Corsair K95 Platinum With Cherry MX Brown RGB Switches Review

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Apr 3, 2017
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PRODUCT INFO

K95 Platinum RGB

2017
Type Mechanical Keyboard (Cherry MX Brown)
Price $169

1. Introduction and Specifications

The keyboard has been for the longest time, one of the most overlooked pieces of computer equipment at the time of a build. This has much to do with the fact that while other components have evolved over time and gotten progressively more powerful, the simple nature of a keyboard (and even the mouse) has stayed mostly constant. Probably the only real evolutionary point of this essential input device has stemmed from the advent of the mechanical switches.

As with any new technology, this change was met with a widespread difference of opinion, with mechanical switch lovers swearing by their keyboards and others keeping a safe distance from what they perceived was an annoying, clicky experience to their usual membrane/chiclet daily drivers. I am one such person, and I have a story to tell.

I have been, for the longest time, part of the chiclet camp that love the feel of laptop keyboards. This has partially to do with the fact that my primary work on a computer is basically typing away full throttle and the low travel distance and fast feel of laptop keyboards is something that makes me incredibly happy. I tried mechanical switches when they initially went mainstream a few years ago, but like most of my type, found the clicky-ness and massive travel distance very annoying.

A few weeks ago, I was looking for a replacement keyboard and thought it might be time to give mechanical switches a try again. Upon doing some research I settled for the (relatively) non-clicky, low travel distance Cherry MX Speed switches. I reached out to Corsair and asked them to send over any keyboard with that particular switch. It looks like they didn’t want to take any chances, because they ended up sending me their top of the line K95 Platinum RGB flagship.

Unfortunately, Corsair was fresh out of the Cherry MX Speed switches, so I had to settle for the Cherry MX Brown switches, which are the same in terms of actuation and the non-clicky experience but have a bigger travel distance than the Speed variant. For the purposes of my test however, they will more than suffice.

Today, I will be reviewing this keyboard, which is one of the best mechanical offerings out there not just from the point of view of a gamer, but from the point of view of a person who loves chiclet, and whose primary job is writing. As always, we will start with the specifications of the K95 Platinum RGB (with Cherry MX Brown switches)

  • Cherry MX Brown mechanical switches for non clicky, tactile feedback
  • Six multimedia keys – Stop, Previous, Play/Pause, Next, Mute, Volume Up/Down – with solid metal, weighted volume drum roller
  • Windows Lock key for blocking window shortcuts
  • Metal top plate for increased strength, durability and rigidity
  • USB pass-through connector giving easy access to a USB port on the back of the keyboard (USB 2.0/1.1/1.0)
  • Braided fiber 2m cable
  • Warranty – Two years
  • Weight – 1.324kg
  • Keyboard Backlighting – RGB
  • Dimensions – 465mm x 171mm x 36mm
  • Macro Keys – 6 dedicated G-keys
  • Report Rate – Up to 1ms
  • Matrix – 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover on USB

Next up we will be going over the packaging and contents of the Corsair K95 Platinum.

2. Packaging and Contents

People with breakage anxiety would be happy to learn that the actual box comes in a bigger cardboard box which will protect it from pretty much any abuse the courier might decide to inflict upon it. This is something we usually expect in high end products and in this case, we were very pleased with the outer packaging.

The K95 Platinum RGB comes in the iconic yellow black colors of corsair products and features detailed specifications and information about the keyboard housed inside. A screenshot of their CUE software can also be seen on the outward packaging.

Inside, you will find a muted black box with the Corsair flagship logo embossed into the cardboard. The company has very much succeeded in giving the premium feel and look to the packaging with the K95 Platinum. Once you actually get to the keyboard, you will find it encased in a plastic wrap, with everything else hidden under a compartment of the black box. It takes a little bit of effort to free the keyboard cables from the grip of the compartment but once you are done, you will find the following inside:

  • 1x K95 RGB Platinum RGB
  • 1x Key Pick
  • 1x Wrist Rest
  • 2x Instruction Manuals
  • 10x Spare Key Caps

The spare key caps come in contoured and textured variants and will help you replace the “Q”,”W”,”E”,”A”,”S”,D” area to better form muscle memory during those intense gaming sessions and make it easier for your fingers to find the keys you want to press. The key pick given by corsair is pretty handy when it comes to removing the default caps (apply a steady and firm upward pull once you have the pick in place to remove the caps).

