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Written by Austin Downing   
Monday, 16 April 2012
Table of Contents: Page Index
Corsair Vengeance K90 Mechanical Keyboard
Closer Look: Corsair Vengeance K90
Corsair Vengeance K90 Detailed Features
Testing and Results
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Corsair Vengeance K90 Keyboard Review

Manufacturer: Corsair
Product Name: Vengeance K90
Model Number: CH-9000003-NA
Price As Tested: $129.99

Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by Corsair

Having reviewed many keyboards it suprised me how excited I was to review the Corsair Vengeance K90. With its unique design, Cherry MX Red switches, and as Corsairs first foray into the keyboard market I found the K90 to be a interesting prospect in a world filled with rather ordinary keyboard designs. Join Benchmark Reviews as we look at the K90 and evaluate if its unique design merits the $129.99 asking price that is it being given.

Corsair designed the Vengeance K90 to fulfill every role a user could need. With a full size keyboard, eighteen macro keys, a brushed aluminum exterior, dedicated media controls, and on-board memory the K90 is a complete package. Add in Cherry MX Red mechanical switches and you have a winning combination that could be suitable to gamers needing a mechanical solution with a lighter touch than a Cherry MX Blue or Black switch could provide.

Corsair_K90_Box.jpg

As with any other peripheral it is important look at the Corsair Vengeance K90 from a well-rounded standpoint, this means using it in a various situations including gaming (MMO, RTS, FPS), and from a typist standpoint.

Corsair Vengeance K90 Features

Cherry MX Red mechanical key switches
Cherry® MX Red key switches are the best of the best - they provide the sensitivity and low operating force that professional gamers love. Reaction times are ulra-fast and responsive for quicker double and triple taps. The action is predictable and linear unlike lesser gaming keyboards that have a tactile bump or the annoying click of a typist's keyboard.

18 dedicated, customizable G-Keys
Easily access to your most frequently used macros, presets and key combinations even during the most intense action. You can record up to 54 programmable functions accessible from three separate banks, ideal for grouping macros by function, or access. Macros can be created on-the-fly, customized, and activated with a single keystroke.

Full key matrix anti-ghosting
Our expertly designed anti-ghosting technology provides flawless control even when you're pressing multiple keys at once. The K90 has individual switches with dedicated diodes for each switch so every key press results in an input and is 100% ghost free without tradeoff or compromise.

20-key rollover (20KRO) on USB
Typical USB gaming keyboards are limited to the USB standard six-key rollover. The K90 features increased performance with a 20-key rollover implementation on USB at a blazing fast 1ms (1000 reports per second) reporting rate.

Professional grade brushed aluminum chassis with laser etched, backlit keys
The rugged aluminum chassis provides increased durability and stability compared those that are primarily plastic. The stiff suspension chassis and the laser etched keys are made for durability so they won't degrade over time. And the K90 has over 90 LEDs that provide outstanding illumination even in dim light.

Vengeance Gaming Keyboard Software
Create up to 50 profiles and share, import and export macros with the Vengeance keyboard gaming software. It's a free download at corsair.com.

On-board memory lets you take it with you
36Kb of memory built into the K90 lets you take your customizations and profiles with you and use them on any system.

Easy access multimedia controls
Control all of your music with the easy access media controls.

USB pass-through
A USB port on the back of the Vengeance K90 gaming keyboard makes connecting your mouse or other USB devices a simple task.

Soft-touch wrist rest
The soft-touch wrist rest helps you play for hours without fatigue.

Corsair Vengeance K90 Specifications

  • Light, responsive Cherry MX Red mechanical switches for fast, efficient gaming action
    • 45g actuation force
    • 2mm to actuation and 4mm to bottom
    • Rated for 50 million operations
    • Gold contacts
  • Tuned silicon dome keyswitches: F1 through F12, Esc, PrtScn, Scroll Lock, Pause/Break, Insert, Home, Page Up Page Down, Delete, and End
  • Three banks of eighteen G Macro Keys with Macro Record and Bank Select hot keys
  • 36Kb of onboard memory for storing up to three sets of eighteen G keys for gaming on the go
  • On-the-fly, macro recording
  • Laser-etched, backlit keys with four illumination levels (off, 66%, 75%, and full illumination) selectable from the keyboard
  • Six multimedia keys - Stop, Previous, Play/Pause, Next, Mute, Volume Up/Down - with Solid metal, weighted volume "drum roller"
  • Windows Lock key for uninterrupted game play
  • Metal top plate for increased strength, durability and rigidity
  • USB pass-through connector giving easy access to a USB port on the back of the keyboard (USB 2.0/1.1/1.0)
  • USB Connector with gold plated contacts
  • 2m non-tangle cable Adjustable feet tilt for optimum personalization and positioning



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Corsair Vengeance K90 Mechanical KeyboardAndreas 2012-04-16 23:28
I would love to see a keyboard like this with an extra detachable dedicated FPS keypad (With an Ideazon Fang like lay-out). That would be perfect.

