Corsair Vengeance K95 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Last year, Corsair released the Vengeance K90 as one of two new keyboards. It was a big gamble for Corsair entering the crowded gaming peripheral market for the first time, electing to jump in with mechanical keyboards with the K90 being a very expensive keyboard. Mechanical keyboards were catching on back then and people of all sorts – gamers, typists, and computer enthusiasts – had their opinions regarding the Vengeance K90 keyboard.  First there were those who scoffed at the idea of an expensive keyboard, the kind of person who would be blissful with a no frills membrane keyboard. Second, some felt cheated that the K90’s 18 macro keys were the only full-sized keys that weren’t mechanical, but in-fact membrane. Lastly, there were those who liked the K90 for what it was. For those unsatisfied with the older K90’s non-mechanical macro keys, the K95 is Corsair’s response to those criticisms.

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Ultimately, we can assume Corsair remains confident staying in the keyboard market after seeing them acquire the Raptor brand and expand their Vengeance lineup. The Vengeance K95 sits at the top as the most expensive Corsair keyboard to date, costing $129.99 shipped.

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Beside the macro keys, the K95 is largely similar to the K70 which we have reviewed. The K95 only comes in one color – black with white backlights – and one type of mechanical switch – Cherry MX Red. While this keyboard doesn’t have the textured keycaps bundled with the K70, the K95 does have three profiles which store both custom macro settings and key-by-key lighting arrangements.

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Corsair K95 Features and Technical Specifications:

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The Vengeance K95 keyboard comes with a detachable wristrest, a user guide, and warranty information. A driver CD is not included and the keyboard’s macro software is downloadable from Corsair’s product website. Unlike the K70, the K95 does not come with a keypuller or additional keycaps.

This concludes our introduction – let’s start looking at the keyboard!

Looking Closer at the Vengeance K95

The Corsair Vengeance K95’s 18 macro keys expectedly make for a wide keyboard. Be mindful of tabletop space with this keyboard’s total dimensions of  19.75(L) x 6.5(W) x 1.5(H) inch / 460(L) x 166(W) x 38(H) mm. Attaching the wristrest increases the keyboard width to 8.25 inches. Like the older K90 (image), the K95’s mounting plate consists of two zones: brushed aluminum under the main 104-keys and plastic under the macros.

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The K95’s thick braided USB cable terminates in two USB plugs; one which powers the keyboard and the other for USB passthrough. This means that only one USB port is needed to use the K95 keyboard as a keyboard.

A slider switch near the USB passthrough controls the keyboard polling rate. By default, “1” is 1000 MHz and goes down to 750 MHz, 500 MHz, abd 250 MHz. Sliding the switch all the way to “BIOS” will put the keyboard into a compatibility mode for BIOS that may not recognize the K70.

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A set of media keys are located on the top right corner of the K95 over the numpad. There are buttons for Mute, Stop, Next, Previous, and Play/Pause. A scroll bar controls system sound volume.

To the left of the Mute button and the Lock Keys are three buttons. From left to right is a toggle for key-by-key lighting, brightness setting, and Windows key lock.

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Like the older Vengeance K90, the K95 has 18 customizable macro keys. Unlike the K90, the K95’s macros are mechanical keys with the same backlighting implementation as the rest of the keyboard.

The macro keys sound different from the other 104-keys because of the plastic at the key’s base. The tactility also feels slightly different, feeling like a softer bump bottoming on the plastic than bottoming on the aluminum.

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The macro keys are laid on a flat array and do not follow the ergonomic contour of the 104-keys.

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The K95 has folding risers on all four corners giving more height adjustability than other keyboards with two risers.

An included wrist rest can be attached to the K70. The wrist rest is secured by sliding and snapping the tabs into the slots on the underside and can be removed by pinching the tabs.

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Keyboard lighting

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The Vengeance K95 keys are individually backlit with white LEDs. Like Corsair’s other mechanical keyboards, the exposed switch mounting plate allows light to spill out from beneath the keys and give a glowing keyboard impression. With so much light coming out, this is a very bright keyboard. Even the lowest brightness setting is brighter than nearly every other backlit keyboard we have ever seen.