3. Build Quality and RGB!

Before we come to the actual performance of the keyboard, I wanted to get the RGB element out of the way. RGB is something that is pretty much taking over the DIY PC industry and is seeping into pretty much anything it can seep into. The K95 Platinum RGB, as the name might indicate, places a very heavy focus on the RGB element.

The metallic top plate and the plastic base can be seen in this picture along with the finish of the key caps, buttons and drum.

It has a cool looking, glowing RGB edge that goes all the way from one corner to the other as well as clear Cherry MX switches with RGB lighting. Heck, even the Corsair logo has RGB lighting.  Oh and did I mention that the buttons on the top panel are RGB as well? Basically, if there is a light on the keyboard you can see, it will be fully customizeable RGB.

The RGB effects are really vibrant and there is a multitude of lighting effects available to the user with the advanced ones accessible by using the CUE software. There are a total of 3 profiles available on the keyboard memory as well as 4 lighting intensity modes (OFF, Low, Medium, High).

The Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) is essential to unlocking the advanced lightning and macro features of the K95 Platinum.

I do have one small complaint with the RGB however, the pure white mode setting on the Cherry MX lights aren’t actually pure white. They have a small blue/green tint in them that I suspect has something to do with material reflection from the transparent casing of the Cherry MX switches. That said, this is something that is the case with the vast majority of RGB keyboards out there and is not limited to Corsair keyboards. Since I don’t normally keep my rig on white colors, it’s not a problem for me, but definitely something to keep in mind if you are planning to go with a pure white build.

The Corsair K95 Platinum RGB features impressive build quality for a keyboard. In this price range, you have competitors which are of a completely plastic design, but the K95 Platinum features a metallic top plate, which the company claims is made of aircraft grade aluminum. Needless to say, it looks very impressive in the gunmetal finish color and will actually make the keyboard really easy to clean, improving its life expectancy in the long run.

The bottom is made of plastic and has some cable management options below. the key caps are made of plastic and so are the buttons. The wrist rest features turn-able sides which feature textured rubber, making it really easier to type on. All in all, the keyboard passes with flying colors in the build quality department; this is one of the better built ones out there and it feels and weighs very sturdy.

4. Gaming Performance of the Corsair K95 Platinum RGB

My testing methodology will consist primarily of putting the K95 Platinum through its paces as my daily driver. This will include using it not only as my primary input device for typing articles (this review is being written on the K95 Platinum) but testing it as a gaming keyboard as well.

Let’s start with the gaming part since that is what the majority of people buying these type of keyboards are going to be using it for. I am a regular Starcraft II player and if you have seen any competitive match then you will know that blazing fast hotkeys and high APM is usually a very good indicator of who will win the match. This is also part of the reason I wanted to make the switch to a mechanical keyboard, since membrane keyboards aren’t usually a good fit for fast hotkeys due to their ability to be accidentally pressed.

The textured and contoured ‘gaming’ key-caps provided in the box have been swapped in.

The games I tested the keyboard in were Starcraft II and DOTA II, and I must say it was an absolute pleasure. The well defined key structure (which is only helped by the textured and contoured key caps) not only made it much easier to hotkey but also made my key presses faster. My APM in Starcraft II increased by around 10% simply by making a switch to the K95 Platinum. Accidental key presses also went down significantly. Keep in mind however, that mechanical keyboards have slightly larger spacing then traditional membrane keyboards and will take you a day or two to get used to.

The actuation force of the Cherry MX Brown switch is also perfect (in my opinion) and feels very satisfying due to the muted tactile feedback. As far as the non-clicky ness of the switch goes, it is definitely more muted than its MX Blue siblings but it does have the distinct type writer sound to it that mechanical switches have. So if you are someone who has family members around that get ticked off by clacking away on the keyboard, mechanical switches are not for you.

A full blown numeric keypad will be useful for those looking for data entry on the side.

Let’s talk about the macros now. I was looking forward to testing the macros out in Starcraft II but the K95 does not have on-the-fly macro recording like its K95 Vengeance variant. This is something that could potentially be a deal-breaker for certain gamers out there that tend to rely on macros. You now have to record macros through the CUE software and to be fair to Corsair, you can record much more complex macros than before.

