Corsair RGB is Here
It's finally here. After three quarters since being revealed to the world, a certain lineup of keyboards with obnoxiously bright individually backlit keys that spill copious amounts of light from beneath the keycaps are now more gaudy than ever much to our delight. Multicolor RGB lighting for the Corsair Vengeance K70 and Corsair Vengeance K95 keyboards was first shown off at CES 2014 in January to much attention. For years, multicolor backlighting was a highly requested feature for mechanical keyboards. The vast majority of backlit mechanical keyboards only use a single LED color, but individually LED-lit keys have the benefit of luminous and highly visible keyboard lighting even in well-lit environments. Backlit membrane keyboards by contrast don't have the luminosity to outshine even a nearby lamp, but the lighting mechanism usually used in these keyboards allows for multicolor lighting.
The Corsair Gaming RGB keyboards are the first ever fully customizable multicolor backlit mechanical keyboards. Corsair worked with Cherry Corp. to modify the popular Cherry MX switch to use multicolor lighting, by changing the switch housing to a clear plastic and building a lens where the single-color LED used to be while an RGB LED would be surface mounted onto the circuit board underneath the switch. Corsair is not the first to roll out an RGB multicolor mechanical keyboard as Tesoro and Rosewill had them beat with modified Kailh switches while the Corsair RGB series remained unreleased for months since its reveal. Corsair's new keyboards however are the first with individual key lighting customization are a result of the integration of an ARM processor and lighting controller to handle complex illumination patterns.
The K70 RGB is the standard layout keyboard of the three Corsair Gaming keyboards, the other two being the K95 RGB with 18 additional macro keys and the tenkeyless K65 RGB. These new keyboards update the 2013 Vengeance K70, K95, and K65 with Cherry MX RGB switches, full key profiling, and a new logo
. These keyboards come with a 2-year warranty and are respectively priced at $169.99
, and $149.99.
Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Features:
Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Specifications:
- 16.8 million color per key backlighting
- Fast, precise, durable Cherry keyswitches
- Flexible FPS and MOBA color profiles
- Powerful, comprehensive backlighting software suite
- Easy, fast per-key color programming
- Sturdy, rigid brushed aluminum platform
- 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover on USB
- Detachable soft-touch wrist rest
- BIOS mode and polling rate selector
- 100% Cherry MX mechanical keyswitches (Red, Blue, or Brown)
- 32-bit ARM Processor
- Panasonic display controller
- Up to 1000 Hz USB report rate
- Selectable 8ms, 4ms, 2ms, 1ms and BIOS mode
- Product dimensions: 436mm x 165mm x38mm / 17.2 in x 6.5 in x 1.5 in (without wristpad)
- Product weight: 1200g / 2.97 lbs (without wristpad)
The Corsair Gaming K70 RGB comes with a detachable textured wristrest, a Multilanguage quick start guide, and warranty information slips. Drivers and a detailed user manual including explanations on how to use Corsair Utility Engine software must be downloaded from the Corsair web pages
. The set of alternative textured keycaps that came with the original Vengeance K70 is not included in the K70 RGB.
We're still just getting started. On the next few pages, you'll be able to see our many pictures of the K70 RGB keyboard! Additional pictures provided by Corsair, including of the K65 and K95, can be viewed from the official press release
Looking Closer at the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB (Part 1)
The K70 RGB has a typical keyboard size of 17.2(L) x 6.5(W) x 1.5(H) in / 4.36 x 16.5 x 3.8 cm. It doesn't have too much extra bezel sticking out from the sides.
The thick sleeved USB cable is 6 ft long and ends at two plugs. Only one of the USB plugs is needed to power and use the keyboard; the other plug only handles USB passthrough.
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, and 250 MHz. Sliding the switch all the way to "BIOS" puts the keyboard into a compatibility mode used for a BIOS that may not recognize the K70 RGB.
On the top right of the keyboard are media keys for Play/Pause, Next, Back, Stop, and Mute. A rolling bar controls system volume. To the left of the mute button are the three lock keys, and further left is the Windows Key lock and backlight brightness adjustment button.
Four flaps can be pulled out at the four bottom corners to adjust keyboard height and angle.
An included textured wrist rest can be attached to the K70 RGB. 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.
The Microsoft Keyboard Ghosting Demo
confirms that the K70 RGB has N-key rollover.
Looking Closer at the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB (Part 2)
The standard 104 keyboard keys are all backed by Cherry MX RGB mechanical switches. These are modified Cherry MX switches with clear housings and "lens" placed over surface mounted LEDs. Corsair Gaming RGB mechanical keyboards are available in three Cherry MX switch varieties: linear, nontactile Reds, tactile Browns, and clicky Blues.
Unlike most mechanical keyboards, the backplate on which the switches are mounted is exposed. This allows for light from the backlights to flood out from beneath the keys. The black brushed aluminum has its own visual appeal as well accentuating high-quality materials.
Click a thumbnail to view a larger image.
