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Corsair K70 RGB Pro Review

New and Improved

Christopher Coke Updated: Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

The Corsair K70 is iconic in the world of gaming keyboards. It’s undergone numerous revisions, adding features and upgrades with each iteration. With the Corsair K70 RGB Pro, the company is at it again, updating it to the cutting edge of gaming keyboard tech. Coming in at $159-169 depending on your choice of switches, this new keyboard packs Corsair’s new AXON processor, class-leading programmability, and genuine Cherry MX RGB switches, all packed in a full-size layout. Is it worthy of an upgrade? Find out in our review!

Specifications

  • Current Price: $159-169
  • Layout: Fullsize
  • Chassis: Aluminum, black anodized, brushed finish
  • Keyswitches: Cherry MX RGB: Red, Blue, Brown, Silent Red, Speed Silver
  • Dedicated Macro Keys: No
  • Onboard Macro Recording: Yes
  • Backlighting: Per-key RGB
  • Keycaps: Doubleshot PBT backlit, 1.5mm thick
  • Connectivity: USB 3.0 Type-A
  • Polling Rate: 8000Hz
  • Keyscan: 4000Hz
  • Matrix: NKRO, Full-key anti-ghosting
  • Onboard Memory: 8MB
  • Onboard Profiles: Up to 50 (depending on complexity)
  • Onboard Lighting: Up to 20 layers of lighting effects
  • Media Keys: Yes, dedicated and volume roller
  • Profile Key: Yes
  • Brightness Key: Yes
  • Windows Lock Key: Yes
  • Adjustable Height: Two-stage tilt feet
  • Platform Compatibility: Windows PC, Apple Mac, Microsoft Xbox One or Series X|S
  • Cable: 6ft, Detachable, Braided
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 17.5 x 6.5 x 1.6 
  • Weight: 2.54 lbs

Corsair K70 RGB Pro - Key Features and First Impressions

The Corsair K70 is as familiar a gaming keyboard as exists in the industry today. Since it’s inception, the staples have remained the same: a full-size layout (Numpadless versions are denoted with “TKL”), genuine Cherry key switches, dedicated media controls, an aluminum top plate, and a floating key design to show off that sweet, sweet in-switch lighting. With the RGB Pro, Corsair carries through those series stalwarts and builds upon them to earn its “Pro” moniker. 

As is often the case for product lines, many of the upgrades are incremental. At a cursory glance, you could be forgiven for not noticing this is a completely new keyboard from the last K70. There are some fit and finish improvements: the wrist rest has been reconfigured with a new texture and logo, the secondary controls for profile switching, lighting, and muting the volume are now flush and the volume roller has been refined with a black finish and triangle grip pattern. The forehead has a longer glossy area for a touch of sleekness and to conceal the Caps, Num, and Scroll lock indicators. There’s also a tournament switch that locks macros and lighting. 

The real upgrades come under the hood with the new hyper-threaded AXON processor. This processor is far more efficient than the traditional ARM processor found on other high-end gaming keyboards and allows the K70 to do what it does best, even better. This starts with a boost to an 8000Hz polling rate and 4000Hz scan rate for the keys. No matter how fast you type, the K70 RGB Pro will pick up every single keystroke. Corsair clocks this at <0.25ms of average latency when ranked against the 1ms of traditional 1000Hz keyboards.

Now, do you need this level of scanning? Of course not. The K70 RGB Pro scans for keystrokes far faster than any human could input them, but it’s a pleasant level of overkill in keeping with a $160-170 gaming keyboard and gives it parity against competing boards like the Razer Huntsman V2 (reviewed here). It’s also a degree of assurance that the keyboard will stand ready to nail every keystroke, regardless of circumstance. 

I’ve said for years that Corsair’s iCUE software is tantamount to the Adobe Photoshop of the RGB keyboard world. The AXON processor makes that more true than ever. The K70 RGB Pro now supports up to 20 layers of lighting effects. This opens the door to intricate lighting animations. Modders are still wrapping their heads around the new possibilities, but more layers mean more complexity and better lighting effects overall. Don’t worry if you’re not interested in spending hours tweaking the lighting on your keyboards either. You can simply visit the profile gallery, download what you like, and import it into iCUE.

The lighting looks great. The keyboard supports per-key RGB LEDs that are each independently addressable. It uses the floating key design, which exposes the transparent switch housings under the keys for an even better light show. There are nine built-in lighting effects and the option to choose from eight static lighting colors. I’ve long wishes that Corsair would build a white mat into the plate beneath the keys to better blend the lighting, however. The black plate and black keys create a glow around each keycap that never really blends together in a seamless bed of light. 

