[Review] An Entry-Level Gaming Keyboard with Generous Features: The Corsair K55 RGB Pro
Corsair K55 RGB Pro
Most self-proclaimed "hardcore gamers" would turn up their noses at membrane keyboards, having been spoiled by the satisfying thocc of a mechanical one for years. However, there's still a market for membrane gaming keyboards, especially for entry-level users who don't have too much to spend, but still desire the functionality and aesthetic of a gaming keyboard.
Enter the Corsair K55 RGB Pro, a relatively affordable membrane keyboard that offers most of the features and functionality of a full-fledged gaming keyboard - just without the mechanical switches.
Unboxing and first impressions
As a budget-oriented keyboard, it's understandable that the packaging is rather bare-bones. Inside the box, you'll find the keyboard itself along with the product manual and a detachable wrist rest.
The entire keyboard is predictably an all-plastic affair, but still a decently-built one. It doesn't have the smallest footprint, however, with a pretty sizable gap between the edge of the keyboard and the keys themselves. There's also a glossy plastic bezel on the top, which houses the volume control buttons, indicator LEDs, and several other control buttons. On the left, you'll find a row of additional programmable macro buttons.
Smack dab in the middle of the keyboard is a non-detachable rubber cable, and on the bottom you'll find 2 flip-out feet. The wrist rest attaches via plastic prongs that don't seem all too sturdy, but they get the job done.
As for the keycaps, they are made of ABS plastic - and unlikely of a high grade at this price point - so expect them to shine pretty quickly with daily wear and tear.
Enjoy the full iCUE experience
One of the good things about choosing this keyboard is having access to the full suite of Corsair iCUE controls. This includes control over the RGB lighting, easy programming of macros, as well as access to firmware updates.
The RGB lighting on this model is a cheaper 5-zone variant, instead of the more fluid per-key RGB lighting found on the K55 RGB Pro XT model. While the segregation is quite noticeable on its default settings which highlights each section in a different colour, the borders of each section are barely discernible in the ever-popular Rainbow Wave mode, and completely negligible on most of the other modes.
The keys are evenly lit, and the gaps between the keys allow the RGB to shine through very nicely. However the media keys are not backlit, which is pretty jarring and require some muscle memory to navigate in a dark room.
As Corsair and Elgato are partners, you'll also enjoy full Stream Deck software integration with the macro keys, which delivers even more value to budget streamers aspiring to have finer control over their stream without having to invest in a separate Stream Deck or macro pad.
Full-fledged media and shortcut keys
Once you've been spoiled by dedicated media keys, it's very difficult to go back. Corsair has generously provided not just volume control keys, but play/pause, stop, forward, and backward buttons as well. The volume keys aren't as intuitive or easy to use as the volume wheel found on higher-end models, but it's still a great feature to have on an entry-level keyboard like this.
To the left of the volume buttons, you'll find the macro recording key, brightness toggle, and Windows lock key.
Most other budget keyboards would have integrated these keys into the main key clusters, so if you don't mind a larger footprint, this makes the Corsair K55 RGB Pro much more convenient to use in comparison.
Comfort is subjective
While I believe comfort is a pretty subjective thing depending on each user's physical build and needs, I personally did not find the K55 RGB Pro a good fit for me.
Firstly, although it does have extendable feet that elevate the keyboard, they are rather short, so the incline remains relatively flat compared to my daily driver. Secondly, the wrist rest is a little bit too short for my long hands, so my wrist ended up resting rather awkwardly somewhere between the edge of the wrist rest and on the table itself, rendering it practically useless.
And finally, and somewhat inevitably, the membrane keys themselves aren't as comfortable as I'd like them to be. They are rather stiff with a high actuation point, so you'll need to exert quite a bit of force to press it down completely. This is fine if you play games that don't require much key spamming, but if you're playing something like Dota 2 (spam that A-click yo) or even typing long articles (like the review I'm doing right now), you'll feel the fatigue set in pretty quickly. Otherwise, the keys are sufficiently responsive for casual gaming, though you might want to invest in a higher-end keyboard if you want competitive level performance.
That said, the issue of comfort is very subjective and your experience may be entirely different. One good thing about the membrane switches are that they are much quieter than the typical clicky mechanical types, but still provide firm tactile feedback while preventing accidental key presses. The keycaps also have a nice concave shape, so your fingers should land securely with fewer errors, especially if you're a touch typist.
Buy or no buy?
I think Corsair did what it set out to do pretty well - provide a relatively affordable keyboard option for entry-level gamers who don't have oodles of cash to spend. The K55 RGB Pro provides a wide range of functionality usually not found on other budget keyboards, and is backed by Corsair's excellent iCUE software to boot.
That said, at RM299 you'd probably be able to find cheap mechanical options as well, albeit without most of the bells and whistles, and most likely in a smaller 65% form factor.
In the end, it all comes down to what you prioritise in a gaming keyboard, and whether you're willing to fork out the extra dough for some RGB lighting, macro buttons, and dedicated media keys. If you just want something cheap to type on and don't need all the extra functions, cash-strapped individuals might be better off saving some money and settling for a generic membrane keyboard instead.
But if you want all the functions and bling found in a typical gaming keyboard and are willing to forgo pricier mechanical switches, then the K55 RGB Pro was made for you.
To purchase one, you may visit Corsair's official Shopee store here.