About 18 months ago we first saw the fruits of the Corsair Vengeance line appear with the K60 and K90 mechanical keyboards, along with the M60 and M90 mice. All of which proved to be hugely popular. Partly because they were Corsair products and the value of a brand name can't be overstated, but equally because Corsair had got them right, straight out the box.
Now there is a new model that fits between the K60 and K90, rather obviously called the K70. If you are a regular reader of our humble pages then you'll recall that we liked both the keyboards but desired something that was a combination of the standard size of the K60, with the bling of the K90. A couple of days later and we had a backlit standard sized keyboard that we dubbed the TTL edition.
It seemed Corsair were watching and, whilst we'd never claim to have been the inspiration, the K70 reminds us of that home built piece of kit. So let's see how a more professional attempt at combining the K60 and K90 has worked out.
There are a few different versions of the K70 available. There is the silver chassis with blue lighting that we've seen before with the K60 and K90, and the one we're looking at today which is a black chassis with red LEDs. Apart from that you can also choose between the Brown, Blue and Red Cherry MX switches. Today's model comes equipped with what we believe to be the best of the bunch, the Cherry MX Red.
The Vengeance packaging is both clear and simple. All the main points are covered, although as you'll see below there is one area that's a bit of a mystery.
The K70 continues the rather singular design of the Corsair Vengeance range, with the main chassis being quite low and the keys sitting proudly, rather than the more chocolate box design that appears to be more commonly utilised. It certainly makes it easily recognisable.
The cable is thickly braided and certainly designed more for robustness than softness and flexibility. Round the back we have the USB pass through. You have to plug the USB cable into your machine for this, so really it's more of an extension because you're losing one on your system to gain one on your keyboard.
Next to that is a BIOS switch. This is quite a conundrum. It's not mentioned on the packaging. The documentation is entirely free of pointing it out, and the Corsair website that lists the various features hasn't got a word to say about it. In the end we discovered that it can be used to change the polling rate of the keyboard on the extremely remote chance that your system doesn't support 1000MHz polling.
As well as the WASD replacement keys the K70 comes with replacements for the 1-6 keys as well. Finished in the same deep red as the LEDs, they are textured to ensure your fingers stay in place under even the most trying circumstances. Beneath each key beats the heart of the K70, the Cherry MX Red switches. Although switches are subjective, the Red variant is our favourite.
Up Close - Lighting
The K70 comes with three different levels of brightness as well as off entirely. The red works very well with the black anodised chassis.
By holding down the lighting button you can then adjust the lighting of each key individually. Whilst this can give you the chance to light only those keys that you want, you can also make pretty patterns if the mood takes you.
When reviewing a mechanical keyboard it's always a stretch to find something new to say. After all, regular readers of OC3D know full well what the benefits of a proper keyboard are, and if you're not a regular reader then a) you should be and b) we've reviewed enough that you can catch up if you desire.
Fortunately the Corsair Vengeance K70 has a few wrinkles which we can expound upon.
The most abiding feeling you get from the K70 is the same as we've had from all of the Vengeance range with the possible exception of their overly plastic wireless headset, and that's bomb proof build quality. The K70 is extremely sturdy indeed. With any mechanical keyboard that utilises the Cherry MX switches, you know that the keys themselves will remain that gorgeous blend of firm and yet supple, responsive and a tactile wonder, for many more years than you're likely to use it. We'd wager that by the time the switches in this wear out, we'll all have moved across to virtual keyboards, such is their lifespan.
Placing such keys in a plastic shroud would be like wrapping a rock in eggs. Thankfully Corsair have kept their heavy-duty aluminium design from the other models in the range. The K70 as a whole is going to be very hard-wearing and you'd have to make a concerted effort to damage it. Even the areas that can normally have their quality "found out", media keys and lighting buttons, are of a similar quality to the main keys themselves. The volume wheel in particular was glorious when we first came across it 18 months ago, and time hasn't dulled it's capability to impress. In short, it's built like a tank and one of the sturdiest keyboards we've ever seen.
The lighting is the K70's party piece. It's by no means the first keyboard we've seen that has red back lighting, nor is it the first that allows us to choose from something other than 'every key lit or none'. However, the quality of the lighting is very good, with a lovely deep red, the laser cutting of the keys is particularly crisp and none of the lock indicators are distractingly bright. So often red lighting can head towards pink, or be so bright that it's distracting. The K70 is the same red that you expect from peripherals and fans etc, so your keyboard will match your system perfectly. Putting the K70 into the manual LED mode is really simple too, requiring nothing more than holding down the lighting button for a couple of seconds, adjusting your keys to suit, and then pressing it again to lock them in place. You can then choose between all the keys lit or your personal choice.
As always there are a couple of niggles, with one certainly looming larger than the other. The BIOS switch on the back is, one would imagine, there for a reason. Corsair are extremely coy about what this reason is, as neither the K70 itself nor the K70 page on their website remotely hints at what it's there for. Thankfully someone has asked that question on their forums, so we do know it's for adjusting the polling rate to aid compatibility on older systems. Whether 1 is 1000MHz polling and the numbers are reductions, or 1 is the slowest possible and the numbers increase it, remains a mystery. Still if you ever struggle with accessing your BIOS then you can just switch to a different BIOS and hopefully the slower polling will make it easier to hit that del key.
The second, and more damning, problem is simply one of cost. You can get a CM Storm Quickfire with Cherry MX Reds, for around £70, albeit a plastic cover rather than solid aluminium, the Razer Blackwidow for about £90 and we know Razer stuff tends to be pricey. Heck right now you can purchase a Corsair K90 for £95. Sure the K95 is about to replace it, but the fact remains that you can buy the bigger brother for much less. Quite why the K70 is so comparatively expensive at £111 is as much a mystery as the BIOS switch it sports. It's good, but is it £40 better than the CM Storm, and yet has less features than its K90 stable mate, this is a question only you and your wallet can decide.
So it's a brilliant keyboard, as any with Cherry MX switches would be, and built like a battleship, but far too expensive to make for a recommendation unless you're obsessed with having a Corsair keyboard, and it must be black, you don't really need any macro features and you don't mind overpaying for it. You're basically paying £30 on top of the price of a K60 because it lights up.
Because of the eye-watering price it can only receive our Silver award. Although if you willing to pay £111 for that bomb proof build quality then it's worth noting that the Corsair Vengeance K70 is, albeit lacking in macros, almost without fault.
Thanks to Corsair for supplying the K70 for review. Discuss it in our OC3D Forums.