Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

All NEW Corsair K100 RGB Optical Gaming Keyboard Review

Corsair Flagship Release

New optical switches, a multifunctional dial, new keycap font finally, a standard bottom row, and lubed and improved stabilizers, Corsair has been listening.

Today we’ll talk about the brand new flagship release the K100 optical RGB mechanical keyboard. This is the follow up from the very popular 2017 release of the K95 platinum, but then they bumped it up five points to the K100. So of course, they are finally delivering with their own lineup of optical mechanical switches. There’s a lot to go over here, lots of new features, so if you’re interested in this keyboard if you’re thinking of picking it up, you want to buy one yourself we’ll go over it all in this review.

Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

So visually, first up out of the box the new features will stand out right away to you, as the keyboard has enough, you know changes. To warrant a new product name, but it’s still familiar to the product lineup, and builds from previous releases. The board is still pretty nice looking with that brushed aluminum and the black anodization to it. So it’ll look very clean, if you can keep it that way. That’s always the double edged sword to the brushed aluminum, looks nice but you have to keep it looking nice and surrounding.

Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming KeyboardRGB LED Lighting

The board is a subtle 44 zone strip of LED lights. They call light edge and I say you know subtle kind of jokingly because RGB is never subtle. But now instead of having a light strip running along the top of the keyboard, like we saw on the K95, it’s behind the top of the keyboard running along the back side with strips on the left and right side of the board illuminating as well. But the board itself is very well made. There’s no flex to the frame at all, and overall for it being a full size layout it’s still pretty slim looking, which i really like.

So checking out some of the new features. Returning on the top is dedicated multimedia keys with a bit of a construction change. The mute button is now flat and it’s kind of embedded into the frame, and it has even illumination around it. And the four playback buttons underneath are now the sort of glossy top to the key. Speaking of glossy, another change comes on the forehead of the keyboard where you have the illuminated Corsair logo, and the key indicators.

So here’s where the macro leds are, the mute windows lock indicators cap lock scroll lock those, are now all going to shine through here. And I will say I’m pretty conflicted of this particular design choice, since it’s like a quarter of the top of the board and just this glossy strip embedded into the brushed aluminum. It stands out kind of weirdly but one of the more interesting additions comes with a new dial on the top left.

This is going to have a few different uses, depending on what you want to configure it as inside the IQ software. But out of the box it does have a few presets that are already assigned to it. So when you press that center IQ logo, which itself is actually a button, you’ll notice that shine a certain color. Red is for recording macros, blue is for adjusting the brightness of your RGB lights. So real quick and easy way to just dim or increase the lighting.

Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

You can use this to jog through music zoom in and out of windows switch applications. Vertical scrolling, horizontal scrolling, plus the ability to obviously go inside of IQ switch it up customize it. I’ve always welcomed something like this on a keyboard just to add more and more functionality to it.

Keys and Switches

The ring itself is knurled on the outside, and the left side of the dial is your profile key for switching your hardware profiles. On the right side is the windows lock, then obviously as you come to expect on the left side of the keyboard you have your six dedicated macro keys G1 through G6. The keycaps here do have this metallic finish, to kind of separate them from the rest of the keys, and this can be any sort of function or macro you create plus it still has the integration with elgato stream deck those streaming. Shortcuts you have, or functions whatever you use, could also be set to use here some other visual things to touch on.

Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming KeyboardBefore we move on to the keys and switches inside the box, they now include a new redesigned magnetic wrist rest, definitely welcomed the foam they use. Inside here is memory foam, it’s nice and soft but it also has this slight texture pattern on it. Love it or hate it I don’t know you have a little Corsair branding there, just smack dab in the middle of the wrist rest.

I will say though, this one is milesm miles better than any wrist rest they put out in the past. Really liking this one, and since it’s magnetic it just clips right onto the bottom of the keyboard. No longer do we have those plastic clips scratching the brushed aluminum every time, like we did in years past then.

