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Corsair's K70 RGB Rapidfire gaming keyboard reviewed

Fulfilling the need for speed
— 1:29 PM on June 27, 2016

Corsair's K70 and K70 RGB gaming keyboards are both long-running favorites at The Tech Report. The original K70 took home a TR Editor's Choice award, and TR Editor-in-Chief Jeff Kampman still hammers out the majority of his writing on the same K70 RGB he reviewed almost two years ago. Corsair recently added a new member to the K70 family: the K70 RGB Rapidfire. This new board largely follows the philosophy of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," but it does hide one major update under its keycaps: Cherry's MX RGB Speed switches. These new clickers register actuations in 1.2 mm of travel, down from two millimeters in regular Cherry MX switches—a move that purportedly makes this keyboard better for gaming than its predecessors.

For those who aren't familiar with the K70, though, we'll first look at the keyboard as a whole. On first brush, the entire package oozes quality. The top plate is formed out of brushed aluminum, while other parts are made of hard, durable plastic. The Rapidfire's clean design does without any cosmetic add-ons or geegaws, and we're OK with that.

The lack of a top plate makes it seem like the keys are floating above the keyboard, an iconic Corsair design that has since been copied by other manufacturers. The missing top plate also makes the keyboard easier to clean. Most dirt resting between the keys will simply slide right out, rather than getting stuck down inside the keyboard. This design also makes plenty of room for the light from the RGB LEDs to spill out around the keys.

The bottom edge of the keyboard extends out slightly further than other keyboards in order to accommodate the optional wrist rest. The rubberized finish of this pad is at once firm and slightly soft to the touch, providing ample support without discomfort. I personally wish it didn't slope down so sharply near its edge, but it isn't a big issue.

The Rapidfire carries over the dedicated media controls, backlight brightness button, and Windows-key lock button of its forebears. Corsair doesn't skimp on the quality of these buttons, though they aren't super-clicky like the actual keys. The volume roller is made of textured metal and has a nice, slightly heavy scrolling action. The media controls do a good job of remembering which program was playing music last, though they don't support in-browser media players such as Soundcloud or YouTube.

Located on the back of the keyboard are a USB pass-through port and a report rate switch. In my time with the Rapidfire, I used the USB pass-through for my mouse. I didn't notice any lag or latency from this port. The report rate switch has one-, two-, four-, and eight-millisecond settings, as well as a BIOS compatibility mode for really old motherboards that might not otherwise work with the keyboard. Corsair suggests most users should leave this switch in the one-millisecond mode.

In order to power the USB pass-through, the keyboard has a thick braided cable with two USB connectors, one for the keyboard itself and the other for the pass-through. Folks who don't plan on using the USB pass-through don't need to plug in the secondary USB connector.

The bottom of the keyboard houses both front and back flip-up stands to give the keyboard a slight slant or height adjustment. This feature is a rare and welcome one among the keyboards we've tested.

The final feature we'll take a look at before covering the new switches is the software. In my experience, the Corsair Utility Engine, or CUE, is among the easiest-to-use gaming peripheral utilities out there, and it's also one of the most powerful. Complex actions can be set for each individual key, including macros, shortcuts, timers, and media controls. The lighting tab allows users to change the color of each individual key, choose from a long list of lighting effects, or make their own lighting animations. A quick note about those LEDs: of all the RGB keyboards I have seen, the K70 has the smoothest LED animations.

All of these settings can be exported and shared with the world, and users who don't want to mess with creating complicated profiles can download and import other folks' creations. Corsair's website has a section dedicated to custom lighting animations. Keyboard settings can also be saved onto the keyboard for use with other computers with the CUE software, but Corsair doesn't incorporate any customization or macro-recording controls directly into the hardware like some of its competitors do. If you want to tweak the K70 Rapidfire across multiple computers, you'll need the CUE software installed on each of your machines.