyboards aren’t their thing – the Cynosa V2 offers all the features of a gaming keyboard, along with water resistance and solid construction.
For everyone else, this probably shouldn’t be your first choice for a gaming keyboard unless you are determined to get into the Razer ecosystem and don’t quite have the money for one of their mechanical keyboards.