Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Keyboard Review
Today is a dark day… Today we say goodbye to one of the biggest most recognisable Gaming brands in PC Gaming today and one that has given many of us many hours of fragging bliss… Rest in peace Corsair Vengeance…
Yet, there is one cloud with a silver lining on this dark day… From the ashes of that giant, rising like a phoenix from the flames, we have what is sure to be a bigger and even better giant! Here ladies and gentleman, we have the all new Corsair Gaming brand!
What better way to launch this celebrated event? How about a new and improved version of a multi-award winning Gamers favourite? Today at pcG, we have the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB mechanical keyboard (CH-9000063-NA). Just like the Vengeance K70 before it, the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB is fully mechanical keyboard, featuring Cherry MX key switches (Red, Brown and Blue), key-by-key backlighting, a rather lovely aircraft class brushed aluminium frame, full sized wrist rest, full key rollover, 100% anti-ghosting, media keys, BIOS switch to adjust polling rates and is certainly a looker. Where it improves on the its older sibling is with a fully programmable keyboard layout for all your Macro needs, but more importantly the new and Corsair exclusive Cherry MX RGB key switches! These combined with the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) will allow you to fully customize the colour of each and every button on the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB to any one of 16.8 million colours. Not only static lighting either. We have colour cycling, waves, ripples and reactive typing. Looking good so far! 😉
|‘The Corsair Gaming K70 RGB is the next evolutionary addition to our line of 100% fully mechanical gaming keyboards. Featuring the world’s first German-engineered Cherry MX RGB key switches as part of a limited-time Corsair exclusive, the K70 RGB allows for 16.8 million per-key color animated backlighting by utilizing an onboard ARM processor and a powerful lighting controller that uses new Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) to display fully customizable lighting effects such as gradient and ripple patterns. The software will also allow for powerful key sequencing actions across multiple modes and profiles in conjunction with the lighting. Furthermore, all standard keys on the K70 are re-mappable, replacing the need for dedicated macro keys. The Corsair Gaming K70 RGB also features all of the hallmark attributes of the original award-winning Vengeance K70 such as aircraft grade black anodized brush aluminium, 100% anti-ghosting technology with 104-key rollover, dedicated media control keys, adjustable dimming, and a removable, perforated wrist rest.’|
So there’s exciting things going on here for us Gamers. Not only have we got an incredibly well received Gaming keyboard in the shape of the K70, but fully customizable RGB backlighting and the launch of the new Corsair Gaming brand. I wonder what the future holds? 😉
(As a reviewer sometimes the hardest part of our job, is to take photographs of everything to do with a new product, when all we want to do (like you), is tear the packaging apart and start playing with it! The Corsair Gaming K70 RGB is certainly one of those products, so with great restrain here goes…)
The Corsair Gaming K70 RGB arrived at pcG in a box adorned with the all new Corsair Gaming brand. As we can see, the new brand colours are black and yellow. Across the middle we have an angled picture of the K70 with an example of the customizable backlighting, the lower right gives us the model name and type, upper left shows the new Corsair Gaming brand and shiny new logo. Then goes on to describe the following features.
Over on the back we have a brief overview of the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) as follows:
Advanced software to design your own per-key 16.8 million multicolour lighting patterns. Select lighting for each key independently for your favourite games. The detailed Macroprogramming tool allows you to map any key combination for fast and easy in-game access’
Then shows a surprisingly subdued picture of the K70 RGB (personally I’d have expected a slight over-exaggeration of the new lighting), with the keyboard features liberally scattered around it:
Inside the box sleeve is another box. The inner box is pretty rigid and should help to protect what’s hidden inside. Within that is a protective plastic sleeve which holds the bit we’re really interested in, the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB!
Once out of the packaging we get a much clearer look of its contents as follows:
At the time of writing the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB keyboard is retailing directly from Corsair for £151.98 and offers a 2 year warranty.
