Gaming with a Vengeance
When Corsair launches a new product line, it doesn't tend to tread lightly and introduce something half-baked. Over the years, the company has developed a habit of entering new markets with ultra-high-end products that aim to be the best in their respective categories.
The aim-high approach has historically given Corsair a strong foothold on which to build on, and as the formula appears to be working, Corsair's repeating the adventurous approach with its latest concoction: PC gaming peripherals.
Announced last month, the company's line of Vengeance gaming hardware - or "tools of the trade" as Corsair likes to put it - consists of four launch-day products; the Vengeance K60 keyboard and M60 mouse for first-person shooters (FPS), and the Vengeance K90 keyboard and M90 mouse for real-time strategy (RTS) and massively multiplayer online games (MMO).
The new range won't be hitting stores until late October at the earliest, but we've had our hands on an engineering sample of the Vengeance K60 for the past week and, after many a frag in Battlefield 3, we're ready to pass on some initial thoughts.
The Vengeance K60 will arrive at retail priced at £89 ($110 for the Yanks) and represents a significant investment for any FPS gamer. Aimed primarily at eSports professionals, the keyboard touts mechanical key switches, 100 per cent anti-ghosting, a detachable palm rest, a Windows Lock key, contoured WASD keys and 20-key rollover.
On paper the feature-set is top notch and Corsair has attempted to present the sought-after ingredients in a uniquely-designed package. Opting for something a little different to the traditional black plastic, the K60 makes use of an aluminium top plate that in addition to providing sturdy base acts as a powerful design statement.
By stripping away the frills, Corsair has created an individual design that, while simple in appearance, is different enough to stand out in a crowd and be noticed.
It's difficult to gauge build quality based on an engineering sample, but the early signs are good. The top of the 438mm x 163mm x 24mm board feels suitably durable and offers little-to-no flex thanks to the aluminium plate, and the palm rest feels strong, too. If there's a potential snag, it's that the underside of the K60 is plastic, and the four plastic standoffs for adjustable front and rear tilt aren't as tough as they perhaps ought to be.
Corsair's covered most of the basics, but there's definitely room for improvement. The Corsair logo across the top, for example, is merely a sticker (as opposed to being etched into the aluminium) and none of the laser-etched keys are backlit. A shame, really, as while there are plenty of mechanical reasons for gamers to consider this keyboard, there are few stand-out visual persuasions.
The textured space bar and the neatly-integrated media controls are among the keyboard's most outwardly-attractive features, and the solid-metal volume roller positioned in the top-right corner is particularly lush.
There are nice touches throughout - including a dedicated lock key for the Windows Start button and an integrated USB port for attaching a mouse - but the black-on-silver approach won't be to everyone's taste, and neither will the optional red-topped gaming keys.
Stored within the clip-on palm rest, the 10 interchangeable keys (W,A,S,D,1,2,3,4,5,6) are equipped with contoured and textured red tops that Corsair reckons are "easier to see using your peripheral vision."
The red-topped keys are no substitute for a backlight, but the contoured shape allows the user to find the WASD zone with ease, whilst helping prevent any slips to neighbouring keys.
The rubbery top of the red keys feels particularly pleasant, as does the soft surface of the palm rest, but the latter can't be moved along the edge of the keyboard - so arrow-key gamers are out of luck.
There's a good chance you'll either love or hate the exterior design, and you might feel the same way about the underlying tech.