Corsair Vengeance K90 Keyboard Review
By André Gordirro on April 27, 2012
We continue to analyze the Vengeance line of gaming-grade keyboards and mice from Corsair, after reviewing the FPS-oriented K60 keyboard and M60 mouse. Now we’re about to see the peripherals designed for strategy and role playing games, featuring more configuration capabilities. First we’ll take a look at the Vengeance K90, a mechanical keyboard with 18 macro keys and an illuminated aluminum chassis. Let’s describe its physical characteristics.
At first sight, the K90 is the bigger brother of the K60. Is has the same 2 mm-thick brushed aluminum chassis where the keys lie on the board instead of being embedded into it, so the peripheral is easier to clean. The main difference between the two models is the 18 key macro pad on the left of the K90. Above it and a little to the right, the user can find the on-the-fly macro recording button, plus three more buttons to select the current user profile.
Almost all the K90’s keys are made by the Cherry Corporation, which dominates the mechanical key switches market. Corsair uses the Cherry MX Red model and mixes it with some regular (and less expensive) membrane keys for the 18 macro (G1-G18), function (F1-F12), ESC, PrtScn, Scroll Lock, Pause/Break and page navigation keys.
On the right upper corner, the user can find the button that controls the intensity of the blue backlight (in steps from zero, 33%, 66% and full illumination), the Windows key lock button, multimedia controls, and a volume control roller. There are three small white LEDs for the CAPS, scroll and number locks keys.
The K9 features a removable full length rubberized wrist rest. The user has to snap it on two front latches and then screw it in on both sides, so the whole keyboard ends up being very solid and stable on the table.
On the upper edge there is a USB port for a mouse (or a USB headset, perhaps). The cable features two USB connectors, and one of them is a USB pass-through to feed the port on the upper edge. It’s nice that the connectors are blue so they’re easy to spot behind the usual cluster of cables behind the PC.
The underside comes with two retractable feet and two latches for the wrist rest.
The main characteristic of the Vengeance K90 is being an illuminated mechanical keyboard featuring 18 macro keys, ideal for playing MMORPG and RTS games. Just in case the user can perform the wrondrous feat of pressing 20 keys at the same time, the anti-ghosting technology can register all those strokes at once, without messing up the individual signals.
The illumination is more intense on the mechanical keys and a little more subtle on the membrane keys, like the macro pad on the left. The aluminum chassis makes the keyboard heavier than most models, but it also contributes to its stability on the table.
The configuration software needs to be downloaded from the Corsair website. It allows the configuration of the 18 macro keys over three different profiles, for a total of 54 possible macros. It’s mind-boggling to commit them all to memory. Here is a tip: If you don’t intend to record that many macros, it may be a good idea to repeat some of them in a close cluster of keys. Why is that? Because the macro pad is a little crowded with keys, and you’ll end up pressing the wrong keys (as we did sometimes), so that’s a nice way to ensure you’ll hit the right one when needed. It’s a bummer to accidentally release a destruction spell instead of a containment spell when you thought of being more subtle and tactical during a raid. The user can also set different levels of illumination to each particular profile. The internal memory of 36 KB allows the user to keep the keyboard ready to play no matter what PC he or she plugs the K90 into.
Being a mechanical keyboard, the K90 is way superior to the membrane models. It quickly responds to two or three rapid presses on the same key. Usually, MMORPG and RTS games don’t require as much precision as an FPS match does. We’re not saying that those are slow games or that the players don’t require a fast keyboard to ensure that they quickly cure the warrior that is facing the final boss of the dungeon; it’s just that MMORPG and RTS are not as insanely ferocious as a full-on virtual shootout. We’re pointing that out because the 18 macro keypad is not made of mechanical keys, so the user will feel the slight difference between the regular keys and the G1-G18 keys on the left, but that didn’t compromise the performance in the least.
In terms of typing, we had the same impression with the K90 as we did with its small brother, the K60; it felt like an old typewriter when we stopped playing to write this test. The keys made a strong clicking noise that was picked up by the Skype teleconference with our fellow gamers. They offer some resistance, so extended periods of typing can get a little tiresome.
Corsair’s software is powerful and interesting. For those who own an M90 mouse, the application can actually configure both peripherals. Macro recording features four playback options and several delays if the user so chooses. The operation is simple, but the tricky part is memorizing all those choices, especially considering that you can reach 54 macros over three profiles. Of course, nobody has to create that many macros, and it’s nice to have more keys rather than fewer. The number of keys also make the pad a little crowded, and the wrong key will end up being hit from time to time. As we said before, the user will take some time to get used to the K90, so it’s a good idea to create similar macros next to each other just in case. After all, it’s not like he or she will end up running out of keys…
The main specifications for the Vengeance K90 keyboard include:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
The Vengeance K90 is a sturdy keyboard that catches the eye with its aluminum chassis and blue lighting, a rare detail among mechanical keyboards. It features a high-precision response and more macro keys than the user will ever need (the pad feels a little overcrowded). You can easily clean the board because the keys are not embedded into it. The configuration program is simple yet powerful, and it can control the K90’s brother mouse, the M90. The 54 macro options are a bit too much to commit to memory (personal memory, not the device’s), but since the foci are MMORPG and RTS games that require many commands, the K9 is more than well-suited for the task.