Corsair Vengeance K90 Performance MMO Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
The Corsair Vengeance K90 is Corsair’s top-dog mechanical gaming keyboard. Like Corsair’s M90 mouse, it’s designed specifically for MMO gaming, but obviously works with all kinds of games as well as typing. I’m a big fan of the M90 mouse, so I was excited to check out how the K90 would pair up.
- High-quality Cherry MX Red keys
- Four levels of illumination
- Media keys and Windows key lock
- Great design and solid feel
- USB pass-through port
- Software could use clearer instructions
DESIGN & LAYOUT
One of the first things you’ll notice when you take the K90 out of the box is its heft. The metal top plate of the K90 makes it look sleek, if not industrial, and enhances the build quality of the keyboard. Another thing you’ll notice is that the keys are not encased in a frame. This gives the K90 a cool and unique look. One major advantage of being frame-less, is that it’s much easier to clean. If you’re anything like me, you frequently eat in front of your computer and end up dropping Doritos crumbs and other goodies onto your keyboard. The K90 also comes with a removable wrist-rest, while the bottom of the K90 has rubber feet to help keep it in place.
The K90 uses a standard 102-key layout. Of course, there’s also three columns of programmable G keys on the left side, for macros. You also get hardware macro recording buttons and media control keys, including a nifty metal volume dial. The two remaining buttons are for selecting the illumination level and disabling the Windows logo key.
The K90 also has a single USB 2.0 port for plugging in a corded gaming mouse or other USB accessories. It’s actually a pass-through port, so there’s an extra cable you plug into your PC to allow the port to pass through. Both the pass-through cable and keyboard cable are thick, tangle-free braided cables.
Overall, the K90 felt very durable and well-made. I did have a problem with one of the key’s bulbs, but the lights on the replacement K90 worked perfectly.
The K90 is great for gaming. It has 20-key rollover, which means you can press 20 keys at the same time and all of them will get reported. It’s definitely more than you’ll need, since you only have 10 fingers to work with, but it’s nice to know that you won’t be held back by the more common, 6-key rollover limitation. The keys are super responsive with a 1ms report rate and feel great with just the right amount of feedback while playing FPS and RTS games. The K90 also has 100% anti-ghosting, which means you can press any combination of keys and they’ll all register. Not all keyboards, even gaming keyboards, have 100% anti-ghosting. Illumination on the K90 looks great and is easy to see. The mechanical and G keys are very well lit, but the other dome switch keys are a tad darker. There are four levels of illumination that can be controlled by the illumination button or by software.
The K90 also has 3 banks of 18 macro keys, for a total of 54 macros. I don’t tend to use macros personally, but for those that do, the K90 definitely has you covered. You can save macros to play back directly from the keyboard’s internal memory as well. Additionally, the K90’s software allows you to access more advanced features, like assigning keys and managing profiles. The software is mostly intuitive, but there were some areas that I thought could use clearer instructions on how to set macros and work with profiles. A video I found on Corsair’s blog on using the K90 software was useful and I recommend you take a look before jumping in.
Typing-wise, the K90 took me a good week and a half to get used to, which is probably about average for someone who’s used to dome-switch keyboards. My favorite typing keyboard of all time is the Kinesis Ergo Advantage, which uses Cherry MX Brown switches. The Kinesis took me about 2-3 weeks to get used to, mainly because of the non-standard layout. Unlike the Kinesis, the Corsair K90 uses the hard-to-find Cherry MX Red switches. Cherry MX Red switches have a smoother feel and lower actuation force than the MX Brown switches, which is ideal for gaming. With Cherry MX Red switches, you don’t have to press the keys all the way down to actuate them.
It’s worth noting that not all the keys on the K90 are mechanical. Call it a hybrid if you want, but the G keys, F keys, and the center block of keys use dome key switches. I personally don’t have a problem with the mix and can’t think of a reason why anyone would.
The Corsair K90 mechanical gaming keyboard is an excellent keyboard for both gaming and typing. In general, Cherry MX Red switches are probably better for gaming than typing, but I personally enjoyed typing on it as much as I enjoyed gaming on it. The K90 also feels like a solid piece of hardware and looks great too. 54 macro keys might be a bit of overkill, but if you love your macros, the K90 has you covered. If you’re looking for a single keyboard to be your FPS/RTS/MMO gaming keyboard that’s also fun to type on, the K90 might just be your keyboard.
Available from Amazon.com.
* Review unit provided by Corsair