Corsair K70 RGB TKL Keyboard & Sabre RGB Pro Mouse Review
Corsair Champion Grade Keyboard & Mouse
Mechanical Tenkeyless and Responsive
It’s a brand new keyboard and mouse from Corsair today! Both are part of their gaming line, and in this case their Champion Series. We have the K70 RGB TKL – a TenKeyLess mechanical keyboard – the smaller sibling to the K70 and the Sabre RGB Pro gaming mouse, which might be one of the fastest mice around. More on that later.
Corsair is really emphasizing top mechanical and electrical speed coupled with an inspired flair with this launch.
I realize there could be a touch of keyboard fatigue around these parts, so we’ll try and stick to the most important parts.
K70 RGB TKL Champion Series Keyboard
- Form Factor: TenKeyLess (TKL) & wired only
- Cherry MX RGB, mechanical, 45g actuation force
- 1.2mm actuation distance with speed switches
- 1.9mm actuation with silent switches
- 2.0mm (Cherry Red) actuation distance
- Keycaps: PBT double-shot keycap set, 1.5mm thick, backlight compatible
- Other Keycaps: ABS for PC FPS & MOBA keys
- Connectivity: USB 3.0 Type-A
- Cable: 1.7m / 6ft, Type-C to Type-A, detachable, black, braided fiber
- USB Polling Rate: Up to 8,000Hz
- Matrix: Full Key Rollover (NKRO) with 100% anti-ghosting
- Backlight: Individually lit and per-key programmable
- Onboard Memory: Yes, 8Mb
- LED Color: RGB 16.8 million colors
- On board profiles: Up to 50
- Media Keys: Five dedicated hotkeys for stop, prev, play / pause, next and mute plus a volume roller
- Specialty keys: Profiles, Brightness, and Windows lock
- iCUE Software Support for Windows 10 and MacOS 10.15+
Sabre RGB Pro Champion Series Gaming Mouse
- Wired Only
- Chassis: Solid construction of black plastic with matte and gloss finishes
- Handedness: Right-hand dominant
- Sensor: PixArt PMW3392
- Sensor Type: Optical
- Resolution: 100 – 18,000 DPI in *1* DPI steps
- Buttons: Six, including the DPI adjustment
- DPI Indicator: Three RGB LEDs, also configurable as a single zone
- Connectivity: USB 2.0 Type-A
- USB Report Rate: Up to 8,000Hz
- Onboard Memory: Yes
- Mouse Glide Feet: 100% PTFE
- iCUE Software Support for Windows 10 and MacOS 10.15+
- Cable: 2.1m / 7ft, black, braided fiber
- Weight: 74g / 0.16lbs
Sabre RGB Pro Mouse: $59.99 MSRP
And on AXON, Corsair specifically comments:“AXON effectively removes the keyboard from the latency equation to ensure everyone, from core gamers to esports professionals, enjoy the ultimate performance experience in which they can count on their keyboard to always keep up and never slow them down.”
The K70 TKL
Corsair has really packed in quite a keyboard within this compact tenkeyless form factor. The frame is constructed of aluminum, and the keys themselves are PBT double-shot keycaps with a 1.5mm thickness. Those should last a good long time. The switches beneath are Cherry MX, with the linear Reds on our test unit. I have decided that I like them.
Axon RTOS First
Corsair is featuring their Hyper-Polling input processing system called Axon, with an 8,000hz polling rate. Axon is onboard certain Corsair devices as a SoC (system on a chip) running a RTOS (real time operating system) as a purpose built way they endeavor to deliver very high through-put and low latencies. Oh, and bring order to all the RGBs.
The features sound very promising with Corsair detailing that their Axon is highly optimized for instruction processing, multi-threaded and being an RTOS, an appropriate scheduling algorithm to respond ultra quickly to inputs – such as keypresses or mouse movements.
It would seem that Corsair is quite serious on delivering the utmost in competitive gaming responsive performance from their input devices, as they say this system can detect keystroke inputs up to 4x faster then other typical performance keyboards, with as low as 0.25ms latency. There’s at least one independent measurement from that shows this system performing quite well.
BTW, if your new device is not hitting these new higher 8Khz polling rates, you’re going to have to set that using Corsair iCUE software device settings, with possible firmware updates.
Back to the K70 TKL Itself
Did I mention the key switches?
100% real Cherry MX RGB Mechanical here, with a regional selection of speed (Silver), Silent (Silent Reds) or linear (Red). With full N-Key rollover (NKRO) and 100% anti-ghosting, I personally could not trigger any faults that were not attributable to my own bad typing or poor game play. Corsair is trying to create a system that will keep up with you, no matter how fast you play. I am also a fan of the Red mechanical switches that don’t have the click. It’s more affirmative then the membrane style of the Corsair K55 Pro XT we just reviewed, but still very fast.
Included with the K70 TKL are a set of swappable keys to make using typical FPS and MOBA games more tactile and the keyboard itself more purposeful. Are they implying that maybe you should have game specific keyboards now perhaps?
