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[Sponsored Review]
Corsair K70 RGB



Welcome to my review of one of the newest offerings by Corsair, the K70 RGB.

Before I get started, I'm going to point out some things regarding the review in general.

  • This board was provided as a review sample by Corsair for no charge.
  • I will not be keeping this board, it will be given away randomly at a later date to a member of OCN.
  • This review will only be discussing the board itself, not my opinions on the switches the board uses (in this case MX Reds), opinion on switches is subjective, and you'll have to make up your own mind about what switch is the one for you.

Quick navigation:

  • Introduction
  • Unboxing
  • Layout, Keycaps and more
  • Internals
  • Case
  • Features
  • Cost and Coverage
  • Final Thoughts
Right, let's begin.

Introduction

This is one of the newest additions to Corsair's already substantial product line-up, and notably one of the first (along with the Corsair K95 RGB and K65 RGB) to offer the new Cherry MX RGB switches, offering as you would expect, controllable RGB backlighting, a feature that was previously not possible on a board with standard Cherry MX switches.

What Corsair has to say about the K70 RGB:

http://gaming.corsair.com/en-gb/corsair-gaming-k70-rgb-mechanical-gaming-keyboard-cherry-mx-brown

Unboxing

Here is the retail packaging:






The packaging is well done, giving a good overview of the appearance and feature set of the board without seeming clustered. It definitely gives the impression of a premium product.

Now for the contents of the packaging:

Inside the outer advertising box we have a sturdy cardboard box to keep everything protected:



Inside we find everything securely packaged:



And everything included in the box:



Pretty minimal contents for the K70 RGB, the board, the wrist rest, manual and warranty information. No special gaming keys for WASD and 1 - 6 like with the original K70, not an issue in my opinion as the extra keys were annoying when you weren't using the keyboard for just games.

Overall I think Corsair has done a good job with the packaging of the K70 RGB, the outer packaging is informative and well-designed, telling you everything you'd need to know before purchasing, and it's packaged well to prevent any damage in transit.

Layout, Keycaps and more

Layout

On the surface it appears the K70 RGB uses a pretty normal layout, however there are a few things different about the layout compared to a more standard board:

F-row

The F-is positioned slightly closer to the main 60% cluster, this should make those keys easier to access in game if you need to use them, and also makes the keyboard slightly less long on the desk.

Bottom row

If you look carefully, you should be able to see that the K70 RGB is using a less common layout for the bottom row keys, instead of using a more typical 6.25x spacebar with 1.25x keys, it's using a 6.5x spacebar with a mixture of 1x, 1.25x and 1.5x keys.

The advantage of this is that the keys you might use more often, the Ctrl and Alt keys, are larger than the Windows key, which isn't used nearly as much by a lot of people. This is particularly useful for in games, where you're not going to be using the Windows key and could benefit from the larger Ctrl and Alt.

However, I'm not a fan of this bottom row layout as it means replacing the keycaps later on will be more difficult, and you'll have far less choice.

Keycaps

The keycaps on the K70 RGB are what we have come to expect from most big brand backlit keyboards, smooth ABS keycaps in an OEM profile, they aren't bad, but you can still feel the legends slightly on the keycaps.

Internals

Now we'll look at the internals of the K70 RGB.

Taking the board apart isn't easy, to remove the back cover of the board, you have to remove all the keycaps, and unscrew 24 screws, 1 of which is hidden under part of the volume wheel as shown below, and another is under the metal 'Corsair Gaming' logo, also shown below.




Once those screws are undone, you can carefully pry the back cover off the the front plate, making sure not to damage any of the wires or ribbons that connect the mainboard to the daughterboard(s).

Once this is done, we have the following:





As you should be able to see from the pictures above, the quality of the soldering is good, uniform and making good contact with the board.

