Today Corsair are rebranding their Vengeance range of gaming peripherals. Corsair Gaming is the new brand that you can expect to see from them in future and today we look at one of the first products under the new name in our K70 RGB Review.
K70 RGB Review – Box and Bundle
As noted above we get some new branding on this product, Corsair Gaming with a new logo too. Across the box we get a note of some key features and then inside we find the keyboard wrapped in a protective bag, surrounded by cardboard. Bundled with the board we get a warranty leaflet, quick guide and wrist rest which clicks into the base of the keyboard. Worthy of note is the dimpled rubber coating on the rest, ideal for comfort during longer use.
K70 RGB Review – The Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Keyboard
Shown above is the K70 RGB and it is a nice compact board for a full sized product. Corsair don’t add needless plastic edges, in fact there is very little plastic here at all. The main surface in the key area is brushed aluminium and only the base is plastic with the keys featuring slightly ruberised coating. Those keys are German-engineered Cherry MX Red models with per key lighting (16.8m colours with control via onboard ARM processor) and that means a quieter typing experience than some other models due to the lack of actuation click. Of course, other MX switches will be available for those who like alternate feels and regardless of the version the keys are all available for re-mapping, feature anti-ghosting and and key-rollover. So no limitations on that front. All keys, all remap, anti-ghost and activate at the same time (if you fall on your board).
Corsair Gaming also note that these are not your average Cherry MX switches. They feature a new LED design which places the LEDs on the PCB and then through a lens the light is passed to the key cap
Looking round the board we see that the extra function buttons are all located on the top right area. Up there we have the LED brightness toggle which cycles through off and low, medium and high. Next to that is the button to disable our Windows key when gaming and then we have a set of status LEDs. Next up are the media functions which start with the mute button and volume dial. Below them are stop, back, play and forward. All are LED lit, just like the main buttons and all work with popular software such as WinAmp, iTunes and Windows Media Player and can be activated while gaming, without leaving the software.
Turning the keyboard over we see the plastic base which has four rubber feet in the corners to keep the board stable on our desk and then as well as the rest slots we have four legs, two front and two back.
The final feature of note can be found on the back edge of the board. This is a slider which has four settings that control the polling rate as well as BIOS mode. Also shown in the above image are the two USB connectors which sit at the end of the braided USB cable.
K70 RGB Review – Software
Before we look at the software, we wanted to note that Corsair are currently developing a point and click SDK which will enable gamers and developers to integrate effects and lighting features into games. Keep an eye on the Corsair site for updates.
The K70 RGB uses the new Corsair Utility Engine and allows us to configure lighting, macros, re-mapping, timer countdowns, dpi changes and so on. Each standard key on the board can receive lighting and action configs that work together so we could for example set a macro or press a key sequence and have the keyboard light appropriately to show it has successfully been actioned. Standard profiles are also available, as are per app/game profiles.
Upon first launching the software we are presented with a firware update notice, prompting us to go and check for the latest version then install. Once that is out of the way we are on the first screen which allows us to configure individual keys (including shortcuts to apps). Performance takes us into the configuration of polling rate and our lock function tweaking before Lighting does the obvious.
Digging a little deeper into the config our actions panel allows us access to macro functionality (including double macros) and the advanced lighting controls allow us to begin really configuring the LEDs including brightness, speed of pattern, duration and so on. Lighting effects can be split into groups of keys for speed of configuration and overall there are two groups as standard, background and foreground with the former generally being static. Worthy of note also is that the K70 RGB features ripple effects where the board will demonstrate, either with one key or multiple, strokes through LEDs firing and dimming.
In our settings screen we find device information, support details and the final major feature of note. On Screen Display settings which allow us to have information display on screen when we are in game.
User Experience and Conclusion
Starting with the build quality of the K70 RGB we have a keyboard which for the most part looks great and feels even better. The aluminium frame is top notch and adds a real feel of rigidity to the board while the key type are tried and trusted Cherry MX which is always great to see. The legs could maybe do with being a bit more sturdy for those who really hammer on the board but other than that we have no issues. There are a couple of aesthetic issues though. First up this board suffers the same fate as a number of backlit models. That being the LEDs tend to only light one of the laser cut logos per key. So for keys that have two funtions, such as our num-pad which has arrows as well as the digits, only the digit gets full ligting. The further along the arrow we go, the dimmer it gets. Additionally we feel the brightest setting on the board could do with being a bit brighter. Finally there is a bit of light leakage from some LEDs. Using the W key as an example when it is set to light white various colours from beneath such as green and red shine out onto the side of the 3 key. It isn’t a huge issue but it is noticable.
Before we talk about performance, some notes on the new Corsair Utility Engine. There is no doubt it is a powerful piece of software and on the whole it has decent looks when compared to the competition but as far as usability and how intuitive it is… On that front Corsair fall short. It is possible to guess some of the basics for configuration but try to set up the more advanced features and it gets horribly complicated for first time users (and second… third…). What Corsair needed to do here is have the option for an easy mode which featured wizard to walk new users through configuration, or enable pre-defined profiles (music EQ/Vol display!) and then an expert mode for those who had been through that before. You will need the product documentation, keep it handy. (EDIT: We should note that it is possible to download profiles created by other people from the Corsair forum, so that does help you configure the board)
This issue with the software is of course partially down to just how configurable the keyboard is for actions and lighting. Few other products can match it on that front. We were also pleased with the anti-ghosting/key rollover specs and as a board to type and game on the performance was flawless.
The software is powerful but sadly not in any way intuitive however the board itself has excellent build quality, decent lighting, plenty of effects and a wonderful typing/gaming experience.