Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
Like many keyboards in Corsair's product portfolio, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT is yet another keyboard that fits APH Networks' design philosophy. It carries a clean, practically reference layout -- meaning no crazy designs -- with OEM Cherry MX keyswitches, dedicated media buttons, RGB LED backlighting, and a detachable wrist rest. The K95 RGB Platinum XT checks all the boxes and adds six extra keys on the left for macros or Elgato Stream Deck. The RGB backlit Corsair logo can be found at the top, right in the middle of the elevated bar. Meanwhile, the exposed black colored brushed aluminum backplate is great to look at. It even hides fingerprints well. The sides and bottom are all made out of quality plastic. Overall, I am a big fan of the looks and the aluminum backplate is rock solid. There is no perceivable flex in the keyboard and feels substantial in everyday use.
The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT's wrist rest is new compared to the non-XT version, now with a layer of soft foam wrapped in dot-textured leatherette, making it very comfortable to use. My only concern is the leatherette feels very thin, so I am not sure how well it will hold up in the long run. Also, the foam feels like packing foam, which is not very high quality. Thicker perforated leather and denser foam would be better in my opinion. That said, the wrist rest protrudes comfortably for my average sized hands. The rest of it is made out of plastic and is fully detachable from the main unit. It is designed to be connected to the keyboard via two plastic clips. The tabs on the plastic clips appear to be of reasonably good quality. When placed on the table, the wrist rest does not move from side to side and has a limited slip rotation angle when lifted off the table.
The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT measures in at 465mm width, 171mm depth, and 36mm height. Adding the wrist rest increases the depth to about 230mm by my measurements. This is slightly deeper and wider than a standard QWERTY keyboard due to the top bar and side keys. To go along with its medium footprint and medium profile, the keyboard weighs about 1.31 kg according to the manufacturer. This is a bit on the heavy side even for a mechanical keyboard, but it packs a lot of hardware.
Once you turn off the lights and activate the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT's RGB backlit keys, the keyboard really shines -- no pun intended. The font is large and bold. The K95 RGB Platinum XT features full independent key RGB backlighting. A dedicated ARM Cortex M3 is inside to run all the effects. Backlight intensity can be adjusted on the fly by a dedicated button located in the top bar to cycle the brightness. The other two buttons cycle between one of five saved profiles on the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT's 8MB internal memory and toggles Win Lock on or off. Win Lock is an important feature in any gaming keyboard, because let us face it: How many times have you tried to duck in your favorite FPS while engaging an enemy, only to be killed instantly, because you missed the "Ctrl" key and your game was minimized?
The backlight can be turned off completely or activated in three different brightness levels. I am a big fan of fully backlit keyboards and I am happy Corsair designed the K95 RGB Platinum XT with this feature. The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT's key illumination distribution is reasonably even for the most part. The area between the keys are also backlit thanks to the reflection of the LEDs, and I like it. One thing to point out, for keys with more than one line of text label, you will notice the top half is significantly brighter than the bottom half. This is due to physical design limitations of Cherry MX stems, as you can see in our photo above.
If you are unfamiliar with different types of keycaps, the most common one found are made out of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic. The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT uses polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) double-shot keycaps that are 1.5mm thick, which are stiffer, harder, and has better color retention compared to the ABS plastic keycaps of its predecessor. The ones found on the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT are smooth and feels nice on the fingers.
Almost everything here is pretty standard in terms of layout with a few additions. I am a big fan of the single row Enter key layout as present on our US QWERTY Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT. Keyboards with a double row Enter key usually means the "\" button is moved to the left side of the right "Shift" key; reducing the size of the latter. I am more used to having a full width Shift on the right and a half height Enter. Obviously, this is more or less personal preference, but having a half height Enter key makes a lot more sense to me.
The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT has the company's signature diamond plate textured space bar, which we have also seen in keyboards like the K70 RGB MK.2 Low Profile. It feels unique to touch and you will not mistake it for any other key. Above the number pad are four media keys, which includes stop, previous, play/pause, and next. A mute button is placed next to the metal volume scroll wheel located in the top bar. All media keys are RGB backlit. You can use the metal volume scroll wheel to adjust volume. I love having a volume scroll wheel and this one feels solid to touch with little play. Three indicator LEDs corresponding to Num Lock, Caps Lock, and Scroll Lock, respectively, can be found half way between the Corsair logo and the metal volume scroll wheel. They glow white when activated and its color cannot be changed.
If you do not know what a mechanical keyboard is, there are three main types of keyboards in the market today. The cheapest is the membrane keyboard, which is the easiest to make, but also has poor typing feel and response due to squishy keys. A scissor switch keyboard has its own independent keyswitch mechanism for each key, which delivers improved tactile response and typing experience. Modern scissor switch keyboards can be very good for everyday office use. Mechanical keyboards such as the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT costs the most because each keyswitch is an independent part.
The K95 RGB Platinum XT features Cherry MX Speed switches. Cherry MX Speed is marketed as a gaming type switch and is quite similar to the Cherry MX Red with a shallower activation point. The maximum key travel distance is 3.4mm with actuation at 1.2mm compared to the regular MX Red at 4mm total travel with 2mm pre-travel. With an actuation force of 45g in a completely linear fashion, it is about 15g lighter than the MX Black; generally speaking, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT will feel very different if you are used to non-mechanical keyboards. It will feel different than other mechanical keyboards as well. This keyswitch is desirable for gaming because you will be bottoming out all the keys anyway, but the lack of the "bump" of the Cherry MX Speed may not appeal to everyone. It is rated for 100 million operations, which is the standard for Cherry MX switches after the company raised its durability guarantee.