One issue I have with the internals of the board however is the method by which the daughterboard for the media controls (volume wheel excluded) interfaces with the mainboard. The two are connected by a plastic tab with copper contacts from the daughterboard pressed against matching copper contacts on the mainboard, which seems reasonable except for the fact that the only thing that holds these together to create a connection is a small rubber insert that is mounted on the back part of the case. If this plastic insert isn't precisely in place, when you try to put the board back together the media controls (volume wheel excluded) will just simply not work.

I'm not entirely sure of the reasoning of using this type of connection, it doesn't seem very robust compared to the other connections they've used and I'd prefer to see some kind of actual connector than just a plastic tab with contacts.

Case

Design

Top side

As we've come to expect from the Corsair K series, Corsair take a less conventional approach by having no top casing, and instead having the plate the switches are mounted to as the top surface of the keyboard. This allows them to have an attractive metal top for the board without adding any extra weight. Corsair have opted for a dark coloured brushed aluminium plate in this model, and I think it looks particularly good, creating a nice contrast between the plate and keys when the LEDs are on.

Due to the switch plate being used as the top casing for the board, the top half of the Cherry MX RGB switches are visible underneath the keys. Whilst this could look bad with the standard black switch tops of the non-RGB Cherry MX switches, due to the translucent design of the Cherry MX RGB switches (to allow light to shine through the switch), it creates an attractive design feature when the switches are lit, allowing light to shine out from the sides of the keyboard and between the switches, creating a nice glow that complements the light visible from the key legends. This can be seen below:



The downside of this however is that if you want to use a lighting scheme on the keyboard based on contrasting colours, rather than blending them, e.g. alternating different colours in rows, then the design when combined with the jagged layout of the rows will cause these neighbouring colours to blend, making perhaps undesirable colours visible. Take for example the lighting scheme I used, below, which uses rows of only red, blue and green:



As you can see, there is some definite overlapping of light occurring, you can clearly see some orange, purple and turquoise light in addition to the red, blue and green set in the lighting profile. I personally like the effect, but it certainly isn't for everyone.

Moving on, due to the fact the top casing of the K70 RGB sits several millimetres below the bottom of the keycaps, it makes the board very easy to clean with a can of compressed air, much more so than a more regular board like the Ducky Shine 3, where you'd have to remove all the keycaps to be able to clean the board properly. However I'd still personally remove all the keycaps on the K70 RGB if I wanted to clean it thoroughly.

Reverse side

On the reverse side we have a smooth, matte black plastic back cover. The back cover feels solid and tough, definitely not like some cheap plastic cover that flexes when it's pressed.

Also on the reverse side are the expected rubber pads to prevent slipping, they are fairly small, but seem to do the job well out of box. In addition we have the expected flip out feet at the back of the board, they feel solid, however they are not rubberised, so when they are folded out the board doesn't seem to grip the desk as well as if they weren't being used.

A less expected feature on the back of the board is two more fold out feet towards the front of the board, this allows you to raise the front of the board. It might not immediately be obvious why they included these front feet, but upon using the board, it makes sense. If you have just the front feet folded out it seems to keep your wrist in a straighter position when combined with the wrist rest, this means if you're spending an extended period playing for an example an FPS game where your fingers are likely hovering around WASD, then your wrist won't be angled as much and you might have less wrist pain.

If you have both the front and back feet folded out, then this raises the entire board, which could be more comfortable for those who prefer to have their wrist on the desk, rather than the bottom of their palm.

Branding

The branding of the K70 RGB has been the subject of much controversy. Since Corsair have compartmentalised their peripherals division under a new 'Corsair Gaming' brand, a new logo was required to separate them from the normal Corsair division.

The new logo devised is shown below:



There has been a lot of dispute over the design of the logo as some people find it less professional looking compared to Corsair's well-known sails logo. I personally don't mind the logo, it doesn't look particularly obnoxious and there are much worse logos to be found on other computing brands, in my opinion at least.

