Cherry MX switches take root in Corsair gaming keyboards


— 12:03 PM on September 16, 2011

IDF — Corsair rolled out a slew of new gaming peripherals at the Intel Developer Forum this week. We were at the big reveal, and we got to spend some hands-on time with a couple of very impressive gaming keyboards. The K60 and K90 target first-person shooters and MMOs, respectively, and they both use Cherry MX Red switches. If you're not familiar with Cherry's multi-colored rainbow of switch options, the reds are non-tactile, non-clicky, and have the lowest actuation force in the lineup. This makes the switches perfect for the hardcore gamers who need to rattle off multiple keystrokes in quick succession, although the lack of tactile feedback is less than ideal for typing.

The most visually striking of the two models is the K90, which does backlighting right by placing an individual LED under each key and offering three brightness levels. A total of 18 macro keys populate the board, and support for three profiles allows for even more customization. Macros are stored on 36MB of onboard memory, which should allow custom combos to work with any system the K90 is plugged into.

One of the most eye-catching things about the K90 is how the blue glow from the LEDs highlights Corsair's rather inspired industrial design. The K90 and K60 are both built up on sturdy aluminum bases, and the keys appear to be raised slightly because Corsair elected not to hide the lower part of the switch mechanism under a top plate. These puppies look nothing like any other keyboard on the market, and I suspect the lack of a top plate might make them easier to clean, as well.

Macro keys have been left off the K60, allowing for a smaller footprint more suited to LAN gamers. The backlight is also gone to make room for a novel set of rubber-coated key caps for the WASD triangle and the first six number keys. The contoured caps are slightly taller than the standard keys, and they have a nice, grippy texture that should be easy to find in the dark. When your gaming session comes to a close, the rubberized keys can be quickly swapped with a set of standard ones that live inside a palm rest designed specifically for FPS gaming.

As one might expect, both keyboards support wicked-fast polling rates, the ability to track more simultaneous key presses than you have fingers, and USB pass-through connectors. Corsair has also loaded 'em up with media keys, a nice volume roller, and a handy switch to disable the Windows key for gaming sessions.

We've seen a number of companies get into the mechanical gaming keyboard market lately, and Corsair looks to have the strongest offerings to date. Best of all, the K60 and K90 are due to hit online retailers next month at pretty reasonable price points. The K60 will cost just $99, while the K90 will ring in at $130. Now if only Corsair would make a version of the K90 with Cherry MX Brown switches for those of us who spend more time typing than gaming.

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