Typing Experience, RGB Effect, and Final Thoughts
Each keyboard uses a different set of keyswitches, so the typing experience differs significantly between each model.
Firstly, I’ll talk about the Creative Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08, because its Omron PRES keyswitches are the weakest of the three. Omron has rated these switches for 45 grams of actuation force and an actuation distance of 1.5mm, placing them in the middle of the three keyboards in terms of responsiveness.
My main issue with these Omron keyswitches is that they are reasonably mushy for a mechanical keyswitch. Both Cherry MX and Razer switches have a definite ‘click’ to them, but the Omron PRES switches are less defined and feel closer to cheaper non-mechanical keyboards. It’s certainly not a bad experience, and these keyswitches are the quietest of the three by far, but I wouldn’t recommend them for those wanting the best mechanical keyboard for typing.
Gamers will appreciate the reasonably fast response time and low actuation force, but again the mushy tactile feedback isn’t ideal.
The Corsair K70 RGB Rapidfire was my first time with Cherry’s MX Speed RGB keyswitches. These switches are rated at a very low 1.2mm actuation distance, with a familiar 45 grams of actuation force. This keyboard is notably more responsive than the others, and provides the best gaming experience of the three. This is partly down to a short total travel distance along with a low actuation distance, so they keys bottom out and spring back faster. Gamers requiring fast repeat key presses will appreciate this.
For those who use their keyboards more for typing, the K70 RGB Rapidfire isn’t ideal due to the short total travel distance. I do a lot of typing for my job, and I prefer increased tactile feedback provided by deeper total travel. Cherry MX Speed switches are also the only linear switches used across these three keyboards, which again makes them more suited to gaming than typing.
As for the Razer Green switches in the BlackWidow Chroma V2 I received to review, these are essentially equivalent to Cherry MX Blue switches. They are rated for 1.9mm of actuation distance and 50 grams of actuation force, plus they are very clicky. The BlackWidow with Green switches provides the best tactile feedback of the three keyboards, and by far the best experience for general typing.
Their relatively slow actuation, deeper total travel distance and higher actuation force makes them less suited to gaming. However, the BlackWidow Chroma V2 is also available with Razer Orange switches – a less clicky switch with lower actuation force, equivalent to Cherry MX Brown switches – and Razer Yellow switches, which are nearly identical to the Cherry MX Speed RGB switches in the Corsair K70 Rapidfire.
BlackWidows equipped with Orange switches will provide the best balance between typing and gaming, while Yellows are best for gaming, and Greens best for typing. I really enjoyed the experience provided by the Greens in my review unit in general, though.
It should also be noted that the Corsair K70 RGB is also available in several other variants: the K70 LUX RGB comes with either Cherry MX RGB Red, RGB Blue or RGB Brown switches depending on your preference. These keyboards are essentially equivalent to the K70 RGB Rapidfire, but feature different switches.
RGB Effect and Controls
Obviously if you are interested in purchasing one of these three keyboards, you’re after full RGB backlighting with associated functionality. All three of these keyboards include pretty similar RGB implementations, although there are minor differences found across the board.
The Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08 has the brightest and most visible RGB implementation of the three keyboards. The backlight is clearly visible around the keys and through the lettering at any angle, but it’s especially vibrant front-on. Those who want to see their RGB keyboard from any position will want the Vanguard K08.
The BlackWidow Chroma V2 also provides a bright RGB backlight, although its deeper-set keys prevent it from being visible at every angle. However, viewing the keyboard at a standard angle and height reveals the most vibrant RGB lights of the three keyboards. I’d prefer if the key lettering was larger so more light would pass through the keys themselves, although plenty of light is reflected around the keys.
The RGB implementation on the K70 RGB Rapidfire is the weakest, and is best for those wanting a stealthier RGB effect. As the keys are attached to black aluminium, very little light is reflected off the base of the keyboard in comparison to the other two keyboards, so less light appears around each key. Instead, most of the lighting is seen through the key lettering, while light appears to glow around the sides of the keys. You can get a great RGB effect from viewing the keyboard from a shallow angle that reveals the top of the keyswitch itself, however this isn’t how you’d normally see the keyboard during use.
All three keyboards come with software utilities for customizing the RGB effect, and there are similar feature sets found in all three. While the range of preset lighting effects differs between each keyboard, there are some great choices to be found in each utility for those that don’t want to customize further.
Advanced customization tools are available for all three keyboards, allowing you to create custom effects or illuminate just the keys you want in the colors you choose. This can be particularly useful for games: you can illuminate just the keys that are mapped to actual in-game functions. Corsair’s utility is the easiest to use, although Razer offers the most customization options. Creative’s software is a fair way behind the others, due to their inexperience creative RGB peripherals, though it supports most of the same basic customization options.
Razer’s software utility also supports “Chroma Apps”, which are specific apps that integrate with Razer’s RGB gear and override the lighting controls for cool effects. At this stage, app support is very limited, so it’s more of a cool idea than something that actually adds value.
Having spent significant time with all three keyboards over the last few weeks, it’s hard to decide which one is best. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and at times the race is incredibly tight.
Unfortunately, the weakest keyboard in this three way battle is the Creative Sound BlasterX Vanguard K08. There are some strong areas here, such as the bright RGB effect and great keycaps, plus it’s the only keyboard in this comparison that features both dedicated macro and media keys. It’s also the cheapest laptop of the trio, falling $30 cheaper at $140.
However there are a number of issues with the Vanguard K08, most notably its Omron PRES keyswitches, which provide a mushy feel that isn’t as tactile as its competitors. It’s build quality, which is essentially entirely plastic, and software also fall behind offerings from Corsair and Razer.
It’s not the worst option for a cheaper mechanical RGB gaming keyboard, but it’s worth spending the extra cash on either the Corsair or Razer keyboards. Choosing between the Corsair K70 RGB Rapidfire and Razer BlackWidow Chroma V2 is much harder.
On the one hand, the BlackWidow Chroma V2 is a more comfortable keyboard to use, features a more vibrant RGB backlight effect, includes dedicated macro keys only found on more expensive Corsair keyboards, and has a software utility with great scope for customization.
On the other hand, the K70 RGB Rapidfire uses better materials in its construction, it features dedicated media keys (which I use more often than macro keys) plus it still supports macros, it’s a smaller keyboard overall, its stealthy RGB backlight may appeal more to some buyers, and its software utility is slightly easier to use.
In the battle of keyswitches, the K70 RGB Rapidfire is more geared towards gaming with its linear, short travel Cherry MX Speed RGB switches; while my BlackWidow came with clicky Razer Green switches that are superior for typing. Considering both keyboards are available in different variants with different switches – Razer Yellow switches will make the BlackWidow feel like the Rapidfire, while Cherry MX Blues will make the K70 feel like my BlackWidow review unit – it’s impossible to call this battle on tactile feedback alone.
Considering both the K70 Rapidfire and BlackWidow Chroma V2 are available for $170, there’s no clear standout, and you’ll be getting a great keyboard no matter which you choose. I’m leaning slightly towards Razer’s offering as my favorite due to its excellent wrist rest, but I’d still be really happy had I purchased a K70 instead.