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Corsair K95 RGB Platinum: The Gold Standard for Gaming Keyboards

By Christopher Coke on January 22, 2018 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

Corsair K95 RGB Platinum: The Gold Standard for Gaming Keyboards

There may be no more respected brand than Corsair when it comes to gaming keyboards. Since the original K60 released in 2011, the company has shaped the gaming keyboard landscape in profound ways, eliciting a wave of copycats that still fill the marketplace. Over the last seven years, they’ve pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in the keyboard space, finally arriving at the K95 RGB Platinum. If there were ever one keyboard to rule them all, this is it and this is our review.

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Specifications

  • MSRP: $199.99 ($149.99 at time of writing)
  • Key Switches: Cherry MX RGB Speed (also available in Cherry MX Brown)
    • Actuation Force: 45g
    • Actuation Distance: 1.2mm (standard 2.0mm)
    • Travel Distance: 3.4mm (standard 4.0mm)
    • Lifespan: 50M
  • Keyboard Backlighting: RGB
  • Macro Keys: 6 dedicated G-keys
  • Report Rate: Up to 1ms
  • Matrix: 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover on USB
  • On-board Memory: Yes
  • Media Keys: Six dedicated multimedia keys, incl. Volume Up/Down roller
  • Wrist Rest: Full length, detachable, dual-sided with soft touch finish
  • Cable Type: Braided Fiber
  • Dimensions: 465mm x 171mm x 36mm
  • Weight: 1.324kg
  • Warranty: Two years

The K95 RGB Platinum is the culmination of years of work and design. Tracking the company’s keyboards from that original K60, you can see the refinement taking place generation after generation. Where the K60 looks utilitarian by today’s standards, the K95 is gaming keyboard design at its current, stylish apex. It oozes style even with the lighting effects turned off. You won’t want to do that, though, because the software driving it is by far the most powerful of anything on the market today. It’s not cheap, but when it comes to gaming keyboards, it’s the best, and that’s something you pay for.

When it comes to hardware reviews, I tend to avoid blanket statements like that. If there’s any area I can claim expertise on, however, it’s keyboards. I’ve reviewed dozens of them from every major manufacturer out there. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and a whole lot of the in between. When it comes to the full package, no one else is offering as much customization and quality all under one roof as Corsair is with the K95 Platinum. Since its launch in 2017 to the current day, it’s simply the best of the best, so let’s look at why.

Starting things off, you’ll find the K95 is well built and ready for the long-haul in terms of durability. It features the same aircraft-grade aluminum top plate we’ve come to know well, as well as the standard dense plastic frame. The plate adds a good amount of weight to the already extended body, which always makes a keyboard feel premium, but also eliminates flex and bend in the body. I’m not one to hammer away at my keys, so flex is less important to me than the keyboard staying in place. The weight, combined with the rubberized flip-out feet on the back, do a good job of keeping it in place on the desk.

On the rear of the keyboard, we find the two-headed USB cable making a return. If you’re using USB 3.0, only one header is needed for power while the other enables the K95’s USB passthrough. If you’re on USB 2.0, you’ll need to plug in both headers. The cable is thick and fiber braided. The thickness does make it less malleable than some others, but it also provides ample protection for the wires within. In the future, I would love to see Corsair adopt detachable cables but until then making sure they don’t break is the next best option.

If you’re dismayed at the idea of losing two USB ports to a single keyboard, don’t be. By including a USB passthrough on the keyboard itself, you’re able to bring that port from the back of your PC up onto your desk. With the RGB craze in full swing, there’s a good chance you’ll be needing that port sooner rather than later. I use mine to power my mouse pad, which in turn powers my mouse. Soon, I’ll be using it to power a full hub, which is great if getting to the rear of your PC is a bit of a hassle like mine is.

Also returning are the fan favorite dedicated media keys and that excellent metal volume wheel. The Corsair roller wheel is a game changer if you’ve been using the task bar or clicking buttons and is easily one of the most sought after features when new keyboards are announced.

