Let’s start with the basics
We’ll ignore all the other things about this keyboard for the moment and just talk mechanical.
Why mechanical anyway? I’ve always wondered. I’ve always been intrigued by that distinct mechanical keyboard sound that you’ll hear on pro gamer Twitch streams. Now I need not wonder, at least as much, as I have yet to try out any other models of mechanical keyboards.
As I type this, the sound and feel of every key press is addictive. I have this keyboard set up at work right now and as I drive to work, I get a little tingle of excitement, ‘I get to type more on the keyboard!’. Throughout the rest of this article, you can just imagine my face as I type away.
The reason for this sound and feel comes from the Cherry MX Red mechanical switches used below each key. The advantage comes from the reduced distance to each keys actuation point. The actuation point being the actual point at which the key press is recognized. As I type this sentence, I am trying to type as lightly as possible and it is amazing how little pressure is needed. I would assume that it’s in the ball park of around a millimeter or two.
Another option that keys can have are tactile versus linear. Tactile means that each key will have a slight notch that causes you to feel a little bump as you press the key down. It’s an indication of the actuation point. Linear meaning that there is just a smooth travel from un-pressed to pressed. The Corsair K70 seems to be Linear, as I feel no bump at the point actuation.
Do I think this has a real impact on my typing speed and gaming ability? Not really… It’s hard to say because even after a week of use and gaming, I’m still not fully accustomed to the keyboard. I find that with the extremely sensitive keys, I am accidentally hitting all kinds of stuff. In WoW I seem to accidentally hit shift+2 or 3 all the time which switches my main action bar from 1 to whatever number I press. I need to just remove those key bindings altogether I think. I have noticed a slight increase in performance as I use it and maybe after a few more weeks I will be fully accustomed to it.
Keep in mind though, none of this matters because:
“Typing this with this keyboard feels really cool but is really loud which almost adds too the cool. I guess now I get to piss off my friends with how cool I am.”
What else is cool about this keyboard?
16.8 million colors per key. Need I say more? Well, yeah I should.
If you can find your way through the software (more on this below), you can do just about anything you can imagine. Want cooldown counters on your keyboard? Go for it! Set each key binding to light red for however many seconds the cooldown is, have it turn back to green when the time is up. That is just one example of what you can do. More crazy ideas are below. I’ve actually seen someone program games into the key lights. My favorite preset that I’ve found is EMP which I can then bounce the EMP back and forth on the keyboard and just smile at the fact that I can do that.
*Cough* PCMR *Cough*
Immediate disappointment, it’s USB 2.0 not 3.0. This really doesn’t matter, but I like tech and when I can use my new USB 3.0 ports, I get excited.
Have you ever opened and closed the door on a brand new BMW? If you have, then you know what solid engineering feels like, the bulkiness while also feeling smooth and lite. Everything feels like it fits together perfectly. This is what a keyboard should feel like. Except of course the space bar. I really wish they had used more than one key switch for it.
The software is… bad. There is no other way to put it. Most of my day will consist of software testing. I have noticed a difference as I get better at this, that I start to see the pitfalls of other companies software (not that ours is perfect or anything, software is a difficult area). I can just feel the afterthought that this software is. They knew they needed it and so they put together whatever they could as fast as they could. That doesn’t mean they don’t at least have a decent starting point, it just needs some serious work.
To give you an idea of what is ‘bad’ about this software, just take a look at this.
This is where they drop you, no tutorials, no presets, just a blank interface. When you first plug in the keyboard, the default lighting setting is all red with W,A,S,D and the arrow keys lit white. This would be fine, except they do not show you the settings they used to accomplish this look. This means, I, a software developer, can’t do what I normally do and backwards engineer something. If I see how you set that key to white and this key to red, I would learn a lot. They don’t give you that, Corsair says, here you go, have fun. I have one important question Corsair, if your customer has ~$200 to blow on your keyboard, they are probably busy people, why would you think they have time for that?
Then I noticed there on the left, ‘Profiles’, and I thought to myself, ‘oh good, they did think about it!’. Too good to be true. Profiles is left completely empty as well. What else did they not put in profiles? A link to a site to upload profiles. This is where I just have to give you another meme.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed Corsair, but the modding community in gaming is incredible. If you knew, you wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to build a Corsair Gaming modding community.
Luckily, the internet is a great place with literally anything you want. You just have to find it. That’s when I came across the best profile creator I’ve seen so far, Lewis Gerschwitz.
These profiles seem to be the most elaborate that I can find. Most others that I have found have been things like Green Reactive, where it’s all bright green and when you press a key it goes to a very dark and low light green for a second or two. Not that impressive.
Now I have to go back and start talking about why the software is bad again. Okay Corsair, another serious question. What is a profile? According to Webster: “a set of data often in graphic form portraying the significant features of something”. Right so, something that portrays the significant features of something, not many somethings. Do you realize that you have set up your software so that profiles are not separate? Yes, you can tell a profile what bits of code it is using, but do you separate out those bits of code used? No, you just dump all of it from every profile into the same pile of code.
What I expect is that when I select a profile, it should list out all the bits of code used for THAT profile. So when I download three profiles, I can’t go backwards engineer them either because I am looking at a pool of 3 profiles worth of code dumped into a list.
Please Corsair software engineers, sit down and use your software for five minutes and think long and hard about it. You know this isn’t right.
I want to give this keyboard a high score. I just can’t in good conscience do so. The keyboard itself is almost 100% awesome, I’m talking to you space bar. The look and feel of the keyboard even before you turn on the light show is awesome. The key switches feel amazing. This keyboard is the best keyboard I have ever used and I would like to also dub it, “the coolest thing ever plugged into my computer”. But Corsair, your software is so bad that I cannot recommend it fully. I am very tech savvy and it gave me issues. That is a very bad sign.
You need to back up this awesome keyboard with awesome software. You can’t insult your paying customers with this software. I didn’t even bother mentioning the terrible translation throughout the software and guide books… Oh wait, I just did, now that I have, let me show one example.
“The firmware reset function allows for a hard firmware reset if applicable. It’s highly recommend not using this feature endless instructed by Corsair Technical Support representative.”
(Do you have a single support rep?)
I have to ask, why did you bother making English the primary language? Why don’t you put English in with the other translations so that we can at least expect the translation to be a little off.
As for the actual keyboard itself, if it weren’t for the flimsy space bar I would give it a 9/10, but with that space bar I will give it an 8/10. As a full inclusive package, the software and everything, I just have to give it a 6/10. That is how far the software and lack of profile sharing facilitation brings this down.
Corsair, please redeem yourselves and this epic keyboard with well designed and thought out software.
Disclaimers: Review Unit K70 RGB provided by Corsair Gaming.
I have never owned a mechanical gaming keyboard. I have technically used mechanical keyboards before because I grew up in the ’90s, but nothing like this.
Edit: I’ve had the K70 for awhile now. It just died. About 3 or 4 months ago I spilled a little bit of beer on it. I immediately unplugged it and went about cleaning it. After throughroughly cleaning it (removing key caps and all), I let it dry for several days. The keyboard continued to work perfect up until a few weeks ago when I noticed that it would just mysteriously turn off. I would get it working again by just unplugging it and plugging it back it. It got to the point where it would just cut off all the time. I think it’s officially dead. Maybe I caused it to break, but it seems a little brittle to me.
Edit 2: Plugged her in again. Works 100% fine again. I have no idea, drivers maybe?