Review: Corsair K70 MK.2 Rapidfire RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard — A US$170 gamer's delight
Corsair has an arsenal of products on offer in the RGB mechanical keyboards category, starting from the flagship K95 RGB Platinum to the K65 series. The K70 sort of represents the middle tier in the lineup and is currently comprised of eight models. Within the K70 MK.2 series itself, there is a Rapidfire and a Rapidfire Low Profile option. A totally white SE variant of the K70 MK.2 with PBT double-shot key caps is also available. Combine that with various combinations of Cherry MX switches on offer and you get quite a lot of options to choose from.
In this review, we will look at the Corsair K70 MK.2 Rapidfire RGB mechanical gaming keyboard. The K70 MK.2 is a successor to the well-received K70 RGB. There aren't too many differences in the new iteration, but the Rapidfire moniker means that Corsair is using the Cherry MX Speed switch option this time around. While there is a similar K70 MK.2 Rapidfire Low Profile keyboard that feels more like a laptop keyboard given its shallow key travel, the K70 MK.2 is a full-height model and comes with all that you expect from a high-end mechanical gaming keyboard. But is it worth the US$170 price tag? Let's find out in our review.
The Corsair K70 MK.2 Rapidfire offers everything you expect from a high-end mechanical gaming keyboard, including per-key RGB backlighting, fully key N-key RollOver, and 100% anti-ghosting. Our K70 MK.2 Rapidfire review unit uses Cherry MX Speed switches, which have a 1.2 mm actuation point and a 45 cN defined force. Although Cherry MX Speed switches became more widely available during Computex 2017, Corsair was the first OEM to use them on its keyboards in 2016 thanks to a time-limited exclusive agreement. Of course, you can also choose from among the many other Cherry MX switch types on offer.
Corsair says the keyboard has a polling rate of 1000 Hz. As alluded to in a previous article, while high polling rates are useful for gaming mice, they hardly matter when it comes to keyboards. Besides, CPU resources are wasted due to the constant polling every millisecond. The K70 MK.2 Rapidfire comes with 8 MB of onboard memory that can store up to three onboard profiles. You can configure these profiles in iCUE and load them onto the keyboard's firmware — perfect if you are carrying it to LAN parties.
The design of the K70 MK.2 Rapidfire is like most other gaming keyboards on the market. The 74 standard keys toward the left are in the usual US QWERTY layout. The ABS keys float well above the switches and the key legends are somewhat broader than normal. Some may not like the font used but the large letters allow for more RGB light to shine through, so it is purely a personal preference.
There are no additional programmable keys like the K95 Platinum, which may be of concern to hardcore MOBA gamers. The entire keyboard is supported by an aircraft-grade brushed anodized aluminum baseplate that lends a lot of strength and durability to the frame and is one of the reasons for the keyboard's premium pricing.
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Corsair also bundles in extra textured keycaps for FPS/MOBA gamers. The braided USB cable is of good quality and branches into two daughter cables — one for the actual keyboard and the other for USB pass-through devices that you can connect to the keyboard.
Towards the top left, we have three non-mechanical keys that provide some additional functionality. The first of these allows you to cycle between the stored onboard profiles, the second allows you to change the RGB light intensity in three steps or turns it off, and the third is a Windows lock switch that prevents accidental input from the Windows key while gaming. The Windows lock key can be set to lock other key combinations as well that are likely to be hit by accident during intense gaming, such as Shift+Tab, Alt+Tab, and Alt+F4.
Coming to the top right of the keyboard, we find the usual indicators for the Num, Caps, and Scroll locks and further on, just above the numpad, we find the mute button, metal volume wheel and dedicated media control keys. The media control keys work with almost all media players, including browsers that interface with Windows media controls. However, these keys won't work in certain situations such as controlling playback of a YouTube video from a portable browser, for example.
Lastly, towards the back, we see large rubber feet along the edges that help station the keyboard on the desk firmly without slipping. There's an X-shaped groove that allows for cable management if you are plugging-in devices to the USB pass-through port. There are two foldable feet that provide a decent angle for long hours of comfortable typing.
Corsair offers a wrist rest to further enhance typing comfort. However, we really feel Corsair should have offered a softer wrist rest like the one bundled with the K95 Platinum. The included wrist rest is fine for the most part, but the hard surface can cause a bit of discomfort to the wrists if you spend long hours typing for a living.
The Corsair K70 MK.2 Rapidfire works right off the bat when plugged-in to a PC without the need to install any additional software. That being said, Corsair's iCUE offers a lot of customization options that can make using the K70 MK.2 Rapidfire a pleasure. With iCUE, you can create macros, remap keys to a different layout (Colemak, anyone?), customize a whole lot of RGB effects, update the firmware, and change polling rates.
