With so many options and varying prices for keyboards in the market today, it's no wonder people have so many questions about what makes a keyboard a "gaming" keyboard. With PC gaming entering the forefront of media entertainment bigger than it ever has before, you might benefit from upgrading to a better keyboard if PC gaming is something you're looking to do. Today we are reviewing the Vengeance k70 gaming keyboard by Corsair, and talking about how it's design and benefits will make it an appealing addition to your PC gaming setup.
Design:Let's be honest; this is an enthusiast gaming keyboard. Such products are going to be flashy and cater to individual tastes. The k70 keyboard I am typing to you on is the anodized black steel model with red backlit keycaps (Model# CH-9000011-NA for the curious). There is also a brushed aluminum model available with blue backlit keycaps available for the same price, depending on where you look. The first thing you'll notice when putting your hands on the keyboard is that it does, indeed, have quite a bit of metal on it, and consequentially weight. Weight isn't a bad thing with keyboards, especially if you're using it for a desktop setup playing fast-paced games and you don't want your keyboard sliding around. The steel front surface is where the metal ends, though; the underside tray if black plastic, keeping the weight of the keyboard from being a little too much. The black anodized steel is a great feature, I can't tell you how much I've bumped my steel mouse into the steel face of the board with energetic zeal during frantic FPS sessions and haven't put a mark anywhere on the metal.
The keyboard I am reviewing features Cherry MX Red switches, which for those of you that aren't familiar, is the hardware that's under the keycaps that makes the pressing and registering of keystrokes happens. This particular keyboard can be bought with either Cherry MX Red, Blue, or Brown switches, (be mindful that I'm referring to the name of the switch hardware, not the color of the LEDs!) and currently as of writing this article, only the Cherry MX Red style is available, with Blue and Brown becoming available very soon, according to Corsair's product page. I personally prefer Cherry MX Red switches for gaming, due to their quiet and soft-touch response nature. You might find this very desirable for fast-paced gaming, but may prove to make you more prone to typo's when authoring, depending on what you're comfortable with. For more information on the differences in mechanical keyboard switches, this great article from Overclock.net might help you determine which switch would suit your tastes the best.
Every key and button on the k70 is backlit, making for 100% control possible in dark situations. Like most gaming keyboards, it comes with separate keys for WASD and 1-6. These keys are red and contoured, (even on the brushed aluminum model) with textures to help you blindly recognize you're on these keys without taking your eyes off the action on-screen. Personally, I keep the contoured keys on WASD, but not on 1-6, particularly because the contoured 1-6 keys don't have feature the punctuation's on them, such as the exclamation mark on key 1, the "at sign" on key 2, etc. This might not be an issue for everyone, but I'm not touch familiar with the locations of some of those punctuation's, it would of been nice to still feature those on the contoured keys. I will mention that the keys sit high off the board, which can be a double-edged sword for some. While this allows for easy cleaning and a more distinguished contour, it also allows for clutter to accumulate under the keys, along with more movement around your keyboard to accidentally press a key, such as the wayward cat or hand-to-mouse movements. The k70 also features a really nice anodized steel rolling bar for the volume, which I prefer over rapidly pressing an up or down key for volume control; trust me, it's a nice feature that you'll appreciate having. The keyboard also features media control keys for your music or videos playing, and does not need Windows to have the program selected for it to work. This makes muting your iTunes while in a game a nice feature.
For the rest of the board, the removable wrist-rest is nice, although pretty standard. It's a stiff, rubberized wrest is hinged to seamlessly conform to the legs that you might have propped up under the board. Speaking of the legs, you have four total legs you can set up or down on each corner of the board. Some FPS players prefer to keep all 4 legs in place for more tactile position of their hand on the keyboard, but beware! There are no rubber grips on the bottom of these feet, and your board WILL slide all over, even if you have the wrist rest still attached, which will render the rubber feet under it to not contact the surface of your desk. The USB cord that plugs into your computer is clothe-woven for extra durability, and renders the cord slightly stiff and weighty.
Functions:Functions of a keyboard are going to be one of the first things a gaming enthusiast are looking for when it comes to a keyboard, and this keyboard may be lacking in what you're looking for, sadly. This keyboard does not feature ANY key binding or macro options whatsoever. When looking into this product, I was not looking for that feature in particular, or else I would of moved my interests into another kind of board. The functions of the board that it does have, it does do flawlessly and well. As I mentioned in the above section, the Cherry MX Red switches are just what any gamer would appreciate and expect from a pricey, enthusiast gaming keyboard; clickless-fast responses.
I saved talking about the back lighting on the keyboard for this section, due to the customization functions you have available to you with the k70. A really nice and well-integrated feature the k70 has is an on-board feature to change which keys you want illuminated and which keys you want unlit. At the top right of the board, there are two buttons that control lighting. One button that has a tier of 4 levels of key brightness you can cycle through: off, bright, brighter and brightest. Now we come to the programmable key, which when pressed, will default turn the LED's off, besides the WASD and 1-6 keys, to help visually aid your playing on FPS games and games that also utilize a skill bar. Pressing the key again will turn all the lights back on. What if you want to turn other keys on or off? Hold the LED control button down for 5 seconds and the ring around the key will flash, allowing you the hit and key on the k70 to turn the LED on or off behind it. The nice feature about this is it will save these settings to memory on the board, so no matter where you bring the keyboard, it will save those custom setting without a program needing to be installed on the computer it's plugged into. Neat, huh? Might not be a new feature in the realm of enthusiast keyboards, but control of these features is nonetheless welcome, as you're paying a good price for it.
The k70 also features a second USB cord bound to the keyboard input USB, and this is for the USB 2.0 (no 3.0? Awww...) input found on the back of the keyboard, by where the cord emerges from. This is more designed for a mouse or webcam peripheral to be plugged in. For you 3.0 users out there, it'll be better off to plug your compatible storage devices straight into your machine and avoid using this on-board feature.
The last function to worth mentioning is the BIOS switch in the back, by the USB input. Depending on what polling rate you desire, the numbers correspond to 1,2,4, and 8 millisecond response accordingly, for those of you that require that extra aspect of customization.
Summary:All in all, I knew what I was getting myself into when I bough this board. It has NO MACRO OR BINDING FEATURES, so please be aware of this before committing to it. The LED's are nice and give a great amount of visual aid and style to your gaming setup, and the amount of on-board control without the use of a PC program is wonderful. The media control features on the board are nice, sturdy, and would work as you would expect them to. The biggest attraction that this board has, in my opinion, is the fact that it will feature the different Cherry MX switches while still keeping the same physical design, allowing for a more customized keystroke feel.
I really like this board, and will sing it's praises to anyone that asks me how I like it. I will, however, warn of it's enthusiast price for what you're getting. It might look cool, but the price is premium. Again, I will warn of no macros or key bindings, but what this board features, it does well. Great steel frame, extremely accurate keystroke response for the gaming enthusiast, and superb LED light control customization.