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Corsair K65 RGB Mini review

The Corsair K65 RGB Mini has fantastic keys, but a frustrating layout

corsair k65 rgb mini
(Image: © Corsair)

Our Verdict

The Corsair K65 RGB Mini has incredible key switches and an impressively small profile, but a few strange design decisions hamper this keyboard.

For

  • Authentic Cherry MX key switches
  • Compact profile
  • Beautiful aesthetics

Against

  • Inconvenient key shortcuts
  • No elevation options
  • Convoluted hardware profiles

The Corsair K65 RGB Mini is yet another argument that the mini gaming keyboard's time has come. HyperX and Razer have already thrown their hats in the ring, but Corsair's mini keyboard has a potentially unbeatable asset: authentic Cherry MX key switches. In theory, the K65 RGB Mini has all the elements in place to become one of the best gaming keyboards in the mini configuration.

In practice, the $110 K65 RGB Mini is very good, but doesn't quite reach its full potential. The key switches are as comfortable as they appear, the RGB lighting is beautiful and the software lets you customize just about every aspect of the keyboard to your heart's content. But the physical design is surprisingly sparse, while the default key layout is somewhere between "frustrating" and "unworkable."

If you know you want a mini gaming keyboard, the K65 RGB Mini is well worth considering. But there's no single feature that elevates it over similar fare from other manufacturers. Read our full Corsair K65 RGB Mini review to learn more. 

Corsair K65 RGB Mini review: Specs

Key Type: Mechanical

Switch Type: Cherry MX Red, Silent or Speed

Illumination: Full RGB

Size: 11.6 x 4.1 x 1.7 inches 

corsair k65 rgb mini

(Image credit: Corsair)

Corsair K65 RGB Mini review: Design 

The Corsair K65 RGB Mini is what's known as a 60% mini keyboard. That means it eschews about 40% of what you'd get on a full-size keyboard. There's no numpad, no navigation keys, no function row and — most infuriatingly — no arrow keys. If you're a proficient touch typist, I should give you fair warning that a mini keyboard might drive you out of your mind. If you're strapped for desk space, or want a limited number of keys for a specific purpose (gaming comes to mind), a mini keyboard might be a good fit. Just be aware that they're not for everyone.

As the "mini" in its name suggests, the Corsair K65 RGB Mini is quite small. The peripheral measures 11.6 x 4.1 x 1.7 inches, and weighs 1.3 pounds. It takes up less space than the average laptop keyboard, and it's just about as portable, thanks to a detachable, braided USB-C-to-USB-A cable. With thin bezels and a sturdy plastic chassis, the K65 RGB Mini is a sleek and elegant device.

There's only one problem, and it's a pernicious one: There's no way to change the elevation of the keyboard. Touch typists and gamers have very specific preferences about how much of an angle they want on their keyboards, but the K65 RGB Mini takes a one-size-fits-all approach, with a gentle downward angle. I didn't personally mind, but it would take a lot of tinkering to get the keyboard to lie flat, if you're so inclined.

corsair k65 rgb mini

(Image credit: Corsair)

Corsair K65 RGB Mini review: Keys 

Corsair never skimps on key switches, almost always employing authentic Cherry MX gear. While keyboard aficionados can (and do) argue about whether Cherry is still the be-all, end-all of gaming key switches, they're the gold standard for a reason. The model I reviewed had Cherry MX Speed switches, which feature 45 g actuation force and 1.2 mm key travel. The K65 RGB Mini is also available with MX Silent or MX Red switches, both of which are very quiet. All three switches are linear rather than tactile, so you have to depress the keys all the way before they register your input.

Not only are the keys comfortable; they're also efficient. On a Typing.com test, I scored 123 words per minute with 99% accuracy on the K65 RGB Mini. This is exactly the same as what I scored on my regular Logitech G915. Earning the same score on a review keyboard is almost unheard of, since I'm so much more familiar with the G915, which speaks to just how responsive and precise the K65 RGB Mini feels.

