Razer’s gaming laptops tend to feature speedy processors, powerful GPUs, and other gamer-focused features like RGB keyboard lights and support for screens with high refresh rates.

But the new Razer Blade 15 Advanced is the first to feature a keyboard with optical switches. In fact, Razer says it’s the first laptop from any company to feature an optical keyboard.

Update: Or maybe not. The XMG Neo 15 gaming laptop also has an “optomechanical keyboard,” although Razer’s system is implemented a little differently (1mm of travel and 55g of actuation force, compared with 2mm/55g for the XMG Neo). Thanks for the heads up XMG_gg!

The company says that means it offers “near instant actuation, satisfying tactile feedback, and rapid-fire inputs.”

In a nutshell, an optical keyboard switch uses light for actuation rather than mechanical components.

There are still moving parts — press a key and it will move. So you get tactile feedback. But a key press is detected through the transmission of an infrared light beam rather than a mechanical switch.

Razer says this allows for a key press to be detected more quickly, while applying less pressure — and that means gamers should theoretically be able to hammer out more commands in less time.

As usual, the new laptop features per-key RGB lighting with support for 16.8 million colors.

For now the Razer Blade 15 Advanced with an optical keyboard is only available in one configuration — and a pricey one at that.

For $2650 you can pick up a model with a 15.6 inch, 1080p, 240 Hz display, an Intel Core i7-9750H processor, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 graphics, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, and 512GB of storage.

But Razer says it plans to begin offering the optical keyboard options for additional configurations soon.

press release

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5 replies on “Razer Blade 15 Advanced is the first laptop with an optical keyboard”

  1. We would like to submit a correction and call prior art: The laptop ODM TongFang which has numerous global partners like Eluktronics in the U.S. and XMG in EU has already introduced opto-mechanical laptop keyboard switches in their own MechRevo line-up over 2 years ago. We at XMG have first announced TongFang’s keyboard switches in April 2018 in our very own XMG NEO 15 and we have updated it again in December 2018 with a silent, tactile next-gen variation of the same switch. There have been numerous reviews of this these designs in 2018 and 2019 at Notebookcheck and other leading platforms.

    Considering Razer’s previous keyboard experiences have often been described as unrewarding, we welcome Razer to now join the field of thin & light laptops with proper, opto-mechanical keyboards. Although it remains to be seen if Razer’s 1mm travel distance and 55g actuation force can really catch up with this segment’s current best practice which lies at 2mm travel distance and 60g actuation force as seen in XMG NEO series and our recently launched XMG FUSION 15. The latter is based on a collaboration with Intel which has received global attention last month when Dave2D published his first review on Youtube.

    Let me know if you have any questions about the mechanics and specs of this keyboard. // Tom

  2. What a complete gimmick. Optical actuation isn’t going to make them faster. Optical light still needs to be detected by a sensor, and relayed to the microcontroller via electrical signals. This is just a normal keyboard with extra steps.

    If they want something faster, they need to transmit the key state using quantum entanglement.

    1. It is faster, since the detection mechanism requires zero force to actuate (with only resistance added by a return spring), and perhaps more importantly, there’s no debounce time as you have with electrical contact switches to avoid detecting extra presses. Yes, you still have the overhead of transmitting the signal, but the overall time from press to, say, a character appearing on the screen, is measurably shorter.

      It may not matter to you, but it matters to some people. Personally, I want an optical keyboard for the feel, due to the actuation being disconnected from the tactile experience, as well as some of the benefits of fewer moving parts. But I don’t necessarily need this on a laptop, and I certainly don’t need full color lighting on every key.

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