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MSI Vigor GK70 – Rainbow Road Review

Hardware Reviews By Steven Weber on March 29, 2018

MSI Vigor GK70 – Rainbow Road Review

In the assemblage of mechanical keyboards there are quite literally thousands to choose from. MSI is no newcomer to the world of gaming peripherals. They’re a leading force in exceptional and affordable products across all of PC building, but is the Vigor GK70 more than a light show with mechanical switches? We’re getting into the nitty gritty of this tenkeyless. This is our official review of the MSI Vigor GK70.

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MSI has been delving into gaming keyboards for quite some time, but their most recent models - the GK40, GK70 and GK80 - all have specific pros and cons that we’ll see delved into at length in the near future by some others on our team soon. We’re starting with the middle child, the fully mechanical but bite-sized GK70. Let’s breakdown the specifications before indulging in the meat and potatoes of its form and functions.

Specifications

  • Model – MSI Vigor GK70
  • MSRP - $115.00
  • Cherry MX RGB Red Switches
  • 87/88 Keys (Tenkeyless keyboard)
  • Full RGB Illumination with hardware and software controls
  • 50 Million+ keystroke life
  • 100% Anti-Ghosting N-Key Rollover, 1000Hz polling rate
  • Additional Keycaps – 4X luxury metal caps, 12X rubber keycaps
  • Braided cables and Gold-Plated Connector
  • Function keys for Hardware Control
  • 1.8M braided fiber cable
  • Weight 900g
  • Size 354 x 137 x 46mm

With all the might of Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road, the GK70 packs a wallop in a small package.  I won’t be the first to say that I’ve historically been skeptical of TKL keyboards. A lot of times, especially in the gaming space, TKL keyboards often feel cramped or too light on features. Not so on the GK70.

Beginning with design, the rationale behind a tenkeyless keyboard goes something like this: It’s 2018 and most games don’t require a number pad. If you’re a competitive gamer or someone who doesn’t use their computer for number work, that numpad takes up much-needed mousing space. By removing it, you no longer have to move or angle the keyboard to make big sweeping motions in competition shooters. You can set the keyboard in a comfortable position and forget it during the game. As someone who does use the number pad,  this was never a big sell for me, especially when you consider that features can get the axe along with the number pad. Here, just like most TKLs, you don’t have dedicated media keys, for example.

While the keyboard foregoes any dedicated media buttons, MSI made great use of the function key. By holding Fn, you can not only change the volume, swap tracks, and control the lighting, but also access some other unique features controlling other of your MSI components.  A great example of this is the one-touch motherboard feature set, which allows you to change your overclock, enter Gaming Mode, or put ease back into a silent mode depending on what your preference is at the moment. These same functions also extend to MSI graphics cards.

Where this mechanical keyboard shines (quite literally, in fact) are its RGB features. Lighting can be programmed directly through the keyboard using the LED command features or through the Mystic Light application, which I’ll get to in more detail shortly. The Cherry MX RGB Red switches are very quiet if not completely silent, the 45 cN actuation force makes it a softer switch that is a pleasure to use. Each and every key can be programmed with millions of different hues, with options for both motion and touch effects. I toyed with several of the different effects, including a Wave that made me feel like I caressing a unicorn’s mane, to the Cross effect which shot out lines of color with each tap. While these features are more for show than function, I couldn’t help but spend several hours playing with it all.

In addition, the customization options don’t end with modifying some RGB lights. MSI have included a total of fourteen swappable keycaps, including three modifier keys and a replacement spacebar. Four metal zinc alloy tipped keys for the WASD keys are pre-installed on the keyboard and are very resistant to wear (the standard WASD keys are included in the box). Twelve double injection keycaps with anti-slip rubber are also included, which I ended up preferring after customizing and testing the keyboard through several iterations. 

MSI has two programs available for download to coincide with the GK70. Mystic Light is predominantly an RGB editor that’s used for dialing in your lighting as well as synchronizing it with other MSI products. The second, MSI’s Gaming Center app, allows you to alter your lights as well, but also as program your macros, enable or disable hotkeys and setup your profiles.

I do have to say, the inclusion of two separate programs with similar but different features is a little strange, and I question why they couldn’t combine these into one easy to use program.  There really isn’t much in the way of instruction here, so if you haven’t dealt with any of these features before, you may feel a little lost. 

Final Thoughts

I began the Vigor GK70 journey skeptical that I would utilize a TKL keyboard for anything more than for the purpose of this review, but MSI has made me a believer.  Cherry MX RGB Reds are fantastic switches especially when they are united with premium keycaps.  There are, of course, benefits to a small form factor that wastes no space, and in this case, you don’t sacrifice much functionality outside of the number pad.  The additional programs to customize the GK70 that you download from the MSI support page could definitely be combined and streamlined for ease of use, but overall, the Vigor GK70 bundles a remarkable number of features in a package that’s well worth its price.

Pros

  • Tiny form factor for space obsessed gamers
  • Exceptional feature set for a TKL (100% Anti-Ghosting, Macros, RGB functions and more)
  • Additional premium keycaps, including Zinc Alloy tipped keys
  • Integration and Synchronization with MSI products

Cons

  • Software comes in two packages and can be confusing for some
  • No included wrist-rest

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