Virtually no keyboard manufacturer in existence realizes that FPS/RPG gaming needs more than just a bunch of extra keys slapped to the left or top.
To me that is quite mysterious as FPS/RPG gaming is the major part of PC gaming.
If corsair could offer me such a device I would be prepared to dish out a lot of money, I don't even care whether the board is mechanical or not.

As it is now I still use my old Ideazon Fang, but I fear one of these days this superb device will break down after many years of service. I am in for a nice modernized back-lit replacement and I am prepared to pay for it.
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# RE: RE: Corsair Vengeance K90 Mechanical KeyboardAustin Dowing 2012-04-16 23:36
Companies are always looking for new ideas. You could try shooting your idea off to some of the major manufactures to see if they have something in the works or to show support for your idea if they are thinking about making such a device.
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# RE: RE: RE: Corsair Vengeance K90 Mechanical KeyboardAndreas 2012-04-17 00:25
How could this be a new idea to them? They must be aware of what is going on in PC gaming? Everybody can see how awkward the standard WASD lay-out is.
I can not image those keyboard producing companies really overlooking this. There must be no market for improvement or something.

To me the Ideazon Fang is a miracle device. It is such an gigantic step forward in comfortable ergonomic FPS gaming that I expected every keyboard manufacturer to jump on board and produce something competitive. There is still some room for improvement and modernization.

If I had known that Steelseries would stop production after the take-over I would have bought several Fangs for backup. I dread the day it will die on me.
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# AgreedMergatroid 2012-04-18 00:34
In fact:

#overclock.net/t/1210473/another-corsair-k90-keyboard-review
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# Fine reviewiFLAME 2012-04-17 12:37
Very good review Austin, you guys get to play with such royal hardware, makes people...you know ;) You gave 8.5 for construction. Was this for the use of rubber dome keys alone? Because this one seems to have very high construction quality and mostly uses quality materials. Also I would've liked to see you test this keyboard on something like Skyrim, where there were lots of scope of quick combos and key bindings. But i guess Mass Effect is a fine one too :)

@Andreas: I've heard about the Fang but never had the chance to play with it. IIRC, there was some incompatibility issues with newer games, with WOW mostly. Also the software was not the best in class. However, we shouldn't forget this is a Keyboard review, I mean a detachable gamepad might be a nice idea but if the main keyboard is junk it is not going to do much good.
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# RE: Fine review@iFlame 2012-04-17 13:08
"IIRC, there was some incompatibility issues with newer games, with WOW mostly. "
-
I assure you the Fang has no problems supporting WOW at all. Even without drivers it acts like a mini gaming keyboard with most used keys neatly and ergonomically grouped around the WASD keys.
The Fang, without drivers, is able to support any game that runs on windows until hell freezes over. The only prerequisite is that windows keeps detecting the Fang as a basic keyboard.

In general though the support for the Fang (and Merc Stealth) software has deteriorated since Steelseries took over Ideazon.
It is not a huge problem, because the Fang still can function without special drivers and software. But you do lose some of the cool remapping functions the Fang in principle is capable of. The software is actually quite good, but the lack of updates is causing the problems now.
-
"However, we shouldn't forget this is a Keyboard review, I mean a detachable gamepad might be a nice idea but if the main keyboard is junk it is not going to do much good."
-
But I agree wholeheartedly. That is why it would be great if a good keyboard manufacturer would create a modernized/upgraded high quality Fang-like device that could be attached to a high quality keyboard.

For example the Sidewinder X6 (I know it is not a mechanical keyboard, but it is still excellent quality) has a modular design.
You can detach the numpad and click it onto the keyboard left or right, or leave it off, whatever you prefer.
It is a unique concept that is great for what I have in mind, but apparently Microsoft does not realize the potential of their concept at all.
If Microsoft would also build a Fang-like module that I could click onto the left or right side of the Sidewinder X6 I would be a very happy gamer indeed. For me that would be the ultimate FPS/RPG keyboard design. For the Fang module only I would be prepared to pay a 100 bucks without hesitation.
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# RE: RE: Fine reviewiFLAME 2012-04-19 12:45
As an owner of X6, I can attest your statement about its build quality and flexible design. It was truly a very cool idea from Microsoft's HW design team, but sadly MS has discontinued those sidewinders and it's unlikely that we'll see any update soon (apparently they're too busy with 'Artist collection' touch mice!).
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# Agree againMergatroid 2012-04-19 16:29
The Merc Stealth is my favorite keyboard. I loved how the keys were arranged, and agree that support for it isn't the best anymore. To their credit though, they did offer to sell me new keycaps for the Merc Stealth, but it required a paypal account which I'm not wiling to bother with just for some keycaps. I still have that keyboard here, but it's not being used. In it's place I have a Black Widow Ultimate and a Logitech G13. The G13 is OK, but I prefer the layout of the keys on the Merc Stealth. I also love the BW for typing.

I would pay $200 for a Merc Stealth that used mechanical key closures on ALL the keys, and a little more robust keycap material.
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# RE: Agree again@iFlame 2012-04-20 01:15
@Megatroid

I have the Ideazon Merc Stealth as well. It is build like a brick, but I mean that in the best sense possible: It is an incredibly solid keyboard.

