Corsair K95 RGB Platinum Review: A Worthy Flagship
The Premiere Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Corsair has long been the company to beat in the world of RGB mechanical gaming keyboards. With the K95 RGB Platinum, they present their flagship: an oversize, fully-programmable, light show of a board with the kind of rapid response competitive gamers crave. But for $199, it’s a steep asking price. Is it worth such a high MSRP? Let’s find out.
Specifications and Design
- MSRP: $199.99 ($172.99 on Amazon at time of writing)
- Key Switches: Cherry MX RGB Speed (also available in Cherry MX Brown)
- Actuation Force: 45g
- Actuation Distance: 1.2mm (standard 2.0mm)
- Travel Distance: 3.4mm (standard 4.0mm)
- Lifespan: 50M
- Keyboard Backlighting: RGB
- Macro Keys: 6 dedicated G-keys
- Report Rate: Up to 1ms
- Matrix: 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover on USB
- On-board Memory: Yes
- Media Keys: Six dedicated multimedia keys, incl. Volume Up/Down roller
- Wrist Rest: Full length, detachable, dual-sided with soft touch finish
- Cable Type: Braided Fiber
- Dimensions: 465mm x 171mm x 36mm
- Weight: 1.324kg
- Warranty: Two years
The K95 RGB Platinum comes in nice packaging in the standard Corsair black and yellow. We have a nice profile shot of the keyboard on the front and the features highlighted on the back. It’s also one of the few cases where the marketing shots really undersell the keyboard. It looks much better in person, especially in low light.
Inside, the keyboard comes in a dust-preventative plastic sleeve with the wrist rest, ten replacement keycaps (QWER, ASDF, WD), and keycap puller under the keyboard itself.
Taking a closer look at the keyboard, the first thing that stands out is just how refined it is compared to the previous K95s or popular K70 variants. Compared to the K68 we looked at previously, the K95 is a massive upgrade, featuring a full aluminum top plate, aluminum volume roller, a glossy illuminated Corsair sails logo, and a dedicated control area for profile switching, brightness control, and Windows Lock. It also features a gorgeous LED light bar along the top rim, a USB 3.0 pass-through, and six programmable macro keys along the left side.
If you’ve never had a keyboard with a volume roller, you need to. Corsair has designed their roller with enough throw to make fine adjustments and is a huge improvement over the standard second-layer buttons. Their decision to use aluminum on the roller also helps make it feel quite high-end, which it should at this price.
The media buttons are also well designed. They’re positioned below the level of your standard keys and feature an angled front face to prevent mis-hits when using the numpad.
On the upper left we find our profile, lighting, and Windows Lock controls. The K95 Platinum features 8MB of onboard storage to store three user-defined profiles. These include lighting animations, key remaps, and macros, so you can take your setup with you, even without the software.
The middle button controls brightness in three levels and the right button enables or disables the Windows key.
On the left side of the keyboard, we find the body extended to accommodate our column of six programmable macro keys. This is a harsh reduction from the eighteen macro keys found on the non-Platinum K95 RGB, but should be sufficient for most gamers. Profile switching also means that separate commands can be applied to each profile, so six can quickly become eighteen. Still, compared to prior K95s, some users might feel more constrained.
These keys feature a rubberized coating that’s textured for extra grip. There’s also a slight scoop to help keep your fingers centered on the key.
Turning the lights down a touch, we can really see the per-key RGB backlighting begin to… shine. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Anyhow, the K95 uses Cherry MX Speed RGB switches which have clear plastic housings to allow the light to spill around each key. This creates a kind of “light bed” under each key set, but markedly less so than the Corsair Strafe of K68 due to the lack of white matting on the top plate. Every key can be individually customized and looks great in its vibrancy, especially in the dark.
From the side we can see how the “floating key” design really shows off the switch housings. Needless to say, this isn’t a keyboard for anyone who values light isolation.
The K95 also has a nice natural angle, though it’s still a bit too flat for my taste, so I’d recommend using the included rubber wrist rest.
The wrist rest itself is a snap-in with nice, durable hinges. It’s also dual-sided with more and less coarse textures, allowing you to decide which you like best.
Turning the keyboard around, we can see the gorgeous 19-zone LED light bar along the top, the USB 3.0 pass-through, and the thick braided cable. The light bar coordinates with the rest of the keyboard and is able to display any animation you’d care to program.
The cable is double-headed to power both the USB pass-through and the keyboard itself. It’s quite thick, so breakage shouldn’t be an issue but it also makes it hard to manage. In the future, it would be nice to see a detachable cable that is a bit thinner to make cable management a touch easier.
On the rear are four rubber feet to prevent slippage, as well as a pair of snap-up tilt feet. We also have a cross of cable routing options to help lace a headset under your slate.
Finally, turning to the switches themselves, Corsair gives the option of Cherry MX Brown or Cherry MX Speed switches which is what we have here. Cherry MX Speeds have the same actuation force as a Cherry MX Red at 45g but a much shorter actuation point at 1.2mm. Key travel is also reduced to 3.4mm, compared to the standard 2mm and 4mm respectively. They’re also linear, which means they offer no tactile or audible feedback. This results in a key switch that feels incredibly sensitive.
