Typing On The Wings Of An Angel
I recently received a new mechanical keyboard, and I wanted to go ahead and write up a review of it here on the blog. If you haven’t already read the post on how to pick out a mechanical keyboard youcan read about it here. I’ll continue on assuming you are up to date on what a mechanical is and how they work, and the benefits to using one verses a normal membrane keyboard.
I hinted at this board in my gaming equipment series, saying that I didn’t own one but if I was to buy another mechanical, it would be my next choice. Well I was an ass hat and managed to damage the cord on my last keyboard, the Corsair K70 LUX with Cherry MX brown switches. I don’t think this was the fault of the company, rather something I did myself, so I just decided to buy a new board and not try to go through a repair or replacement product. The board I’m currently using is the Corsair K70 LUX with the new Cherry MX speed switches. What makes these switches special is the new travel distance of 3.4mm and the actuation distance of 1.2mm. To put that in perspective the norm is 4mm and 2mm for travel and actuation. Other than that difference, the board is the exact same as my previous Corsair which I like because I am a big fan of the layout and build quality.
Some Basics About The Keyboard
The plate is a thick but not too thick curved piece of aluminum. It dips down where the switches are actually located, but is raised at the keyboard’s bottom and top. So from left to right you have a sort of shallow valley that runs along the entire keyboard where all the switches and keys are located. The only things up on the raised section are some soft rubber buttons and a scroll wheel. towards the center is a button that cycles your three levels of LED brightness, and a button that disables your windows key. This is useful when gaming so you don’t accidentally press it and take yourself out of the game window at an inopportune time. In the far right of the raised section is a mute button and wide volume scroll wheel. I program the wheel to work only with Foobar which gives me an easy access to media volume control only, then I use my headset to control my default PC volume. Under the Wheel in the part that is dipped down are 4 soft media controls, your standard stop, previous, play, and next. After that the keyboard is your typical desktop layout.
The cord is nice and thick, some sort of braided nylon or some such. On the back of the keyboard where the cord comes out you have a USB 2.0 pass through, but of course, if you want to use this feature you have to plug both USB plugs on the cord into your PC. The keyboard itself requires USB 3.0, it will work with a 2.0 plug but I’m assuming for using the Corsair Q-Software you need 3.0; I don’t use this so it is a mute point for me anyway. The other thing you have on the back is a polling rate switch, this determines how often your PC listens for keypresses from your board. This allows the keyboard to work with older bios versions, and will also take less PC resources I believe, but don’t quote me on that one.
That pretty much sums up the layout. It does come with a plastic soft touch wrist rest. In the past I haven’t used it, but currently I am and after getting use to it I’ve decided I really like it. It is soft touch which doesn’t mean it is actually soft and squishy, just nice and pleasant for the wrist, or in my case palms to wrest on; I have big hands. Build quality isn’t an issue with this board, it is super sturdy and feels really well made, the only plastic is the wrist wrest and the bit under the aluminum plate where all the keyboard innards are. I should mention, it does have 4 flip out feet, two forward flipping ones in the front and two side flipping ones on the back.
The Switches & Typing On It
I need to start out by saying, from the first time I pressed a key on this I noticed the difference. This is my first keyboard that has linear switches with no click or tactile bump, but that wasn’t the important thing. I was super skeptical that I would be able to tell the difference in a 1.2mm actuation difference, and a 3.4mm travel distance. Well I was completely wrong, it is extremely noticeable, way more so then I would of ever thought. The difference is much more pronounced then my jump from blue to brown switches. Also some places brown and speed are listed as requiring the same pressure to activate the switch, this simply is not possibly true. These keys are so much easier to activate, just the slightest pressure will press it down and with the shorter travel distance they activate allot easier. I’ve found myself accidentally pressing keys from just resting my fingers on them. This may be cause of me having abnormally large hands again, but not sure, either way the keys are much easier to press and activate.
The Cherry Speed switches are like a trimmed down red switch, and not having owned anything with red switches, I can’t compare the two. Honestly though, when there is a better version of reds, I can’t imagine why anyone would buy them anymore. They are listed as being silent switches, and the switch itself is indeed silent, but don’t confuse this with the keyboard being silent. Most of the noise of a mechanical keyboard comes from the keycaps tapping against the backplate. Granted, a switch like blues are much louder cause they have that sharp click every time you press a key, but allot of their noise still comes from the plate. If you really don’t like this you can quiet it down some using the dampeners I mention in the gaming series post about keyboards. Overall I don’t mind the sound, I rather like it, and don’t plan to use dampeners on this keyboard because I really like the feel of it just the way it is.
Now the big question. Does this allow for me to press keys faster? Well there are two answers to this, in short yes, but I am only comparing this to my previous brown switches. Compared to those, yes this allows me to press keys much faster. If I was to compare this to red switches, I am not exactly sure. I cannot tell if the increase in speed is due to the linear press or the actuation distance, but I’m leaning on it being the linear switches. Without that tactile bump it allows me to just tap allot softer and faster. I’ve heard others say that they haven’t noticed a difference in speed switching from red to speed switches, but they were all early reviews. I’m prone to think that once your brain gets use to the new distance it will probably boost your speed up by one or two presses a second, but that is just speculation on my part. Overall they are an amazing switch for me personally, and gaming with them is great, even with something like core-exiles which is a browser game.