The K95 RGB also brings back the floating key design that inspired a whole generation of gaming keyboards. Since the K95 doesn’t feature an upper frame, the clear housings on the RGB switches are completely visible and free to blend hues. The keycaps are laser-etched ABS and have translucent legends so they can be read in the dark. If you prefer higher-end PBT, Corsair now sells upgrade kits. They’re not cheap, but can definitely take the typing experience to the next level, and will prevent the telltale shine that happens to ABS caps over time. If there was one core criticism I could level at the K95 RGB Platinum, it would be that the keycaps just pale in comparison to even doubleshot ABS.

The K95 brings lots of improvements with it, making it immediately clear that this is a flagship keyboard. SIx dedicated macro keys now line the left side. It’s a reduction from the 18 found on the standard K95 RGB, but is the kind of refinement that’s more in line with what most people actually need (and keeps it from being so large). Along the upper rim of the keyboard is a new LightEdge LED pipe, complete with 19 customizable zones. It’s the brightest part of the keyboard but diffused perfectly to create smooth lighting effects that blend with the rest of your keyset. It the middle, in its own glossed black cutout is an illuminated Corsair logo. Down below, the wrist rest is now dual-sided with different texts for your taste.

The biggest and best improvement is with the new Cherry MX Speed switches. If you’ve never used a speed switch before, you need to and then start using them to give yourself an advantage in games. These new switches have a shorter travel distance and actuate a full forty-percent faster than a normal key switch. They’re extremely light to the touch and so have a learning curve, but once you’re used to them, they feel amazing. There is a lightness and responsiveness to them that puts normal Cherry Reds to shame. More importantly, they provide a real mechanical advantage over other types of keyboards, if your reaction time can support it.

Finally we come to the heart of any good gaming keyboard: programming. If you’re an RGB fan, it really doesn’t get better than the Corsair Utility Engine. Here you can play it safe and customize Corsair’s presets or be adventurous and turn on Advanced Mode. Inside advanced mode, you can get into the nitty gritty of your own lighting effects, customizing gradients and color shifts with near limitless transitions right down to individual keys. If you’re programming a ripple or wave, you can customize the speed and how long the trail of lights is and how they animate. You can set timings to the tenth of a second, set the angle, the speed, start, end, and repeat conditions. Coming from any other manufacturer, the degree of control CUE offers is astounding.

Even more important, however, is layering. Similar to a graphics suite like Photoshop, you can layer effects to play on top of each other. This allows you to easily create foreground and background effects, where most keyboards with “layering” will only ever display the top layer (hint: that means it’s not layering at all). Here, Corsair allows you to create amazingly intricate effects, right down to the level of animations.

If that sounds like too much for you, don’t fret. There’s an active community creating profiles and sharing them on Corsair’s community forums. It’s far more active than most other RGB keyboard community forums, which means there are always new profiles and animations to download and try. My favorite is a classic for Corsair keyboards, a scrolling 1UP mushroom from Super Mario, but there are too many more to keep track of them all - even just from single makers. Have a look at Louis “Scwitz” Gerschwitz’s YouTube page for an idea of what’s possible.

You can, of course, program the keyboard in other ways. All told, you can record and edit macros, mimic text entry (with delays between characters), set timers, launch programs and shortcuts, remaps keys even to mimic mouse clicks, and hot swap between different profiles. Doing all of this is straightforward and has utility even outside of games. That said, enabling this functionality does require CUE and it would have been nice to see a macro record shortcut on the keyboard itself.

When you’re done, all of these customizations get saved to a profiles. The K95 Platinum can store up to three on board for hot swapping on PCs without CUE. If you’re willing to install, the sky’s the limit.

Final Thoughts

The K95 RGB Platinum is the most clearly high-end gaming keyboard I’ve seen. From it’s refined, flashy looks and meaningful improvements to the supreme level of programming within the Corsair Utility Engine, this is a keyboard that’s up to any challenge. It’s expensive but outdoes every other gaming keyboard in the market today. Platinum? We don’t have an award for that, but it’s definitely earned the gold.

Pros

  • Looks fantastic
  • Speed switches feel great and provide a real advantage
  • RGB programming is the hands-down best on the market
  • Supremely programmable

Cons

  • Expensive when not on sale
  • Stock keycaps leave something to be desired

The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.

Christopher Coke / Chris has been a fan of MMOs since the mid-1990s when he cut his teeth on MUDs. These days he scours the internet for the latest and greatest multiplayer gaming experiences.