The Corsair Vengeance K90 is a top-of-the-line gaming keyboard with an unusual silver aluminum chassis, Cherry MX Red switches and and an added 18-key Macro pad. It was designed for playing MMO’s and Real Time Strategy games. Mechanical keyboards are much more accessible due to their high sensitivity and low operating force and the K90 is well-crafted and performs excellently.
Operating System: Windows 7, Vista or XP
Selectable report rate: 1000Hz/500Hz/250Hz/125Hz (1ms/2ms/4ms/8ms) response time
Connectivity: USB 2.0
Memory: 36Kb of onboard memory for storing up to three sets of eighteen G-key macros
Dimensions: 547 x 86 x 223 mm or 22 x 8.8 x 3.4 inches
Weight: 1934 g or 4.3 pounds
- Internet connection for SW driver installation
- At least 35MB of hard disk space
- Two USB connectors are required for USB pass-through
From the top it has a distinctive look and even more importantly, a distinctive feel. The keys are easy to find and light to the touch. The mechanical keys are exposed and rest on an aluminum chassis. It does open up the switches to dust, but also makes it easy to clean with a can of compressed air. Included with the keyboard is a black dimpled rubber wrist rest that can be attached for greater wrist support.
The keyboard consists of:
- A standard full-size Qwerty keyboard with Cherry Red MX mechanical switches.
- G-keys (macro keys) arranged in a 3×6 pad on the left. These are not mechanical keys.
- MR, M1, M2, M3 buttons at the top left that controls the macro profiles of the G-keys
- On the top right is an illumination control button that controls the four light illumination levels (off, 66%, 75%, and full illumination).
- A Windows Lock key for uninterrupted game play locks/unlocks the Window Key and is located next to the Illumination control button.
- Six multimedia keys: Stop, Previous, Play/Pause, Next, Mute, Volume Up/Down. Volume control is done through a solid metal, weighted volume drum roller. Unforuntately, the “easy access media controls” are not easily accessible. The multimedia keys, Stop, Play, Previous and Next in particular, are flat non-mechanical keys tucked in behind the raised Num pad, making them difficult to access.
From the side the K90 looks sleek and sturdy with clean lines. The left side has a black plastic finish as the G-keys are mounted on black plastic with a groove that makes it slightly easier to grip when moving it.
The right side is a simple aluminum brushed steel edge with only a few millimetres between the edge and keys, making it harder to grip when picking up. If you are using the keyboard on your lap, there isn’t much to hold on to either side without accidentally hitting the keys.
The front has a bevelled aluminum edge and when the wrist support is attached, forms a smooth rubber finish. The back hold the entry point for the USB cable and one USB port on the right side, in-line with the F12 key.
The bottom has rubber feet that helps it sit firmly on the desk. It also has standard built-in standoffs to angle the keyboard or fold in neatly to place the keyboard flat.
Cherry MX Red mechanical key
Mechanical keys have definite advantages. The keys are sensitive and responds to a light touch and they don’t feel mushy like membrane keys often do as the rubber domes underneath wobbles when the key is pressed. The Cherry MX Red switches are linear (non-tactile) switches, ideal for gaming. Tactile switches bump when they actuate, but non-tactile switches are smooth all the way until they bottom out. If you are gaming and pressing the same key repeatedly, you’re going to bottom out anyway, so the extra bump of a tactile switch is just an unnecessary added feature.
Mechanical keyboards are louder than membrane keyboards and the non-clicky Cherry MX Red is one of the quieter varieties. If you are unaccustomed to a mechanical keyboard, they will be much noisier the first 2-3 weeks as you apply more force than is required, resulting in the switches bottoming out and hitting the base much harder than is required. The Cherry Red MX requires only 45 grams of pressure, one of the lightest on the market and once you are accustomed to only putting that much weight through the keys, they sound much less abrasive, however, all mechanical switches always have an audible click.
Dedicated customizable macro keys
The macro keys are where the K90 lets you down a little. They have incredible potential, but they don’t meet the high standards the rest of the keyboard sets. The macro keys are not mechanical, but standard dome membrane keys with no back lighting.
The Corsair software used to program the macro keys are better than most equivalent pieces of software, but leaves room for improvement. Once you have installed the software, which can be found here, click on the ? at the top right which will launch your default browser and take you to a relevant Q&A page. There is no built-in tutorial and its tough figuring out how to program the macro keys without some help. Once you have learned how to program the keys, the hard part is over. There are 18 keys and 3 maps controlled by the M1, M2 and M3 buttons, allowing you to switch to 3 possible macros for each key. Profiles can be created and saved and the software allows up to 50 profiles.
100% Accurate Anti-Ghosting with a 20 Key Roll-over (20KRO)
Key Roll-over, or #KRO, is the number of keys that can be pressed simultaneously before key blocking kicks in. Standard keyboards usually support 6KRO plus 4 modifier keys. 20KRO is more than enough to support complicated multi-presses when gaming. Apart from anything else, you only have ten fingers, the chance of a scenario popping up where you would want to and be able to press more than 20 keys at once, is slim to none.
Gaming keyboards often list “anti-ghosting” as a feature, but limit the anti-ghosting capacity to a handful of keys, like the WASD cluster. Corsair states that “[t]he K90 has individual switches with dedicated diodes for each switch so every key press results in an input and is 100% ghost free without tradeoff or compromise.” It’s absolutely correct. The bottom-line: Don’t worry about the technical details or marketing sell-points. The K90 checks all the points and will be as accurate as a keyboard can be.
Price: RRP £119.99
Retailer: [amazon_link id=”B00606O9WS” target=”_blank” ]Amazon (UK)[/amazon_link]
Included In The Box
- Wired keyboard with 2 metre non-tangle cable
- Detachable wrist rest
- 2-year Warranty card
The Corsair Vengeance K90 is a top-of-the line keyboard with many selling points. The back lit mechanical keys makes it easy to use, the Cherry Red MX switches are muted but audible and the keys are accurate, responsive and soft to the touch. It’s disappointing that not all the keys are mechanical and the recessed media keys are difficult to reach, but these are small flaws in comparison to all its charm. Mechanical keyboards are durable, accurate, comfortable to use and ergonomic. Once you own one, you will never look back and the K90 is one of the best on the market.