Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
The Corsair K70 Core is the latest rendition of the K70 series, which we have extensively covered with the K70 RGB MK.2 Low Profile, K70 RGB Pro, and K70 RGB TKL Champion Series. The appearance of the Corsair K70 Core is simple and clean with a standard appearance. The basic look might not be very impressive, but it offers a similar appearance to the rest of the lineup. One primary difference, however, is the lack of a large forehead, which was a common feature on other Corsair keyboards like the K70 RGB Pro. This K70 Core features a floating key or low bezel design, exposing the switches underneath the keys. Underneath the backplate, we find a plastic casing. Corsair opted to place their sails logo above the arrow keys, which leaves the top right corner free for a very handy knob. The knob is very smooth to use, and I had no issue with the functionality at all. The K70 Core does come with a wrist rest, which I appreciate given the flatter typing angle. The wrist rest is purely plastic with no cushioning. I personally prefer this, as I find wrist rests with cushioning tend to get worn out a lot faster.
The Corsair K70 Core measures in at 445mm length, 134mm width, and 39mm height. Compared to other keyboards, this is about average for a full-sized layout. In terms of mass, this weighs in at about 922g including the cord and 1133g with the wrist rest as well. Going into build quality, the top deck shows no flex when pushing into the keyboard, even when applying a significant amount of force. No flex should be noticeable in standard use cases. As previously mentioned, this uses an aluminum top plate, making it quite sturdy. I proceeded to try to twist the keyboard, finding little to no avail due to the aluminum plate and internal structure. The plastic portion of the case was well-constructed and quite sturdy. I had no issues regarding the build quality.
The Corsair K70 Core comes in the standard full size QWERTY ANSI layout. The full size or 100% layout typically has 104 keys. The QWERTY ANSI layout is the standard American layout, which uses a single row Enter key, as seen in some of the previous images. The keyboard uses a standard bottom row. For those who do not know, 1U stands for a single unit, meaning a 1.25U keycap is 1.25 times wider than a regular one. As such, the keys in this row are 1.25U, excluding the space bar. The space bar uses the standard 6.25U. For the average user, getting used to the K70 Core will feel quite normal.
The Corsair K70 Core has full N-key rollover, meaning every single key pressed will register even if they are all pressed simultaneously. This means there will be no ghosting issues, where some keys may not be registered. Gamers and fast typists who have fast actions per minute or words per minute will benefit from this, as it will allow more keys to be recognized at the same time. In reality, people usually only need 6-key rollover, so the addition of N-key rollover is nice for extremely fast typists who can reach 250 words per minute.
Let us look at the secondary functions located on the top row, cursor control, arrow, and a few extra keys. All of the secondary functions are labeled on the top of the keycaps. These can be accessed by holding down the Fn key on the bottom right side before pressing the indicated key. Starting on the left side, from F1 to F4, we have Toggle Win Lock, Cycle Profiles, Decrease Brightness, and Increase Brightness, in that respective order. F5 to F8 are the media controls, starting with Stop Current Track, Previous Track, Pause/Play, then Next Track. Lastly, we have F12, which cycles through dial modes and the Windows key. The Windows key, if held for 5 seconds with the Fn Key, will toggle PlayStation Mode. Near the knob, you can find an iCUE button that is labeled the media button. In my experience, the only use for this button is to pause and play. It is quite interesting to mention if you choose not to use iCUE, Corsair has an option for you to control the RGB LED lighting using keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts can be accessed through the second and third row. In our testing, we will be using iCUE, and will thus not need these shortcuts, but they are nice to have.
As for the keycaps, these are made out of ABS plastic. I personally prefer PBT, or polybutylene terephthalate, because the material is harder and resists keycap shining better. The lettering is printed on with a laser etching process, which removes the cover to reveal the translucent plastic used for shine through. The font used is quite normal, which is something I personally prefer. The font style is consistent through the whole keyboard, which is good. Underneath the keycaps, you can see the typical MX stem. This means you can replace the keycaps with another set. You will need to be careful when purchasing Cherry profile keycaps, as this keyboard utilizes north facing lights, and will possibly have interference. In regard to thickness, they are about 1mm thick. This is on the thinner side, but manufacturers do tend to use thinner keycaps. The significance of the thickness of a keycap is important for the feel and pitch. To keep things simple, thicker keycaps have more depth and produce a deeper thock, while thinner keycaps produce a higher pitch sound.
The Corsair K70 Core features their own MLX Red linear switches. This can be considered a Cherry MX Red clone, but there are some subtle differences. These linear switches have a key travel of 4mm and an actuation point at 1.9mm. The total force required to actuate is roughly 45g. They have an expected lifespan of 70 million keystrokes. Even with these specifications, it is quite hard to picture what these switches actually feel like, so I will try my best to explain. As this is a linear design, you will feel no bump, as the travel will be quite smooth. For a stock switch, the MLX Reds are more than acceptable, as they come pre-lubricated, leaving the switches feeling smoother out of the box. With that said, the MLX Reds are not just a knock off of Cherry MX Reds, but they are their very own unique switch with unique characteristics. As neither is better than the other, it all comes down to preference in what switch you want. I will talk more in depth about the typing experience later in this review.