Corsair Utility Engine
The Corsair Utility Engine software
is a highly recommended program to download and install for Corsair RGB owners. Without it, keyboard lighting and macros cannot be customized which would defeat these keyboards' signature features. Despite the fact that all the new Corsair RGB keyboards have onboard profile storage, installing the software is still required to activate the currently stored profile or else the keyboard defaults to red lights or a static rainbow.
Settings page offers general settings such as language, automatic launch, and automatic profiling, on-screen display settings for changing the popup HUD visibility, and media player settings for assigning the priority of which media player the media keys control.
Here the preview overlay has been activated over a screenshot taken from DOTA 2. The positions of the overlay elements can be dragged around in the preview mode.
Settings displays the information of attached Corsair Gaming mice and keyboards. From here, lighting for each of the devices can be disabled and the firmware can be updated.
tab is where per-key macro customization is assigned and lighting modes are created.
submenu shows a graphic of the keyboard where a key can be selected and have its command changed. Commands can be created in the popup customization window and new macros are stored under the Actions tab for later management.
submenu has a set of checkboxes for disabling certain keys or key combos that can disrupt gaming.
submenu is where keyboard backliting is managed. On the graphic of the keyboard, a key or a selection of keys can be added to groups which are listed horizontally above the graphic. Groups can then have their lighting customized.
Here we're using the 'megarainbow' profile created by mecks on the Corsair forums
To the left of the keyboard graphic is a list of modes for that profile. Above that list is a dropdown menu that displays locally stored profiles and to the right of the arrow is a button that prompts another dropdown for profile options. Type Lighting is where reactive light effects are customized such as ripples upon a keypress.
Beyond setting the base light color, groups can be given lighting effects that move across the group of keys.
These lighting effects are saved in a list under the Lighting
tab for management.
tab has a bank of user created custom key commands. The list can be sorted or certain types of commands be filtered to find the one in mind faster.
There are eight types of custom key commands that can be created – macro, text, keystroke, shortcut, DPI, timer, mouse, and media control. Some of these commands are unity features for controlling compatible Corsair Gaming mice such as the M65 RGB.
records keystrokes and then allows editing of the string. The other settings offer fine tuning the macro.
automatically types out a block of user defined text. It is more efficient for very long phrases, but unlike Macro, cannot output some modifier keys such as Alt and Ctrl.
is also similar to Macro and Text. A defined set of keys is outputted upon keypress.
opens or executes a program upon keypress.
changes the sensitivity of a compatible Corsair mouse.
triggers a countdown that appears in the overlay.
allows mice commands to be bound to a key.
provide commands for control media player playback and are the same as the default functions of the keyboard dedicated media keys.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The only surprise the K70 RGB presented was the struggle figuring out how to customize the backlighting colors in the software. It's time consuming to use despite Corsair's obvious efforts at making it accessible. There are a number of menu options that need figuring out and combining those options to make ambitious light effects takes patience. For example, creating a custom rainbow wave lighting profile was unintuitive. The difficulty comes from making a number of interactions happen including spacing and then managing groups of keys, assigning the correct colors using a swatch and hexadecimal, and timing the sequence across those groups and colors. Making an expressive lighting profile is not something that can be done in a matter of minutes or even hours. It is for that reason the Corsair RGB customization forum
has attracted many RGB owners.
The rest of the keyboard is without surprises. The identical size and layout to the preceding Vengeance K70 left us with the same impressions
as that keyboard during usage. The Cherry MX typing experience is great as a merit of the keyswitch design though that is inclusive of just about every Cherry MX mechanical keyboard. Since Corsair has made available three Cherry MX switch varieties available for the K70 RGB – Red, Blue, and Brown – buyers can choose the type of tactility for their usage and best optimize for gaming, typing, or both. The bezel-less edge and the keys floating above the backplate don't influence the typing experience and are more for visual appeal by allowing the backlights to flood from underneath the keys and showcasing the polished black aluminum. The included textured wristrest gives an ergonomic adjustability option that blends in with the K70 aesthetic. Many of these observations can be extended to the K65 and K95 keyboards because they feature the same design principles on different layouts and sizes.
The original K70 was a very well received keyboard and stood apart from other mechanical keyboards by its aggressive crafted look. Corsair didn't remove anything to make the K70 RGB, but adapted the design to deliver a much asked for feature since the usage of LED lit Cherry MX switches in gaming keyboards. The added onboard ARM processor and memory make the most of the new RGB feature from the Cherry MX RGB switches while additionally empowering per-key macro command customization. Expectedly, all this makes the K70 RGB more expensive than the 2013 K70 models at $169.99
. Undoubtedly, the new Cherry MX RGB switches and more importantly, a robust software have allowed Corsair to be the first to make this dream come true even while a bunch of big competitors loom beyond the horizon.
Legit Bottom Line:
The Corsair Gaming K70 RGB is the familiar Vengeance K70 except more magical.