I recently got the chance to try out the Corsair K70 RGB Rapidfire keyboard. The primary selling points are its mechanical build and the fact that the keys are backlit by colored LEDs.
Corsair claims the keyboard is targeted for competitive gaming, and while I do have rage attacks when I lose, I'm hardly a professional PC gamer. That being said, I play mouse and keyboard games frequently (not to mention that I type on keyboards for a living). From my experience, the mechanical keyboard seems like more of a tradeoff with membrane keyboards than an improvement on them.
This particular keyboard was designed with both multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) and first-person shooter (FPS) games in mind, although I didn't personally experience any advantage in gameplay while using it. Even at a basic level, the adaptations of this keyboard don't seem like the edge I would need to win in amateur or professional play.
I plugged this little work of sorcery into my PC and went right to playing League of Legends. That should be an even testing ground considering League is still the most-played video game in the entire world.
I also tested a little of the obligatory FPS time on Team Fortress 2. Add that to all the time I spent typing both in-game and out of game, and the fact that my wife spent a good dozen hours using it, and we have a well-rounded sample to review from.
I also tried to use this as an extension on my Mac (which has an integrated keyboard,) but aside from lacking the obligatory two USB ports side-by-side, I couldn't get the advanced software to download on the Mac.
This keyboard is a beast. Since I don't plan on moving my keyboard around a lot once I put it on my desk, that's fine -- but I was still surprised. It must weigh at least double what my Dell keyboard weighs, being heavy and rigid to the point where it would make a dangerous weapon in real-life combat.
The Rapidfire has the normal QWERTY key layout, along with an inbound USB port, a BIOS switch, and sound/video control buttons in the top right corner. The dongle for the keyboard has two male USB plugs. Without thinking, I simply plugged them both into my computer side by side.
On first look, the Rapidfire is all about gaming. The WASD keys are backlit in a different color by default, just like the normal directional arrows they're used in place of for most FPS game setups. In the box are a number of alternate special-grip keys to replace the WASD and R keys (for MOBA games where R is arguably the most important key.)
I took off the special W with the provided key grabber, put on my special R, and got things rolling.
Your Corsair Rapidfire should work pretty much as soon as it is plugged in. The software is cool because there are enough LEDs to actually customize this thing.
The lighting software control panel didn't download for my Mac (it may not be compatible) and it encountered errors the first time I tried to install it on my PC. It's like they didn't want me to use the advanced settings.
Once you do get it installed, the software allows you to create new macros, customize the color of every key, and generally tamper with other things you shouldn't want to mess with on a keyboard.
You can actually customize the color of every single key, and there are tons of color options. Mathematically, I feel like there are more overall keyboard color combinations than there are atoms in the known universe.
Granted, in the dark, it actually helps to be able to see the keys (unlike on a mouse where I'm never going to get lost.) At the same time, I normally use tactile reference points, like the tiny raised dashes on the F and J keys. Either way, you can light it up however you want, and it looks cool without taking away from the performance.
I don't need the lighting feature, and I'm not sure how much it adds to the cost, but if I had endless funding, it's a cool addition. I can't imagine how it would actually harm performance, either, so at worst it's an expensive decoration and at best it's a sweet-looking backlight for finding your place at any time.
Using this keyboard did not make me win more games. I'm not the most talented gamer anyway, but I continued with my normally abysmal win/loss ratio just as before I used the keyboard.
Also, professional players must be nearly deaf, because this is the loudest keyboard I could imagine. There are antique typewriters that make less noise. Since I don't have two different mechanical keyboards on hand, I cannot make a live comparison of noise level between the different switches, but suffice it to say the Rapidfire is more than twice as loud as a membrane keyboard.
Now, I understand that the point of the noise is so that I can hear the key actuating rather than needing to feel it. The extra feedback is supposed to help confirm that the button was pushed, plus sound travels over four times faster than the speed of tactile nerve transmissions.
But for me, it is mostly a distraction -- especially when I am spamming a key because I am trying to use an ability at the exact instant it reaches its cooldown.
Also, I want to have full disclosure on the durability of this keyboard. At some point between when Corsair shipped this keyboard and when I started typing with it, the left CTRL key was damaged.
I first noticed this when I was trying to use CTRL+A to select all my text in a chat box and it didn't work. I pulled the key off (don't worry, that's a normal thing on these) and the contact point was cracked. When I put it back on, the key would still stay put, but it didn't send its signal.
I took the key off and switched it with the right hand CTRL button. It still functioned only 10% of the time. Then, I took the key off and tested the actuator alone. It was clearly damaged all the way through.
I would return this particular keyboard to Corsair and either get a new one or take my money back. Regardless of whether the key was made defective, was damaged in shipping, or broke when I pressed it too hard with my pinky, that's not the kind of durability I would expect from a performance keyboard.
The mute and volume controls on the keyboard work fine, but aren't really necessary for me. The distance to the native speaker controls is the same as finding it on the keyboard.
And as far as the video control buttons on the keyboard, I couldn't figure out how to make them work. It may be user error on my part, but after ten minutes of tinkering, it's not worth the possible time saved in the future.
With all respect to Corsair and the gaming hardware industry, the RGB Rapidfire keyboard seems more like an elitist purchase ("I own an expensive mechanical keyboard!") than a practical purchase. After all, I love Corsair's gaming mouse, which made a distinct difference in gaming performance without compromising anything that I need for daily use.
This is a gaming controller masquerading as a keyboard. If you're already a hardcore mechanical keyboard fan, this may be the keyboard for you. If you find that you're losing games because you're a fraction of a second behind on your keystrokes, cool -- try this out. If you only play PC games with a microphone and you literally never type on it, you won't encounter most of the same frustrations I do.
At about $170, though, you have to either have money to burn or be really sure that this is the keyboard for you. It's just not the keyboard for me. I'm actually fine with plugging my cheap Dell keyboard back in and taking my earplugs out.
Note: Corsair provided GS with a sample of this product for review purposes.