courtesy of Corsair
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
So now Corsair Gaming K70 RGB keyboard is unleashed and I must admit I’m impressed (and I’ve not even plugged it in yet!). The K70 is a good weight at 1200g, which should prevent it sliding around the desk during frenzied firefights. Measures in at 436(L) x 165(W) x 38(D) mm, thanks to the lack of Macro keys squeezed down the left side (which I’ll admit I often find annoying!). There’s no hollow sounding areas around the keyboard frame because of the aluminium faceplate, which has a beautiful matte black brushed finish. The hard plastic wrist rest has a lovely perforated soft touch which feels good under hand. The key caps with their matte finish have some sort of anti-slip quality. I even rather like the new tribal looking Corsair Gaming logo with it’s chrome finish. So far things are certainly good! 🙂
From above, the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB offers a fairly simple, but very sleek design. Along with your typical ‘QWERTY’ key layout, we have a few additions in the top right. These include dedicated media keys, mute, volume roller, windows lock key and lighting (with the K70 plugged in, this will allow for three different brightness settings or off). As mentioned above, the keyswitches are topped with a translucent ABS laser-etched keycaps, which are matte black, have an anti-slip feel to them and are , they also seem to absorb any light shone on them because of the finish. Surrounding they keyset, is a pretty solid 2mm piece of aircraft-grade aluminium. This has an incredibly nice black brushed finish, which helps to give the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB a very sleek and sophisticated image. The only thing that stands out prominently is the new Corsair Gaming logo with its chrome finish right in the middle.
On the back and is per the norm for any keyboard, is pretty sparse. In each of the four corners we have rubber feet to help keep the K70 in place. Beside those are four height adjusters which will increase the keyboard height by 14mm when in use. Slap bang in the middle is the information sticker (interestingly this doesn’t use the new Corsair Gaming name or logo). To the right of this is something I’ve never seen before? A Warning sticker telling me the use of keyboards could cause serious injury??? (Perhaps if used as a bludgeon! 😉 )
From the sides we can clearly see the thickness of the quality aluminium top plate. More interestingly we can see that just like the previous keyboards in the Corair Vengeance K series, the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB offers a more exposed, almost floaty looking keycap. This makes the keys look much higher up than the keyboard and I’d hazard a guess that it will also be better for the backlighting effect and easier to clean.
Perhaps more of interest from the side view, is the sight of the all new Cherry MX RGB keyswitch. As you can see the actual switch housing is transparent, which should help give the illumination a softer glow rather than a blindingly bright light. You can also see the inside the Cherry MX RGB keyswitch to see which flavour it is, as you can see our review sample is red.
Looking at the front and back of the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB keyboard shows us very little (still looks good even from these angle!).
The only notable areas on the back are the thick USB cable with its heavy duty braiding and a mysterious switch (more on this later).
As you can see from the photos above, there are essentially three different adjustment setting where height is concerned. When opened up each of the four stilts allows for an increase of 14mm in height. So you can choose to have the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB completely flat, front stilts down, back down, both down, basically whatever is most comfortable for you.
Perhaps slightly oddly, the only two of the four stilts that has rubber feet are the back ones. Admittedly given the weight the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB keyboard is very unlikely to be sliding around anyway.
Here is a closer look at the previously mentioned mystery switch beside the USB cable. This switch allows you to change your polling (refresh) rate from 1ms, 2ms, 4ms, or even BIOS mode (just in case your BIOS doesn’t support the K70). Beside this switch is also a pin-hole reset button, just in case something goes wrong.
Many of us have wondered after the initial announcement of the new Corsair Gaming keyboards with their exclusive Cherry MX RGB keyswitches, why has it taken so long for them to go to market and consequently get our hands on them? Well there’s no short answer I’m afraid, only a hell of a lot of hard work from both Corsair and Cherry. In fact it’s probably easier if I leave it in their own words (probably a damn site clearer too).
‘Due to the current design of the Cherry MX switch, there is only room for a single 3mm LED that could mount directly onto the key switch. Since the minimum size for a RGB LED requires 5mm, this meant that all manufacturers who incorporated LED backlighting onto a Cherry MX Switch would be limited to a single colour without any type of adjustments. Even if a user wants to customize the type of LED used in the switch, it would be extremely difficult because of the way in which the key switch is mounted to the PCB.
To solve the single LED limitation and provide a keyboard that could meet everyone’s specific preferences for LED backlighting, Corsair approached Cherry, one of the world leaders in product innovation. They took our request and by working together, the two companies designed an entirely new switch while retaining the definitive characteristics of a Cherry key switch. The requirements—the feel, reliability, and range of switches—could not be compromised. In order to meet these standards, Cherry made adjustments to how the LED lighting was mounted.
Rather than adding the LED directly onto the key switch, Cherry used a precise, computer- calculated lens in place of where the LED used to be. The RGB LED would then be surface mounted (SMD-LED) directly onto the keyboard’s PCB. The two benefits of this new design were apparent:
The lighting in the key switches would then be connected to a custom lighting controller and a powerful ARM processor to control both the lighting and the keyboard 104-key rollover matrix.’