There is a odd arrangement at the back of the keyboard, near where the USB cord plugs in. Corsair deems this the “tournament switch”, and it swaps the lighting over to a more distraction-free static backlight and disables macro activations. Interesting. There’s also a mechanical flap to, well, lock the lockout – to firmly lock it in place. Redundant. They have also added a Windows lock key (top front edge, with a lock icon) to restrict the return to Windows key. With their iCUE software, it is also possible to bind other functions to this “lock” out. This seems useful for intense gameplay, because it is extremely frustrating to accidentally flip away from your triumphant game play moment to look at your desktop. Been there, and it’s a flail fest.
Transport Controls & Custom Keycaps
Secondary functions for video playback or audio controls are also present, with a continuous volume roller. These even worked without any iCUE or software configuration on a Mac. But of course, just about anything can be custom adjusted with Corsair’s iCUE software. You could spend quite a lot of time creating application specific profiles, macros, RGB lighting effects – which on the K70 TKL are per key – so get as crazy as you wish and download them directly to the keyboard so it’s ready to go where-ever you take it. We have a cordial relationship, iCUE and I. Like that neighbor that helps you snow blow your driveway once each year, but generally keeps to themselves.
K70 RGB TKL Conclusion
Basically I like this keyboard, and this is one that fits my use cases well enough so that I will be using this as a personal gaming input. The tenkeyless form factor fits my space and requirements. I have gone back and forth on mechanical switches, but these reds are definitely to my liking. Linear, smooth and very responsive with low noise. If I spend the time with iCUE I can get the lighting effects I prefer, mapped to my applications and the key mappings I need. The AXON RTOS high polling rate and low latency gives me the peace of mind knowing that my game play is just all my fault, so that’s a fine understanding. Aluminum construction and Cherry switches speak to longevity. Having been given the experience with this set up, I can give this one an Editors Choice as I would buy it.
I did change out the keycaps with a kit from Corsair, and added the ring dampers. Ehhhh – I actually did not like the over damping and will be switching them out. But I do kinda like the white on black keys.
About that Sabre RGB Pro Mouse
My personal time was somewhat more limited with the Sabre RGB Pro mouse, but I did find it fast, clicky and light. The Sabre RGB Pro is also part of the new Corsair Champion series. As such, it also features AXON inside with an 8,000Hz polling rate, an 18,000 DPI optical sensor – customizable in single dpi steps – 50 million click-rated Omron switches and 100% PTFE glide feet. The paracord cable is designed to be drag-reducing and highly flexible – and it is. Clicks are constructed to be immediate and very responsive utilizing what Corsair calls their Quickstrike arrangement. Picture below, far right. It reduces the mechanical gap to as near “zero” as possible.
The AXON RTOS on the mouse promises to detect and deliver clicks almost instantly – and to that end – was recently tested for latency here and came out on top.
Sabre Mouse Other Features
There is a slew of iCUE driven customizations that are possible, of course. RGB lighting is limited to two zones on the device. However, there are five on-board DPI presets, for fast switching during game play or otherwise.
Personally, I found this useful for immediately being able to “slow” the mouse movements when I required more precise selections. For example, in game play this could be for long distance targeting, menu selections, or fine manipulations vs more wild action FPS situations where faster mouse pointing is more desirable.
In order to take advantage of the much higher polling rate of this mouse, Corsair does recommend a higher performance system – seriously. Due to the reporting rate, it sends far more data back and they’re recommending an Intel i7 9th generation or AMD Ryzen 7 2nd generation to take advantage of the the 8,000Hz polling rate. Lower polling rates can easily be serviced by lower end systems, but regardless, they suggest motherboard direct USB ports. Corsair is taking responsive gaming inputs seriously, so noted.
One of the software driven features, from Corsair’s iCUE, that I never really gave a thought to needing previously has become more useful to me. Mousing surface calibration, and using it actually makes a difference sometimes. There were occasions when I was a bit irritated at what I considered poor mouse response, but after calibrating for the surface the Sabre RGB Pro was riding on, things started working more as expected. Underrated feature IMO, try it.
About the only fault I could find with the mouse, was that parts of the paracord looked a bit … wrinkled. I’m sure it would practically and functionally be fine, it just appeared a little wiry, rather then round.
Personally, my preference was for the smaller and more asymmetric physical design of the Corsair Katar Pro we reviewed from a few weeks ago.
Sabre RGB Pro Conclusion
The Sabre RGB Pro was very fast, quite clicky in feel and sound but slightly larger at 129mm long and 70mm wide then my preference would be. Give this one a go in person before you buy. The recent testing done by Nvidia in the chart to the right though, does tell us that even at 1000Hz, the Sabre RGB Pro has very low latency. If you’re a serious gamer, it deserves your consideration.
This is what we consider the responsible disclosure of our review policies and procedures.
How Product Was Obtained
The product is on loan from Corsair for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The product remains the property of Corsair but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Corsair had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
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