The Hardware Review: Corsair K95 RGB Platinum Cherry MX Speed
Corsair K95 RGB PlatinumOut Now
So I know this guy, his name is Pascal. Some of you may be wondering why I’m starting out a keyboard review writing about a guy I know but go with it. You see, Pascal is my Corsair rep. Why am I talking about my Corsair contact? Well for a couple of years now, Pascal has been trying to get me to see the light. And by the light, I’m talking about the way of the non-tactile, non-clicky switch.
The bottom line is that I’m a clicky key fan. I hate mush, I hate membranes, I want to take every cheap and nasty keyboard or chiclet abomination etc and put them all in a big pile and burn them with a lot of fire and probably some brimstone too just for good measure. If I could, I’d dig out my old Suntouch 101 with an AT DIN, convert it into a PS/2, convert that into USB and plug it into my rig but for the layout being US (I live in the UK again these days), me having no idea what I did with it and the last time I tried this years ago, failing to get it working because passive PS/2 to USB converters rely on the keyboard having the ability to switch internally, which of course an old AT DIN keyboard isn’t capable of.
A few years back when I came back to PC gaming, I did my research and bought a Corsair K70 (non-RGB) with Cherry MX Blue switches and went on my merry way being happy with clicky keys.
Then Pascal came along with his “try the non-clicky switches!” cavalier attitude. No way! I reviewed the Strafe in Cherry Blue guise a while back but I’ve resisted any arguments (Pascal, gaming mates etc) to try a non-tactile, non-clicky switch. As far as I’m concerned, if I’m gaming, everyone in my house should know it and hear it and be warned not to bother me, Cherry Blues served that function perfectly (as well as having an awesome feel!). Well after some arm twisting, I’ve relented and that is why I’m now typing this review on a Cherry MX Speed K95. That’s an important fact to note, I’ll come back to why later.
Fit and Finish
My wife sends me a message, a package has arrived for me, I’ve told her it’s the keyboard because it’s the only thing I’m expecting and she says no way, it’s too heavy to be a keyboard. I get home that evening and pick up the box, it’s pretty clear why she thought it wasn’t the K95, the box is heavy and that means that Corsair have likely kept the hefty metal chassis and solid build quality. It’s the keyboard alright, but dainty this thing ain’t. Weighing in at almost 3 pounds (over 1.3kg), it’s heavier than my wife’s laptop. Quite right too.
The build quality is largely as you’d expect: entirely solidly screwed together Corsair. I’ve got several Corsair peripherals and have to say I love them. The K70 and also an M65 mouse from a few years back have been sturdy companions, seeing me through countless hours of gaming and general usage with no problems whatsoever. Thankfully the K95 continues that trend. Picking it up and giving it some twist reveals no creaking or flex. The braided cable, flush USB pass-through, tightly fitted metal volume roller housing make for a keyboard that you feel could easily last you until the sun explodes, the rapture comes or whatever other end times event you care to choose arrives.
Corsair K95 General Usage
The K95 is a keyboard that is definitely easy to love. The one minor criticism I have being that I like a relatively steep angle of tilt on my keyboards and although the K95 has a couple of legs you can flip out at the rear, I just wish they’d give a bit more height to the frame, even another 5mm would do it I reckon. That much said, this is a pretty minor problem, also easily solved by shoving something underneath the legs.
Wrist rest is again a solid affair, attaching with a solid “thunk” and has a removable rubber pad which is reversible, one side with recessed dimples and another with slightly raised triangle patterns.
Media control keys are nicely positioned above the numpad and are lowered so that it’s easy to recognise them by feel rather than having to look, however don’t feel like they’re mechanical switches. There is a tactile bump to them so they win points with me for that and the volume roller key I use multiple times daily still takes pride of place at the top right.
There is a big let down here though. That font. I hate it. It’s a personal preference thing but I really don’t know why Corsair started using it. Thankfully I’m a touch typist and don’t really look at my keyboard while I’m typing to look for keys etc but when I catch a glance of it, that font just gives me a slight hesitation about an otherwise beautiful keyboard.
Everything else about the K95 screams quality. I’ve never been a massive RGB fan but I don’t mind it and the RGB light bar running along the top of the keyboard is a nice touch. Replaceable keycaps for your usual WASD and QWERDF are included to give you some slightly contoured, raised and roughened surfaces for additional feel regardless of your preferred gaming keyboard setup.
Then we get to the K95’s party trick, the G keys. Along the left most edge of the keyboard, are six keys numbered G1 to G6 from top to bottom. These again have the contoured, raised and roughened keycaps, as well as a gap of about 1cm from where your normal keys end. The G keys serve as your dedicated macro capable keys where you can bind extended action sets to your frequently used in game shortcuts, but to do that you need to familiarise yourself with the Corsair Utility Engine Software…
The Somewhat Improved: CUE is Still a Thing
Given that I’ve still got an old M65 mouse, I’m using two pieces of Corsair software on my rig now. The M65 is non-RGB so it’s the now pretty old and relatively basic “Corsair Gaming Software” package which allows me (with a lot of fiddling) to change settings, create macros with delays etc and store them for future use. The Strafe when I reviewed it meant that I had to use the newer “Corsair Utility Engine” software and I really didn’t get along with it. While it was certainly possible to do what I wanted in it, the interface and overall user experience left me struggling, it wasn’t particularly stable and generally felt like it was a mediocre at best attempt at a peripheral software interface. Powerful, yes, but inherently flawed.