So it’s all a bit complicated, but the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB offers a phenomenal build quality, has a sleek stealthy look (Batman could own this keyboard!) and the now we have one in the flesh, we best find out exactly how well it performs!
The Corsair Gaming K70 RGB keyboard requires a fair bit of power by the looks of it and as a result the USB cable splits into two plugs. Although having tried with a single USB it seems to work fine (on one at least, the other keeps the K70 illuminated but of no use. You could say ‘the lights are on but nobodies home’).
The Corsair Gaming K70 RGB keyboard was tested on the pcG Intel Test Rig, A fresh installation of Windows Home Premium 64bit (service pack 1) was performed prior to testing. The Corsair Gaming K70 RGB keyboard is plug and play, but to gain the benefit of Macro playback the customizable LED backlighting you’ll also need the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) Software available here.
The following games were used during testing:
So now the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB keyboard is plugged in and from a performance point of view it’s very good. The Cherry MX Red are firm favourites amongst Gamers and the new RGB versions certainly don’t disappoint. In addition to this, the laser etched keycaps have a very nice feel under your fingertips due to their soft anti-slip finish and feel solid enough to give you a little boost in confidence in-game. The wrist rest is exactly the right size and with its perforated soft-touch again feels great under hand. What we already have here is a Gaming keyboard of incredible high quality and a damn good performer to boot (seems my old keyboard is destined for silicon heaven…)
How about the answer to the bigger question in hand? Well I’ll be getting around to that soon. 😉
Other notable features are the dedicated Media keys, which do the job perfectly in Windows Media Player, VLC and iTunes, the Windows lock key and a lighting button with four settings (off, low, medium and high)
Something else I should mention, is the default colour of the backlighting for the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB keyboard is red (definitely red, no pinks here, not yet at least). Which is always a firm favourite, but what it also shows is that because the RGB LEDs are positioned above the Cherry MX key switches, they tend to give slightly top heavy lighting. This means certain parts of keys that have their alternates printed on them, don’t quite have 100% brightness (numbers, shift and the numpad are perfect examples of this).
Now this is where the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB keyboard gets really interesting. To get the full features of the K70 RGB, you will need to download the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE). Which is a powerful and initially very daunting bit of kit…
The software has a rather slick appearance in various tones of grey, the Corsair logo in the right corner and some hexagon patterning much like honeycomb (hang on… Isn’t this the Vengeance styling?). The software has four main headers; Profiles (this is where you’ll be playing around the most), Actions (for key functions, Macro programming and Mouse shortcuts), Lighting (allows customization of lighting effects) and Settings.
In here we get to make our own custom profiles. Personally I thought this would be quite short and sweet, simply a case of choosing your key colour and job done… Not so… There is a plethora of customization at your fingertips here. Firstly we have ‘Assignments’. This is a nice and easy approach to key bindings. You simply click on the actions list, then drag the pre-defined Macro, text, keystoke or shortcut to whichever key you wish. The second sub header is ‘Performance’, which allows you to alter the properties of the K70 lock key, USB Polling rate (1ms, 2ms, 4ms, or 8ms) and select BIOS or Standard mode (some motherboards maybe be incompatible with the K70 RGB). Then we have ‘Lighting’ (This is where the fun and to some degree confusion starts). Firstly (and rather luckily) and to give me some comparisons, Corsair kindly provided me with some pre-programmed profiles (if you check out the Corsair forums there is a ridiculous amount to choose from). In here we can change each and every key on the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB to any of 16.8 million different colours (personally I couldn’t distinguish all 16.8 million of them, but there certainly is a lot 😉 ). To make this task a little quicker and easier, by holding in ‘ctrl’, we can group keys (WASD, ESDF, 1-6, F-Keys, Numpad, etc), you can even save the profile and associate it with a specific programme or Game. For each key or group we also have background lighting (basic colour), foreground (effectively mixes with the background colour), and of course the bit you’ve probably seen in demonstrations the most, the Lighting Effect List. This list contains all of the K70 RGB lighting effects (luckily for me pre-defined 😉 ), ranging from single key, group key or complete keyboard effects and they work very well. I’ll admit you’ll most likely never use 99.9% of these in practice, but they certainly do look very cool.