Now, for how this new logo is featured on the board, the logo is only found in one place on the board, just over where the cable connects to the board. The logo isn't giant or excessively shown so this is a definite plus, in the past some companies have made their logos far too prominent on the board. I think the logo on the K70 RGB is shown enough to make the brand clear, but not the centre of attention, so I think it's been featured enough.

Quality

Given the price tag and materials the board is built from, you would expect a quality product and I think the K70 RGB has delivered.

The board does have some flex, however it is minimal, and more importantly, the top plate doesn't seem to be deforming from the flexing. This is important as if the top plate gets deformed, it can cause the board to wobble, as seen on some earlier K series boards, however there is no sign of it on this sample and I imagine you would have to put the board under a fair amount of stress before any problems start occurring.

Summary

In summary, the K70 RGB feels like a quality product, there aren't any areas where I feel like the keyboard is lacking.

Features

Given that the K70 RGB is marketed as a gaming-oriented board, you'd expect there to be a good selection of features on the board, Corsair comes through with a good feature set of stuff you might expect and some stuff you might not.

RGB Backlighting

It goes without saying that one of the main reasons for buying the K70 RGB is the RGB backlighting it offers. As mentioned before, Corsair are the first company to offer controllable RGB backlighting using the new Cherry MX RGB switches. Previously fully controllable RGB backlighting wasn't possible using Cherry MX switches as the controllable RGB LEDs were too big to mount on the switch, your only option was to use RGB LEDs that pulsed through all the colours available.

To create your own lighting profiles for the K70 RGB, you need to download the Corsair Utility Engine software from their site. The software is only a ~43MB download, and doesn't use up a lot of memory whilst running, < 25MB from what I have seen.

Given the huge number of possibilities for backlighting (16.8 million colours available for each LED at any time), it was inevitable that the software would take some getting used to. Upon initially starting the software I found it confusing, but watching YouTube tutorials made it clear how to do what I wanted. I will not be producing a dedicated tutorial on the lighting as I don't feel I can add anything to the information already out there, for anyone purchasing this board, I would highly advise watching YouTube tutorials so you can get the most out of the board.

As a a quick example of what you can do with the backlighting on the board, I created a fairly simple profile that sends a ripple of a few colours out from a pressed key, as can be seen here.

Of course, if you watch some tutorials and put the time in, you can create some very impressive lighting profiles, and the Corsair Utility Engine software even allows you to Export or Import profiles so you can share your work and try out what other people have created.

Now for the quality of the backlighting, the backlight is adjustable to 4 different brightness levels via a button above the print screen key. Some people have complained that the lighting is fairly dim compared to some other boards. My opinions on this are yes the light coming out of the legends does seem dim compared to some other boards. For example the picture below shows the difference in brightness between a Ducky Shine 3 (top) and Corsair K70 RGB (bottom), both using green backlighting at maximum brightness (the K70 RGB is set to max brightness both in the light profile and via the brightness button).



As you can see, the Ducky Shine 3 is far brighter.

However, unlike the Ducky Shine 3, the K70 RGB doesn't have a top plate and the LEDs are mounted in a different place (Ducky Shine 3 uses standard Cherry MX switches, not Cherry MX RGB). As a consequence, a fair amount of the light produced by the RGB LEDs on the K70 RGB is diffused through the translucent housing of the switch and can bleed out from underneath the key. I believe this can contribute significantly to the difference in brightness. Also as mentioned before, the K70 RGB has a glow around the keys, which some people may prefer over a brighter looking legend.

I found that even in a bright environment, such as next to a window in the middle of the day, the lighting was still more than bright enough for a glow on the lowest non-off brightness setting, and bright enough to light up the legends clearly on the two higher brightness levels, so I wouldn't personally consider the brightness to be an issue.

It's also worth noting that the K70 RGB has onboard memory, so the lighting profiles are stored on the board itself and don't have to be recreated or imported if you use the keyboard on a different computer.

