Razer’s 2017 Ornata Chroma carved out a large following among gaming keyboard players, driven by its midrange price tag and unique “mecha-membrane” keyswitches, which blended elements of membrane and mechanical keys. The sequel, dubbed the Ornata V2, augments the $99.99 keyboard with a few minor tweaks and one relatively major quality-of-life upgrade—dedicated media keys, including a digital volume roller. While these changes help keep the Ornata feeling modern and competitive, they add up to a refresh rather than a true successor—one that doesn’t quite offset the fact that the Ornata V2 doesn’t offer the unique balance between quality and price the Ornata Chroma did at its debut.
The Ornata V2 exists as a vessel for its keys, Razer’s hybrid switches that blend elements from clicky mechanical and soft membrane switches. The goal, generally, is to mimic the sound and feel of mechanical keys while using membrane-style actuation, which is cheaper to produce. Razer’s mecha-membrane keys specifically use a mechanical switch to press down a rubber dome, which actuates the input.
The mecha-membrane keys in the Ornata V2 are identical to ones in Razer’s past hybrid keyboards. They make a satisfying click and remove some of the squishiness you’d normally find when you bottom out membrane keys. At the same time, they do not feel like mechanical keys: Mecha-membrane switches actively bounce back against your fingers as you type, creating a sense of feedback that some people may come to love, but others will definitely not. In 2020, that makes the Ornata V2 a bit of an acquired taste. There are more hybrid mechanical keyboards out there than there were in 2017, and some of them, like SteelSeries’ Apex 5, simulate the sensation of typing on mechanical keys more accurately than the Ornata series.
The primary upgrade in the Ornata V2 is a set of dedicated media keys in the top right corner of the board, including a small digital volume roller. Where many companies try to gussy up their media controls by using buttons instead of keys, the Ornata is surprisingly function-forward. The media controls are literal keys, just like any other input on the board, which means they can be remapped. The star, though, is the volume roller, which carries over much of the functionality from a mouse’s scroll wheel. The roller is clickable, which works as a mute button by default. Also, all three roller inputs—scroll up, scroll down, and clicking—are customizable. While this isn’t completely unheard of, it’s not standard operating procedure. More customization is almost always a good thing, though, and it makes the controls a more novel upgrade.
Aside from the media keys, there have been various small improvements across the keyboard. The LED indicators for held keys like caps lock and game mode has moved down to the space between the web navigation keys and the cursor arrows. The cable inset cable guide now always routes to the back of the keyboard, rather than actually pushing the cable out to the left or right. (This is a nice change if you, like me, use the desk space directly to the left and right of your keyboard.) Where the Ornata Chroma had 10-key rollover, the Ornata V2 has N-key rollover.
As an added bonus, some of these changes, particularly the media controls and relocated LED indicators, make the Ornata V2 layout look tighter and better composed than the Chroma. There’s very little unused space on the top case, and a nice symmetry in the RGB lighting, which now extends all the way across the back row.
Appearances can be deceiving, though, as pretty much everything else on the Ornata V2 is identical to its predecessor. It has the same keycap design. The detachable wrist rest, which attaches to the near side of the board magnetically, is still nicely padded and coated with leatherette. More than any of the individual similarities, though, using the keyboard feels very similar to using the Ornata Chroma. That’s not a bad thing.
A Hybrid Synapse, Like Any Other
Like all Razer peripherals, the Ornata V2 supports Synapse, the company’s configuration software. Synapse is one of the best, most robust configuration programs out there for keyboards—you can program and save macros, remap keys, and customize the keyboard’s RGB lighting.
There’s very little to say about the Ornata V2’s specific Synapse support. As we mentioned earlier, the biggest trigger is the fact that all of the media controls and the volume roller are remappable, just like the rest of the keyboard. The process of customizing them is just as easy as changing any other key.
It’s worth pointing out that the V2 does not feature onboard memory, so you will need to export and transfer your profiles manually if you want to bring them over to a new device. This is not out of place for a midrange keyboard, but many of our favorites in this price range, such as the Apex 5 and the HyperX Alloy Origins, have onboard memory.
A Keyboard Out of Time
Every change to the Ornata V2 is an improvement over the Ornata Chroma, but I don’t feel the changes are quite enough to maintain the product’s status as a go-to for players who are looking to upgrade their gaming keyboards but aren’t ready to invest in mechanical keys. The Ornata V2 is still a very good keyboard, but the world around it has changed.
The baseline price of no-frills mechanical keyboards has dropped to the Razer board’s $99.99 ballpark; these boards don’t have media controls and may lack the polish of a Razer product, but if you can afford an Ornata V2, you can afford true mechanical keys. That doesn’t mean you should automatically dismiss the V2, but it’s just one of several great options in this price range.
Razer Ornata V2 Specs
|Number of Keys||110|
|Key Switch Type||Razer Mecha-Membrane|
|Key Backlighting||RGB Per-Key|
|Dedicated Shortcut Keys||No|
|Onboard Profile Storage||No|
|N-Key Rollover Support||Yes|
|Palm Rest||Detachable (Magnetic)|