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Corsair K100 Gaming Keyboard Review

The king is back

Christopher Coke Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum reigned supreme as the flagship gaming keyboard for RGB lovers since its release back in 2017. Since then, we’ve been waiting for the company to unveil its new flagship. That time has finally arrived with the Corsair K100 RGB Gaming Keyboard. It comes to market at $229 and packs more than a few major upgrades, but is it enough to live up to the nearly four year wait?

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Specifications

  • Current Price: $229 (Corsair Store, Amazon)
  • Keyboard Backlighting: RGB
  • Keyboard Layout: NA
  • Macro Keys: 6
  • Polling Rate: 4000Hz
  • Key Switches: Cherry Silver, Corsair OPX
  • USB Pass-through: USB 2.0 Type-A
  • Matrix: 110 Keys
  • Keyboard Connectivity: 2 x USB 3.0 or 3.1 Type-A
  • Media Controls: Yes
  • Keyboard Product Family: FPS / MOBA
  • Keyboard Rollover: Full Key (NKRO) with 100% Anti-Ghosting
  • Size(Full/TKL): Full
  • Battery Charging: Yes
  • On-Board Memory: 8MB
  • Number Onboard Profiles: Up to 200 depending on complexity
  • Additional Features:
    • WIN Lock Dedicated Hotkey
    • Media Keys Dedicated Hotkeys, Volume Roller, iCUE Control Wheel
    • Wrist Rest Included, magnetic detachable, cushioned with soft textured leatherette cover
    • Keyboard CUE Software Supported in iCUE
    • Keyboard Cable Type Braided
  • Weight: 1.31kg

Corsair K100 RGB Gaming Keyboard

The K95 RGB Platinum was a remarkable keyboard. It followed up on the K90, an MMO players’ dream keyboard if ever there was one, and brought the design up to modern standards with Corsair’s unique flair for design and RGB. I reviewed the K95 RGB Platinum nearly a year after its release and, even then, walked away feeling like I’d just tested the new high-water mark for gaming keyboards. It was responsive, gorgeous, more programmable than virtually any other keyboard on the market, and frankly oozed the kind of high-end appeal you expect from a keyboard selling for $199. 

What, then, should we expect from a keyboard that’s spent almost four years in development and costs two hundred twenty-nine dollars? A lot. A whole lot. As someone who follows the keyboard industry closely, I’ve seen first hand how the quality bar and features lists have grown. Simply put: this isn’t the same market the K95 launched in back in 2017. The prices for flagship keyboards have gone up, but so have the expectations, and even though the K95 RGB Platinum remains an excellent keyboard to this day, the K100 had a lot to prove to live up to the same high bar set by its predecessor. 

Full Keyboard

And guys, it does. The K100 is a meaningful upgrade from the K95 in virtually every way.  There’s no sense burying the lede any further. This is, hands down one of the best gaming keyboards you can buy. It’s better built, more responsive, more programmable, has better backlighting and underflow, and a better wrist rest. Virtually all of the criticisms the K95 faced have been addressed here.

Let’s start with the build quality. The keyboard is solid at 1.31kg and features a brushed aluminum top plate that wraps around on the top and bottom lips. No more sharp edges, no unsightly fingerprints. The keycaps are now doubleshot PBT with nice thick walls and smaller, more tasteful legends. They feel great to type on and because they’re doubleshot, the legends will never chip or fade. The stabilizers have also received a massive upgrade. There virtually no rattle and each feels slightly cushioned to quiet out the unpleasant clack on Corsair’s prior keyboards. Typing on this board isn’t quiet, but it’s quieter and that’s a welcome change.

Corsair OPX Switches

Underneath those keycaps are your choice of Cherry MX Speed switches or Corsair’s own OPX optical switches. Do yourself a favor and go optical. Even though Corsair’s optical switches are technically faster with a 1.0mm actuation point and 3.2mm of travel (compared to MX Speeds at 1.2mm and 3.4mm), they feel distinctly less finicky. I avoid speed switches because of their over-sensitivity and propensity for typos. Here, I found myself making fewer mistakes while also typing with a lighter hand because of how fast my presses would register. The switches are also smooth, which makes sense because there’s no mechanical contact to add scratch to the experience. That lack of contact also makes them much more durable. Corsair guarantees them for 150M presses, which is, if you’ll excuse the pun, unprecedented. 

The upgrades don’t stop there. The K100 features one of the best magnetic wrist rests in gaming. I personally don’t find them necessary but I wanted to use it here. The media keys are now more elevated for easier access above the number pad. Every RGB light is now color customizable and will sync with the different lighting effects you’ve programmed into iCUE. The light bar also now wraps around the sides and has been shifted to project a nice underglow instead of upward like the rest of your keys. I miss the additional top lighting, but the effect is very cool.

Underneath it all is Corsair’s new AXON processor. The K100 features its very own multi-threaded processor, pushing it to an incredible 4000Hz response rate. It can achieve this while also storing up to 20 layers of simultaneous lighting effects. The keyboard’s onboard memory can also store up to 200 profiles, depending on their complexity. While the 4000Hz response rate is impressive, it’s not the kind of thing you’re likely to feel; if you need the best of the best, though, this is it. The K100 is leading the pack in sheer responsiveness. 

iCue Control Wheel

The keyboard also brings with it the new iCUE control wheel. It comes with a number of functions preset out of the box that can be changed by clicking the center button. Adjusting brightness, controlling media, and switching apps, are just a few of the basic functions, but inside the iCUE software, you can customize it for different in-game commands and program shortcuts. These dials are godsends for creators and can make simple tasks like scrubbing your timeline in or zooming in Premiere Pro or Photoshop much faster. 

Like the K95, the K100 also brings back its six dedicated macro keys. These are great for on-the-fly macros, and I’ve found myself using them for productivity tasks as well as games. They’re also fully integrated with the Elgato StreamDeck, for quick access to commands.

If I were to level one critique, it would be this: why is the USB passthrough v2.0 in 2020? I’m sure there are many good reasons for this, but I would love to have seen the jump to a more modern version. Given how many companies don’t offer passthrough at all and that the majority of peripherals only require USB 2.0, however, this feels like a nitpick at best. 

Final Thoughts

The Corsair K100 is the best wired gaming keyboard on the market today. It’s expensive, but the programmability, build quality, responsiveness, and customization potential elevate it over the competition. If you have scratch, get this keyboard. 

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.
9.5Amazing
Pros
  • Excellent optical switches
  • Incredibly responsive
  • Great keycaps and overall build quality
  • iCUE Control Wheel is programmable and genuinely useful
  • Improved RGB illumination
Cons
  • USB Passthrough is still version 2.0
  • I miss having the light bar visible from above


GameByNight

Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight