Custom PC

REVIEW: Corsair K100

By Mike Jennings. Posted

The K100 is Corsair’s new flagship keyboard, so it has a huge price alongside a truckload of features. The most exciting addition can be found beneath the double-shot PBT keycaps – Corsair’s first opto-mechanical switches.

The Corsair OPX switches balance mechanical-style keys with laser actuation. The OPX keys have a 45g actuation force, a 1mm actuation point and 3.2mm of travel alongside n-key rollover and anti-ghosting. The keys are lightning-fast and extremely sensitive – they hardly need to be pushed for a keypress to register, and the button movement is light, linear and shallow.

Their sensitivity impresses, but they’re not for everyone, particularly if you want tactile feedback, but there’s another option, as the K100 is also available with Cherry MX Speed Silver switches that have a 1.2mm actuation point. Comparatively, the rival Razer Huntsman Elite has a 1.5mm actuation point and 3.5mm travel distance – alongside a modest tactile bump.

Beyond that, conventional mechanical switches that aren’t designed for speed will have taller, heavier and more tactile typing actions, and many gamers will prefer that more robust experience.

The Corsair OPX switches balance mechanical-style keys with laser actuation

Also, bear in mind that the different between an opto-mechanical switch and a mechanical switch is relatively minor. Most people will notice the difference in terms of feel, but only the keenest players will gain a significant advantage.

The rest of the K100’s specification is suitably high-end. On the inside, there’s a new multi-core Arm processor that enables the K100 to handle complex, 20-layer lighting effects and store up to 200 profiles.

It also allows this keyboard to use a 4kHz polling rate, although the K100 is set to 1kHz by default and this is fine for virtually every user. Corsair’s excellent iCUE app controls this keyboard’s options, and it’s both intuitive and powerful.

The top-left portion of the keyboard houses a textured wheel that can offer eight new functions

Meanwhile, the top-left portion of the keyboard houses a textured wheel that can offer eight new functions, including skipping music tracks, switching apps, scrolling and altering the brightness of the lighting.

The centre of the wheel is a button that switches its purpose, and RGB LEDs indicate which mode is active. The wheel is flanked by profile-switching and Game buttons, and it worked well during our tests.

The features elsewhere are plentiful. Each button has an individual RGB LED, and those lights are joined by a 44-zone strip of customisable lighting around the K100’s edges. There are six macro keys that can also be used with Elgato streaming decks, and in the top-right corner there’s a volume roller and media keys.

Each key has an individual RGB LED, and there's a 44-zone strip of customisable lighting around the K100’s edges

Corsair also includes ten replacement keys – six for MOBA gaming, four for FPS gaming – and there’s a comfortable magnetic wrist rest. The entire unit is sturdy too, although it’s hardly small – the K100 weighs 1.2kg and is 470mm wide.

There are no big issues here – just tiny quibbles. The K100 has USB pass-through, but it’s only USB 2, and at this price we’d expect USB 3. The media keys and the buttons on either side of the wheel are a tad flimsy as well.

The rival Razer Huntsman Elite costs £185 and has similarly speedy keys, but it doesn’t have the K100’s more complex computational abilities, and it has fewer RGB LED zones, no function wheel and no macro keys.

Conclusion

The K100 is a superb keyboard. The laser-powered switches are fast, smooth and light, and it’s packed with features – from the task-switching wheel to the plentiful RGB LEDs. Not everyone will enjoy the Corsair’s airy, linear keys, though, and the price is stratospheric, so only shell out if you’re going to use every feature.

VERDICT
Top-tier design and features alongside delicate, fast keys, but it’s very expensive and the typing action won’t suit everyone.

PRICE
£230 inc VAT

SCORES
DESIGN 39/40 / FEATURES 34/35 / VALUE 15/25 / OVERALL 88%

OPTIMUS PRIME

  • Fast and sensitive key action
  • Loads of features
  • Superb build quality
  • Great RGB lighting

CLIFFJUMPER

  • Very expensive
  • No USB 3 pass-through
  • Some flimsy buttons

SPEC
Connection Wired, USB
Cable 1.8m braided
Material Plastic, aluminium
Switch type Corsair OPX or CherryMX Speed Silver
Backlighting RGB
Extras Detachable wrist rest, media keys, function wheel

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