[Review] A Niche Upgrade: The Corsair K100 RGB Gaming Keyboard
Take a beast and make it better - that seemed to be Corsair's goal when creating their new flagship gaming keyboard. The K100 RGB is an amped up version of the K95 Platinum XT with a few new additions, the most prominent of which is the iCue Control Wheel. Apart from the top edge, both sides of the keyboard now also feature the RGB LightEdge, casting an even more attractive underglow onto your desk.
Also making its debut are the Corsair OPX optical-mechanical switches and AXON Hyper-Processing Technology which enables a polling rate of 4000Hz - a whopping 4 times faster than your typical gaming keyboard.
There are also smaller changes and improvements that have been implemented in this model, but we'll get into that later.
Minor aesthetic updates
Aesthetics-wise, the Corsair K100 is just as sleek as the rest of its family, featuring the same aluminium top plate with a floating keycap design. There are a few minor updates to its design, including a longer acrylic strip that now houses the status indicators (caps lock, num lock etc.) as well as the Corsair logo. They've also done away with the 'Corsair' words and opted for a cleaner look with just the signature Corsair 'sails' logo.
The G1-G6 macro keys on the sides as well as the spacebars have also received a smooth new finish, as opposed to the old crosshatched finish that reminds me of metal walkways in industrial areas.
The leatherette wrist rest has also gained a strip emblazoned with 'Corsair' in the brand's updated font. Speaking of font, Corsair has finally ditched the large, squarish font that has plagued their keyboards for generations, and opted for a cleaner, more subtle font instead. It's not particularly outstanding, but is certainly a glow-up from the brand's awkward teenage keyboard phase.
Nice wheel - but do you really need it?
One of the most prominent additions is undoubtedly the iCue Control Wheel which takes the place of the brightness button found in its predecessors. Nestled between the profile toggle and windows lock button, the iCue Control Wheel opens up a whole slew of possibilities when it comes to control.
The slightly notched rotary motion allows you to do a number of things, including scrubbing through music, cycling between applications, and not to mention adjusting your keyboard brightness (duh). Of course, it doesn't just do just one of these things at a time - you can press the center button to cycle through a series of functions, which are colour coded for easy identification. By default, these are:
Blue: RGB lighting brightness control
Green: Fast forward or rewind music and other media
White: Cycle between songs or video files
Red: Enables macro recording
I can see this coming in handy for content creators who need to scrub through timelines or zoom in and out of pictures. That said, it is a very niche feature that probably won't be of much use to the average user or gamer - using it requires you to take an entire hand off the keys, meaning it won't come it extremely handy while playing games and such.
A new switch we didn't get to try
Another cool feature the K100 boasts is the new Corsair OPX switch, which joins the likes of Razer and Wicked Bunny on the optical-mechanical bandwagon. Alas, the unit we were gifted features the old Cherry MX Silver switches instead, so we didn't have the chance to try out the new OPX switches (yet!)
Either way, here's a brief overview of optical-mechanical switches versus mechanical switches.
Unlike mechanical switches, optical switches utilise light induction to trigger the switches. It works together with the mechanical switch to block a light beam, which then triggers the light sensor on the PCB and activates the relevant key.
This purportedly reduces debounce delay and minimises wear and tear due to the lack of physical contact, resulting in faster response times and a longer switch lifespan. However, I don't think this is a huge factor when considering which switch to choose - Corsair OPX switches are rated for 150 million key presses, while regular Cherry switches are rated for a 'mere' 100 million. Either way, the switches will probably outlast the keyboard, so it's better to simply choose a switch that feels best for you.
The K100 RGB also features AXON hyper-processing technology which enables a polling rate of up to 4,000Hz, which roughly equates to a quarter of a millisecond, as opposed to the one entire millisecond of the average 1,000Hz polling rate. Truth be told, however, it is highly unlikely that regular humans like us will feel a discernible difference in response times - if you're a professional esports player, then perhaps you might.
Miscellaneous other improvements
Apart from the big stars like the iCue Control Wheel and new switches, there have also been some other smaller improvements made. First is the redesigned wrist rest - apart from receiving an aesthetic makeover, it has also updated the attachment mechanism. Now, instead of battling with plastic legs that seem like they could snap off at any moment, you can attach and detach the plush wrist rest magnetically instead. In my opinion, this is a great improvement, as the finicky plastic attachment mechanism on the other models cheapened the overall feel of what's meant to be a high-end keyboard.
Another small update that you might not even notice is the ability to store up to 200 onboard profiles - I could literally create a profile for each of my different personalities and still have 150 or so left. In comparison, most other top-tier gaming keyboards usually have only up to 5 profiles.
Finally, a small but underrated improvement - Corsair has finally conformed (in a positive way) and given us a standard bottom row. This allows for more flexibility when it comes to swapping out to third-party keycaps, which is great for people who enjoy customising their keyboards.
Should you buy the K100 RGB?
Well, it depends.
If you have a shitload of cash available and a specific need for the iCue Control Wheel, then yes.
If you're poor as heck, then no, cause the K100 RGB is even more expensive than the dethroned former flagship that is the K95 Platinum XT. For comparison purposes, the K95 Platinum XT costs US$199.99 (~RM829) while the K100 RGB costs US$229.99 (~RM953). That's a US$30 (~RM124) difference (slightly more or less depending on the switch).
So unless you have a specific need for the extra features and improvements offered by the K100 RGB, the K95 Platinum XT might be a better choice for you.
Corsair has taken the K95 Platinum XT and upgraded it with some interesting features. Are they innovative? Yes. Necessary? Not really.
The Corsair K100 is definitely a keyboard that has nearly everything you could want, but is the extra RM124 or so worth the upgrade from the K95 Platinum XT? In my opinion, it's a little expensive for a new wheel and some other intangible performance improvements such as the AXON hyper-processing technology.
As for the OPX switches, we can't comment on them as we haven't personally tested them out, but let's hope that Corsair will be bringing those to other models soon.
You can check out more details on the Corsair K100 RGB Gaming Keyboard here.