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Each of the K95’s three onboard keyboard profiles stores a different key-by-key backlight setting. Key-by-key backlighting is customized on the keyboard and not in the software. The images below demonstrate the factory default settings.

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Corsair has left a hidden Easter Egg lighting mode called Reactive Typing in which a key's LED will light up when pressed and then turn off shortly after the key is released. To activate this mode, hold down the CTRL key and then the LED configuration button. Then, release both keys. If the key backlights were on, they will now be turned off confirming the mode's activation. The lights can be returned to normal by pressing the LED configuration button, turning off the computer, or unplugging the keyboard.

Driver software

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The keyboard macro customizable software is completely optional because the K95 is functional without the software. Even macro keys commands can be created and stored onboard without the software. To do so, press the Macro Record button, press a macro, type on the keyboard, then press the Macro Record again to save a command.

The software confers the benefit of a graphic interface with menus, editing macro commands, and advanced commands. The software can be downloaded from the Vengeance K95 product page.

The software interface is laid out in sections. To the left is a visual recreation of the 18 macro keys, in the middle is a column that displays the command sequence of a selected macro key, and tabs that bring up their corresponding options. On the top are redundant profile selectors and backlight brightness setting.

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Recorded macros can be edited a great deal. Keystrokes can be rearranged, rekeyed, or deleted.

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Playback Options permits changes to macro repeat parameters. A macro can be repeated a set number of times, repeated constantly while the key is held down, or repeated constantly until turned off with a second macro key press.

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Delay Options can standardize or randomize delays in the macro command chain.

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Advanced Options has drop-down menus which include options to insert predefined Windows hotkeys or launch programs.

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Checking the Hardware Playback box in the bottom left will bring up with warning popup explaining the function.

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Next to the Close button in the top right are links to driver information, instructions, and Corsair’s website.

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Using the Corsair Vengeance K95 and Conclusion

The Vengeance K95 is a good looking keyboard, even if it’s over the top in just about nearly every way. The brushed black aluminum, ridiculously bright backlights, and glowing effect from the lights spilling out from underneath the keys all come together to make a big statement.

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Since the Vengeance K95 and the K70, the latter which we also reviewed, are so similar, much of the experience was the same. The few feature differences are the K95’s 18 macros and the K70’s textured keys and spacebar. The two keyboards have the same 104-key layout and Cherry MX Red key switches and so typing on each generally was indistinguishable. 18 macros won’t always be useful, but it’s a great luxury for hotkey lovers and gamers working with multiple console commands.

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Like Corsair’s other past and present mechanical keyboards, the choice of Cherry MX Red switches on the K95 is targeted toward a gaming audience. Among the popular Cherry MX switches, Red switches require the least force to press and are ideal for gamers who want a very responsive keyboard. On the other hand, these switches are the least forgiving with typing mistakes since so little force is needed to actuate keystrokes. Tactile feedback on the K95 like any other Red switch keyboard is achieved by bottoming out the keys.  The K95’s standard 104-keys have a hard bump due to the rigidity of the aluminum plate upon which the switches are mounted. The 18 macro keys however are mounted on plastic and bottoming out the switch both feels and sound softer than the metal mounted keys.

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In our Corsair Vengeance K70 review, we gave that keyboard a Recommended Award. That would mostly extend to the K95 as well because the two keyboards are so similar. Of course, the K95 most notably has 18 macro keys, which are targeted to MMO gamers or hotkey junkies. The decision to use mechanical switches for the macro keys is an improvement to the older K90 at the trade-off of the K95 being much more expensive at $129.99 shipped. It’s a good keyboard, but there are other more attractive options such as the K70 which are geared toward a broader group of gamers.

Legit Bottom Line: Big, bold, and beautiful, the Corsair Vengeance K95 keyboard is the expensive update to the already expensive K90.