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Corsair's K95 RGB Platinum gaming keyboard reviewed

A lean, mean macro machine
— 8:03 AM on April 25, 2017

Corsair's K70 keyboard has been reviewed on TR three separate times in three different configurations, and it's won two TR Editor's Choice awards. If there's a TR keyboard all-star list, the K70 is definitely on it. The K70's bigger brother, the K95, has never starred in a single TR review until now. However, this isn't a review of any old K95. Today, we're looking at Corsair's shiny new K95 RGB Platinum.

In the past, the K95 was simply a K70 equipped with 18 "G-keys" on its left side for custom macros and commands. The Platinum edition we're looking at today is a fresh design with its own set of features that set it apart from Corsair's other input devices. Most notably, the complement of six G-keys has been textured and colored gray. The media controls have also been edited a bit, giving them some more height, and the wrist rest now has two different swappable textures. Finally, a brand new RGB light bar and logo have been added to the top of the keyboard to go with your RGB mouse pad. No, I'm not kidding.

While the K95 Platinum has some distinguishing features, it still sticks to the standard Corsair formula. The keyboard is made out of sturdy plastic with a thick, brushed aluminum top plate shielding the base. As we've come to expect, Corsair's keyboard design knocks durability and build quality out of the park.

Aesthetically, the K95 Platinum rocks the classic Corsair look with a black body and smoothly-shifting RGB LEDs. Those lights now bedazzle the aforementioned RGB-backlit light bar and Corsair logo at the top of the keyboard. If you've ever seen a Corsair RGB keyboard in person, you know how incredibly smooth the color transitions are, and the new LEDs on the K95 Platinum are no different, if not better. There are no noticeable color zones or hitches during complex animations, just seamless color shifts. RGB LEDs may be divisive things, but if you're gonna do them, you could do worse than to crib Corsair's approach.

Continuing on with Corsair's usual design elements, the keyboard's switches rest atop the metal top plate for the company's classic floating keys look. The floating-key design both looks sleek and makes the keyboard much easier to clean than boards surrounded with thick plastic bezels. Dust and crumbs are free to fall off the sides if persuaded with a slight tilt of the keyboard or a quick puff of air for the more stubborn bits. The crystalline switch housings also peek out under the keycaps for extra RGB LED flair.

The keycaps themselves are nice and solid. They've been updated with Corsair's thick, squarish font, which may not be everyone's favorite compared to the more subdued typeface the company used before. The keyboard also features Corsair's specialized bottom row, which has smaller-than-standard function and Windows keys to allow for a larger space bar and Ctrl keys. This is supposed to be a layout optimized for gamers, especially FPS players, who use the space bar and the left Ctrl key frequently.

I actually quite like having the larger Ctrl key, but not everyone will appreciate Corsair changing up the standard layout. In order to make this layout possible, the switches themselves are actually spaced differently, so switching out the keycaps won't change the bottom row back to normal. In fact, standard keycaps aren't even compatible with the bottom row due to the alternate switch spacing. If you like custom keycaps, the K95 Platinum is not well-suited to a full custom set.

As with most Cherry-equipped keyboards, the keycaps themselves can be removed to reveal the RGB LEDs and switches hiding below. This particular model is equipped with Cherry MX Speed switches, but the K95 Platinum is also offered with Cherry MX Brown switches. I find both switch types to be fantastic, though I prefer Browns for typing and Speeds for gaming. If you aren't familiar with the various switch types, you can check out our switch guide here.

Unfortunately, that guide was written before Speeds existed, but you can read up on my full explanation and impressions of Speed switches in my review of the K70 RGB Rapidfire. For convenience, I'll give a quick overview here. In short, Speeds are like Red switches in that they have no tactile bump, but they have a 1.2-mm actuation distance rather than the standard 2-mm actuation distance of other Cherry MX switches. In theory, that means the Speeds are better suited for gaming than standard Cherry MX clickers.

I'm happy to report that the implementation of Speed switches in the K95 Platinum is just as fantastic as their implementation in the K70 Rapidfire. My movements in Borderlands 2, Toxikk, and Quake Live were incredibly snappy and precise. There are no issues with input from these babies whatsoever: just speedy, smooth actuation. I highly recommend at least trying out Speed switches for gaming, though it can take a bit of time to become accustomed to them and fully utilize the extra swiftness they provide.

As I noted in my previous encounter with Speed switches, the ease with which a switch can be activated can be a bit disorienting at first. Typing on Speeds requires more precise and clean finger movements than I'm used to in order to avoid accidentally activating a key while quickly moving my fingers across the board. Those accidental key presses quickly faded away as I grew used to the more immediate switch activations and adjusted my typing accordingly.

Cherry MX Browns remain my switch of choice for typing since I like feeling a tactile bump with every key press, but Speeds are a close second. They provide an almost effortless typing experience, which allows for long stints of furious input with almost no finger or wrist fatigue at all.

Now for what the K95 is most known for: its G-keys for macros and other custom functions. A couple changes have been made to these keys as part of the K95's Platinum redesign. The first and most notable change is the reduction of the number of G-keys from 18 to only six. For users like myself who don't use many macros, this is a welcome change, as it reduces the size of the keyboard.

However, for those who do use a large range of macros, this is bad news. Not only does the K95 Platinum have fewer of these keys, Corsair is killing off the older K95. The K95 and K95 RGB have already been dropped from the keyboard page on Corsair's website, and most stores are already out of stock of these products. Those who fancy the K95's large complement of macro keys should go ahead and buy one while supplies last.

To add insult to injury, the K95 Platinum is actually more expensive than both the K95 and K95 RGB, despite having twelve fewer G-keys. The K95 Platinum clocks in at a whopping $200, $50 more than the original K95 and $10 more than the K95 RGB. I can understand Corsair introducing a keyboard to their line up with fewer G-keys, but killing off the full sized K95 and charging more for the less fully-featured version makes no sense to me. Yes, the K95 Platinum has a new RGB light bar, but I'd prefer that functional features take precedence over cosmetic add-ons.

Six G-Keys are what we get, in any case, and the key caps on these customizable clickers have received a facelift. The top of each G-key is now textured with a light gray finish to distinguish them from the regular keys. A sweeping curve has also been added to the left side of the G-keys, further setting them apart under the fingers.

For folks like myself who aren't used to additional keys on the edge of the keyboard, Corsair's new G-keys are nice. The texture sets the keys apart from the standard, smooth keycaps, and the upward sweep identifies the G-keys as the last keys before the edge of the keyboard. One of my gripes with additional macro keys on other boards is that I'll occasionally reach for the escape or control keys and land on one of the additional keys instead. Intentionally reaching for the additional keys can also feel uncertain because I usually can't tell without looking down at the keyboard whether my finger is on the edge of the tab key, for instance, or on a macro key.