We did notice that the keyboard input is lost while changing polling rates, requiring us to physically disconnect the keyboard and reconnect it again. We expect Corsair to address this in a future update.
The Corsair K70 MK.2 Rapidfire uses Cherry MX Speed (or Silver, if you will). These linear switches have a low actuation force (45 cN) and short actuation point (1.2 mm), which means that typing on this keyboard should be faster than on most other keyboards. Such short actuation points also help with fast reflexes while gaming. However, these switches take some time to get used to, so expect to see a lot of typos in the interim. Also, be prepared for unintended actuations even when you just have your fingers over the keys. That being said, a bit of getting used to the mechanics should enable you to get the most out of the Speed switches.
We tested several aspects of the K70 MK.2 Rapidfire, including N-key rollover, chatter, and performance in fast-paced titles such as PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and Battlefield V multiplayer. Our test bench is powered by an AMD Ryzen 9 3900X CPU running at stock settings on an MSI Prestige X570 Creation motherboard with 32 GB of G.SKILL DDR4-3600 CL16 RAM, and a Gigabyte RTX 2080 Super Gaming OC GPU. All tests were run on Windows 10 1909 with the latest patches installed. The latest versions of iCUE and the K70's firmware were used before starting the tests.
We tested the built-in N-key rollover mechanism using a neat little tool called Aqua's KeyTest. We found that all simultaneous key presses were registered without any misses. The anti-ghosting feature also did a good job as we did not notice any additional key presses apart from the given input. While most gamers wouldn't need more than a 6KRO or at best a 10KRO keyboard, it is good to see that Corsair is going all out with its NKRO functionality.
Key bounce or chattering occurs when a single key press is registered as multiple presses. Key bounce is common in mechanical keyboards as the keys generally tend to bounce for some time (~5 ms) on the spring and make electrical contacts several times before coming to rest. A well-designed firmware should be able to filter out the excess inputs and make sure only one press (up and down motion) is sent to the PC. We tested chatter using Switch Hitter.
The Corsair K70 MK.2 Rapidfire showed no signs of chatter and all keys registered a proper single press. You can actually see that each key takes its own time to come back to the starting position after being fully pressed down.
Gaming and Productivity
This is largely anecdotal, but gaming on the Corsair K70 MK.2 Rapidfire is a delightful experience, especially for FPS, MOBA, and eSports titles. We played several rounds of PUBG and Battlefield V multiplayer and the faster key response did seem to be an added advantage in making quick decisions. The ability to set RGB for specific in-game events can be very useful to prevent distractions and have an idea of the game environment with just peripheral vision cues.
While Cherry MX Reds have traditionally been the go-to switches for gaming, they still have a 2 mm pre-travel compared to the 1.2 mm of the Speed. So, if you are used to Red switches, you may find that it takes a little bit of time to train your reflexes for the lower actuation point of the Speed.
Typing on the Corsair K70 MK.2 Rapidfire is fun once you get used to the Speed switches. Even after getting used to the keyboard for several months now, we did encounter the occasional unintended typo while writing this review. The macro programming feature in iCUE comes across as very handy and the ability to assign keys to redundant tasks such as pasting certain blocks of text without having to type it all over again or recall clipboard history is a great productivity booster.
Spending US$170 on a keyboard definitely merits a lot of consideration of the pros and cons and your actual workflow needs. We have been putting the Corsair K70 MK.2 Rapidfire to the vagaries of daily usage for several months now, and the keyboard held up well in our admittedly rough usage. The K70 MK.2 is designed well, the keys are spaced just about right, and the aluminum baseplate lends a very stable and comfortable gaming and typing experience. Presence of onboard hardware profiles, good RGB effects, and USB pass-through all tilt the scales in the K70 MK.2's favor. Although additional programmable keys aren't available, it does not hamper productivity or gaming in any way.
With flexibility in choice of switches and nearly unlimited customization features in the driver, the Corsair K70 MK.2 Rapidfire RGB mechanical gaming keyboard should definitely figure high on your radar if you are in the hunt for a gaming keyboard to outsmart your competition... as long as you are prepared to retrain your reflexes.
However, the K70 MK.2 Rapidfire is not without competition. Gigabyte's Aorus K9 uses optical Flaretech switches that are rated for 100 million keystrokes and is available for US$116, while the now US$160 Razer Huntsman Elite uses IR-based opto-mechanical switches that have a 1.5 mm actuation point. While this definitely heats up the competition, if you prefer the clicketty clatter of Cherry MX switches and need features like USB pass-through and the customizations offered by iCUE, the Corsair K70 MK.2 indeed merits a consideration over the others.