The Corsair Vengeance K60 and K90

We recently re-entered the world of peripheral reviews, specifically mechanical keyboards with our brief rundown of Rosewill's RK-9000 mechanical keyboard (complete with Cherry MX Blue switches). Rosewill's design was as basic as it gets, but the keyboard felt solid and for many of us there's just no substitute for a mechanical switch when it comes to having a comfortable typing experience. But our visit with Rosewill was just a warm up.

Today we have Corsair's Vengeance K60 and K90 gaming keyboards in house. Corsair opts to use Cherry MX Red switches in an effort to find a more suitable balance between typing and gaming needs, and they bring a little more style and class than we're used to seeing in gaming peripherals.

Out of the gate, Corsair is offering two different keyboards targeting two different types of user, but it's worth noting that these two keyboards are very, very similar. The "base model" K60 is targeted towards FPS players. Corsair starts with an aluminum backplate behind the keyboard, with all of the keys raised off of it--there's no tray for crumbs/hair/general-filth to get stuck in! Corsairs uses Cherry MX Red switches for the bulk of the keyboard (the document navigation and F1-F12 use traditional membrane-style switches), and there are dedicated media keys and a "Windows Lock" button above the number pad.

There's also a dedicated wrist rest just for your left hand, and the inside of it holds replacement keycaps for number keys 1-6 plus the WASD cluster along with a keycap remover. These replacement keycaps have rubberized surfaces and incline slightly towards the left hand, the theory being that this will be ideal for gaming use. Finally, the keyboard actually uses two USB ports: one for the keyboard proper, and one used as a dedicated passthrough for a USB port above the F12 key. Corsair offers the K60 for a recommended $109.

Meanwhile, the fancier K90 is geared towards RTS and MMO players. The K90 takes the aluminum base, switch layout, and connectivity of the K60 and adds individual LED backlighting behind each of the keys with four levels of illumination (off, low, medium, and high) toggled by a brightness button next to the Windows Lock button.

Beefing things up, Corsair adds eighteen configurable keys to the left of the keyboard as well as an in-hardware macro recording and playback function (configured and toggled by the four macro buttons above the Escape and F1-F3 keys). What I really like about the K90 as opposed to other gaming keyboards with configurable keys is that the G1-G18 cluster is actually substantially lower than the rest of the keyboard. While the keys of the keyboard proper are all raised off of the aluminum surface, the gaming keys are recessed, making it much harder to accidentally hit one when trying to hit the Tab, Shift, or Ctrl keys.

Finally, Corsair adds a full-length removable wrist rest (a convenience that's becoming increasingly rarefied these days) and dashboard software for configuring the keyboard downloadable from their website. Appropriate to the inclusion of fancier features, the K90 will set you back $129.

The Corsair Vengeance K60 and K90 in Action
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  • rajaf - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    I have a cherry black keyboard (the ThermalTake Meka) and I play Starcraft 2 on the aspiring semi-pro (:p) level. I can say that there is a world of difference coming from your regular rubber domed keyboard.

    However I had to try out a couple of others before this one. Llucky me I work in a computer hardware shop so I tried a K90, a Razer BlackWidow and a SteelSeries 6Gv2 before settling on the Meka. I think that you have to do the same to find out which one you are most comfortable with. It's a really subjective thing, so it's hard to give any advice.

    All I can tell you is that when I was doing research on the switches, it is usually agreed that the blacks are the best for any sort of gaming and the reds are best for typing. And the browns are a good middle ground. I find that I dislike the reds and I do not care for the browns feedback either. The blacks just feel solid to me, and really really responsive. I am certain that my average APM has gone up since using this thing :D
  • DanNeely - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    The lack of any try before buy options probably is holding back any growth options. I've never seen one available in retail; and $100ish is too much to pay sight unseen.
  • Sabresiberian - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    Yah the modern method of buying hardware does have its drawbacks. I've had this thought myself.

  • Dribble - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    You're getting mixed up. The Blue's are best for typing. The red's are identical to blacks only with a lower actuation force (i.e. need less pressure to type with them).

    (typed on a K60)
  • mbraun - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    I'd recommend Cherry MX brown switches for RTS games like Starcraft, check out the Filco Majestouch 2 tenkeyless. FPS players may favor the Cherry MX red ones. Buying two high-end keyboards for two types of games seems rather extreme. In the end it's up to your personal preferences - any mechanical is better than a rubberdome keyboard. Just try out different keyboards and make your own choice, you're the only one who can decide if a certain kind of key feedback is right for you.
  • hechacker1 - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    After doing some research, I'm looking at Cherry MX red options. Unfortunately, it seems there are few choices.

    I'm mainly concerned with FPS performance, since I play RTS less often (though lately I have been playing more SC2 trying to ladder).

    This reviewed keyboard is an option, but I do wish there were more tenkeyless options. I almost never use the tenkey, and it mostly just gets in my way of how I want to naturally position my mouse and keyboard.

    But either way it's not a big deal. I guess I should try to find them in stores available for display, but I can't think of any stores that cater to "gaming" or professional keyboards. Mostly they just have cheapo keyboards, and logitiech membrane stuff.
  • Omega215D - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    Most stores will carry the Razer Blackwidow which uses mx blues. Best Buy definitely has them. I have yet to see any retailer carry the Stealth edition with the Browns.

    If you live near a Fry's or Microcenter then most likely they'll carry different types of mechanical keyboards. Newegg is a great option for lower prices but you're gonna have to know what you want unless you don't mind returning items to an online retailer should it not suit you.

    This is all assuming you are in the US.

    Anyway, the Blues I find to be floaty as they travel some distance before actuating. The browns I feel are a nice all-round option. I had the blacks and they were nice for gaming but typing was a bit weird, especially since it's stiffer and lacks a click.
  • hechacker1 - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    Yeah I live about 40 miles from a Fry's. I wonder how's there in store selection. I guess it's worth a trip to find out.
  • DanNeely - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    I guess I'll have to visit the local BB. I never thought to look there; assuming their selection would be as worthless as Staples is and CircuitCity's was before it went bust.

    I'm ~5 hours from a Microcenter and 8 from a Fry's (other way around??); so scoping them out isn't really an option. Would be cheaper to just order 4 different models, RMA 3 and eat the shipping/restocking fees.
  • Omega215D - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    Newegg doesn't always charge restocking fees if you give a pretty valid reason for RMA.

    Best Buy only carries the Razer Blackwidow keyboards that are MX-Blue and nothing else mechanical from Razer or others. At least the regular Blackwidow is priced reasonably and sometimes it goes on sale. Even without the sale it's cheaper than Microcenter ($79 vs MC's $89) though MC has more of a selection.

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