Corsair has been beavering away steadily updating its CUE software and it’s interesting to see the evolution of their efforts. The work they’ve done has taken it out of the university computer science student project realms that it really felt like before and into what I’d consider to be a more professional software package. That much said, there are still problems. It’s a pretty non-intuitive system (although improved on previous iterations), and now more stable than it was previously. While fumbling through it, I still get pauses between actions that make me feel a little uncomfortable, like the system is trying to do what you’ve asked but may be on the verge of crashing.
There are a lot of profiles available you can download and import with some nice fun ones users have created and shared such as lightsaber battles playing out across your RGB, Sith force lightning emanating from your every keypress or the Matrix code simulation. There are also a reasonable number of game specific profiles but given the likely number of Corsair keyboard users out there in the world, the library feels a bit sparse. That means that either people aren’t submitting profiles or they simply aren’t bothering to create them. Given the complexity involved in familiarising myself with it and trying to create a few macros then merge them with an existing profile somehow, it’s easy to see why. Corsair have a great hardware division but the software side still has some way to go to catch up.
Corsair K95 Key Action
So let’s get to the most important thing about a keyboard for me, namely its action. As you can tell, the way a keyboard feels under hand is important to me so it’s fair to say that I had a massively biased and pre-judged opinion even before I opened the box of the Corsair K95. This was going to be non-clicky bad, but still noticeably better than my terrible membrane keyboard at the office. The thing is, I actually like it.
No wait, more than that. I LOVE it. Something which I would’ve thought is entirely anathema to me, but a non-clicky keyboard actually works as a mechanical keyboard and it works well. What’s more, my wife loves it. It’s not as quiet as a membrane keyboard, but it’s noticeably quieter than Cherry MX Blues. Feel upon pressing still has a sense that something is happening under fingertip with an easy and very light beginning followed by what feels like increasing pressure.
I’m a reasonably fast touch typist, averaging somewhere between 70 and 80 words per minute when I’m in the zone and it’s actually quite a bit easier to type on than a clicky tactile one for a few reasons.
These actuate at a relatively high 1.2mm, meaning that even though I usually bottom out keys when typing, these pick up the occasional actuation which a Blue will miss if I don’t quite strike the key hard enough to travel all the way. If I rethink what I’m about to type and pull a finger off just after slightly depressing a key, it means I’m reaching for the backspace with the K95. The trade-offs are probably very marginally in favour of the MX Speed switches as when I’m in full flow, on Blues I’d semi regularly find myself going back because I hadn’t bottomed out a key but by the time I see the fact that it hasn't registered on the screen I’m already on the next word and as such need to go back.
This is a good keyboard. No wait, scratch that. This is a GREAT keyboard. I love it and as amazed as I am to say it, that’s the point I need to make going back to my opening section of this review. The K70 with its Cherry MX Blue switches has been replaced. The K95 is my main keyboard now. Keep in mind that I’m not even playing any games that have particularly complicated sequences of key presses for macros that I need to use the G keys for either. The functionality I use in my day to day gaming is WASD, a few of others and a mouse (as well as a HOTAS of course for Star Citizen!)
8MB of onboard storage for keeping your profiles stored is also useful and the 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover should really be standard in any gaming keyboard of note these days. I’m smitten with this keyboard, but before I get too carried away, we should touch on the price.
This is an amazing piece of kit, but at about 200 (£, € or $, take your pick it doesn’t matter), it’s also probably the priciest keyboard around (I’m not including gold plated, diamond encrusted stuff obviously). Now for some, the difference between a £100 or £200 keyboard will be an irrelevance. These guys have just bought a Titan Volta and will simply buy whatever they think is the best for them. If you’re worried about value for money though, it’s probably worth checking out some of the other keyboards in the Corsair range like the K70 (£80 cheaper if you’re not bothered about RGB and still an amazing performer).
For the absolute best though? It has to be a K95 RGB Platinum and if you were like me and only tactile clicky would do, I encourage you to get yourself down to anywhere that you can possibly go and try out a keyboard with Cherry MX Speed switches. Goodbye K70, I’ll miss you (not really, it’s now in the office annoying all my coworkers!)
This is my keyboard, ugly fonts and mediocre software warts and all. Good luck getting me to give it up. The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum is an Editors' Choice and it'll be a cold day in hell before I give it up. Pascal has a lot of explaining to do...
If god exists and games, it's surely on a Corsair K95 RGB Platinum with Cherry Speed Switches...
- Rock solid Corsair build quality
- Amazing feel
- Excellent macro capabilities
- Font is a bit ugly
- CUE software is still not great