Corsair also allows for an incredible amount of programming with the keyboard, including on-the-fly macro recording with the need for software. It’s simple to apply — the Win Lock key doubles as a macro key when held — and equally simple to clear. For competitive environments, there’s a tournament switch on the back that locks all macros and turns the key lighting a static red. But really, if you’re purchasing this keyboard, you should be using iCUE. 

iCUE has come a long way since it was first released. With it, you can perform all kinds of programming, from simple macros, to timers, text strings, program shortcuts, and more. It’s also where you can really dive deep into customizing the keyboard’s lighting. It’s never been exactly friendly to newcomers for its more advanced functions (like programming keys) and things are a little more complex here. 

Thanks to the AXON processor and 8MB of onboard storage, it’s possible to store up to 50 combined profiles. Each stores lighting and keymaps. With the software, there is no limit. So, users have the ability to store “key assignments” and “hardware key assignments.” While I welcome the gargantuan amount of profiles, this doesn’t do much to streamline the user experience. 

Moving back to the build of the keyboard, I’m happy to report that Corsair has included its PBT doubleshot backlit keycaps by default. They’re thick, so feel satisfyingly solid under the fingers, almost begging for bottom-outs. At the same time, they’re comfortable to use with a gentle scoop for your fingertips and a light texturing on the surface. It feels a touch grainy, but is overall good and helps you stay in place on the keys. 

Underneath those caps are genuine Cherry MX RGB switches. Available in the usual flavors of red, blue, and brown, as well as silent red and speed silver, these are exactly as you would expect them to be — for better and worse. My sample included Cherry MX Red, which are a smooth and lightweight linear switch. They’re great for gaming but have a good amount of spring ping that reverberates throughout the case. 

And that’s the issue in general with this keyboard: it’s great for gaming but loud. That aluminum top panel causes bottom outs to have a loud clack. Combined with the spring ping and rattle from the stabilizers (they’re only very lightly factory lubed), they combine to give the keyboard louder, metallic resonance. It stands in contrast to the custom keyboard community and custom-inspired boards like the Razer Huntsman V2. I don’t think it sounds bad — pretty similar to every other K70 — but if you care about acoustics, be prepared to add some lube to its stabilizers.

Corsair K70 RGB Pro - Performance

I spent about two weeks with the K70 RGB Pro and put it through its paces in gaming and at work. The keyboard performed exceptionally well across the board. The layout of the keys is perfectly spaced to jump from a different keyboard right to it, so transitions are easy and thoughtless. That made everything from typing emails and articles, to firing off spells in World of Warcraft, and fragging enemies in Battlefield 2042 seamless and natural.

I’m a big fan of the build quality on the K70 RGB Pro. It isn’t a bulky aluminum behemoth like the Akko MOD003 (which, for the record, I love), but it’s solid enough to feel premium and well made. The aluminum top plate prevents any flex in normal use and results in a hearty clack when typing. The PBT keycaps are excellent — truly some of the best you’ll find in any gaming keyboard — and an excellent value-add at this price. 

What I’m not such a big fan of is the amount of noise that comes from those bottom-outs. This could be mitigated with a layer of acoustic foam to dampen the case but is also a result of using Cherry MX switches. Cherry switches were the gold standard for many years, but that time has past and there are genuinely better options out there for both feel and sound. I would love to see Corsair offer Gateron or Kailh switch options. 

Despite that added bit of noise, it’s hard to argue with the level of customization this keyboard offers. Using iCUE, I was able to record macros for both in-game activities and out. As a teacher, I’m able to automate some of my routine data entry tasks, saving me literally upwards of an hour over the course of several days. I also love being able to download and try different lighting schemes. If your system also supports other Corsair RGB components, many of the available profiles extend to those, allowing you to sync your lighting with advanced schemes with a minimum of effort.

I also liked that I was able to save all of the programming I did across several profiles and then take those into work without worrying about contacting IT to install iCUE. On past Corsair keyboards, I had to either limit my lighting and programming customizations or plan on having the software running in the background. With AXON, you can set it and forget it, closing out iCUE even on your primary gaming PC if you choose. While I’ve never had issues with the software, some users just don’t want it running behind their games, and the K70 RGB Pro lets you do that.

Final Thoughts

The K70 RGB Pro is a refinement instead of a reinvention. It takes the classic features of the line-up and brings them up with the times to include Corsair’s latest technological advancements. Added features like PBT keycaps and a new wrist rest only add to the appeal. It’s not all perfect: The exclusive use of Cherry MX key switches used to feel like a feature but now feels like a limitation thanks to the added spring noise and case reverb. Still, it’s hard to argue that this is anything other than a great gaming keyboard. If you’ve been eyeing a K70 RGB, this is absolutely the best version yet.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.

8.0Great
Pros
  • AXON processor offers major improvements to lighting and response rate
  • 20 lighting layers and up to 50 on-board profiles
  • Extremely customizable, including onboard lighting presets and on-the-fly macro recording
  • Excellent PBT keycaps
  • Many small improvements to the fit and finish of the keyboard
Cons
  • 8000Hz isn't something you can really feel
  • Switch ping and case reverb
  • Stabilizers rattle


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