There’s been plenty of mechanical keyboards on the market. I’ve even reviewed a few. But no matter how good the build quality, no matter how good the typing experience is, most mechanical keyboards tend to suffer the same problem: the asking price is simply too much.
Corsair’s K70 LUX RGB mechanical keyboard is the first I’ve tried in a year that I’d feel comfortable recommending, striking a nice balance between features and design without being too expensive or ostentatious.
If you like the look and feel of the Razer keyboards, you’ll feel at home with the K70. Like the Blackwidow X Chroma, the K70 LUX RGB and its smaller K65 cousin is made of anodised brushed aluminium. It’s got a smaller footprint than the Blackwidow X Chroma and it’s lighter too, weighing in at 1.2kg against Razer’s 1.42kg.
The whole keyboard is 43.6 cm x 16.5 cm x 3.8 cm, which doesn’t leave a great deal of room between the edge of the keyboard and the keys themselves. It’s good if you don’t have a lot of space on your desk or you don’t want your keyboard to become a flashy centerpiece.
Corsair haven’t begun manufacturing their own switches yet, so fans of the Cherry MX line will feel right at home. The model I’m using has Cherry MX RED switches, which I’ve been accustomed to for a few years. They’re not the most popular among gamers — browns and blues tend to get more traction amongst programmers and typists. Still, it meant I was able to plug in the K70 LUX RGB and get going without having to adjust to its size or feel; that’s always a good thing.
There’s all the usual bells and whistles, and there’s a spare USB port in the front of the keyboard and a toggle to control the keyboard’s USB polling rate. It’s largely a compatibility feature for motherboards that don’t have the ability to support the K70 LUX RGB (and the K65) at the fastest setting, but that’s largely a non-issue these days.
Speaking of non-issues, the K70 LUX RGB fixes one of my pet peeves: obtrusive media controls. The fast forward/play/rewind buttons are neatly wedged just above the keypad to the right hand side, but they’re deliberately much smaller and not raised like the rest of the keyboard. The volume wheel also has some nice texturing and a good amount of resistance (because you don’t want your volume to be spinning up and down like a loose mousewheel).
One of the major selling points is Corsair’s RGB lighting, and it works more or less the way you’d expect it to. Out of the box, before the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) is installed, the K70 LUX RGB is illuminated in a fairly standard red glow. Once CUE fires up, you’re given a range of options: rainbow waves, spiral rainbow, colour shifts, ripples, type lighting, visualisers, visors, the whole works. The program itself isn’t too bad memory-wise, using a couple of more MB than the Steam client, and while it’s not the most cleanly designed tool it’s easy enough to navigate.
The first iteration of the K70 RGB didn’t come with a keycap remover or textured FPS and MOBA keys, but the LUX refresh does. I preferred not to use the alternate keycaps, as I prefer having the same feel for every key across the board. It’s nice to have the option, mind you, and the fact that Corsair aren’t charging anything extra (unlike the previous K70 RGB line, where they were sold as a separate accessory) is a nice touch.
In general, the K70 LUX RGB feels like a solid keyboard. It’s actually sturdier than the Cherry MX 6.0 keyboard I tested last year, and it feels on par with Blackwidow X Chroma without feeling like a tank or sounding like one. It’s been a perfectly satisfactory keyboard to use in the office as well, although I’m keen to get my hands on the new Cherry Speed switches to see how that compares. There’s a wrist rest as well that hooks into two slots at the bottom of the keyboard.
But it’s not a keyboard for people who like all the bells and whistles. A single USB port located at the top of the keyboard might not be sufficient for those used to two or three — particularly if you want to plug your mouse and have your phone charging at the same time — and the lack of macro keys will be a deal-breaker for some. It’s targeted more at people who want a solid mechanical keyboard without the frills, with the exception of the customisable lighting.
The pricing isn’t too extraneous either. A StaticICE search shows that the starting price for the K70 RGB LUX in Australia is $200, which puts it at the same price as the high end models from CoolerMaster, Ducky and Logitech. If you want a tenkeyless version (without the keypad, in other words) you can pick up the K65 RGB LUX from around $180, although the K70 RGB LUX is one of the smaller full-size mechanical keyboards around.
But funnily enough, the price is also the K70 LUX RGB’s greatest weakness. If you don’t care for the RGB lighting and just want a solid mechanical keyboard for typing and gaming, the K70 RAPIDFIRE is selling from $152, with most major retailers charging around $175. That’s a far more palatable price for those on the tightest of budgets, and it makes the Corsair much more competitive against the rest of the market.