The reason I stopped using it and started using the Ideazon Fang instead, is because of the fact that I think the merging of the cursor keys and keypad keys on the right hand side is a huge mistake. For me it was fine when I was gaming, but when I was typing I got irritated by having to constantly use that damned switch key.

The Merc Stealth would have been perfect if it was constructed like any regular full keyboard on the right hand side with a full/normal cursor/keypad part.
I even preferred the way the 'space/jump' and 'P1' buttons of the FPS pad were done on the Merc Stealth.

SO if they would build a Merc Stealth II with a normal cursor/keypad and mechanical keys I would buy it immediately. No.... I would buy TWO!

We FPS gamers are in dire need of a true perfect FPS keyboard. At the moment nobody is making one.
Ideazon had it almost right with the Merc Stealth and the Fang and Steelseries should pick up on that, because they have a perfect product within reach.
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# RE: RE: Agree againAndreas 2012-04-20 01:24
Sorry for using the wrong name.
Were it says '@iFlame' it should be 'Andreas'.
:)
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# I hope these companies read these threadsMergatroid 2012-04-20 17:45
I think people here are throwing out some pretty good ideas. I would love a modular keyboard that was all mechanical and looked like a regular keyboard when no modules were plugged into it. Make sure it has decent backlighting. I like Cherry Blue keys, but I suppose I could get along with just about any cherry key closures. Have a few modules available, one like the left side of the Merc Stealth with mechanical keys, one with a pattern of macro keys for MMORPG. Also make sure they're all well backlit. Make another with a small comfortable hand sized joystick and assorted buttons, with a throttle control and twist axis. Make the modules so they can plug into either end of the keyboard. I suppose it wouldn't be for average users, but I'd be first in line to get one and one or two modules.
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# RE: I hope these companies read these threadsAndreas 2012-04-21 01:57
@ Mergatroid

"I suppose it wouldn't be for average users"
-
I think that might surprise you. Perhaps not for those who exclusively use a keyboard for typing. Perhaps that is the average user? But there are so many FPS gamers out there, who already are dishing out huge amounts of money for fancy gaming keyboards, which in general and in fact have actually very little to offer to a FPS gamer. Most of these boards offer little more than backlighting, some extra keys and a fancy design.

I strongly believe that a board like we have been discussing here, is what these FPS gamers would really want if they had the choice, because:
.this system would give them a full high quality keyboard for typing,
.would offer them a perfect module for true FPS/RPG gaming,
.would give them a choice of interesting and useful other modules
.and because you can plug in the modules any which way you want, it would cater to right and left handed people equally.

The board should have backlighting, useful media keys, be programmable, and have 1 or 2 usb ports.
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# RE: Fine reviewAustin Downing 2012-04-17 14:25
I did mark it down to a 8.5 on construction because of the rubber dome keys. One of the great benefits of a mechanical key is that is designed for 50 million keypresses. If the rubber dome keys wear out at 1 million then what is the benefit of having a keyboard that only partially works?
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# ArguableFedack 2012-10-07 16:58
This is arguable actually. Indeed thinking it like that would remove some value to the keyboard, but if you really think about it, the function keys are used much less than most keys on the motherboard, so i highly doubt that they will wear out before lets say, your E or A key, even less your spacebar. I think it was a wise move that probably lowered the cost of the keyboard, making it a bit more affordable.
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# Longevity is not the useMergatroid 2012-10-08 14:36
Gamers don't purchase mechanical keyboards because of how long the keys last. They purchase them because of their response, feel, and closure properties.

These properties are most important on the keys that are used in gaming, and that includes the function and macro keys which are only using rubber cups on this keyboard.

The fact is that there are plenty of other examples of similar keyboards using all mechanical keys, and at the same prices you see the K90 being sold for. So, IF they did this to save some money, that's inexcusable when I can purchase another keyboard with all mechanical keys for the same or lower price (which I and many others have done).
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# Build quality is not perfectMergatroid 2012-04-18 00:41
Many people, including myself, have had backlights stop working on the K90. In my case it was the LED behind the left shift key.

That, combined with the rubber keycaps on function, macro and media keys, makes me agree that Corsair still has some work to do.

I do love the aluminum chassis though, but personally I prefer Cherry Blue keys.
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# Macros and gaming keyboardsterry new 2013-02-05 10:48
The Corsair k90 keyboard is Ok for features - the backlighting is cool - and the brushed alumninum finish is great -easy to clean. However the biggest drawback to all of the gaming keyboards I have run into is the fact that they are unable to records macros that include mouse clicks - logitech has a gaming keyboard that works with mouse clicks but you have to add them in edit mode after the macro is recorded. Why oh Why will these companies not have a keyboard and mouse combo that will work together so when you record a macro is records both mouse and keyboard on the fly. That would be worth investing some dollars in. Most RPG's MMORPG's and Strategy games use a combination of both mouse and keyboard strokes - Please manufacturers take note and work on fixing this.
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