After many years of good service, my Logitech Illuminated Keyboard was starting to show its age. The palm rest was going bald, the backspace was hanging on one hinge, and some of the keys were losing their coating. It was time for an upgrade.
But upgrade to what? I could have picked up another Logitech, but after dealing with a broken backspace button, I wanted something a little more sturdy. As an avid gamer, I’ve heard praise about these “clicky” “mechanical” keyboards. So I did my research. What I found was that, for one, there were a lot of choices and also a lot to learn.
Mechanical keyboards uses more traditional switches that harken back to the older keyboards of yester-year, but don’t let that fool you. These are not the spring-based keyboards from your old IBM. These switches are sturdy and pretty straight forward. They come in a variety of flavors, usually identified by a color. Each one is built for a different purpose or with different options to fit the user’s needs or comfort. Some keyboard companies make their own switches, but many use switches made by Cherry—a company that has been in the business since 1950.
For example, the more common Cherry switches are blue, red, and brown. Blue switches are one of the notorious “clicky” types. These are great for those that type a lot since it provides a click sound and a tactile bump letting you know that you actuated the key fully. Then on the other end is Red. This switch has no click or tactile bump. It is purely made for gaming, giving a no-resistant key with a short reset, which allows for quick double-tapping. Then you have something that is in-between, the brown switch. This has same specs as the red, but with the addition of the tactile bump.
With this knowledge I started to narrow down what keyboard I would want. There are several gaming mechanical keyboards lately sporting animated RGB LEDs. This allows for some pretty flashy animated keyboards. All the top mainstream companies have one—Logitech, Razer, and Corsair.
One that really caught my eye was the Corsair K70. It sports a few features that the others did not. It uses Cherry switches. If you’re going to go with a mechanical keyboard, it seems sensible to go with one that uses switches from the company that is pretty much synonymous with mechanical keyboards. This keyboard is built on an aluminum frame. You almost never see a metal… anything anymore. So this stood out to me. They also went a step further and protected the LEDs with a plastic case. This serves two purposes. It enhances the glow of the LED under each key, it also protects the LED from static electricity created by the keys, which should help extend the life of the LEDs.
With that is was just a matter of picking a switch. At first I was going to go with the red switches. I game a lot and they say that is the switch for gaming, so it seemed the right choice. That was until I tested my current keyboard. I realized that when I pressed on the key the rubber dome under the key game me a little bump. I figured that I was likely so used to this that I didn’t even realize it. I would likely realize it if it wasn’t there. So that’s when I decided that the brown switch was likely the best choice for me.
When I first got the keyboard I was a little intimidated by it. I had been using a chiclet keyboard for so long that the tall keys of this keyboard had me worried. First of all, this thing is heavy. It is also thick. It feels sturdy, no doubt about that. It sports media keys with are always a plus. The volume is a rolling dial made of metal. They keyboard has a switch to turn off the lights, which is very handy. It also has a button to lock the Windows key.
As with most modern keyboards today, it comes with software to control… well, just about everything. You can pick from a preset of animated LED color patterns. You can create your own with a fairly complicated keyframing window. There are some pretty neat presets. One that has the LEDs animated in a rainbow circle, one that goes from side to side, one that pulses colors outward from each key that you type. It’s all rather neat and fancy, but it can get distracting. I tend to leave is on a slow color shift. You can control the speed of each preset, but even still. Too much motion, I find, tends to distract me. It is certainly something to set on a fancy setting when having guests over.
Some features I would have liked was a simple way to set a color per program. Say I launch a game and the keys change for that program, complete with certain shortkeys lit a different color. It would have also been nice to have a way for the keys to animate with whatever music you have playing. These features apparently can be added using user-created mods. Something I haven’t toyed with yet.
EDIT: Having had the keyboard for a month now. I have to say that I’ve become pretty accustomed to it. Like anything, it just takes some time to get used to. I still haven’t used any mods. I appreciate that if the keys ever wear down I can replace them. If one thing worries me it’s that the palm wrest will likely start to look bad after some time. It seems to attract and show oils. Otherwise, I’m pretty happy with it and suspect with enough care it will last for some time.
So there you have it. The Corsair K70. A pretty robust, metal, flashy LED mechanical keyboard. It will take some getting used to, but I think it will work out in the long run. What sort of keyboard do you find works best for you?