The K70 mechanical keyboard from Corsair Gaming has long been one of the most popular gaming keyboards available, and is considered by some the gold standard for price and performance against which other keyboards should be judged. The K70 has seen several iterations over the years, but the very latest is the K70 Rapidfire, which replaces the standard Cherry MX switches with Cherry MX Speed switches.
These new switches are similar to the MX Reds, but are billed as offering "ultra-fast 1.2mm actuation and light 45g force," which makes them the "world's fastest mechanical keyboard switches." That label will undoubtedly cause plenty of debate over on r/MechanicalKeyboards, but the bottom line is that the K70 Rapidfire offers the popular K70 design with very little that's different other than the switches. And since the Blue, Brown, and Red K70 models are still available, the Rapidfire simply adds another switch option to the mix.
The Rapidfire, like the K70 models before it, features a striking exposed aluminum frame, and the whole board has a substantial weight to it and is in little danger of sliding around on your desk. The font used is big and bold, easy to read on the standard keys but a bit crowded on keys like "Print Screen" and "Pause Break." Because of the exposed frame construction of the K70 you can get a peek at the switches beneath the keys without removing the caps, which really enhances the effects of the RGB lighting options the board offers.
The board is crowned with a Corsair sails logo (the stylized swords fiasco a distant memory for the brand) right beneath the high-quality braided cable. The cable itself is so sturdy and thick that you can be confident you won't see any of the typical fraying or failure points you get with less robust cords.
The K70 fights off fingerprints and smudges better than many boards, with such marks barely visible on the keys, though the rubberized surface of the optional wrist rest doesn't do quite so well in this regard.
The texturized space bar might take some getting used to, but it provides a great tactile sensation and helps cut down on slippage when you're gaming.
The K70 Rapidfire includes an impressive suite of features, and this latest model remains a good standard against which to compare competing boards. Aside from the full RGB lighting options, the board includes 100% anti-ghosting, an optional wrist rest, a USB port on the back side of the board, and six audio controls on the board's top right corner (including the fantastic textured volume wheel).
The Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software used to control the Rapidfire's features remains a weak point for the product, as its interface isn't very attractive or easy to use, but it does allow for full reprogramming of keys and macro features. The Rapidfire doesn't include any specialized additional gaming keys, but the ability to re-map keys at will helps make up for that.
The CUE software includes about a dozen pre-programmed lighting options for the K70 Rapidfire RGB, which you can tweak to your heart's content. Though the software still allows for the esoteric programming we've previously discussed, the pre-installed patterns will be enough to impress most owners. The RGB lighting on the Rapidfire is some of the best looking I've seen, shining bright and clear and with just a hint of a reflection off the aluminum body of the board. It's truly a marvel.
The Rapidfire also includes optional textured keycaps and a keypuller, which is a nice touch. The keycaps don't include the number keys though, which is a tiny step down from what other boards have offered.
During our testing period (using the board for typing and games including Orcs Must Die! Unchained), the comfort of the K70 remained largely indistinguishable from that of a Cherry MX Red keyboard. The shorter actuation distance of the Speed keys could mean that you bottom out with a bit more force than you are used to, which could conceivably cause some fingertip discomfort, but it's likely you'll adjust to the force required by this board pretty quickly.
The wrist rest is a wonderful touch, comfort-wise, and really helps for long WASD-heavy gaming sessions. The keys themselves are well-spaced, and the textured spacebar and optional gaming keycaps provide a suitably rough and grippy surface.
Performance is the big question with the Rapidfire, since the Cherry MX Speed switches are the shiny new feature. I've tested a few keyboards before that have claimed to be the fastest in the world for one reason or another (including the Apex M800 from SteelSeries and the Cherry MX 6.0), but I remain as unconvinced as ever that shaving a few millimeters off switch actuation distance really matters for much of anything, at this point. The barriers gamers and typists hit in terms of speed on a board like this are due to human limitations, not mechanical ones.
That said, the Rapidfire does feel fast, for whatever that subjective judgment is worth. After a brief adjustment period I felt like I was flying with this board. I rotate through a wide variety of mechanical switches, but I was using MX Reds right before testing this board, and the tiny difference in actuation distance and time is something you can feel, if you're paying attention. Having the boards side by side and moving from one to the other makes it even more noticeable.
A few repeated typing speed tests had me hitting a 90 WPM average, on-par with the norm for me across a wide spectrum of keyboards (but down from the 95 average that was the fastest I ever recorded, on the Cherry MX 6.0). During lengthy gameplay sessions the keyboard performed like an absolute dream, and though I wouldn't say I necessarily like the feeling of the Speed switches better than Reds, they are also not worse. They're just different.
If you're a fan of Blue or Brown mechanical switches you probably won't be converted to these Speed switches, as they don't offer the same type of tactile feedback (they're linear), and their sound is most like a slightly quieter version of the MX Reds.
In the end, the K70 Rapidfire RGB from Corsair offers solid construction and a robust collection of features, and provides everything that has made the K70 one of the leading gaming keyboards on the market. Whether the Speed switches are right for you is a matter of preference more than performance, but the Rapidfire is an outstanding keyboard from top to bottom.