With a new model released every other week, it seems mechanical keyboards remain all the rage among PC gamers. Our most recent roundup featured over a dozen of the best mechanical boards available late last year, including the Corsair Strafe, a well-constructed contender with upper-echelon pricing.
Although its build quality helped justify its price and while I really enjoyed the look and feel of the Strafe, this keyboard ultimately came up short in my opinion. The board's feature set wasn't as rich as some of the more affordable contenders and I really missed having a wrist rest.
Of course, given how fast things move in the mechanical keyboard world, it wouldn't be long before we had a successor or some new iteration of the Strafe. Naturally, the Strafe RGB arrived just four months after the original Strafe shipped.
As important as it is to have every color in the rainbow on your peripherals, I was more interested in the now included wrist rest and one possibly even more noteworthy feature, Corsair's new and exclusive Cherry MX Silent switches.
Previously, those after a quieter mechanical keyboard avoided really clicky switches such as blues and went for something like the non-clicky but still tactile browns. Even so, the brown switches are still quite loud, especially if you're coming from a membrane keyboard.
Corsair aimed to take things further on the front of quiet mechanical keyboards by collaborating with Cherry to create a switch that's 30% quieter. For those wanting the travel and tactile feel of a mechanical keyboard without all the noise, the new MX Silent switches are your best option and to date they are still only available on select Strafe RGB models.
So Corsair has done quiet, but what about fast? Back in 2008 Cherry released the MX Red linear switches with a low 45 cN actuation force that were aimed squarely at gamers. Like the black, blue and brown switches, the red ones travel 2mm before actuating with a total travel distance of 4mm before bottoming out.
Corsair believes that serious gamers don't have the time it takes for a key to travel 2mm and have instead reduced the travel distance to 1.2mm for a lighting fast 4ms actuation speed (based on someone with quick fingers).
These new MX Speed switches are another Corsair exclusive and for now are only available on its new line of Rapidfire branded keyboards, including the K65 RGB Rapidfire, K70 Rapidfire and K70 RGB Rapidfire. We have the latter on hand today which retails for a wallet-busting $170 while the non-RGB version is a little easier to take at $130.
I should point out that this is the same price the original K70 RGB and non-RGB models are selling for, so gamers aren't paying a premium for the MX Speed switches.
The K70 RGB Rapidfire measures 436mm long, 165mm deep and 38mm thick while weighing in at 1.20kg. Although the bulk of the keyboard has been constructed from plastic, the face of the keyboard features a thick aluminum plate which provides the feel of a premium product that won't flex.
When inactive, the keyboard is entirely black and the design looks quite imposing. Once active, the lit up keyboard looks truly amazing. The lighting is possibly the best I've seen.
With these new RGB switches, the key characters are not just closer to the LED but they are also larger, giving a brighter face-up appearance. The glow on the aluminum back plate also looks great, so those who love their RGB lighting are going to be more than happy.
In addition to the standard key layout, Corsair has included dedicated buttons for key brightness, a Windows key lock and a series of media buttons. My favorite feature in this area is the volume scroll wheel which has been crafted from aluminum and feels great to touch.
Corsair has equipped the K70 RGB Rapidfire with a USB pass-through port and while this is nice, there aren't any audio options and the pass-through uses USB 2.0. Next to this port is the BIOS toggle that makes sure that your keyboard will be compatible with your system BIOS.
Included in the package are custom textured and contoured keycaps that Corsair says allow for maximum grip and enhanced feel. There are two kits included which are designed for FPS and MOBA games.
The textured keycaps don't excite me much -- certainly not as much as the detachable wrist-rest. The large wrist rest is a solid inclusion from Corsair and I was pleased to see it. This is an essential item, particularly on any keyboard priced over $100, excluding it would have been a deal-breaker for me.
Underneath we find an interesting quad-leg scenario. I'm used to seeing a pair of legs at the back to tilt the keyboard forward so what I found under the K70 RGB Rapidfire was quite different. Along with the typical back legs, two legs prop the front end up to make the keys face up at a completely horizontal angle. This is an interesting customizable option that will no doubt please some users.
Complementing the K70 RGB Rapidfire is Corsair's well-polished CUE (Corsair Utility Engine) software which lets you create and assign different profiles, configure macros to any key (there are no dedicated macro keys though), customize the lighting (or select from pre-designed profiles), and even link the profiles you create to different applications or games. Additionally, Corsair has created an RGB profile community where users can create and upload their special RGB creations for the rest of the world to enjoy.
Having played around with the K70 RGB Rapidfire for over a week I can comfortably say this is the perfect keyboard for not just gaming but also work. Coming from a keyboard with the full 2mm travel to actuation the shorter Rapidfire switches took a little bit of getting used to. After feeling things out, I took to it like a duck to water and now find my old mechanical keyboard is almost clumsy to type with.
The design, features and build quality of the Corsair K70 RGB Rapidfire are first rate and there is certainly nothing better available. As such, expect to pay top dollar. For roughly the same price ($170), you could purchase a Core i5 Skylake processor or a GeForce GTX 960 GPU.
Considering the board's incredibly high price tag, the only other issue is its two-year warranty, which seems limited for the money you're spending. This is particularly puzzling when cheap clones using knock off MX switches come backed with three to five-year warranties.
Those issues aside, this really is as good as it gets for a mechanical keyboard. For the last eight months I have been tapping on the G.Skill Ripjaws KM780 RGB but now it has been swapped out for the K70 RGB Rapidfire. That's as much of an endorsement as I can give.
Pros: Exclusive Cherry MX Speed switches, well-polished CUE software, textured keycaps, solid build, detachable wrist rest, dedicated media keys.
Cons: Pricing and a limited warranty are the big ones. I'd also like to see the USB pass-through support the third-generation standard instead of USB 2.0.