Making a good gaming keyboard that also meets the needs of the everyday typist is not easy, but Corsair has done just that with its Vengeance K70 ($130). Gaming keyboards tend to be large, and ornate to the point of pomposity, but the Vengeance K70 is sleek without being too small, and user-friendly without being dumbed down. If you're in the market for a mechanical keyboard that strikes an almost perfect balance of size, usability and aesthetics, it's hard to do better than the Vengeance K70.
The most remarkable thing about the Vengeance K70's physical design is its restraint. Whereas other keyboards are chock full of extra buttons or gargantuan wrist rests, the Vengeance K70 will fit neatly on almost any desk. The red backlighting appears somewhat garish, but it's easy enough to either dim the lights or turn them off entirely if they offend.
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The Vengeance K70 is 17.2 x 8.3 inches, compared to the 17.3 x 5.4 inches of the Feenix Autore or the 20.0 x 9.2 inches of the Roccat Ryos MK Pro. An optional wrist rest makes the product larger, but it's easy to attach or remove this add-on as space allows. Whether playing or typing across long stretches of hours, we found that our fingers did not get tired, and the pliable, rubber wrist rest prevented our forearms from cramping up. The Vengeance K70 is easily one of the more comfortable keyboards we have used.
The keys were easily our favorite part of the Vengeance K70. The keyboard is available in Cherry MX Blue, Cherry MX Brown and Cherry MX Red flavors, according to the key switches used. This keyboard should have gamers covered whether they prefer quiet, sensitive keys or keys that need to be pressed halfway to China and sound like machine-gun fire. We spent most of our time with the Cherry MX Blue switches, and adored both the pleasant resistance (the Vengeance K70 sports an actuation of 65 grams and a key travel of 4 millimeters) and the loud, rapid-fire sounds.
Although the keys were relatively flat, a matte texture helped make them feel solid beneath our fingers. Using the Ten Thumbs Typing Test with the K70, we scored 86 words per minute with a 1-percent error rate. Compared to our 92 words per minute, 0-percent error rate on a standard Dell office keyboard, this may not sound promising. Keep in mind, however, that we use the Dell keyboard for hours every day, and this was our first time with the Vengeance K70.
The Vengeance K70 also has an unusual and extremely useful feature: You can replace the W, A, S, D, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 keys with included keys optimized for gaming. These red, textured keys have deep depressions in the middle, while the outmost keys (like the 1 and 6) slope upward at the sides. An included tool makes replacing keys very simple, and we found these red keys, along with the naturally textured spacebar, a boon for gaming. (They're not bad for typing, either.) However, some users may find the texture on the spacebar annoying for typing, and you cannot replace it, unless you buy a third-party key cap.
As the Vengeance K70 is not specifically made for massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, it has no extra keys to program or give macro assignments. As such, there is no specialized software for programming buttons or setting up additional profiles. What you see is what you get.
That said, what you get still provides a fair amount of options. The Vengeance K70 lets users adjust the keyboard's red backlighting among three different levels, or turn it off entirely. You can also program which keys are backlit, or use a default setting, which lights the most important keys for gaming (W, A, S, D, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and leaves the rest dark.
The keyboard also offers USB pass-through, which is handy if you want to attach peripherals directly to the Vengeance K70 rather than to your computer. The top right of the device has media controls, allowing you to play, pause, rewind, fast-forward or mute your media without having to lift your fingers from the keyboard.
The lack of macro keys and profile software may be a deal-breaker for hardcore MMO players who need ultimate customizability, but for anyone who uses a PC for action, adventure, puzzle, racing, strategy, role-playing or casual games, the Vengeance K70 provides the perfect balance between a robust feature set and ease of use.
To test how well the Vengeance K70 performed, we ran it through four titles across four common genres of PC games: "Titanfall" (a first-person shooter), "StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm" (real-time strategy), "Batman: Arkham City" (action/adventure) and "Star Wars: The Old Republic" (MMO). We were very pleased with how the keyboard handled all of these titles.
The keys were quick and responsive, whether we were saddling up gigantic mechas in "Titanfall" or controlling sci-fi armies in "Heart of the Swarm." We found that the textured keys in particular did their job well and kept our fingers exactly where they were supposed to be during tense moments.
While we didn't have any trouble playing "Star Wars: The Old Republic," it's worth noting that those who play MMOs at very high levels and need complex macros will either need to buy a different keyboard or pair the Vengeance K70 with a sophisticated gaming mouse. The device can handle one skill at a time just fine, but it's not possible to automate a sophisticated skill rotation.
While the Vengeance K70 lacks some of the fancy features of its more MMO-friendly competitors, it also offers a stunning example of elegance in design. For the vast majority of gamers, this device delivers exactly what they need most, and nothing superfluous, at a price that's a nice medium between something like the Razer BlackWidow ($99) and the Feenix Autore ($163). For a comfortable keyboard with an attractive design and a robust feature set, the Vengeance K70 is tough to beat.
Actuation: 65 g
Key Travel: 4 mm
In-Key Rollover: >10
Size: 17.1 x 8.3 x 1.4 inches
Weight: 2.64 pounds
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Fun fact: they still make and sell the Black with Red LEDs which came out at the exact same time.