I feel it is worth mentioning is that at the time of writing, the K70 RGB is unable to display the full 16.8 million RGB spectrum of colours. This is due to some issues with the technical aspects of trying to send uncompressed RGB data to the keyboard via USB. However, this is not to say that this problem cannot be resolved, the board is fully capable of supporting the full 16.8 million colour RGB spectrum, it will just require a driver update, which at the time of writing is being worked on by Corsair and should be available soon.

Also worth noting, though it is a minor flaw is that it's possible to get the backlighting to freeze by pressing Scroll Lock, Caps Lock or Num Lock in rapid succession, this prevents the RGB LEDs from changing colour or brightness until the board is unplugged and plugged back in.

Other Software Features

On top of controlling the RGB backlighting, the Corsair Utility Engine software also allows the user to assign various features to specific keys, including:

  • Macro
  • Text block
  • Keystroke
  • Shortcut
  • DPI
  • Timer followed by action
  • Mouse movement
  • Media control
This allows you to have a great deal of control over how you play games or work via the keyboard, you can even set lighting effects to trigger at the start of any of those actions, so you can tell when they trigger. This is a nice inclusion and makes the software the most feature-rich I have seen so far.

BIOS/ polling switch

Included on the board is a BIOS/ polling switch. This switch has five positions and allows you to set the board to BIOS mode, which is a mode designed to work well with older computers, specifically in the BIOS by disabling features such as N-key rollover.

The other 4 modes are labelled 1, 2, 4 and 8, with each of these modes changing the polling interval of the keyboard to 1, 2, 4 or 8ms respectively.

Media Controls

As you would expect from a premium gaming keyboard, the board includes media keys, specifically:

  • Mute button
  • Volume wheel
  • Stop button
  • Previous button
  • Play/ Pause button
  • Next button

These are definitely a nice inclusion, as much as I love the minimal TKL format, I miss media keys and their convenience, using software to simulate them just isn't as convenient.

The quality of these media keys and the roller is good, they don't feel cheap and the volume wheel doesn't move from side-to-side like I have experienced on some cheaper keyboards.

Cable

The K70 RGB includes a thick, hard-wired, braided dual USB cable. Despite being thick, the cable is not hard to bend and should not cause you any problems. The board requires two USB ports due to the extra power requirements for the RGB backlighting.

Wrist rest

The wrist rest feels very well-made. The finish on the top is smooth and feels slightly rubberised, however it doesn't come with either of the downsides of a cheap rubberised coating by being prone to marking or feeling excessively grippy. It attaches to the board using two clips, which feel sturdy and unlikely to break easily. This wrist rest is a definite step up from some other packaged ones that I have tried, that often feel like they are made out of part of a plastic trash bin and attach to the board with cheap, brittle plastic clips.

Windows lock key

As you would hope, the K70 RGB includes a windows lock key. For those unfamiliar, this can be used for games when you want to prevent accidental presses of the Windows key, which would bring up the start menu and interrupt the game. Also worth noting is that in the Corsair Utility Engine software you can set the key to also disable Alt + Tab (which would change to the next window) and/ or Alt + F4 (which would close the current window you are viewing). I've never really considered how useful this could be before, it's nice to see Corsair adding stuff like this.

Summary

In summary, the K70 RGB is definitely a feature-packed board, I don't feel like it's lacking anything that would make me look at other options.

And before you think 'what about macro keys?', the K70 RGB deliberately doesn't have macro keys. Not everyone wants them, and it doesn't make sense to include them at the cost of making the board take up more desk space if people aren't going to use them, so Corsair have the K95 RGB for those that want macro keys.

Cost and Coverage

Cost: ~$170 at the time of writing.

Coverage: 2 year warranty

Final Thoughts

In summary, despite initially thinking I'd prefer my minimal TKL boards, I like this board a lot, it offers a lot of features that while may not be strictly necessary, are nice to have. Some people see RGB backlighting as a gimmick, and I can understand where they are coming from, I can't imagine having the board pulsing colours every second I'm on the computer, but it's nice to have the option to quickly and easily change the backlighting to keep the board interesting.

