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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  • Azethoth - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    1) ESDF support in addition to the noob WASD keys.
    2) The K90 needs replaceable keys as well.
    3) A Mac driver would be nice. Right now typing on my Macbook Pro sucks compared to the PC with K90

    Amen to the WTF state of the software. I am a programmer and I find it unusable. The direct key recording is the only thing that can be said to actually work.
  • damianrobertjones - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    I've never understood the WASD keys when the arrow keys make more sense
  • Traciatim - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    Arrow keys don't have a bunch of other keys that you can bind around them and also you don't have easy access to your number row (usually for switching weapons, or different abilities depending on the game).

    Arrow keys are essentially useless unless you're playing pac-man.
  • hechacker1 - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    In addition, I use WASD even though ESDF is somewhat superior in the number of extra keys surrounding it for binds.

    I use it because I don't have to fiddle with bindings and can use the defaults. My brother uses the arrow keys, and I see him doing keyboard gymnastics just to crouch or jump in FPS games because of the lack of easy to bind nearby keys.

    In a lot of games, developers never think to show alternatives to WASD, so often the instructions and tutorials will only have those in mind. It can make it confusion.

    I use to use alternative binds for the longest time, but eventually I just went with WASD and dealt with it. Now I can't imagine using anything else for simplicity's sake.
  • Omega215D - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    For me, my left hand falls naturally on the WASD area compared to ESDF. Also, as I am still using the Sidewinder X6 and X4 (some keys are beginning to malfunction on the X6) the WASD keys contain 4 illuminated dots and physical bumps on the W key to let me know where I am.
  • Azethoth - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    Yes but for typing it is on esdf. Generally the index finger key (F) will have a bump on it etc. WASD is strictly a gaming thing. But yeah, dunno why the default layout is always inferior. Habits I guess.
  • DanNeely - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    I'm mouse as a lefty and since I almost never play FPS type games using the arrows and binding extra functions to buttons 3-5 is almost never a problem. I suppose I could retrain myself to either use IJKL, or the numberpad; but since I almost never play games where I need that many buttons it's never been worth the effort.
  • Sabresiberian - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    My thought here is - mouse in right hand, WASD in left. Using the left hand for arrow keys is a bit awkward, and moving your hand off the mouse means you can't use it for looking around and whatever else you use a mouse for.

    In Borderlands, you need to use both the keyboard and the mouse when in a vehicle - and it works great, one of the best vehicle control systems I've used in a PC game.

  • Southernsharky - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    I like the fact that the K60 has no tray that stuff can get into. For me that is a big reason to buy it. But is the K90 the same way?

    I had mechanical keyboards back in the 80s and miss them and would like to buy a new one.
  • JohnMD1022 - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    I have a few refurbished IBM Model M keyboards, full size, available.

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