Also, while we’re here underneath, we still have the cable channels for routing cables nice and cleanly underneath. We have the USB passthrough on the back side, so if you plug something in there you can just route it nicely on the bottom side. You solve the full rubber pads on the top and bottom corners, and the feet now are flip out. Feet they flip outward, instead of up and down. This is just to prevent it from ever collapsing on itself, in case you ever applied more weight to the keyboard. Sometimes you flip up feet would just give out and fold back up okay moving on.

Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Corsair did right by us, by not only switching the font to a less bold and aggressive looking character here. The PBT double shot keycaps now have this nice slight, bit of texture to it, so they’re never gonna fade out and have that shine to them.

After all these years we finally have a standard bottom row, never thought I’d see the day, but now you can buy custom keycap sets and use them fully with the standard bottom row. Included inside the box is also an additional set of FPS and MOBA keycaps. These are just the textured alternative keycaps. If you want to swap them out and use it instead.

Now we can talk gaming and performance with their brand new optical switches known as optics. The op-ex switches are designed by Corsair, it uses that infrared light beam to actuate and set the signal right to your PC with zero debalance.

Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

We can finally eliminate any key chattering issues, which have been plaguing my K95 unit since last year, and these new switches are very fast. They actually at only one millimeter with 45 grams force, with a total travel distance of 3.2 millimeters. They’re also rated for 150 million keystrokes, so longevity is improved, speed is improved, optical switches are an improvement.

In pretty much every regard you can see now, with the RGB lighting and that top crystal shell on the switch it’s very clear and bright. The RGB shines through nicely, you even have the little Corsair logo now instead of the cherry logo, so thank you. Corsair was waiting for you guys, optical switch and now for my experience using these new switches and most of you guys know I always prefer a linear switch as it is, and I’ve been using these speed silver switches for the past two years.

Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

These actuate at one millimeter versus the 1.2 millimeters. do I notice that, no obviously not, but the properties are similar. You know the feel and the response overall, doesn’t feel that different to me since they are just very quick and linear. That’s good, because when you are gaming you want that fast switch advantage, but also to someone who maybe hasn’t tried speed switches in the past.

If you pick these up you’re definitely gonna feel pretty early on that shorter actuation distance, especially if you can train your fingers to just lightly actuate the keys at the one millimeter point instead of bottoming out your keys. You will definitely feel a difference, and again since these are optical switches that signal is sent right to your PC.

You couple that with their new Axon CPU inside the keyboard, which allows for 4000 hertz pulling over the standard 1000 hertz pulling on most keyboards. It’s gonna still feel lightning fast, and also real quick with that new CPU. It’s actually doing a lot for this keyboard you know behind the scenes, it allows for more onboard storage capabilities with holding up to 200 macros and lighting profiles 20 layers of hardware lighting effects and that’s all going to be able to be saved on the keyboard.

You can bring this to a new PC and have all those lighting effects and macros still saved onto the keyboard itself. You don’t even technically need IQ because the K100 also has 10 preset lighting effects on the keyboard itself, saved with function 1 through 10. You can just go through and cycle the effects, and macro recording can still be done on the keyboard itself.

Corsair Customizing Experience

Obviously for a better customizing experience you can go into IQ and do all that deeper customizing there. Before we go deeper into RGB and IQ, my experience so far gaming with this has been great but also, like I said relatively unchanged since I’m used to that fast linear switch experience. In the end what it comes down to is that these are better switches in every regard, faster, more reliable and more efficient than a traditional mechanical switch.

Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

A few things to touch on, as we did sound test. One, these stabilizers here now that they’re lubed, they sound miles better than years past. With the space bar it just sounds so much better than any stabilizer we’ve had on previous Corsair keyboards. Not only are they factory lubing stabilizers, but they also ditch that wire that would just rattle to no end.

So thank you Corsair, and also for the switches themselves as a reference, compared to what I’m used to with speed silver switches, those are always like a higher pitched, so they sound a lot more solid and you combine that with the PBT keycaps.

It’s a more satisfying switch, sound, and feel, but what’s not satisfying as you also probably heard is the dial and that IQ button. I do wish when you were scrolling on that dial, it had more of a tactile kind of sharpness to it, but that IQ button when you press it in it just feels very out of place.

Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming KeyboardIt kind of feels like it wasn’t supposed to be a button, and then they added it. It’s just very meh feeling and that’ll bring me to my next point which is why is that IQ logo even there. Like when have we ever seen a company have their software logo on a keyboard. When I first saw pictures of this keyboard I thought that was actually a LED screen.

Whatever function you had on the dial could be displayed there, that would have been cool. Like I said in the past they have the technology we’ve seen it, with the Elgato stream deck, and wish they could integrate something like that into the keyboard with a screen. I just don’t like having the IQ logo and button there. I just think it’s weird when talking a screen integration onto the keyboard.

This is still compatible with their nexus attachment, but still that’s an optional accessory. It’s also an extra hundred dollars, but you get what I’m saying. I wish we had that customizable screen on the keyboard, also that IQ button itself can’t actually be customized. It’s solely for cycling between the functions of what that dial does, and I get that, but it would have been nice to still be able to change that up. I also wish IQ would have a bit of a 20 20 refresh to it, the dial itself like I said out of the box does have those stock presets.

But if you were to start making your own profiles and stuff, you’re now gonna have to manually configure what the dial does, and that’s definitely a bit of a annoying and tedious task. Because first you have to go and sort of make your own actions, or make your own macros manually and then manually apply them to what each, the left and right direction of that dial is going to be and then you have to go to the dial tab to do that.

Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming KeyboardI wish it just had a bunch of preset actions, like a library of things already configured for us that we could just drag and drop, not manually create every task every single time. IQ though, is still relatively unchanged, you can go in and switch up all the RGB lighting.

You have those 44 zones they’re all configurable, you can change each individual zone to a different color, or just change up the effects in unison, have it all sync and go to whatever sort of RGB rainbow show you want. But again, if you don’t want to use IQ to configure the RGB lights you have those 10 onboard profiles already out of the box. So the actions tab is where you create the macros, or reassign keys.

You’ll have actions library, which is a listing of your current created actions, and you have the lighting effects tab and lighting library hardware. Lighting and hardware library just seems repetitive to me, all these tabs. Corsair, please give this a nice polish and by the way guys out of the box with this keyboard it’s actually set to just a 1000 hertz, so you will need to change it to 4000 hertz manually in the IQ settings. To actually take advantage of the speed, I feel like there’s just too many hoops to jump through to be able to properly configure this keyboard.

Summary

So quick recap; brand new lightning, fast optical switches known as optics, they feel very nice, new keycaps, a less aggressive gamer looking font which is always good. Also, have a standard bottom row, big thumbs up for that. The macro keys dedicated media, keys and the multi-functional dial, so all together like function feature wise it’s a very good keyboard.

But, it doesn’t come without its cons and there definitely are a few.

First thing is configuring the the wheel, can kind of be annoying, especially if you don’t really know what you’re doing inside of IQ, I wish that was a bit simplified.
Second, I’m still pretty torn for the decision to go all gloss here, on indicator section. Just doesn’t really fit in with the aesthetic and i found myself cleaning this like every 10 minutes because somehow just handling it it gets fingerprints all over it.
Third, it’s an expensive keyboard, okay it’s their premium flagship release now, and it’s $230 you compare that to the K95 platinum which was $200 when it released. That was still their top-of-the-line flagship release, so now we’re getting that price tag, but bumped up 30 bucks.

A bit of a premium for some optical switches, and the wheel and stuff but also you look at what Razer just released with their black widow V3 pro that’s also $230. So I feel like Razer put it at that price, and Corsair said okay, we’re you know direct competitors, we can also release our flagship new keyboard at the same price.

Corsair K100 RGB Optical-Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

I wish that was a lot cheaper, $200 would even still be fair for it considering that’s their flagship kind of price point. But it’s still in the end if you’re talking about features, performance with the switches and stuff as a gaming keyboard. If you’re not looking for the custom, and stuff in the custom keyboard market for a pre-built like this it’s definitely a pretty good keyboard. It’s going to be my main gaming keyboard going forward replacing my old K95 platinum.

Finally, because now I have to deal with the the key chattering issues, that I’ve had for the past year, we can finally get rid of that with the new optical switches. I definitely think it’s a great keyboard, you can check it out in Gameller Marketplace.

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