Cherry MX Speed switches are an acquired taste. There are times when simply resting your fingers on the keyboard will cause your character to move forward in games. In my personal experience, it also results in far more typos when used for writing. That said, the K95 feels great to actually use. Because they’re so lightweight, games and typing feel almost breezy. In time, you also become used to how sensitive they are and accidental activations tend to cease, at least in games.
For gamers, they offer a competitive advantage - if your reaction time is up to the challenge. Due to the reduced actuation, these switches could theoretically increase your speed up to 40%. Don’t count on that, though, because you would need a superhuman response time to actually achieve those kind of results. If you’re at the upper echelons of response time and in a situation where milliseconds matter, using Speeds over Reds could absolutely provide a competitive advantage. For the rest of us, it’s more of a thought advantage than something we’ll benefit from regularly.
Software and Programmability
The K95 RGB Platinum would be a very good keyboard even without a software suite but with the Corsair Utility Engine 2.0, CUE for short, it’s elevated to greatness. With CUE, the keyboard becomes a veritable powerhouse of programmability in lighting, macros, timers, syncing between Corsair devices, and even launching programs.
Note, this is the exact same suite as is included in our K68 review, so if you’ve read that, feel free to skip to our conclusions.
Beginning with lighting, you can keep things simple by selecting from a good amount of presets. You’ll find your usual rainbow wave, reactive typing, color shifting, and the other standard fare seen on keyboards of this type. You’ll also find a couple of less common options, like the Tron-esque Visor effect or color Rain.
If you want to take things even further, you can switch to the “Advanced” tab. Here, the functionality of CUE vastly expands, allowing you to layer effects (similar to Adobe Photoshop), customize timings, gradient shifts, angles, speeds, and lighting trails. To begin, you can start from scratch or select a preset to customize and build on top of. Thanks to such deep layering, the possibilities are incredible.
It can be a little overwhelming. If you’d rather load up someone else’s profile, you can thanks to profile importing and exporting. There’s an active community creating and sharing new profiles on Corsair’s community forum. You can also check out Corsair’s RGB Hall of Fame. My biggest and most consistent recommendation is to check out the work of Lewis Gerschwitz. He is one of the most talented and prolific profile creators releasing layouts today. He has dozens, but my current and all time favorite is the cycling 1UP mushroom. Nothing screams “gamer” like a Mario throwback.
CUE also allows you to program macros for anything you would like. You start by selecting which key you’d like to bind, then hit record. You can add, edit, or remove delays quickly and easily (which is great if you’re automating a repetitive job). Surprisingly, I find myself using these functions more for work than gaming!
You can also bind keys to output strings of text, key combinations (like alt+shift), launch executables, and control your media. If you’re waiting on a cooldown, you can set a key to trigger a countdown timer for launching a certain command. You can launch common programs or individual executables, enable, or disable keys. If you’re adventurous, you can pair it with AutoHotKey to really automate your computer use.
The PBT Difference
Before getting to the conclusion, I wanted to touch briefly on an optional upgrade Corsair is currently offering. The standard K95 RGB comes equipped with laser etched ABS keycaps, akin to most gaming keyboards. These keycaps are perfectly fine and most users won’t think twice, but mechanical keyboard enthusiasts have long criticized how thin-walled and susceptible to shine Corsair and others’ ABS keycaps are.
In response, Corsair has released their own set of double-thickness, doubleshot PBT keycaps in both white and black. I was sent white for testing, which initially made me nervous as the contrast with, well, everything in my setup definitely stands out. I suspect I know the reason Corsair sent white ‘caps, however…
In the dark, the reflective quality of the white enhances the lighting profoundly. Having used more than two dozen RGB keyboards in the last couple years, I’ve never seen one that even comes close to how good the PBT-laden K95 looks here. That’s on top of how much better they feel to type on. Once you’ve tried thick PBT, you’ll never want to use thin ABS again.
The PBT set is costly, coming in at $50, but they easily elevate the keyboard to new levels in both look and feel.
I’ve used the K95 RGB Platinum since early January. In that time, I’ve reviewed half a dozen other RGB keyboards but always return to this one. Why? Even without the PBT set, it’s one of the best looking, fully featured gaming keyboards on the market today. It’s expensive, but Corsair well justifies the cost with huge programmability, superior responsiveness, and one of the most powerful lighting suites available. If you’re in the market for a gaming keyboard, the K95 RGB Platinum is surely one of the best.
|Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
|How product was obtained:||The product is on loan from Corsair for the purpose of this review.|
|What happens to the product after review:||The product remains the property of Corsair but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.|
|Company involvement:||Corsair had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.|
|PC Perspective Compensation:||Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Corsair for this review.|
|Advertising Disclosure:||Corsair has purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.|
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|Consulting Disclosure:||Corsair is not a current client of Shrout Research for products or services related to this review.|