In the never-ending battle to have the most/best/brightest LEDs on PC peripherals, Corsair's new K95 RGB Platinum keyboard may be the new grand champion.
While full, per-key RGB lighting has been a standard for top-of-the-line keyboards for a few years now, the new K95 ups the game with the addition of a new "LightEdge" strip of RGB lighting along the top side of the board.
With Corsair's high-quality keyboard construction and a number of gamer-friendly features (including USB passthrough and dedicated macro keys), the imposing K95 RGB Platinum makes a strong play for the new king of gaming keyboards.
The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum is available to pre-order on Newegg now for $199.99. This review takes a look at the Cherry MX Speed switch model, but the K95 is also available with Cherry MX Brown switches.
Design and Comfort
Is the LightEdge RGB strip around the top edge of the K95 purely cosmetic and gimmicky? Absolutely. And does it mean the K95 now has the best, coolest-looking lighting available? Absolutely to that, too.
I first saw the K95 in action at CES earlier this year, as part of a desk setup featuring a full suite of compatible Corsair peripherals including their VOID headset and Scimitar Pro mouse. All the lighting on the peripherals was synced via Corsair's gaming software, and the result was mind-blowing.
Corsair's software includes several wonderful pre-programmed lighting profiles, allowing you to cycle your board through the color spectrum, create a "Rain" effect, or enjoy a horizontal "Visor" wave across your board (which will even spill over to your headset and mouse if you have compatible Corsair devices).
The LightEdge strip has 19 distinct color "zones," and shows off a fluid sort of movement to the shifting shades of the RGB LEDs that per-key lighting can't replicate. It also manages to perform sort of the same function as the underlighting found in some gaming monitors, splashing your desk with reflected color (an effect that looks especially remarkable in the dark, as you might imagine).
If you aren't impressed by LEDs, the K95 still has quite a bit to offer in terms of look and feel. The board has a solid weight to it and a brushed aluminum frame which subtly reflects the key lights and gives them a bit of a floating visual effect.
By default the left-hand "Gaming" keys are a light grey, and are more textured than the rest of the board, but the K95 also comes with a keypuller and matching grey textured keycaps for WASD and other commonly used gaming keys.
Final touches take the overall design of the K95 to the next level, including a textured metal volume control wheel on the top right corner of the board and a detachable, reversible wrist rest featuring two different textures on its opposite sides. Taken as a whole, the K95 is a marvel of visual design and tactile comfort, and should set a new standard for premium gaming keyboards.
Features and Performance
So we've established that the K95 is a good-looking keyboard, but looks alone aren't enough to justify a $200 price tag. Fortunately Corsair has packed the board with a number of other bells and whistles, so you can be sure you're getting quite a bit for your dollar.
First, let's talk about the row of gaming keys along the left-hand side of the board. This is a fairly standard placement for these kinds of keys, though it's one with which I've always struggled. Having an additional, unexpected row along a board's left-hand side sometimes throws off my typing, as in the heat of an Overwatch match I may forget that the key that defines the outmost edge of my board isn't SHIFT but is instead G4, or whatever.
Like so many keyboard layout quirks this is something you'll quickly get used to, especially if you actually employ your gaming keys for useful functions and hit them frequently, but it requires more of an adjustment than gaming keys that appear along the top or bottom edge of the board.
As previously mentioned, the K95 comes with a dual-sided wrist rest that can be detached and flipped over (or removed entirely), depending on your preference. One of the sides has a grippy texture to it that could be good if your sweaty hands tend to slip on your keyboard, while the other is more of a smooth rubber that will be more comfortable if you have sensitive skin. Regardless of the side you choose this wrist rest is a great feature, though it's not as plush and pillowy as that found in the BlackWidow Chroma V2 from Razer.
The K95 also offers USB passthrough, with an extra USB slot on the back of the board, next to the cable connection, which is enabled if you plug an additional USB connection into the back of your PC. It also includes gaming features that are standard in higher-end keyboards, including 100% anti-ghosting capabilities and the ability to reprogram keys and set up macro functions,
Though the K95 isn't the most portable board around thanks to its weight and size, if you do decide to take it with you on the go you'll be happy with the board's 8 MB of onboard storage, allowing you to keep up to three separate profiles (complete with your custom lighting and macros) directly on the board itself, ready to be used with any PC.
The model of the K95 we reviewed featured the Cherry MX Speed switches, mechanical switches which sport reduced actuation distance to supposedly increase typing speed. I previously tried these switches out on a version of Corsair's popular K70 board, and my experience with the K95 was much the same. The switches feel and sound a lot like Cherry MX Red switches, but if you move directly from Reds to Speed switches the difference is definitely notable, as you'll find the switches engaging slightly earlier than you are used to.
Despite the notable difference in feel, I'm not ready to say that the 1.2mm actuation (down from 2mm in the standard Cherry MX Reds) actually makes a difference in terms of typing or gaming speed for 99 percent of users. There's only so fast that a human hand and mind can operate, after all, and in my testing it feels as though these biological barriers are the main thing preventing me from typing faster, not 2mm actuation distance.
But the Speed switches feel great, even if they aren't actually a breakthrough in terms of typing pace. They'll appeal the most to those who like Reds, rather than Blues or Browns, though if you're relatively ignorant of the ins and outs of switches you'd likely find the Speeds feel faster than other mechanical keyboards you may have used.
All together, from switches to lights, the K95 RGB Platinum is a feature-rich keyboard that instantly makes its mark as one of the best on the market.