Corsair’s K95 RGB Platinum gaming keyboard reviewed

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.

 

The extras

Corsair’s trademark dedicated media controls live in the top right corner of the keyboard. The four main buttons (stop, play, skip forward, and skip back) have all been given some extra height compared to Corsair’s older boards, making them easier to press. They feel fantastic with steady, deep ranges of motion. As someone who listens to music almost nonstop throughout the day, it’s always great to have dedicated media buttons, and the K95 Platinum’s buttons are especially nice.

The volume wheel has also been changed a bit, but not in a good way. The scrolling action is incredibly smooth, which presents a problem. The wheel is actually too easy to scroll in this iteration, making it difficult to accurately adjust the volume to the desired level. The K70 Rapidfire’s volume wheel has light notches in the scrolling action that give a better idea of exactly how much the volume is being adjusted. I wish Corsair had stuck with the Rapidfire’s scroll wheel and put it in the K95 Platinum.

Finally, the mute button on my particular keyboard seems to have a defect. Pressing down on it results in a coarse crackling feeling that definitely isn’t meant to be there. I’ve used multiple Corsair keyboards and none of them have had this issue. I also haven’t been able to find anyone else making note of the mute button, so it’s safe to say it’s just a bit of an odd quirk of my particular unit.

Moving across the top of the keyboard now, three other buttons come into view. The first button switches between profiles saved to the keyboard from Corsair’s accompanying software, though it does come programmed with three profiles by default. The second button adjusts the brightness of the LEDs. There are four brightness levels in total, one of which completely turns off all the lights. The final button disables the Windows key, which can be useful while gaming.

A single USB pass-through port resides on the back of the keyboard to help with cable management. I had my mouse plugged into this port the entire time I’ve been using the K95 Platinum, and the mouse seemed just as responsive as usual. I never picked up on any lag or latency, so as far as I can tell, using the pass-through port shouldn’t result in any issues.

A thick, braided cable also comes out the back of the keyboard and ends with two USB connectors. The first connector is for the keyboard itself, and the second is for the USB passthrough. The keyboard can function without the passthrough port connected, so those who don’t need it don’t have to use up an extra USB port on their computer.

Like most Corsair keyboards, the K95 Platinum comes with an attachable wrist rest. This time around, the rubbery pad has two sides, each with its own distinct texture. One of the sides simply has rows of small dimples, while the other has a raised, triangular pattern. I switched between both textures throughout my time with the keyboard, but I never developed a preference for either side. Both textures feel nice and get the job done.

The bottom of the keyboard has two crisscrossed grooves intended for cable management, but it seems a bit odd to have the grooves going from the front of the keyboard to the back. I’m not sure what cables one would want to route out the front of the keyboard. I suppose it can’t hurt to have the grooves there, but it would be nice if they exited from the side of the keyboard, as well. 

The back of the keyboard also comes equipped with two feet that can be flipped up to give the keyboard a bit more height. The feet are sturdy and keep the keyboard propped up without any wobble. Sadly, Corsair has removed the riser feet common in its older from the front edge of the K95 Platinum. Those feet offered a flatter and more natural typing angle for some typists when they were engaged.

Two sets of textured keys are packaged with the keyboard along with a keycap puller. These keys can actually be quite useful when paired with the G-keys. Gamers in the middle of an intense fight generally want to keep their fingers on the main key cluster. If you move your fingers away from the main keys to activate a G-key, it can be difficult to quickly place your fingers back on the main keys. Textured keys make it much easier to locate the main key cluster.

Given the usefulness of textured keycaps, it’d be nice if Corsair would provide a textured set of one through four keys, as well. Many RPGs use those number keys often. The two textured keycap sets provided are mainly for FPSs and MOBAs. Honestly, the best solution might be to package a set of blank textured keycaps. This would allow gamers to set up any configuration of textured keys they might want.

While the current textured keycaps could technically be used for any configuration, they have slanted edges similar to those on the G-keys that are meant to keep one’s fingers centered in the key cluster. I find these slants unnecessary for gaming and annoying when typing. Yes, I could take the textured keycaps off after gaming, but I’d rather not switch out the keycaps every time I switch from work to play.

