CORSAIR K57 RGB Wireless Keyboard Review: Versatile Option
The CORSAIR K57 RGB Wireless
Triple Connectivity Keyboard with Per-Key Backlighting
CORSAIR’s latest keyboard is the K57 RGB Wireless, a full-size model with a trio of connectivity options including Bluetooth, 2.4 GHz (with CORSAIR’s SLIPSTREAM technology), and USB. The K57 is also equipped with per-key RGB lighting featuring CAPELLIX LEDs, fully customizable via the company’s iCUE software.
Connection options are great, and it checks the right RGB lighting boxes, but what about key switches? It may surprise you to learn that this is not a mechanical keyboard! So what does a rubber dome gaming keyboard bring to the table in a mechanical world? Let’s find out.
- Wireless Connectivity:
- Hyper-fast sub-1ms 2.4 GHz SLIPSTREAM CORSAIR WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY
- Bluetooth 4.2 + LE
- Wired Connectivity: USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 Type A
- Individually lit and per-key programmable, built-in lighting modes
- LED Color: RGB
- USB Pass-through: No
- Wireless Encryption: 128-bit AES
- USB Report Rate: 1000 Hz
- Key Matrix: Rubber dome, Tactile; Anti-ghosting with selective 8-key roll-over (8KRO) + modifier keys
- iCUE Software: Supported
- Windows Lock Key: Yes
- Palm Wrest: Yes, full length with soft touch finish, detachable
- Cable: 1.8 m / 6 ft tangle-free rubber, detachable
- Battery Type: Built-in lithium-ion, 1-cell, 3200 mAh capacity, 6.67V, 11.7 Wh
- Dimensions: 480.0 x 166.3 x 35.4 mm / 18.9 x 6.53 x 1.38 inches
- Weight: 0.95 kg / 2.09 lbs
Design and Construction
The exterior of the K57 RGB Wireless is all plastic including the top panel and base, with a pretty solid overall feel nonetheless.
The K57 RGB Wireless has a slight wedge shape and offers the usual flip-out bottom feet to further angle the keys. These feet do not have a rubber base. The key caps themselves are of the single-shot variety and of average thickness; thin and light and providing a less premium look and feel than keyboards that, admittedly, often cost more.
There are dedicated media buttons on the upper right, and the far left side offers a set of programmable keys that can be set to just about anything using the iCUE software. The rear of the keyboard is where you will find the power toggle, and this area also houses the USB dongle for 2.4 GHz operation.
I chose to connect the K57 RGB Wireless via the 2.4 GHz wireless option, and this provides a sub-1ms latency according to CORSAIR. We first tried SLIPSTREAM WIRELESS with the Harpoon RGB Wireless mouse back in January, and it offered problem-free operation. Using a USB dongle like this requires no pairing or setup, and beyond installing the latest version of CORSAIR’s iCUE software it was ready to go out of the box.
Battery life is something I’ll have to continue to test as I ran it on a single charge throughout all of my testing. It is rated at up to 35 hours with standard RGB lighting and 175 hours without backlighting with the 2.4 GHz connection I was using, moving up to 40/200 hours over Bluetooth. If you really want to push things with the lighting turned up to 100% you can lower the expected life to 8 hours.
I explored the iCUE options available with the K57 and found the usual suspects; macro programming, various lighting presets with the option to create new profiles, and performance options such as the ability to change the polling rate (default is 1000 Hz/1 ms, which is the highest setting).
And now we come to the part of the review where I attempt to describe keypress feel in words. Here goes: There is certainly a different feel to rubber domes that mechanical key switch users would likely not respond as well to, but preference with regard to keyboard feel varies considerably.
For my part I initially rejected the feel of the K57 as “mushy”, having been using nothing but mechanical switches with my PC for quite some time. However, giving the keyboard a fair shake and continuing to use it, I found that there was a bit more of a tactile feel to key presses than I initially observed. While not “clicky” (or even particularly crisp feeling), I did find the keyboard to have a nice feel once I grew accustomed to it – and the included rubbery wrist rest feels very good as well.
No, this won’t convince anyone that it is anything but rubber dome, and key presses do feel a little slower to me than with a mechanical switch between the overall travel and soft feel when bottoming out a key. I am a heavy-handed typist and this certainly contributes to my experiences here, but it did feel a little on the soft side even after I got used to it.
Pricing and Conclusion
The K57 RGB Wireless is launching today, joining an ever-growing family of CORSAIR keyboards and, with a list price of $99.99 USD, occupying an interesting position relative to the market. I would have assumed a rubber dome keyboard would be positioned as more of a “budget” option, though the K57’s connectivity options and per-key RGB backlighting certainly contribute to the overall value.
Should this price fit within your budget it still begs the question, how important are mechanical key switches to you in a gaming keyboard? This model certainly has the advantage of being very quiet, and if you have a balanced workload of work and play – particularly if you are up late and would rather not wake up other members of the household – a stealthy rubber dome option like this could be just the ticket.
While feel wasn’t to my own current mechanically-inclined preference, the overall features and performance of the K57 RGB Wireless are solid. Multiple connectivity options including Bluetooth make this potentially the only keyboard you need for just about any application, battery life is excellent (just don’t turn up the RGB backlighting to 100% when going wireless and it will last for days), and the lighting looks good without being distracting.
At $99.99 I think it will take the right buyer (perhaps one who favors silence) to choose the K57 RGB Wireless over mechanical options in the $100 range, but this is a very well executed product regardless. There is a bit of retro appeal to the feel of these rubber domes, as well; if you remember non-clicky keyboards from the past with deep key travel and a tactile feel you’ll feel right at home here.
For some reason that iCue software absolutely hammers the battery on my laptops, So I don’t use it. Anyone else found this ?