The easier customization is key binding and Macros. The Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software is much like many others in this respect, slick, easy to use and actually surprisingly quick at transferring to the K70. Within ‘Actions’ we can programme Macros, enter text shortcuts, keystrokes, simple shortcuts, alter mouse DPI, assign a timer (something that League of Legends players will appreciate), mouse controls and change media controls. You can pretty much change everything really.
Macros are old hat now, whilst seemingly complicated at first, many of us who have owned or use a keyboard with this feature will find them relatively easy to work with. Full RGB lighting on the other hand is an entirely different kettle of fish. We create foreground lighting effects choosing from four base effects (Solid, Gradient, Ripple or Wave), within each you can change colour (or multi colours), gradient, brightness, Intensity, tail brightness, tail velocity and duration, even the degrees of a splash effect. The amount of customization is staggering.
Back to simplicity! 🙂 Here we have the option to backup and recover the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB (it does have its own 32-bit ARM processor after all). in device settings we can disable the device lighting (why?!?), change key layout and update firmware. Within program we can alter general settings, on-screen display, media player support or Macro playback options. The final part is the support, and that gives you exactly what it says. 😉
The video above is just a taster of the customization available (it also shows I’m no Steven Spielberg…).
I’ll admit to being a tiny bit excited when I originally heard about the new Corsair Cherry MX RGB keyboard range earlier in the year. Yes I know it’s just a bit of colour, but anything with flashing lights is guaranteed to get my attention. 😉 So does the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB mechanical keyboard disappoint?
The Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Keyboard arrived at pcG in a well illustrated package in the style of the new Corsair Gaming brand. Hidden well protected inside the keyboard itself which if incredibly well built with the two tone black (matte wrist rest and key caps, lovely satin brushed aluminium frame) gives it a sleek and stealthy appearance (sure it might not fire a grappling hook, but if Batman were to own a keyboard it’d be the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB!).
Of course appearances can be deceptive… Only if anything the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB stylish looks, hides the how good the damn thing really is! It’s very comfortable to use, in fact I don’t believe I’ve used a more comfortable mechanical keyboard at all. The soft-touch wrist rest is exactly the right size and feels good under the heel of your palm (even during an over night fragfest!).
I’m probably one of the few Gamers out there that appreciates Macros, but doesn’t actually like the dedicated keys and their traditional position down the left of the keyboard. The Corsair Gaming K70 RGB doesn’t have the dedicated keys, but is fully programmable and you can do so within profiles to suit, basically you can set up individual profiles for each of your favourite Games (the real kicker here, is this isn’t just the key bindings 😉 ).
The real draw for anyone looking at the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB keyboard, isn’t the just the premium quality and high performance of the K70 itself, it’s the Cherry MX RGB and their backlighting. I’m glad to say Corsair have certainly hit the nail on the head here (sadly it is also something that doesn’t carry over to photos and video as well as in person). The fully customizable backlighting is exactly that! You want WASD illuminated red whilst the rest of the keyboard is blue? You got it! You want a reactive spacebar? You got it! How about the entire Corsair Gaming K70 RGB keyset in pink with a multicoloured rainbow wave effect every time they keys are depressed? You got it! I’ll admit, being the first of it’s kind, the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software in general use is nice and simple to use, but throw in the lighting and it’s a different kettle of fish. To the point of being intimidating (remember that first Macro you programmed?), luckily after a little time and many trial and errors, CUE is in fact pretty easy to use, even despite the amount of customization it allows (if you find yourself lost, there are hundreds of profiles and lighting effects already available from the Corsair forum).
Having spent time with the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB and CUE, I can wholeheartedly say it is currently my favourite Gaming keyboard, but is £151.98 too much for what your getting? Well to some it up, what Corsair have done is take an already damn fine Gaming keyboard and added some stunning RGB lighting. You could argue that the backlighting is a gimmick that you’ll soon tire of, but when you consider CUE features advanced Lua scripting and SDK to enable gamers and developers to integrate effects and lighting features into games. It adds huge potential. Imagine pre-programmed profiles for each of your future favourite games? Perhaps in an FPS the K70 will flash when a grenade goes off near you or red when you die? Maybe some clever bod will come up with a hit detection system so that if your shot from the left that side of the keyboard flashes? I’ll admit that the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB keyboard is expensive, but there really is nothing quite like it and it certainly doesn’t stop me from wanting one! 🙂
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Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Keyboard – Cherry MX RGB Red
Many thanks to Corsair for providing this sample for review