That's why it's a shame that, for the life of me, I could not figure out a comfortable way to activate most of the K65 RGB Mini's keyboard shortcuts. For those who haven't used a mini keyboard before, you're required to use shortcuts for a lot of familiar functionality, from media controls to arrow keys. You do this by holding down a function key, then pressing a corresponding shortcut key elsewhere on the keyboard.

The K65 RGB Mini, however, relegates its function key to the right side — along with the arrows, the media controls and the delete function. In other words: The finger you need for the function button is, in all likelihood, the same finger you need for the shortcut button. And if it's not, you'll still have to contort your hand into an uncomfortable claw.

The placement of the arrow key shortcuts is particularly jarring. Other 60% keyboards tend to place these keys as close to the bottom-right as possible, to keep them in a familiar spot. But with their default placement on the K65 RGB Mini, it's essentially impossible to use them in conjunction with the delete key (itself a shortcut on the backspace key). Touch typists will understand the problem straight away.

It's worth pointing out that you can reprogram any of these buttons in the Corsair Utility Engine (iCUE) software. But "you have to completely upend the keyboard's default layout as soon as you take it out of the box" is a pretty big caveat.

corsair k65 rgb mini

(Image credit: Corsair)

Corsair K65 RGB Mini review: Features 

As stated above, the Corsair K65 RGB Mini runs on the iCUE software. As with other Corsair gaming peripherals, you can use iCUE to program some delightfully complex patterns on the bright and beautiful RGB-illuminated keys. The learning curve is a bit steep, but you can always just slap down a rainbow wave and call it a day.

The iCUE software is also important in that you can reprogram keys, which is something of a necessity if you want to play at a high level, or perform complex productivity tasks. Reassigning keys isn't difficult, although it can be a pretty deep rabbit hole, if you choose to create unique profiles for all of your favorite games and apps.

The only potential snag here has to do with hardware profiles. You don't have to program the K65 RGB Mini with iCUE; you can also adjust lighting, record macros and create profiles right from the keyboard itself. The trouble is that the process is rather complicated, particularly since you can store up to 50 profiles. While it's impressive that you can reprogram the keyboard without a complicated software suite, I found the process to be more trouble than it's worth.

corsair k65 rgb mini

(Image credit: Corsair)

Corsair K65 RGB Mini review: Performance 

The Corsair K65 RGB Mini performs beautifully in most games. This isn't terribly surprising, given Corsair's pedigree and Cherry's consistency. As with many mini keyboards, I was especially delighted with how the K65 RGB Mini handled Doom Eternal. Since FPS games generally require very few keys, not having to deal with a full-size model helped the action onscreen feel more precise and immediate, from scaling crumbling buildings to gunning down decaying demons.

On the other hand, Final Fantasy XIV presented some challenges. This game, like a lot of MMOs, requires a lot of button commands from across the entire keyboard. Having to learn (or program) shortcuts slowed down my skill rotation and just generally felt a lot less convenient than having a full-size, or even TKL, model.

I had similar observations in Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition and Control. Whenever I just needed just movement and number keys, the K65 RGB Mini worked beautifully. Whenever I needed arrow or function keys, I had to go hunting for shortcuts rather than just pressing them. Your tolerance for this kind of activity will determine whether the K65 RGB Mini will be a good fit, or a hindrance.

corsair k65 rgb mini

(Image credit: Corsair)

Corsair K65 RGB Mini review: Verdict 

The Corsair K65 RGB Mini keyboard isn't the very best mini gaming keyboard I've reviewed. The HyperX Alloy Origins 60 is a little more straightforward, and the default key layout is much better. But the K65 RGB Mini has many charms, including its robust RGB lighting and its gorgeous appearance. Simply having Cherry MX key switches also elevates the whole product.

Whether you'll want a mini keyboard — or this mini keyboard in particular — depends largely on which games you'll want to play, and how much tolerance you have for creating and customizing profiles. But if you're willing to put the work in, the K65 RGB Mini has a lot to offer in return.

Marshall Honorof is an editor for Tom's Guide, covering gaming hardware, security and streaming video. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.