Entertainment, Hardware, Reviews

Review: Corsair Vengeance K95 – a Worthy Flagship Successor

So, you are already an experienced mechanical keyboard user and wonder what is new on the market? Or you are simply curious, wondering what this recent clicking rave is all about? Read on and get ready to meet the Corsair Vengeance K95 ? a peripheral that just barely missed its chance to become a flawless choice.

There is more to mechanical keyboards than meets the eye (or a switch, if you will). Implementation of any particular switch differs not only from manufacturer to manufacturer, but there are almost jarring differences in typing experience on the same keyboard as well. While the first version of this Corsair flagship keyboard (K90) didn?t have Cherry MX Red switches all around (with all 18 macro keys and function keys using rubber dome construction), Corsair happily equipped every single key with a Red switch in the successor. Whilst the company did manage to rectify most of the issues, some still remain ? and some new ones appeared…

Once the keycap is removed, Cherry MX Red switch is revealed as well as the powerful LED

We got our eyes set on the keyboard ever since it was unveiled mid-January at the CES 2013, and it took Corsair six painfully long months to get the keyboard out in the market. Was it truly worth the wait?

Vengeance K95 is easily one of the sturdiest and well-built full sized keyboards there is. It harbors that impression even during the unboxing, and well until it sits on the table. Even then, it is massive and?almost immobile? Nuisance revealed itself immediately after the first keys got pressed. It could be due to a manufacturing issue of some sort (as some others have reported this to be the case), but the keyboard with retracted legs feels slightly bent. It is only by a millimeter or so, but it gets annoying during typing sessions as the entire keyboard wobbles a bit.

A millimeter from the desk surface is enough to annoy.

Once the legs are extended, the keyboard stands firm in place. It is also unfortunate that the bottom part of the keyboard isn?t metallic as well, since the wrist rest does require two metal screws to connect with the body.

Metal screw on plastic. It is most unfortunate Corsair didn’t use a metallic bottom part to hold the wrist rest.

Given that the upper plate is made of anodized aluminum, all switches but the macro keys found on the left bank work splendidly. Impeccable, in fact. Firm clicks and fantastic feeling of durability and sturdiness are, unfortunately, replaced with general mushiness on 18 G-keys. Reason being ? that part of the keyboard remained plastic in the Vengeance K95, which is truly a letdown. Then again, all of this (or at least most of it) easily gets forgotten during longer typing sessions, and especially in case one keeps bottoming out while typing (and it will surely happen if one got used to more resistant/tactile switches). The quality is more than noticeable, whether one is gaming or typing for prolonged periods of time, though some may find the Red switch to be overly sensitive (it requires 45g of actuation force and it takes only 2mm of key travel). Curiously enough, Corsair finally decided to introduce more mechanical switch types for their FPS gaming keyboards (K70) during Computex ? but there is no word if that option will become available for the K95 as well.

Macro options are absolutely brilliant ? not only for the hard-core MMORPG players, but for professional use as well. It is dead easy to create new macros (up to 54), and they remain in the keyboard memory even if one carries it somewhere else. Using Photoshop shortcuts doesn?t require acrobatic fingers anymore ? merely a press of the programmed G-key.

Top metal (anodized aluminum) plate is as sturdy as it gets.

To conclude nitpicking, yes, given the dominance of the black surface of the peripheral, it gets dirty and dusty like crazy, and some keys are not uniformly lit (nor equally spaced) ? which could be due to the Nordic layout with extra markings on the laser etched keys. As before, it is possible to choose three levels of backlighting and even at the weakest setting (33%, according to the official application) keys appear to hover above the anodized plating. It is doubtful anyone will use the lighting at the maximum level ? but even if that turns out to be the case, white lighting combined with the dark aluminum creates a cold and calming white/blue effect throughout the keyboard.

Keys appear to hover, effect is more pronounced than on this particular photo

What is really useful is the fact one can customize lighting of the each key and then save it to a profile. One can have a typing backlight setup, gaming setup only or whatever else is on mind. Reactive typing is here as well (where each key remains lit for a second after it?s pushed), but it is merely an eye candy, without any functional usage scenarios. What gets mixed ratings is the media control part of the keyboard. While the fantastic metallic volume control and mute button are placed at just the right spot, one needs to perform a ?finger dive? maneuver over the numeric keyboard in order to access playback controls.

Metallic volume control and mute button placement are fantastic. That cannot be said for the row above the numeric keypad…

The keyboard comes with a sturdy braided cable, and while it is much thicker than the one on Corsair?s M6x and M9x gaming mice, it is also more manageable as it isn?t prone to ho
ld stiffly curved in places. It connects to two available USB ports (+500mA) and is there to enable a pass-through 2.0 port on the keyboard itself. Of course, the peripheral features a 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover.

Up to 1000 Hz USB report rate – Selectable 8ms, 4ms, 2ms, 1ms and BIOS mode

Anodized surface and detail level is simply stunning.

Not much has changed in software controls since the previous generation

Truth be told, for the moment being, a flawless choice doesn?t exist, but given some nods here and there, this product comes fairly close. It grows on you with use ? and while the K90 did possess that trait too, Vengeance K95 is a true step-up and well worth the extra money ($149.99). Despite some quirks, it is one of those rare top of the line mechanical keyboards that are a joy to use. Gaming audience certainly can?t miss with purchase, but the same is worth saying for professional typists as well.

While the keyboard itself may not be perfect, it is currently our favorite keyboard on the market and an improvement on a keyboard that we have already deemed one of the best keyboards ever.