Although we can't imagine that anyone considers the global economic downturn to be a positive thing, there are nonetheless some positives that have come out of it. One of the primary ones as far as we're concerned is that more and more manufacturers are branching out from the product ranges that have made their name, and into uncharted waters.
When Corsair first took to new ground it was with the Obsidian 800D case which, barring a couple of issues, was a damn good effort.
The peripheral market is absolutely swamped with keyboards and mice to cover every single budget, use and almost anything you can think of. Seeking to take a foothold into this sector, which nearly has every nook and cranny already filled, is a brave move indeed but if anyone can manage to succeed here it's Corsair.
Certainly the specifications for the K90 is replete with nearly everything one could hope to see with multiple macro buttons and the excellent Cherry Red switches.
- Light, responsive Cherry MX Red mechanical switches for fast, efficient gaming action
- 45g actuation force
- 2mm to actuation and 4mm to bottom
- Rated for 50 million operations
- Gold contacts
- Tuned silicon dome keyswitches: F1 through F12, Esc, PrtScn, Scroll Lock, Pause/Break, Insert, Home, Page Up Page Down, Delete, and End
- Three banks of eighteen G Macro Keys with Macro Record and Bank Select hot keys
- 36Kb of onboard memory for storing up to three sets of eighteen G keys for gaming on the go
- On-the-fly macro recording
- Laser-etched, backlit keys with four illumination levels (off, 66%, 75%, and full illumination) selectable from the keyboard
- Six multimedia keys — Stop, Previous, Play/Pause, Next, Mute, Volume Up/Down — with Solid metal, weighted volume “drum roller”
- Windows Lock key for uninterrupted game play
- Metal top plate for increased strength, durability and rigidity
- USB pass-through connector giving easy access to a USB port on the back of the keyboard (USB 2.0/1.1/1.0)
- USB Connector with gold plated contacts
- 2m non-tangle cable Adjustable feet tilt for optimum personalization and positioning
The packaging is big and bold with every important element highlighted, yet without turning the box into a cluster of arrows and descriptors. The most important element of the K90, the macro keys and aluminium construction, are nicely visible with the clear cut-out on the left hand side.
Sturdy would be the first word that came to mind when taking the K90 out of the box. It's a weighty thing indeed and with the all-metal top it's as rigid as a tank. Round the back we have two height feet and some decent rubber feet, although you'd have to be trying really hard to shift the K90 when it's in situ.
Included in the box is a very nice wrist rest that screws into the front of the keyboard (although it hasn't been in these photos). It's of a good quality and perfectly fine for just taking the pressure off your wrists, although hardcore typists will need something softer and higher.
Although it's not minimalist, the shallow profile is really emphasised when looking side on. The keys appearing to float above, rather than be an integral part.
The two business bits of the K90 are, as always, to be found on the extremities. The 18 (count them) macro keys are within easy reach on the left hand side, although the decision to use a black background makes them appear to be more of an afterthought than they actually are. It would look much nicer if the whole keyboard was finished in the brushed aluminium. Above the escape key are the three memory bank buttons and the macro record button, all handily placed.
On the right hand side we have, from left to right, lighting adjustment (three levels), Windows Key lock, Mute, and a volume barrel that feels as well hewn as anything we've ever seen. Below that are the regulation media keys.
Time to look at the all important software.
We're using the very latest software for our review today. Everything is very well laid out and extremely easy to use. You can adjust delay times, remove them entirely, have keys on repeat, a whole array of possibilities.
The most basic functions are prebuilt into the software so you can assign the more obvious ones if you desire. Although that would be hugely missing the point of 54 Macro key possibilities.
Recording is as simple as pressing the macro record button, selecting the memory bank and key to record to and getting on with it. Once you've finished press MR again and you can then tweak it still further if you wish to. It's one of the simplest systems we've seen.
There is something missing, but we'll cover than in the conclusion.
There are three different brightnesses available with the lighting, because off doesn't count, and on the left we have it at its lowest setting and on the right at its brightest. It's worth noting that even on full brightness it's not dazzling and, thankfully, the lock indicators are a soft glow, rather than the lighthouse that you get on other keyboards (hello SteelSeries 7G).
With the K90 Corsair have certainly gone all out to take the crown of finest keyboard.
The build quality is absolutely outstanding. It can instantly be placed in the same sentence as other seriously quality keyboard such as the SteelSeries 7G and Das Keyboard. It's that rugged.
Typing quality is fantastic too. The quality feel coming from the excellent Cherry MX Red switches. Not only do we have a light actuation weight, the amount of pressure needed to activate the key, but at only 2mm before actuation you really can type at a rate of knots too. Unlike some of its contemporaries Corsair thankfully hasn't felt the need to provide variable weight for different keys, so the whole thing has a glorious uniform feel.
It's not only the major keys that star either. The Macro Record and Memory Bank selector keys, as well as the media keys, have a reassuring firmness to them that reeks of quality.
Lighting is uniform too. Each key has a soothing blue glow that works beautifully with the brushed aluminium, and the variable brightness ensures that it doesn't distract you during dark gaming.
The software is very easy to use and recording a quick and dirty macro couldn't be easier. Equally if you really want to get into the finest detail the possibility is there. You're far more likely to have more available keys than you can think to assign, but having such a wealth of options available is very pleasant.
In fact the only downside with the whole package is that the software for the keyboard is unable to record mouse movement or clicks, even when used in conjunction with the M90 mouse. This is a huge oversight for keyboard designed to be at the very peak of technology. The Gigabyte Aivia software was able to do this with any mouse at all, and the use of the "90" designation for both the Vengeance mouse and keyboard implies a level of harmony that just isn't there.
However, that is a small blot on an otherwise glorious piece of hardware. With high quality switches, heavily braided cable, tank-like construction and very easy customisation the Vengeance K90 keyboard is excellent and a worthy winner of our OC3D Gold Award. Just a shame the software somewhat lets it down.
Thanks to Corsair for supplying the Vengeance K90 Keyboard for review. Discuss in our forums.