Whilst this board certainly won't be for everyone, I think it takes a sensible approach of offering many gaming features in a less gamer-y looking package, the board doesn't look excessively flashy unless you want it to, and I think this makes it highly desirable.

Now, would I buy this board with my own money? I'm used to the TKL format of keyboard, so I'm not sure I would move back to a full size keyboard, however if the K65 RGB (TKL format) is as good as the K70 RGB, then I would definitely consider that. That's not to say this is any fault of the K70 RGB, just my personal preference for a board that takes up less desk space.

Pros:
  • RGB backlighting.
  • Less gamer-y aesthetics.
  • Media keys.
  • One of the few Cherry MX RGB keyboards available at the time of writing.
  • Premium feel to the board in general.
  • Powerful software.

Cons:
  • Non-standard bottom row layout.
  • Keycaps could be better.
  • Some aspects of the internal design aren't ideal.
  • Thin metal logo.
  • Issues with software.
  • Low-profile case design might not be ideal for some people.

If you feel there's anything I've missed out or if there's anything else you'd like to know about the keyboard, let me know!
 

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Amiga 500
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Very detailed review,thanks for sharing
thumb.gif
 

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: ( ) { : | : & } ; :
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Nice! but I don't think I can justify buying one of these though.
tonguesmiley.gif
 

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yeah these things went through the roof on price. Honestly, keep at eye out at best buy/microcenter retail locations.

I wanna pick one up with browns and sell my k70 mx red/red led keyboard I think.
 

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Sgt. Wolf S. Bora
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Nice review! It seems to be quite fair.

My only comment regarding the board is of course the logo since you provide a larger image of it. I did not mind it before but after seeing it much closer, it reminds me of those terrible tribal tattoos that it seems millions of people have. That is not a good thing. The logo is neither original or attractive. It is a shame considering how reputable Corsair is in every other regard.

With all of that said, your review answered a lot of my questions. And though I'm not interested in buying the keyboard, I will say that it actually seems more appealing after reading this. Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Glad you liked it! And yes, the logo isn't for everyone, but I personally think as long as it's not extremely prominent, then it's fine.
 

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Sgt. Wolf S. Bora
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradigm84 View Post

Glad you liked it! And yes, the logo isn't for everyone, but I personally think as long as it's not extremely prominent, then it's fine.
Very valid point. I could live with it as it is on that keyboard.
 

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I would list the following as a con.

2 Year warranty (logitech offers 3 year warranty)
buggy software (just check out corsair forums for yourself)
Cherry RGB MX Blue Switches don't feel like Cherry MX Blue Switches (retailers are reporting that version has been discontinued)

I wouldn't buy Corsair RGB keyboard with my own money right now. I would wait to see if they can fix all the issues with the keyboard first.
 

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Please update the review to include software stability issues in it's own section and in detail while stress testing the software with macros and custom lighting.
This issue have been reported multiple times.

Edit : Also monitor CPU usage by the software if possible while testing.
 

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well the k65 RGB is hardly and different to the k70 as far as i know except for the additional numpad, volume scroll and selectable memory profiles. however the k65 only comes in red switches

I own a k65 RGB, one issue with the cherry RGB is that the LED is recessed to protect it from static but hurts the brightness as it is only half as bright and not as vibrant as a typical cherry styled LED.

another issue with the translucent cover is the lighting bleed as it bleeds across other keys. dont get alot of contrast when you set different colours to adjacent keys

software is buggy with the lighting and profiles but its by far the most powerful software as far as LED customisation is concerned
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paradigm84 View Post

F-row

The F-is positioned slightly closer to the main 60% cluster, this should make those keys easier to access in game if you need to use them, and also makes the keyboard slightly less long on the desk.
Could you expand on this some more? From the pictures, it looks like any decrease in size from the F-row being closer to the number row is negated by the much larger than normal unused space above the F-row.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by confed View Post

