The keyboard is one of the most important peripherals in a gamer’s toolkit, but it’s also one of the most underappreciated. Who hasn’t at some point balked at the pricey “gamer keyboards” when, for most of us, the trusty $20 piece we bought from Fry’s has served us “just fine” for so much less? But a high quality keyboard can completely change how satisfying a computer is to use; the best rig in the world will feel crummy with a mushy second-rate set of keys. Enter the Corsair K70 LUX RGB, a showboat mechanical keyboard that not only makes typing fun, but does so with a flair only possible through next level RGB illumination and animations. Yes, this is a keyboard than animates.
The LUX is a much needed refresh to last year’s K70 RGB. The original K70, which was impressive in its own right, had some critical drawbacks that Corsair was only partially able to fix. Many reviews at the time noted the positives - incredible customization, floating keys, a slick brushed aluminum frame - but what fewer recognized were the limitations only surfaced through deep use. The original K70 RGB was sold on 16.1 million colors and a software suite capable of programming each key like a pixel. Unfortunately, the RGB controller -- the brain behind that impressive customization -- turned out to be more limited than Corsair anticipated, leading keys to flash and behave erratically in 16.1M color mode or display visible “stepping” otherwise. Still, the K70 RGB was widely regarded as the best RGB keyboard on the market.
With the K70 LUX RGB, Corsair has hit a homerun. Not only have they solved all of the major limitations of the original K70, they’ve made a bevy of smart improvements that make the K70 LUX the RGB mechanical keyboard to buy. Let’s go over the basics.
The LUX features the same brushed aluminum finish and floating keyset that has typified Corsair’s K-series. It looks great and the aluminum top plate lends a sense of durability that plastic boards just don’t have. There are six dedicated media keys and a nice aluminum volume wheel, as well as buttons to control three levels of illumination and windows lock. The LUX also adds a USB pass through and carries forward the onboard polling rate switch to make sure it is compatible with any system. On the underside are rear and forward legs and four rubberized feet. There are no cable routing options, but the braided cable is thick enough that I suspect this would have been a moot point.
Corsair has also included alternative keycaps for the QWER and ASDF keys that are both textured and colored in silver to quickly get you back to the gamer’s home position. A keycap remover is also packed in, as well as the a nice, textured wrist rest.
The LUX also features genuine Cherry keyswitches, available in Red, Blue, or Brown RGB varieties. The RGB switches are functionally identical to their non-RGB counterparts but feature a clear upper housing to allow the illumination to shine freely. I used the Brown switch, which is great for both typing and gaming with it’s light accentuation force and quieter tactile bump.
Most of this is carry-over from the original K70 RGB. The real improvement, apart from the USB passthrough, is the new, large font featured on the keycaps. Corsair has taken the typeset from their Strafe keyboard and the result is exceptional. The larger letters do look more gamer-chic, but the larger typeface gives the illumination a definite bump across all three levels. The first K70 RGB always felt a little too dim compared to competitor boards. The K70 solves that completely without becoming overbearing too bright.
The lighting looks fantastic, but I was disappointed that Corsair didn’t bring the Strafe’s white under-mat over as well. A white surface under the keys makes colors pop and blend into a bed of color in a way the anodized aluminum just can’t. The LUX is vibrant but would look downright stunning with a lighter under-key surface.
When it comes to the a Corsair RGB peripheral, the hardware is only half the equation. The other half is the Corsair Utility Engine software, or CUE for short. With the CUE 2.0 software, every single key can be programmed. Anything from triggering a macro, changing keyboard modes, launching programs or files, adding action timers, to swapping individual keys is easily done; everything on the LUX can be reprogrammed. With mode switching, you have endless macro and lighting possibilities as CUE lets you switch between virtual keyboards on the fly. Since there are no dedicated macro buttons on the K70, I made a separate “macro mode” that only swapped when I held the tilde. You can easily make others for individual games.
The other selling point to CUE is just how incredibly nuanced the programmable the lighting is. The LUX features an updated RGB controller akin to what you’d find in a highway billboard, making it incredibly capable while solving the stepping and flickering found in the K70 RGB classic. Basic mode gives you a number of customizable presets to light your keyboard up like a rainbow, breathe, pulse, or even become a music visualizer. In advanced mode, every single key can be tailored with gradients, waves, ripples, all with multiple points of color, precise timings, repeat options, triggers, and layers to interweave effects. CUE 2.0 makes it easier than ever to get your feet wet, but still has a learning curve to unlock its full potential. Even with hours in, I’m still amazed at what advanced users can create.
With the LUX, you have the power to run true animations on your keyboard. Thanks to an active profile-creating community, my keyboard now oscillates between a cycling 1UP mushroom and a hungry Pac-Man being chased by a ghost. But don’t take my word for it, check out some of what prolific profile creator Lewis Gershwitz has created. There are limits of course; even with each key being a pixel, you’re still looking at some hard limits on pixel art.
Interestingly, preliminary reading alerted me to the possibility of a high-pitched ring coming from the LEDs. This did exist on my LUX, but so faintly that I literally had to put my ear next to the keyboard to hear it at all. In normal use it was completely inaudible.
The Corsair K70 LUX RGB is a premium priced keyboard coming in at $159.99 MSRP. For the price of entry, however, you get a keyboard that feels fantastic to type on and has programmability to drool over. The right lighting profile can absolutely turn heads and, even by yourself, downloading new profiles can be a lot of fun. I miss the white mat and, seriously, where are the headphone and mic jacks? But at the end of the day, this isn’t just a great gaming keyboard, it’s a great keyboard period.
The K70 LUX RGB keyboard was provided by Corsair for the purposes of this review.