An affordable wireless keyboard that is also good for gaming sounds like something that’s almost too good to be true. There’s simply no way you can pack stable, secure wireless connectivity, performance-focused switches, and fancy RGB lighting and macro keys all in one board for less than $100, right?
Well, Corsair managed to come in just under that price line and with their new K57 wireless keyboard. With this new board, they aim to put all the features you need from a gaming keyboard into a wireless board.
You can pick up the K57 on Newegg, GameCrate's parent company, for $99.
Design and Comfort
The K57 is a full-sized keyboard, measuring 18.90 inches long, 6.53 inches wide, and 1.38 inches tall. It’s an absolutely mammoth board, and that’s not even including the detachable palm rest. While some gamers are going to be a little grumpy about having to give up that extra desk space, you do get a numpad, media keys, and six dedicated macro keys, not to mention the RGB brightness and macro recorder key.
That being said, I’m a bit at a loss as to why Corsair included a number pad on this wireless board. While it’s great for dedicated office work, I find it to be a cumbersome burden that hogs up real estate when I’m trying to play a game. If you’re listening, Corsair, a tenkeyless model would be ideal.
On the design front, the K57 looks like every other Corsair keyboard – and I mean that as a compliment. The black plastic top plate, the big, clear keycap lettering, the bright, vivacious lighting – it’s an elegant package that doesn’t steal focus from on-screen action. If Corsair never changed up their design philosophy one iota, I would be content.
For the K57’s RGB lighting, Corsair has changed things up a bit.For the LED lights, Corsair has gone with Capellix LEDs. Corsair claims these LEDs are not only brighter than traditional RGB LED lights, but use less power. Obviously this is great on a wireless keyboard, as my first instinct was the keep the RGB lights off to save precious juice. Thanks to these new LEDs, gamers can rest easy with around 35 hours of battery life if you keep the brightness on the lowest setting.
Here's what Corsair had to say about Capellix LED's earlier this year at CES:
The RGB lighting itself is stunning and vibrant – just as bright as a traditional wired keyboard. Of course, you can customize the lighting effects down to each individual key in Corsair’s iCUE software.
Construction of the board is mostly solid, with a slight bit of give when I try to bend the plastic frame. I really wish the top plate was aluminum to make the board feel a bit sturdier. I also don’t exactly love the keycaps. The ABS plastic feels a little too glossy, and I’m worried that over time, oils from my fingertips will begin to show and stain the board.
Performance and Features
The K57 offers two different types of wireless connectivity – via traditional Bluetooth or with Corsair’s own “Slipstream” 2.4Ghz over a USB dongle. The USB dongle is stored right inside the base of the board, and there’s also a detachable USB cable for charging and wired use.
While the Bluetooth doesn’t need the additional dongle, it’s a bit slower, with some perceptible lag and the occasional dropped keystroke. I recommend you avoid it unless absolutely necessary, or if you’re just doing basic office work. Still, it’s a great fallback, as it allows you to use the K57 on tablets and laptops where USB ports are sparse.
Corsair’s Slipstream connectivity is, and I mean this with no hyperbole, flawless. Normally, I’d be hesitant to recommend a wireless keyboard for gaming, as input lag and dropped keys are simply unacceptable in high-level competitive play. Not on the K57, though. Corsair boasts sub 1ms response time, and boy oh boy do they deliver.
Here's Corsair on Slipstream tech, at CES 2019:
Gaming with the K57 feels exactly like you’re using a wired keyboard. Every keystroke is accurately registered as quickly as you can press the keys, just like on a wired keyboard. With the K57, the rule of thumb about sticking to wired keyboards for gaming has been completely shattered.
The K57 is a membrane keyboard. Before I lose all the mechanical keyboard fanatics who scoff at using anything else, I have to admit that these membrane switches feel shockingly good. There’s a bit of resistance to them that you don’t normally see in membrane switches.
Forget that soft, mushy feel that you’ve come to expect from a membrane keyboard – the K57 feels hefty, precise, and meaty. It’s also incredibly quiet, which is perfect if you’re gaming in a dorm room or have a bunch of roommates. Throw in 1000hz polling and 8-key rollover, and you’ve got yourself a keyboard that performs identical to your mechanical gaming keyboard. After a few days of using the K57 as my daily driver, I almost didn’t miss my standard mechanical board. Almost.
The K57 is a minor miracle – a jack of all trades that’s a master of all, too. It can game, it can type, and it’s wireless. It's RGB and macro keys in a wireless keyboard, and there are very few alternatives that offer that same combination of features, at any price.