Corsair’s Pricey K100 RGB Looks and Feels Like Lightning in a Bottle

Corsair’s Pricey K100 RGB Looks and Feels Like Lightning in a Bottle
Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

At some point, Corsair is going to run out of upgrades to cram into its top-of-the-line keyboards, but it seems that time hasn’t arrived quite yet. That’s because by taking its previous high-end keyboard and upgrading it with new optomechanical switches and adding a new control wheel, the Corsair K100 has created a super responsive keyboard to suit both competitive gamers and big-time streamers alike. The only major downside to the K100 is that starting at $360, it is a bit pricey for anyone who isn’t a hardcore keyboard nut like our resident Topre fanatic and sometimes editor Alex Cranz.

The K100‘s design is basically the same as the K95 including its aluminium deck, keycaps, and pass through USB-A port. You also still get Corsair’s handy media controls in the top right featuring a jog wheel for adjusting volume and a set of dedicated keys for Stop, Skip Back, Play/Pause, and Skip Forward. The detachable wrist rest is a bit softer than before, but overall, it’s a tried and tested build that has worked for years, and Corsair is probably smart for not screwing with the formula too much.

Corsair K100 RGB

WHAT IS IT?

Corsairs top-of-the-line mechanical keyboard with optical switches

PRICE

$360

LIKE

Sturdy build, clean design, new iCue control wheel, bright per-key RGB lighting, magnetic wrist rest

DON'T LIKE

Don't Like Pricey, Elgato integration only works with left macro keys, control wheel could use wider compatibility

Furthermore, with per-key RGB lighting spread across 44 configurable zones, the K100 is a whirlwind of colour. Honestly, some of the preset colour schemes like Rain and Rainbow Spiral are downright mesmerising, and I’ve caught myself staring off into the depths of the switches like that one guy from The Matrix. If you want a keyboard that will satisfy your craving for RGB, the K100 will deliver.

However, beneath its keys, the K100 has switched over from standard mechanical switches to Corsair’s new OPX optomechanical linear (that means no bump when pressing a key) switches that instead of relying on physical pressure to detect a keystroke, uses little lasers positioned beneath every key that can tell precisely when something gets pressed. And I do mean precisely, because with an actuation point of just 1mm (and an actuation force of 45g), the K100 is seriously sensitive. It almost seems like lightning just flows through your fingers and triggers the sensors, that’s how fast we’re talking.

The new iCue control wheel features a centre button to toggle through various functions which includes adjusting the keyboard's brightness, switching apps, and more.  (Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo) The new iCue control wheel features a centre button to toggle through various functions which includes adjusting the keyboard's brightness, switching apps, and more. (Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo)

For people looking for a keyboard that’s extremely responsive, this is it. Keystrokes get registered instantly, no ghosting or lag to worry about. However, for people used to keyboards with longer actuation points, the learning curve for Corsair’s OPX switches can feel kind of abrupt because even just resting your fingers on the keys with the faintest pressure can end up registering as a full keypress.

Keystrokes are also incredibly stable, there’s practically no mush or wobbling unless you bottom out hard, but at that I must admit I’m really nitpicking. It’s a quality typing and gaming experience, which is essential, because at this price there’s no room for subpar switches. (Note: you can also get the K100 with Cherry MX Speed switches if you want.) One thing I do want to point out though is that I sort of wish Corsair had included a way to customise the K100’s actuation points like you can on the SteelSeries Apex Pro, which is one of the K100’s direct competitors and costs $40 less.

That said, unlike the Apex Pro, the K100 comes with a handy row of macros keys on the left side of the keyboard and Corsair’s new iCue control wheel in the top left corner, which can be customised to control a range of different functions depending on what app you’re using. By using Corsair’s free iCue app (which is also what you’ll use to make macros and configure its lighting) you can set up different colour-coordinated profiles for the control wheel, so you can do things like adjust the brightness of the K100’s lights, scroll down websites, scrub through videos, switch apps, and more.

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo, In-House Art

The K100 also had a set of dedicated volume and playback controls in the top right.

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

The K100 comes with a few extras keycaps with textured tops and a handy keycap removal tool.

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

Photo: Sam Rutherford, In-House Art

The control wheel is super adjustable and reminds me a lot of the dial found on Logitech’s Craft keyboard, but with a bit less focus and support when it comes to productivity and content creation. Still, it’s really handy, and by simply pressing down on the button in the middle you can quickly toggle between various functions. My only regret is that between its placement and some limitations in the iCue app, it’s not quite as useful for actual gaming as I’d hoped.

If you’re a streamer, you can even use the K100’s left macro keys to trigger specific commands or functions in the Elgato Stream Deck app, so you can do things like quickly switch between windows, shift focus, change overlays, and more. Just keep in mind that you will have to install the iCue and Stream Deck apps separately, and for some reason only the K100’s macro keys are supported. That’s unfortunate because I could easily see some streamers wanting to turn their numpads into a dedicated streaming control panel. Maybe that’s something a future update can address.

The RGB lighting on the K100 shines real bright.  (Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo) The RGB lighting on the K100 shines real bright. (Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo)

In the end, aside from lacking customisable actuation points, the Corsair K100 has pretty much everything you could want in a fancy mechanical keyboard, and then some. For competitive gamers, the K100’s optomechanical triggers offer a hair-trigger response, while the new control wheel is a useful tool for controlling your PC and or adjusting keyboard settings with a simple flick. And with its pretty RGB lighting, the K100 looks damn good, regardless of whether you’re in the middle of a match or if it’s just sitting idle on your desk.

Finally, for streamers (or people thinking about getting started) the K100’s Stream Deck integration makes it just a bit easier to control your broadcast. So while there’s no denying the K100 is expensive, it’s still a worthy rival to keyboards like the SteelSeries Apex Pro. And if you don’t care about all those extras, you can always save some cash and get a K95.

README

  • With a 1mm actuation point, the K100’s keys are REALLY sensitive, especially for anyone not already used to more esports-focused switches.
  • I’m personally not a huge fan of passthrough USB on keyboards anymore, but the K100 has it if you need it.
  • The iCue control wheel is really handy for scrubbing through videos and a few other things, but it’s not really something you’re gonna use while gaming.
  • Corsair says its OPX optomechanical switches are more accurate and durable than standard mechanical switches.
  • If you don’t care for its linear optical switches, the K100 is available with Cherry MX Speed switches too, though at that point you’re probably better off saving some money and getting the Corsair K95.