There are few innovations that can be added to the standard keyboard these days. With over a decade of ever-evolving gaming keyboards, we’ve seen many trends and ill-conceived ideas fall away and we’re now back to a fairly traditional keyboard design with few (if any) dedicated macro keys. Perhaps it’s finally dawned on vendors that 50 dedicated macro keys don’t make for a better keyboard, regardless of the level of player you are or what games you play.
Rarely do we see regression in the hardware space, but in this case regression is progress, and even though it may not look like it if you take things at face value, at least some vendors are accepting that their target audience has grown up. Perhaps their audience was never what they believed them to be in the first place, and with the CORSAIR K70 RGB Rapidfire coming in at just under R3,100, there’s merit to that idea as few teenagers would be willing to part with that kind of cash for a keyboard. The discerning older gamer is a different story though, and this is where CORSAIR has positioned their K70 RGB Rapidfire, perhaps even unintentionally.
I first came across the K70 Rapidfire at Computex 2016 and my initial impression of it was that it seemed to be a culmination of all the various iterations of the K series over the years with hints of the Strafe built into it. No complaints there, because the Strafe MX Silent is a seriously impressive keyboard in its own right. The K70 RGB is a higher-tier keyboard and of course uses different switches. In fact, the switches are the main selling point of the K70 RGB Rapidfire.
Exclusive to CORSAIR for now, the Cherry MX Speed switches have a shorter travel distance than the other offerings we’ve seen to date. The key travel is precisely 1.2mm, which may not seem like much of a change from the 2mm of regular Cherry MX switches, but can definitely be felt while gaming or typing.
This has some noticeable repercussions when it comes to the tactile feel of the keys. Don’t quote me on this, but they seem a little quieter than an equivalent keyboard (the K70 LUX edition, for example) which uses regular key switches, if only because the travel distance and required actuation force are reduced. For most gamers, that alone won’t be reason enough to buy the Rapidfire. That said, I’m sure many people would likely appreciate a silent-type switch featuring this shorter travel distance if such a thing ever came to the market.
Before I go further, bear in mind that the tactile characteristics of the K70 Rapidfire can be polarizing, as some might not be able to get used to the “feel” of it and may be instantly put off. Personally, I appreciate the experience the keyboard provides, especially the reduced fatigue while typing and gaming. The sensitivity is second to none and despite the fact that this adds nothing to my proficiency at any particular game (which has more to do with my lack of skill than the keyboard), higher-level players will likely appreciate this as there’s a real possibility of the MX Speed switches giving them an edge over regular Cherry MX switches.
Beyond the tactile properties, there’s more to the keyboard that makes the entire package a compelling product. As with so many CORSAIR gaming products of late, the Rapidfire’s build quality is peerless. The anodized brushed aluminium frame remains incredibly impressive and goes a long way to justifying the high price. The notch-less scroll wheel used for volume control, soft-touch wrist rest and braided cable add to this sentiment. When you buy the Rapidfire, you’re buying a piece of kit that will last you many years – which isn’t necessarily great news for CORSAIR when the time comes to convince you that you need a new keyboard when you clearly don’t, but it’s fantastic for you. The Rapidfire is short on gimmicks and full of configuration options courtesy of the CUE software. You can configure every aspect of the keyboard here, from the lighting to individual key assignments. There are layers of complexity hidden behind a fairly straightforward interface. If you delve deep enough into CUE, you could potentially spend hours tailoring the Rapidfire to your exact needs. I’m fairly confident that there isn’t a more comprehensive software package out there for keyboard configuration.
So, is the K70 RGB Rapidfire the perfect keyboard, one that you should rush out to buy? Well, from where I stand there’s a strong case for doing just that. It’s a serious contender for one of the greatest gaming keyboards money can buy. It still has some slight missteps, like the barely perceptible LED colour bleed when using some lighting configurations, but if you’re willing to overlook that or just aren’t as meticulous about it as I am, the K70 RGB Rapidfire is the keyboard to beat. It’s an excellent keyboard in every respect and definitely one that should be part of the Dream Machine.