Linear switches are not for every person however, and there is no replacement for getting some hands on experience on different switches. Some people only like blues, I was that way until I switched to browns. Then I really liked them. Now that I’ve moved to linear I really am seeing why they are so popular with gamers. For me I don’t see them as mushy which is a common complaint with allot of people with both brown and red switches. These are nice and soft but I don’t view that as being mushy; for me that would be a membrane keyboard. These feel nothing like a membrane board, in fact they are about as far from one of those you could possibly get. Just realize I love these, and if linear is your thing you might like them as well, but your personal preference is what determines what kind of switch you like. If you haven’t ever used a mechanical board, you can refer to the gaming series post on keyboards and that might help you at least make up your mind on what one to buy first. Just keep in mind I didn’t have this current keyboard when I wrote that.
The Issue Of Key Chatter
I have had previous issues on my past keyboard with something called key chatter, at least I thought that was the issue. Key chatter happens with some mechanical switches, but it isn’t that common with Cherry. What happens is when you press a key and activate the switch it sends more than one keypress to your keyboard, like it is chattering and rapidly sending multiple presses. This would happen to me and normally send two presses when I only pressed a key once. Randomly this would mean I was typing words like you”r, youu, yoou, it was also happening with my B and number 1 on my row. I did lots of research and found out there is something called keyboard chattering fix, this program runs in your background and monitors your presses. It then deletes the second keypress specified in a time range you input, for me the threshold was 65ms. This was just me putting a band-aid on a much bigger problem, and still some double presses slipped through the chatter fix and made it into my typing. I cannot express how frustrating it is to try and write when you have keys double sending all the time, nearly every sentence had a double press in it, making it nearly impossible to just sit down and write something without hundreds of mistakes. Chatter fix did help, but not all the way.
It turns out I am actually a moron and should of read down to the end of the forum threads I found online. It would be slightly okay if this was just one and not all of them. It turns out, sometimes switches have to be “broken in”. This means you have to work them up and down a fair bit to get them all use to responding to you properly. All I had to do was with a firm, rather hard pressure spam that button 30 or 50 times. I did this with all my keys I suspected of chattering and magically it was fixed. There was only one key I had to do it twice on about two days later, but after that no issues what so ever. I only put this in this post so if you ever run into this problem yourself, you know there is a super simple fix. So far I have not had any chatter issues on this new keyboard however. If the issue does arise, I know how to fix it, though after a couple weeks with no breaking in being needed, I’m fairly certain it won’t be necessary.
Alternative to Cherry MX Rapid Fire Switches
While I was dealing with the suspected key chatter, I started to look up alternative keyboards to Corsair, as I was completely fed up with the typing issues I was having. Really there is only one alternative if you want something with linear gaming switches, and that is Razer. They have some what recently come out with their new Razor Yellow switches, which are essentially a copy of the Cherry MX Rapid Fire switches. They have the same 1.2mm actuation distance, but a full travel distance of 3.5mm, so with only a difference of 1/10mm in the travel distance, you are essentially dealing with the same thing as far as your experience goes. After two days of reading articles and watching videos on all of Razer’s different boards and switches, there was a few things that made me decide on sticking with Corsair.
- First and most important my issues with double presses weren’t a quality control or product issue, this put the two keyboard options back on even ground.
- Personally I trust the time tested company of Cherry over a brand that only uses proprietary switches of their own brand.
- The cost of the Razer Chroma V2 with yellow switches on amazon is 169 dollars, and only comes in RGB.
- The Corsair k70 Rapid Fire comes in a red led option, and only cost 102 dollars on amazon. Keep in mind these prices do fluctuate.
- Razor does rate their switches at 80 million presses verses the normal 50 million of Cherry. Quite frankly I don’t believe this so it was not a factor in my purchase choice.
- I really liked the build quality of my past Corsair k70 and it was familiar, Razor was and still is an unknown.
- If I wanted to go cheaper with a Razor Orange LED which is a half way switch somewhere between Cherry brown and red it was a 2014 model and full plastic construction, a major downfall for me.
Overall after looking at all this, it added up to me only being able to go with Corsair. A part of me did want to try a different brand just to be able to compare them, but not enough to pay 70 dollars more for something I wasn’t sure about. The option is there for those who do currently have Razer and enjoy their keyboards, you can upgrade to the new gaming yellow switches, but it will cost you a fair bit. The prices on Ebay were even more outrageous, most options being upwards of 200 dollars. This was also true for the Corsair Rapid Fire, I only saw RGB options listed on Ebay with very high pricing.
Rating the Different Aspects of The Corsair K70 Rapid Fire
- Build Quality
- 9.5 out of 10
- Overall I love the aluminum backplate and how sturdy the keyboard is. Nothing on this keyboard feels cheap, not the media keys, volume wheel, or even the feet. It feels like a high end gaming keyboard through and through. The only issue I’ve had is the cord going to hell on my last k70, but that was more than likely due to me constantly taking it on and off my lap resulting in the cord being bent over on itself when I put it down. I’m taking blame for this fault, so only taking away a half point.
- Overall experience of use
- 9 out of 10
- Typing on this keyboard is really quite wonderful, but I personally have fallen in love with linear switches. The keycaps are nice and contoured, and there is good spacing between the different keyboard sections. The only thing that docks a point is the software for the keyboard not being accessible at all. This is the case for all gaming software however, so it isn’t a huge deal, just would be better if it was.
- The Cherry MX Speed Switches
- 10 out of 10
- What more can I say about them? I am a huge fan. After typing on speeds I could never go back to browns, and I don’t ever see a need to own a keyboard with anything else. I’ve found my perfect switch.
- My Overall Rating
- 9.5 out of 10
If you are in the market for a mechanical keyboard, this one really is a gem. Just keep in mind that linear switches are not for everyone, and I am personally partial to them, so read this review knowing that.
View on Amazon
Typing sound examples
After this was published someone asked me on twitter if I could record a typing sound example of the keyboard. I did a quick recording and am also including it here on the post for you to hear.