The Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT is the latest in a long line of membrane gaming keyboards from major manufacturers. While mechanical switches and gaming peripherals go together beautifully, they don’t come cheap, with even tenkeyless models routinely topping $150.
That’s why, in theory, something like the K55 RGB Pro XT is so attractive. It features per-key RGB lighting, programmable macro buttons and discrete media controls like its more expensive mechanical brethren, but it costs only $70.
As such, the K55 Pro XT could be one of the best gaming keyboards for newcomers to the PC gaming space, who aren’t quite ready to sink hundreds of dollars into their peripherals just yet.
On the other hand, the K55 RGB Pro XT has some wasted space in its design, and it costs more than similar keyboards from other manufacturers. Also, like a lot of membrane keys, the K55 RGB Pro XT’s simply aren’t that satisfying to type on.
Since you can get a perfectly good membrane keyboard for about $25, that means you’re essentially paying $45 for fancy lights and some software functionality.
Read our full Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT review to find out whether it’s worth the upgrade.
Key Type: Membrane | Switch Type: N/A | Illumination: Full RGB | Size: 19.0 x 6.6 x 1.4 inches
Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT review: Design
At 19.0 x 6.6 x 1.4 inches, the Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT is pretty large, even by full-size gaming keyboard standards. Part of this length is due to the extra macro keys, but other keyboards with similar features, such as the Logitech G915, are a full half-inch shorter.
Instead, the K55 Pro XT seems to have a lot of extra space, whether it’s the large, glossy, fingerprint-prone bar at the top, or the generous bezels on either side of the black plastic chassis.
Compared to something like the Corsair K70 RGB Mk. 2, the K55 RGB Pro XT isn’t very pretty either. There’s no airbrushed metal design, no tastefully recessed keycaps, no metallic volume dial. Everything looks simple, black and either “plain” or “cheap,” depending on your perspective.
There’s also a detachable wrist rest, which is pretty comfortable thanks to a coarse, bumpy texture.
However, the K55 RGB Pro XT does not skimp when it comes to extra keys. On the left side of the keyboard, there’s a column of six programmable macro keys. These are easy to program, thanks to a dedicated macro recording button on top of the keyboard, alongside a brightness button and a “win lock” button. This last one disables the Windows keys and other key combinations that can accidentally take you out of a game (Alt + Tab, for example).
One of my favorite parts of the K55 RGB Pro XT, however, is in the upper-right corner: a suite of dedicated media keys. A lot of cheaper keyboards skimp on these, relegating them to keyboard shortcuts instead.
But the K55 RGB Pro XT gives you stop, rewind, play/pause and fast-forward buttons, in addition to volume up, volume down and mute. If you’ve never had a keyboard with discrete media controls before, you’ll be amazed how quickly you come to rely on them.
Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT review: Keys
When it comes to how the keys feel, the Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT is destined to be divisive. I have no desire to wade into the never-ending “membrane vs. mechanical” debate, but I will say that in my experience, mechanical keyboards are generally more comfortable, better for gaming and able to last a much longer time.
Granted, you have to pay a lot of money for the privilege. This isn’t always feasible for new PC gamers, who may be a little strapped for cash after dishing out $1,000 or more on a brand-new rig.
As such, the question is whether the K55 RGB Pro XT’s keys succeed on their own merits. And the answer is, “sort of.”
To give credit where it’s due, like a lot of membrane keyboards, the K55 RGB Pro XT is actually quite good for typists, with precise, responsive keycaps. On a Typing.com test, I scored 124 words per minute with 99% accuracy on the K55 RGB Pro XT, compared to only 108 words per minute with 98% accuracy on my usual Logitech G915
However, that doesn’t accurately capture the feeling of typing on the K55 RGB Pro XT, which feels unsatisfying and even a little exhausting at times. The keys don’t respond to extremely light touches and feel a little stiff, both when depressing them and letting them pop back up. Writing out extensive notes for a product briefing, my wrists got tired; later, I looked at my typo-laden document with some dismay.
Looking back over my other membrane gaming-keyboard reviews, it seems I haven’t liked any of their keys all that much. So, at the very least, the Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT is no worse than its competitors. But it’s still not the peripheral I’d want at my desk for the next three years or so.
Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT review: Features
In the “bells and whistles” department, the Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT gets just about everything right. This keyboard offers per-key RGB lighting and an extra column of macro keys, both of which are very rare in programmable models.
It also runs on the Corsair Utility Engine (iCUE) software, which lets you reprogram keys, create intricate lighting patterns and even sync the keyboard with the Elgato Stream Deck software.
Since Corsair owns Elgato, many Corsair products offer Elgato functionality, but this is good to keep in mind if you’re an up-and-coming streamer — perhaps one without a large production budget.
While the iCUE software itself can be a little arcane, it still offers an incredible degree of functionality, especially for a relatively inexpensive peripheral. The RGB lighting and macro keys by themselves help elevate what is otherwise a fairly standard keyboard — and help justify its asking price.
Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT review: Performance
The Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT works fine across a variety of game genres. The keys aren’t necessarily any more comfortable for gaming than they are for typing, but I also didn’t notice any sort of drawbacks for everyday play.
I tested the peripheral with Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition, Doom Eternal, Baldur’s Gate III and Final Fantasy XIV. The keys were responsive whether I was building houses for my Inca empire or gunning down demons in the ruins of a blasted city.
It’s worth noting that thanks to the K55 RGB Pro XT’s macro keys, it may be especially useful for MMO players who like executing complex attack patterns with a single keystroke. For everyday FFXIV play, though, I didn’t find this keyboard to be significantly better or worse than others I’ve tested.
Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT vs. Corsair K55 RGB Pro
The Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT actually has a slightly cheaper variant: the Corsair K55 RGB Pro. The Pro model eschews the per-key RGB lighting and patterns, opting instead for five zones with six possible patterns.
It’s arguably a big loss, but on the other hand, the Pro costs only $50 to the Pro XT’s $70. The models are the same in terms of design and performance.
Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT review: Verdict
Having used the Corsair K55 RGB Pro XT as my primary keyboard for the last few days, I’m of two minds about it. On the one hand, I don’t find it very comfortable, and I can’t wait to go back to a mechanical model.
On the other hand, if I had never owned a gaming keyboard before and learned that I could get all these features for $70, I’d probably be very pleased. This is doubly true if I owned an Elgato Stream Deck and needed a peripheral with easy integration.
As membrane gaming keyboards go, I prefer the simplicity (and $10 price break) of the Razer Cynosa V2. But the K55 RGB Pro XT is roughly on a par with the Cynosa, as well as the SteelSeries Apex 3 and the Logitech G213. The Razer Cynose V2 is another suitable alternative.
This Corsair keyboard is arguably a good place to start in the world of PC gaming peripherals, but there’s a whole lot more to see if you can afford to spend just a little more.