The Corsair Vengeance K60 and K90

We recently re-entered the world of peripheral reviews, specifically mechanical keyboards with our brief rundown of Rosewill's RK-9000 mechanical keyboard (complete with Cherry MX Blue switches). Rosewill's design was as basic as it gets, but the keyboard felt solid and for many of us there's just no substitute for a mechanical switch when it comes to having a comfortable typing experience. But our visit with Rosewill was just a warm up.

Today we have Corsair's Vengeance K60 and K90 gaming keyboards in house. Corsair opts to use Cherry MX Red switches in an effort to find a more suitable balance between typing and gaming needs, and they bring a little more style and class than we're used to seeing in gaming peripherals.

Out of the gate, Corsair is offering two different keyboards targeting two different types of user, but it's worth noting that these two keyboards are very, very similar. The "base model" K60 is targeted towards FPS players. Corsair starts with an aluminum backplate behind the keyboard, with all of the keys raised off of it--there's no tray for crumbs/hair/general-filth to get stuck in! Corsairs uses Cherry MX Red switches for the bulk of the keyboard (the document navigation and F1-F12 use traditional membrane-style switches), and there are dedicated media keys and a "Windows Lock" button above the number pad.

There's also a dedicated wrist rest just for your left hand, and the inside of it holds replacement keycaps for number keys 1-6 plus the WASD cluster along with a keycap remover. These replacement keycaps have rubberized surfaces and incline slightly towards the left hand, the theory being that this will be ideal for gaming use. Finally, the keyboard actually uses two USB ports: one for the keyboard proper, and one used as a dedicated passthrough for a USB port above the F12 key. Corsair offers the K60 for a recommended $109.

Meanwhile, the fancier K90 is geared towards RTS and MMO players. The K90 takes the aluminum base, switch layout, and connectivity of the K60 and adds individual LED backlighting behind each of the keys with four levels of illumination (off, low, medium, and high) toggled by a brightness button next to the Windows Lock button.

Beefing things up, Corsair adds eighteen configurable keys to the left of the keyboard as well as an in-hardware macro recording and playback function (configured and toggled by the four macro buttons above the Escape and F1-F3 keys). What I really like about the K90 as opposed to other gaming keyboards with configurable keys is that the G1-G18 cluster is actually substantially lower than the rest of the keyboard. While the keys of the keyboard proper are all raised off of the aluminum surface, the gaming keys are recessed, making it much harder to accidentally hit one when trying to hit the Tab, Shift, or Ctrl keys.

Finally, Corsair adds a full-length removable wrist rest (a convenience that's becoming increasingly rarefied these days) and dashboard software for configuring the keyboard downloadable from their website. Appropriate to the inclusion of fancier features, the K90 will set you back $129.

The Corsair Vengeance K60 and K90 in Action
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  • mrbean1500 - Saturday, February 18, 2012 - link

    Typing this using the k60, and a lot of the "paint" on the keycaps are fading sadly... hopefully there's a solution soon (new keycaps sent out) since it's advertised as laser etched

    and also, i didnt catch it in the review, but the red/orange keycaps for 1-6 do not have !@#$%^ on them, which is silly since the pic on the box does... and also the wrist wrest is pretty useless and i had to buy a 3rd party one
  • sor - Saturday, February 18, 2012 - link

    I don't have one of these keyboards, but I have experience with laser etched plastic keys and other laser etched items, and the etching tends to smooth out and/or fill in with gunk, making the letters fade. Grease especially can make laser etching fade significantly.
  • mrbean1500 - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    read the link... corsair admits it's a problem and they've identified it... they're just looking for a solution
  • sor - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    Read my post. Both your post and the op on your link seem to imply that they keys are painted and that 'laser etched' means no fading. I disagree that laser etched means no fading. That is all.
  • mrbean1500 - Sunday, February 19, 2012 - link

    pretty sure it's paint... i can literally scrape off the white junk with my fingernail
  • Sabresiberian - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    Exactly. All "Laser Etched" means is that there was a little recess burned out with a laser to put the paint in. It could still be cheap paint, or not have cured properly, or the surface was otherwise improperly prepared so adhesion was poor.

    Theoretically, the recess would allow for a thicker, more substantial amount of paint, and more precise lettering, but there are no guarantees in the process. A high quality paint on a properly prepared surface can last quite a long time, regardless of etching. However, the most basic lettering (no etch) is done to save money, and it's common to save money in materials and processes too (read: cheap out), so "painted on" letters tend to be less reliable not only because the paint is thinner, but the process is lower quality as applied by the manufacturer.

    In my opinion, a premium keyboard should have Double-Shot caps (a cap with the character cut out, then a different colored cap with the character raised on it, pressed up underneath it. The characters are them solid plastic and no kind of paint is needed), any other process is a "cutting corners" one and shouldn't even be considered. (Most manufacturers disagree with me about that.)

    Build. It. Right. The first time.

  • DanNeely - Monday, February 20, 2012 - link

    Does anyone actually sell a doubleshot keycap model?'s mechanical keyboard guide (best braindump I'm aware of on the subject) states that due to cost only one company was selling them; but doesn't actually list any with it in their rundown of models available in 09.
  • Omega215D - Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - link

    There are some companies that still do it but are very expensive.

    Nothing seems to beat dye sublimation for longevity.
  • Ebonstar - Saturday, February 18, 2012 - link

    I do like the K60, I type as fast as I do on the cherry blue keyboard I have here, and appreciate the raised keys makes cleaning and de-dusting a lot easier. However the keyboard does suffer from a particular problem in that a key can be registered as 'stuck' and needs a repeat press to unstick.

    A fix apparently coming soon. Not sure how this will be applied to a K60 as it doesn't need / use any software unlike the K90.
  • mrbean1500 - Saturday, February 18, 2012 - link

    I get that occasionally too, still i like the keyboard =P... first mechanical ever... it's nice

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