Moving on to the stabilizer, we have Cherry stabilizers. If you are unfamiliar, there are two main designs of stabilizers, these being Cherry and Costar. The main purpose of both is to maintain balance in the longer keys and stabilize them, as the name implies. Cherry stabilizers will have stems matching the bottom of most keycaps, while Costar will require the wire to be hooked into a hoop placed on the keycaps. The main issue with Costar stabilizers is how they are a rattly mess, and there is practically nothing you can do about it. Cherry stabilizers also rattle, but the enthusiast community has found several ways to reduce the sound of the rattle, making it the superior choice, and one choice I am glad Corsair has made. I will say, Corsair can go a step further with the K70 Core by pre-lubricating the stabilizers to reduce the apparent rattle. Nonetheless, with a bit of know-how, you can easily lubricate them yourself, but it will be a little more difficult, as this is not a hot-swap keyboard.
Taking a peek at the bottom of the keyboard, we have two rubber feet and two more rubbery flip-out feet. The feet on the bottom side are decent sized, doing an excellent job of keeping the keyboard in place. There should be no noticeable unintentional sliding. There is no cable raceway to manage the cable on the bottom, but it is not a feature I find myself commonly using. The addition would have been nice, but not necessary. The cable is connected directly to the keyboard on the top left side, making routing the cable quite simple. A separate braided USB Type-C interface would have been appreciated as it would provide better durability, but the simplicity of the connected cable is sufficient.
After doing my thorough inspection, I put the Corsair K70 Core to use. As these MLX Red switches are linear in nature, I made sure to account for this in my typing tests. My first observation was a decent bottoming out sound with a small metallic ping. I should note I am typing on top of a desk mat, which does help dampen higher pitched sounds, but I believe this is mainly due to the dampening within the keyboard. Corsair has provided a great use of foam to prevent unwanted noise. The smooth linear feel was consistent throughout all the keys. As someone who generally enjoys linear switches, I had a satisfactory experience, especially because the switches were already lubricated. I enjoyed the 1.9mm actuation point, as I never had any unintentional inputs like I did when I used Cherry MX Speed Silvers. The travel distance was good, and I had no issues whatsoever. Unfortunately, there is not much choice when it comes to switches, as Corsair only offers their MLX Reds for the K70 Core, which is rather surprising.
A sound test of the Corsair K70 Core can be found below.
Something Corsair has always done incredibly well has been lighting effects. The lights shine through the legends quite well and shines quite well, even in well-lit rooms. I find the lighting to be tasteful and sleek. There is nothing over or underwhelming, as Corsair has hit a sweet spot in terms of physical appearance. When it comes to changing effects, users can use the Fn Key and the second and third row of keys if you opt to not use iCUE. To put simply, the number row keys 1 through 9 will change the lighting effect, while the '-' and '+' keys will change their speed. Additionally, the square bracket keys will change the direction of the effect. There are definitely more changes that can be made through the software, which I will talk about next.
Corsair has one standardized lighting software in the form of iCUE. This software controls the lighting and monitors the performance of all Corsair products. After downloading the 3.2MB file, it immediately recognized the Corsair K70 Core and other Corsair products I was using. You can select between products on the main screen or top bar. After selecting your specified device, you can select your configuration category. For the K70 Core, we have Key Assignment, Hardware Key Assignment, Lighting Effects, Hardware Lighting, Performance, Control Dial, and Device Settings. All settings are stored locally on your PC.
The Key Assignment tab is where you can control the function of each specific key. This includes remapping keys to keystrokes, mouse functions, media keys, macros, launch apps, switch profiles, or voicemod. Hardware Key Assignment is very similar, but can be accessed when iCUE is off, but with limited functionality. The Lighting Effect tab is where you can adjust your keyboard lighting effect for each individual key on the Corsair K70 Core. Each individual key can be independently controlled, making for some possible unique combinations. There are standard preset effects such as Watercolor, Color Pulse, Color Shift, Color Wave, Audio Visualizer, Rain, Rainbow Wave, Spiral Rainbow, Type Lighting, and Visor. Each of these options can go into further customization. Hardware Lighting is Similar to Lighting Effects, but once again, they can only be used when iCUE is off with reduced options. Performance is where you can choose to disable keys or key combinations such as the Windows Key, Alt + Tab, Alt + F4, and Shift + Tab. Control Dial allows the user to manipulate the knob controls to act as Volume, Brightness, Scrolling, or Zoom controls. Finally, we have Device Settings, which allows the user to update the firmware, adjust polling rate, adjust backlight brightness, adjust keyboard layout to other languages, adjust debounce time, toggle tutorial tooltips, and toggle PlayStation Mode. You can also save profiles onto the onboard memory or clear it.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware and Software