Last year, I was quite impressed with the Corsair Utility Engine, or CUE for short, but Corsair has unfortunately changed it quite a bit since then. It’s now clunky, slow, confusing, and overly complicated. The number of menus, tabs, and selection screens has been increased, which combined with a certain unresponsiveness that now pervades the app, makes programming colors and macros a frustrating experience. It’s still better than a lot of gaming peripheral software out there, but it’s unfortunate to see CUE regress from its former state. Fortunately, it’s just software, so Corsair could improve it in the future.

While CUE’s most recent version is a bit disappointing, it still gets the job done. All the standard RGB keyboard features are here, from a large variety of lighting modes and options to highly customizable macros. LED settings and macros can be assigned to profiles and saved to the keyboard. As I noted earlier, the keyboard has a button specifically for switching through profiles, so it’s not necessary to have CUE installed on every PC you might want to connect the K95 Platinum to. That’s handy in an age of increasingly complex and customizable peripherals.

 

Conclusions

Every time I set out to write a Corsair keyboard review, I know I’m going to be working with a high-quality product. That quality usually comes with quite the hefty price tag attached. The question, then, is whether the features of the keyboard are worth the premium over other gaming keyboards on the market.

The few issues this board has are minor ones. Most of all, I’d like to see some extra polish given to the revised CUE software. The volume wheel could also use some notches, and it’d be nice to have the option of using non-slanted textured keycaps for the WASD cluster. Like I said: minor complaints.

The K95 Platinum definitely does a whole lot well. It’s a solid keyboard with great build quality, fantastic switches, and flawless RGB LEDs. The new light bar looks great, both wrist rest textures are comfortable, the revised media keys are nice, and the G-keys can be great to have. For the most part, this board carries on Corsair’s tradition of excellence.

The K95 Platinum will set gamers back $200, and that’s the biggest cloud hanging over its aluminum top plate. The original K95 was $150, and the RGB version was $190. Ten dollars more over the original K95 RGB may not seem like too bad a jump until you consider the fact that the K95 RGB had three times as many G-keys as the K95 Platinum. Heavy macro users are actually getting less for their money with this board than what the first K95 offered.

The $10 extra does get you a new light bar, better media keys, and a second wrist rest texture. Even so, this board isn’t that much different functionally from the K70 Rapidfire, which goes for $170. Pricing aside, it’s a shame that Corsair no longer sells a keyboard with 18 G-keys like the original K95. Whether the six macro keys of the Platinum are enough to keep heavy macro users happy is an open question. For everybody else, the K95 Platinum is a top-shelf keyboard with a price tag to match. If you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed. 

Comments closed
    • ChicagoDave
    • 3 years ago

    Can you comment on the “light bleed” from the keys being so much higher than the LED? A lot of these RGB keyboards I see seem to let a ton of light out of the sides in due to low switch/led and high keycap. I’ve even seen people on reddit cutting or 3D printing a matte mask to surround the switch and prevent the light from reflecting up.

    If I were to use one of these it’d be in the dark and with only a few key keys (har har) lit up – just 1-4, H, I, O and maybe one or two others. I’d hate it if my H key has the light from it bleeding into all of the surrounding keys, or even worse shining directly at my eyes due to the height difference between the LED and the key.

    Most people say that Logitech has the best keyboards in terms of light bleed, but their switches aren’t up to par. Just wondering how the new K95 is, as the older model seemed to have some issues. Here’s a picture of the old K95 – notice how the light reflects from teh numbers onto the sides of the Function keys

    [url<]http://i.ytimg.com/vi/P_dqrTqSN5E/maxresdefault.jpg[/url<]

      • invinciblegod
      • 3 years ago

      I remember reading somewhere that the light bleed on the corsair keyboards was intentional to amplify the effect. Not sure if true though

        • ChicagoDave
        • 3 years ago

        Yeah I’m not a fan. The whole point (IMO) is to use these in a darkened room while gaming, lighting up a few important keys and either blacking out the rest, or setting them all the others to one color. For example in Diablo I’d have 1-4 in Green, I for inventory in Yellow, H for heal in Blue, and then everything else as red or simply off. What I don’t want it so have all the red keys surrounding my I or H keys overwhelming it, and likewise having the green or yellow partially light up the neighboring key so my peripheral vision mistakes which key is actually that color. If the right side of G is blue then I might hit G instead of H.

