CORSAIR K70 RGB TKL Review – Champion Series
If TKL keyboards aren’t your thing, then I have a feeling that the CORSAIR K70 RGB TKL Champion Series keyboard will change this – Why is that? Well, the K70 RGB TKL Champion Series takes all the characteristics that have made its full-sized sibling, the Corsair K70 RGB Mk.2, a huge success but all within a smaller form factor that doesn’t compromise on performance or functionality. CORSAIR hasn’t simply removed the Numpad and rebadge the keyboard, instead, CORSAIR has taken the Mk.2’s DNA and used it to push the boundaries of compact keyboards with a host of new and innovative features that set the K70 RGB TKL Champion Series apart from the crowd, all by somehow reducing the physical size of the keyboard
What sets the K70 RGB TKL Champion Series apart from the crowd is its appeal to hardcore gamers; specifically gamers who attend LANS and tournaments. AXON processing technology provides an unbelievable 8,000Hz polling rate that destroys the industry-standard 1,000Hz polling rate while its detachable USB-C-to-USB-A cable is the perfect accessory for professional gamers who are constantly on the go with boot camps and tournaments. The addition of its unique Tournament Switch ensures that gamers on LAN can comply with tournament rules with the flick of a switch. But at an RRP of $209 AUD, just how appealing is the Corsair K70 RGB TKL Champion Series to the everyday gamer? Or is this keyboard simply best left to the professionals? Let’s find out!
One look at the K70 RGB TKL Champion Series and there is no doubt that this is a CORSAIR product. The keyboard shares a lot of characteristics with its full-sized brother, the CORSAIR K70 RGB Mk.2, with a gorgeous matte black finish, durable aluminum frame, elevated PBT double-shot backlight keycaps, embedded media controls, and its distinctive ridge located at the top of the keyboard. What sets the TKL Champion Series apart from the Mk.2, apart from the obvious TKL form factor, is the addition of its unique Tournament Switch.
With a flick of a switch, gamers can activate the keyboard’s Tournament mode to ensure that they are fully compliant with the tournament’s rules. Tournament mode disables the keyboard’s custom macros, resets the keyboard to its default factory state, and disables all of the keyboard’s RGB effects; effectively eliminating any possibility of cheating. There is even a small LED that illuminates when active so the tournament officials can see easily confirm this mode is active, but unless you regularly attend LANs, I don’t quite see the appeal for the majority of gamers out there.
The TKL Champions Series take full advantage of the top ridge by including its media controls, a profile switcher, a brightness button, and a volume wheel on it, while the Tournament Mode switch is hidden on the back. When it comes to TKL keyboards, these features are clearly a luxury as real estate in TKL form factors is a premium.
Despite this, the TKL Champions Series is not much bigger than your traditional TKL keyboard and measures 360mm x 160mm x 41 mm (HxWxD), all while weighing a respectable 934 grams. I wasn’t a fan of having the media controls and volume wheel on opposite sides of the keyboard as in my opinion, they should be grouped together. But as the alternative is usually having no dedicated media control at all, this small compromise is definitely not a deal-breaker.
The PBT double-shot backlight keycaps feel fantastic and really compliment the Cherry MX Mechanical switches on offer. These keycaps also allow the keyboard to showcase its per-key RGB illumination that looks bright and vivid. The detachable USB cable is quite nice as its braided material complements the overall premium look and feel of the keyboard, along with providing the level of reliability that we all associate with CORSAIR products.
Performance is the key metric where the CORSAIR K70 RGB TKL Champion Series earns its Champion status. AXON Hyper-Processing Technology is able to deliver keypresses 8x faster thanks to its 8,000 Hz hyperpolling rate. Does this translate to 8x the performance of a standard gaming keyboard? No. And to be honest, you will hardly notice the difference in performance. But nevertheless, the technology involved is impressive and sets the standard for the next generation of gaming keyboards to come.
Backing up the AXON Hyper-Processing Technology is one of the best mechanical switches on the market, the Cherry MX mechanical switch. CORSAIR offers both the Cherry MX Red or Speed Silver with the Champion Series to suit your application and preference. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Cherry MX Red which, as you would expect, provided all the performance and reliability that you would expect for a keyboard targeted at professional gamers.
Cherry MX Red switches are generally categorised as the ‘allrounder’ of mechanical switches thanks to its linear 2.5mm actuation and 4mm total stroke. Any serious gamer will be all too familiar with the performance and feel of a Cherry MX mechanical switch as the feel and performance of these switches are right up there with any mechanical switch on the market.
Software – iCUE
I must admit, I am impressed with the updated iCUE software interface. Not that the original design was bad, it was simply outdated and needed a refresh. The latest update is a breath of fresh air as it is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate through. iCUE does a great job providing support for all the usual features and options such as key remapping, macro programming (including on-the-fly), performance settings (polling rate, etc.), and everyone’s favourite, RGB illumination.
All these settings can be saved to one of the 20 onboard profiles – yes that’s right, 20! I’m not sure you will ever get close to storing 20 different profiles on your keyboard, but it is a nice quality of life feature for all the meticulous people out there (I struggle to fill 5!). Overall, iCUE doesn’t reinvent the wheel with its updated interface but it does provide all the software support for the keyboard.
The CORSAIR K70 RGB TKL Champion Series may initially only appeal to serious gamers who regularly attend LANs, official tournaments, or are in fact, professional gamers, but this doesn’t mean your average gamer can’t take advantage of these features too – The keyboard’s Tournament Switch may be a bit of a gimmick, but there is nothing gimmicky its performance thanks to 8,000 Hz polling rate the performance that Cherry MX mechanical switches provide. With the combination of this class-leading performance, gorgeous design, and innovative technology, there is simply no denying that the CORSAIR K70 RGB TKL Champion Series is worthy of its Champion status and is one of the most impressive TKL options on the market.
CORSAIR K70 RGB TKL Review
- PERFORMANCE - 97%97%
- FEATURES - 90%90%
- DESIGN - 94%94%
- VALUE - 83%83%
Thanks to its combination of class-leading performance, gorgeous design, and innovative technology, there is no denying that the CORSAIR K70 RGB TKL Champion Series is worthy of its Champion status as the premier keyboard for professional gamers and is one of the most best TKL options on the market.
CORSAIR K70 RGB TKL Review – Champion Series. For more on CORSAIR, check out our previous coverage.