Review: Corsair K95 Vengeance RGB keyboard

The Corsair K95 Vengeance RGB mechanical gaming keyboard is one of the most powerful and flexible keyboards in its class, but be prepared to ‘RTFM’ (“read the f—ing manual”) learning to use its complex and very un-intuitive driver software.

Corsair's K95 is the most flexible and colorful keyboard of them all, but it comes with a curse.
Credit: Corsair

Corsair’s driver software has lagged the likes of Razer and Logitech for years, and the K95 driver/configuration software (unfortunately) continues the tradition, although it brings a host of powerful features and capabilities you won’t find in its competitors. Corsair makes some excellent peripherals and hardware, but they need to invest more in their software development and ‘out of box’ experience, which currently (whether by accident or design) squarely targets ‘nerdcore’ only.

 Just as an example: I opened a brand new, boxed K95, plugged it into my computer via USB connector, and installed the software—but the software didn’t work properly. A crucial configuration menu (the Profiles page) was missing—or more likely, the software was hanging up when it was trying to open it.

To make a long story short, I spent about 30 minutes fiddling with the keyboard and re-installing the software before it was working properly. But you definitely shouldn’t need to reference a manual to plug in a keyboard and explore its driver software.

K95 RGB Technical Specifications

The K95 has an impressive list of features, the highlights of which (aside from its amazing lighting capabilities) are 18 dedicated macro keys, dedicated media keys, the best wrist rest this side of wrists, and its aluminum construction.

corsairk95-rgb
The K95 Vengeance RGB is loaded with the features — such as the largest (ridiculous, even) number of dedicated programmable macro keys. 
  • Cherry® MX Red Mechanical switches
  • LED Backlighting with per-key illumination
  • 18 dedicated macro keys
  • Hardware-selectable polling rate: 8ms, 4ms, 2ms, 1ms and BIOS mode
  • 100% anti-ghosting and 122 Key Rollover
  • On-board Memory
  • 6 dedicated multimedia keys
  • Full length, soft-touch detachable wrist rest
  • Braided Fiber cable
  • Windows lock key
  • Dimensions 502mm x 163mm x 24mm
  • 2-year warranty

These colors run. All over the place.

Once you overcome technical hurdles (if you experience any) and if you’re willing to RTFM to learn how to use the K95’s impressive array of colorful features, the K95 is capable of some pretty awesome things—and with a little time spent customizing it, the K95 RGB will run colors around the likes of the Razer Blackwidow Chroma and Logitech G910 Orion Spark.

In addition, the K95 RGB gives you 18 dedicated (and fully mechanical) macro keys—more than enough for any game, and even more when you factor in the 3 separate profiles you can create (for a total of 54 available commands).

The K95 RGB doesn’t just have per-key, customizable LED backlighting—it has fully programmable lighting effects that enable you to create your own personal keyboard rave of special effects.

For example, once I got familiar enough with the software I created a basic effect that ripples color across the keyboard whenever a macro plays back. Then I created another effect that color cycles a key through 14 different colors over a 14 second period before it returns the key to its original color. Typing up this review (and typing general) is a brilliant, flashy keyboard rave. It’s completely unnecessary and ridiculous. And completely fun and very cool to see in action.

And in truth I’ve barely scratched the surface of what the K95 can do. Depending on how creative you are and how much time you’re willing to spend learning how to customize effects, you may find a whole new way to have fun with your keyboard.

And admittedly, once I overcame the initial frustrations and started figuring things out, I warmed up to the Corsair K95 RGB quite a bit.

Performance

The K95 RGB’s Cherry MX red mechanical switches require on a soft touch but still provide a smooth, tactile, and responsive feel. Although I am partial to noisy Cherry MX Blue/Razer Green switches, I still find the K95 RGB a pleasure to game and type on.

The K95 RGB’s macro capabilities are easily on par with if not superior to every other keyboard in its class. It can record mouse functions, custom delays, and trigger a variety of effects (and other macros), with nearly every imaginable option you could want. But again, you’ll need to be willing to overcome the unintuitive configuration software to realize the K95’s full potential.

CGK95_RGB_NA_02.png
Credit: Corsair

Thankfully, at least the K95 makes it easy to quickly record macros without using the K95 software—just press the MR (macro record) button, press a macro key (G1-G18), type your macro (such as a voice emote sequence), and then press the MR button again to end. With 18 keys and 3 profiles you can quickly and easily create a vast array of useful macros without leaving your game(s). (But if you want to do more, you’ll need to use the K95 configuration software.)

The dedicated media keys—particularly the volume roller, which is very similar to (albeit slightly stiffer than) the one on the Logitech G910—are welcome additions.

The K95 doesn’t offer any additional connectors (USB pass through, audio, etc.).

Overall: 8/10 – Recommended

If you’re willing to spend some quality time learning to take full (or even partial) advantage of the Corsair K95 RGB’s impressive and colorful array of capabilities, it’s an excellent keyboard, albeit steeply price at around $180.

I docked the K95’s overall score by 1 star because of the ‘technical hurdles’ and its less-than stellar driver software/user interface, but the K95 is still a worthy contender to the likes of the Razer Blackwidow Chroma and Logitech G910 Orion Spark.

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