        Again I’ve seen that Logitech’s keyboards are really good about covering the underlying LED’s so only the character of the key shows the colored light, and nothing bleeds out. But their switches aren’t really what I’m looking for if I’m dropping $120+ on a keyboard, so I’m hoping someone else can crack this seemingly simple nut. Any input from the reviewer would be appreciated *cough* Nathan 🙂

          • d0g_p00p
          • 3 years ago

          CoolerMaster MasterKeys is what you are looking for. Software is simple to use and not required, no noticeable light bleed, standard bottom row, excellent build quality and cheap for what you get.

          Now if you are looking for fancy macro buttons and embedded media controls then this keyboard will be a turn off. However if you just want a simple mechanical keyboard with RGB support and a nice basic design then the CoolerMaster is perfect. It’s one of the only non custom keyboards I still use, that’s how good it is.

          The IKBC MF-87 is also excellent if you can find one, buy it

    • drsauced
    • 3 years ago

    That non-standard bottom row, tho. It makes changing keycaps to a new set a no go.

      • abele2017
      • 3 years ago
    • DeadOfKnight
    • 3 years ago

    I don’t see the point in having 6 macro keys on the side like that. Just get a K70 and set up an alternate profile with reprogrammed media keys when you need them.

    • Ph.D
    • 3 years ago

    It’s really crappy to remove most of the macro keys, make the new keyboard more expensive and then take the old keyboards off the market as well.

    The K95 is the keyboard with the macros, bringing it closer to the K70 series and increasing the price on top if that is just lame.

      • d0g_p00p
      • 3 years ago

      “If you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed.”

      until you hit the mute button.

    • zenbi
    • 3 years ago

    [quote<]I'm not sure what cables one would want to route out the front of the keyboard.[/quote<] Headset cables. Many games now allow you to talk to your allies while playing; and the cord can often get in the way.

      • Gyromancer
      • 3 years ago

      I use a gaming headset, but I wouldn’t want to route the cable under my keyboard and out the front. I’d think it’d restrict movement. I have my cable off to the side, but to each his own.

        • EzioAs
        • 3 years ago

        I agree, in fact, I’m even willing to go wireless for gaming headset from now on. I just bought a wired headset and it’s kinda annoying having cable(s) when I’m gaming. For movies and other uses though, I still prefer speakers over headphones/headsets, it’s just more convenient for me.

    • Inkling
    • 3 years ago

    I fiddled with one at a trade show and then got to really bang on one at a friend’s house recently. This is a phenomenal keyboard, and if price were no option it’d be my top choice. I’d probably never use more than 4 or 5 G-keys myself.

    However, there are some really great options at just over 1/2 the price of this beauty.

      • blahsaysblah
      • 3 years ago

      Bah, my [url=http://www.logitech.com/en-sg/product/6231<]Logitech Classic Keyboard K100 (PS/2)[/url<] can't be beat for $13.

    • Thresher
    • 3 years ago

    I bought one and wound up returning it. For some reason, it would not play nice with my KVM. My old Logitech works just fine, but this one wouldn’t.

    That said, it’s a very nice, very solid keyboard.

      • BIF
      • 3 years ago

      The Corsair Strafe RGB also doesn’t always play well with a KVM. You have to be patient and keep trying. Disconnecting/reconnecting works, though; so I keep my small USB KVM on the desk surface where it’s easy to reach; no putting that one on the floor…

      But the color configuration software is sweet, and the keyboards seem to be great. I’d buy another Strafe or a K95, as long as it’s an RGB version.

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