But the problem is, as a Starcraft player, I can tell you that there is simply not enough time to worry about shifting windows and interacting with CUE. On-the-fly macro recording was created for the sole purpose of facilitating highly competitive gameplay where you can record and change macros without alt-tabbing out of the game.

That said, you can record the macros in CUE and then execute them just fine via the “G” hotkeys given, so if your core gaming genre involves static macros (and not ones that need changing every other game or so), you are going to be just fine. I really like the fact that they have dropped the macro key count by a third (previously had 3 columns) since gamers usually do not use that many macros and that high a number of keys will only result in accidental key presses.

Overall, I was fairly happy with the gaming performance of the keyboard and the increase in APM it offered me in my core gaming titles.

5. General and Writing Performance of the Corsair K95 Platinum RGB

Finally, we are at the point I wanted to talk about the most: how the K95 Platinum (with Cherry MX Brown) switches perform as a daily driver for someone who writes a lot. As I already mentioned, before this, I used to write primarily on a chiclet keyboard and have tried many times in the past to make the shift to mechanical keyboards but never actually succeeded. I am pleased to say however, that after using the K95 Platinum for a week, I am now actually more inclined to type on the K95 than my chiclet and this feeling is only growing stronger!

The Cherry MX Brown switches as well as their transparent, RGB, housings can be clearly seen in this picture.

Let’s talk about the two most important things to a writer: key press accuracy, speed of writing and actuation feedback. These three variables are what usually sets the chiclet apart from conventional membrane keyboards. They have high accuracy due to the rounded square design, are very fast in writing due to the very low travel distance and when the press is completed, the sudden brake provides a very satisfying feedback to the fingers.

The Cherry MX Brown switches of the K95 platinum offer a different, but very pleasing alternative. I have to point out that for users migrating from chiclet, there will be a bit of a learning curve involved. It took me approximately 3 days to completely get over the different feel and structure of the K95. The keys are spaced further apart so my initial few minutes of typing involved a very high amount of typos. The mechanical keyboard takes a while to get used to but once you complete the transition, a very satisfying typing experience awaits you.

The travel distance and the tactile feedback makes writing so natural that over my week of usage, I actually began preferring it to my chiclet keyboard. I am now using the K95 as my daily driver and couldn’t be happier. I would actually rate the satisfaction of typing higher than any other keyboard and this is partially because the feel and actuation of the K95’s Cherry MX Brown switches is so precise and calculated that it can only be a step up from the slightly more clumsy chiclet approach.

As far as typing speed goes, after I got over the learning curve of shifting, it was about the same as my chiclet if not faster, so loss of speed is something you do not need to worry about if writing is your primary concern.

6. Conclusion

At the end of the write-up I would like to say that this is a very solid entry into the high end keyboard market and while it does not feature a lot of bells and whistles, it more than makes up for it in terms of build quality and elegance. It is currently available on Amazon and Newegg for $169. We have previously reviewed keyboards in this price range that did not have the same build quality as this. Gaming and general writing performance is excellent as well on the Cherry MX Brown configuration and if you really want to tilt it towards writing, you can go with the Speed switches.

The only suggestion I could give to Corsair would be to bring back the MR key for on-the-fly macros, as most of the time macro complexity is not a good enough trade off for the ability to record keystrokes in the heat of battle. All in all, if you are a writer/gamer looking to migrate to a mechanical keyboard, this would be a very good pick. If this is on the high end side for you then you can also check out the Strafe RGB variant we reviewed a while back.

The K95 Platinum was provided to us by Corsair for review purposes.

 

 

8.6

An excellent mechanical keyboard for the gamer and writer (MX Brown/MX Speed) alike that features a very high build quality and a wide range of features.

Performance9.5
Value7.5
Design & Aesthetics9.5
Features8

Pros

  • High build quality (Aluminum top plate)
  • Minimalist and elegant design philosophy
  • Various RGB lightning options
  • Complex macro capability
  • Excellent typing and gaming capability

Cons

  • No on-the-fly macro recording
  • Not a lot of bells and whistles
  • Premium price tag
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