Could you expand on this some more? From the pictures, it looks like any decrease in size from the F-row being closer to the number row is negated by the much larger than normal unused space above the F-row.
what he meant was that the F rows are spaced closer to the number row rather then the traditional layout where they are spaced comparatively further away . key sizes remain the same. point is the F row is closer and more reachable
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by akromatic View Post

what he meant was that the F rows are spaced closer to the number row rather then the traditional layout where they are spaced comparatively further away . key sizes remain the same. point is the F row is closer and more reachable
I understand that it is more reachable. I was asking for clarification about when he stated that it "makes the keyboard slightly less long on the desk."
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSim View Post

I would list the following as a con.

2 Year warranty (logitech offers 3 year warranty)
buggy software (just check out corsair forums for yourself)
Cherry RGB MX Blue Switches don't feel like Cherry MX Blue Switches (retailers are reporting that version has been discontinued)

I wouldn't buy Corsair RGB keyboard with my own money right now. I would wait to see if they can fix all the issues with the keyboard first.
  • Not going to list that as a con until I can see what warranty other companies give their Cherry MX RGB boards.
  • That's fair enough, I should include that
  • I'm not sure that is specifically a fault of the board being reviewed.

Thanks for the input.
smile.gif


Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeElectron View Post

Please update the review to include software stability issues in it's own section and in detail while stress testing the software with macros and custom lighting.
This issue have been reported multiple times.

Edit : Also monitor CPU usage by the software if possible while testing.
I didn't think software stability issues deserved it's own section as I felt it only made sense to include software issues that I could replicate, and the only one I've managed to so far is causing the lighting to crash by spamming any of the lock keys, as mentioned in the review. The only other software related issue I found was that it takes a few seconds to start working properly after being plugged in, but I wasn't sure if this was a big deal for most people.

As for macro key testing and lighting, is there anything specific you have in mind? I didn't notice any increase in memory from either recording or executing 2000 letter macro bindings, and the only significant lag I've been able to produce is from plugging the board in, other than that, I haven't been able to replicate a lot of problems mentioned elsewhere such as the keyboard freezing when waves are set to cross over each other.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maylene View Post

It's silly how under "pros" you put "Less gamer-y aesthetics" yet corsair felt the need to make it a "gamer" keyboard.
I meant that in my opinion, it looks less gamer-y compared to some competing boards such as the Logitech G910 Orion Spark.

Quote:
Originally Posted by akromatic View Post

well the k65 RGB is hardly and different to the k70 as far as i know except for the additional numpad, volume scroll and selectable memory profiles. however the k65 only comes in red switches

I own a k65 RGB, one issue with the cherry RGB is that the LED is recessed to protect it from static but hurts the brightness as it is only half as bright and not as vibrant as a typical cherry styled LED.

another issue with the translucent cover is the lighting bleed as it bleeds across other keys. dont get alot of contrast when you set different colours to adjacent keys

software is buggy with the lighting and profiles but its by far the most powerful software as far as LED customisation is concerned
I get what you mean regarding the light bleed, if you have a colour scheme on the board where you don't really want colours from adjacent keys to blend, e.g. if you wanted alternating red and blue keys, then in that example you're also going to see some purple between the keys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barbouri View Post

I am currently researching mechanical keyboards for an upcoming purchase, so your review came at a great time.
Well written and informative, without being too opinionated. Thanks!
Glad you liked it.
smile.gif


Quote:
Originally Posted by confed View Post

I understand that it is more reachable. I was asking for clarification about when he stated that it "makes the keyboard slightly less long on the desk."
To clarify what I meant, if the K70 RGB had a larger space between the number row and F-row, then the board would take up more desk space. As it stands, I could just about use the K70 RGB, but I think if it was any bigger, it would just eat up too much desk space and be too big for me. I like the fact that they've cut out that little bit of extra space as I don't personally find it useful.
 
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