Shown in our photo above are the three extra sets of included keycaps, consisting of grey WASD for first person shooters, grey QWERDF for League of Legends players, and blue S1 to S6 for Elgato Stream Deck. The blue S-keys are not PBT, unfortunately, due to the color and texture design.
The base is rock solid as aforementioned, so you will not get any keyboard flex, which is excellent. During operation, it makes a little less noise than the HyperX Alloy Elite RGB, which is decent for a mechanical keyboard. The K95 RGB Platinum XT has a lower pitched tone than the HyperX Alloy Elite RGB, making it more pleasant sounding in everyday use.
The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT is a full NKRO keyboard. NKRO stands for N-key rollover. If you have used keyboards with limited NKRO capabilities, you may have experienced ghosting issues in the past. When too many keys are pressed at the same time, your system unable to register any more strokes. A full NKRO keyboard like the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT overcomes this by independently polling each key, making all inputs detectable by the hardware regardless of how many other keys are activated at the same time. This mean in the event you have every other key on your keyboard depressed, it will still register the last stroke. While this is a highly unlikely scenario since you have only ten fingers, this is as good as it can get.
At the back of the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT is the USB cable lead out. It comes out in the center and is not detachable. A detachable cable using USB Type-C on the keyboard side would have been a better design in my opinion. This braided rubber cable is very thick and extends 1.8m in length to connect to your computer via two standard, non-gold-plated USB connectors. There are two USB connectors to supply extra power to the keyboard as well as supporting a USB 2.0 port located at the back. I am not sure why we do not have a USB 3.1 Gen 2 port in 2020, considering USB 2.0 devices are far and few in between nowadays.
When we bring about the question of whether gold plated connectors are actually useful or not, let us just say if it was the actual pins, then there is a possibility since gold offers better conductivity than other metals. This theoretically establishes a better connection with your computer, but on a digital signal level, we must understand it is a discrete one or zero; if anyone tells you they can tell the difference, you can definitely defeat their theory with a double blinded test. Additionally, if you are referring to the gold part of the connector you see on the plug, I would like to point out it is only used as ground. In other words, it is nice to have and it is pretty to look at, but it is not anything significant on a practical level. The lack of a gold-plated USB connector will not have any performance impact on the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT.
At the bottom are four very large rubber pads to help the K95 RGB Platinum XT stay in place during intense gaming sessions. The wrist rest adds three narrow strips. The two non-rubber lined flip-out risers at the front tilts the keyboard up for those who prefer it. Once flipped out, you will lose the rubber contact with your desk, which will make you lose some grip. Thankfully, the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT is a pretty heavy keyboard by itself, which is great to keep it in its place during intense gaming sessions.
You will also find a cable guide at the bottom of the keyboard. It is not used for guiding the keyboard's own cables; instead, they are to be used with your peripherals like a wired headset. What you will not find are keyboard drain holes, so it is advisable to keep your Mountain Dew at a distance.
The Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT works along with a special unreleased version of the Intelligent Corsair Utility Engine (iCUE) at press time, which is a 367MB download. A future revision of iCUE should make them all compatible. This program unifies all your Corsair peripherals and components into one application. After selecting the Corsair peripheral you want to configure from the main screen or top bar, the graphical user interface is basically separated into two sections; the left side allows you to select the configuration category, while the right side displays all options. All settings are stored on the keyboard's 8MB internal memory for up to five profiles. In our screenshot above, you can see there are two keyboards connected, where the other one is the K70 RGB MK.2 Low Profile.
The Actions tab is where you can control the function of the buttons on your keyboard. Options include macro, text, media, launch application, timer, disable, or profile switching for each button on the K95 RGB Platinum XT. The macro recording system in Corsair iCUE is one of the most comprehensive I have ever seen, while timer will activate a countdown timer that plays a sound, enable an action, and/or initiate a lighting pattern upon completion. You can also remap the keys into other keys from A to Z, number or symbol keys, function keys, enhanced keys, numeric keypad, modifiers and lock keys, language key, mouse button, or keystroke.
The Lighting Effects tab is where you can play around with the lighting effects of each of the Corsair K95 RGB Platinum XT keys, as shown in our screenshot above. If you have multiple Corsair products, it now supports synchronized lighting effects across your devices. Every key can be independently controlled as well. Corsair's iCUE is designed to configure the backlight by layer, where each layer can have a different configuration. With regards to the lighting effects, there are ten pre-defined effects, including Spiral Rainbow, Rainbow Wave, Color Shift, Color Pulse, Color Wave, Visor, Rain, Type Lighting, and Void Visualizer. For custom effects, we have five options. This includes static, solid, gradient, ripple, and wave. Although all of these options should be self-explanatory; the difference between static and solid is that static is just a constant illumination, whereas solid is like gradient without the fading effects. You can individually configure the timing and intensity of the LEDs in everything other than static color. If you do not want to bother with all the advanced options, "Instant Lighting" at the top takes all the complexity out. "Performance" is where the Windows Lock options are configured. This includes disable Alt+Tab, Alt+F4, Shift+Tab, and Windows key if the Windows Lock is on. The lock, brightness, and profile indicator colors are all RGB and can be configured here as well.
Overall, I found iCUE to be powerful, straightforward, and reasonably easy to use. Significant improvements were made to the usability of this software in the last few years, and the overall experience was very positive to me.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware and Software