6 Feb 2012

[REVIEW] CORSAIR Vengeance K60 Performance FPS Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

When I saw that Corsair was going to be releasing mechanical gaming keyboards, it was almost like a dream come true for me. Being a loyal Corsair user, I could not wait to find out how their first offering would be. Could they really release the perfect gaming mech keyboard on the first go? Here’s my take!

Technical Specifications:

  • Light, responsive Cherry MX Red mechanical switches for fast, efficient gaming action
    • 45g actuation Force
    • 2mm to actuation and 4mm to bottom
    • Rated for 50 million operations
    • Gold contacts
  • Tuned silicon dome keyswitches: F1 through F12, Esc, PrtScn, Scroll Lock,  Pause/Break, Insert, Home, Page Up Page Down, Delete, and End

  • Ten (10) additional sculpted FPS keys (W, A, S, D and 1 to 6) for superior reaction and control — interchangeable with the standard keyboard keys Gaming palm rest with soft-touch surface for superior gaming comfort
    • Storage for ten (10) sculpted FPS keys
    • Key extraction tool included and storable in palm rest

  • Six multimedia keys — Stop, Previous, Play/Pause, Next, Mute, Volume Up/Down — with Solid metal, weighted volume "drum roller"

  • Windows Lock key for uninterrupted game play

  • Metal top plate for increased strength, durability and rigidity

  • USB pass-through connector giving easy access to a USB port on the back of the keyboard (USB 2.0/1.1/1.0)

  • USB Connector with gold plated contacts

  • 2m non-tangle cable


The K60 comes packed in a striking box with a window showcasing the textured WASD red keycaps as well as some portion of the keyboard. No cutout on the box for you to actually get a feel of the keys for yourself though! This is a good and bad thing because on the one hand, it ensures the buyer a fresh keyboard. On the other, there will be people who appreciate having some form of demo to try out the mechanical keys for themselves. 

The keyboard and entire package are stored in 2 layers of tough recycled material, bounded by a clear cover at the top. It is extremely easy to unbox the entire package. Simply remove the cover, remove the keyboard, and the top layer lifts off to reveal the bottom layer where your extra accessories are. Absolutely no mess or frustration involved and another example of Corsair’s thoughtful design all the way to the product packaging.

Contents of the package. You get the K60, a Quick Start guide, a Warranty guide, and the Wrist Rest which doubles as a storage case for a keycap puller as well as the 10 custom WASD, 1-6 keys.


The K60 feels like nothing else currently on the market. The keyboard is extremely sturdy and well-built. All its parts seem to be properly in place and I could not detect from a quick glance any jarring imperfections. The base of the keyboard is made from plastic, but the aluminium top plate really gives the keyboard high rigidity. While you can hear some creaking if you try ‘bending’ keyboards by holding them at the side and turning your hands in opposite directions, there was no such thing with the K60 even though I applied much more force than necessary to get a creak out of my Razer Blackwidow Ultimate Stealth; not to mention Filco’s Majestouch keyboards do creak fairly easily as well. In short, this is one really solid keyboard!

The K60’s keycaps look oh-so-delicious. They have a slightly rough matte black finish, and are of very high quality; almost like Filco’s. The fonts are laser-etched onto the keycaps; so you wouldn’t need to worry about them fading! They are also interchangeable with most other standard keycaps, so if you are into mech keyboard modding, the K60 lets you do it!

The USB cord feels very tight and tangle-free; Good and bad because it kind of makes it hard for you to manage the exact length you want the cord to stretch out by; but it doesn't tangle. The USB cord splits into 2 USB ends: 1 for the USB pass-through jack located on the back of the K60, and 1 for the keyboard itself.

The K60 also looks like nothing else currently on the market. The simple, clean layout of the K60 almost looks like what a ‘no frills’ keyboard would be (Heck; even the keycaps font are extremely similar to what professional mechanical keyboards use!) save for the addition of multimedia buttons; which many people are DYING to have on their mechanical keyboards anyhow!) That, plus the contrasting silver brushed aluminum frame with dark keycaps give it a sleek yet high-class feel.  The brushed aluminum frame looks simply gorgeous and probably won’t pick up fingerprint marks as easily as glossy, dark finishes.

The highlight of the K60’s design has to be its unique ‘open air’ keys. While traditional keyboards fit the keys in depressed areas hiding the keyswitch / domeswitch bases, there are no crevices on the K60 whatsoever. This can make cleaning your keyboard an extremely easy affair; and helps to prevent dust and gunk getting permanently stuck / accumulating in the area underneath your keys. How this ‘open air’ design looks to people though might be subjective; as the K60 could look less well put together from the side since the traditional look covers up any switch bases, dirt, and the like; making it look more presentable on the whole. However, I have no issue with its aesthetic and feel such a design makes the K60 look very fresh and contemporary.


Well first up, we definitely want to talk about the exquisite Cherry MX Red mechanical keyswitches! If you are new to the whole mechanical keyboard scene, you can read THIS GUIDE; up till the ‘Common Keyswitches’ section which will be pretty much all the basic knowledge you are going to need. In short, Cherry MX Reds are going to feel the most responsive and fluid compared to the other popular key switches (Blue / Brown / Black) since it requires the least amount of actuation force (45g) and is linear in nature (no bump).

While other brands offer their mechanical keyboards in at least 2 keyswitch variants, Corsair seems to be confident enough by offering only Cherry MX Reds this time around. Being a Cherry MX Brown user, I was kind of disappointed, but at the same time it should be easy for me to acclimatize to the MX Reds since the main difference between them is that the Browns have a tactile bump. More of the MX Red’s performance in the “In depth usage” section! For now, let’s continue the tour of the K60, and to an important point.

Although the K60 touts to be a mechanical keyboard, the sad fact is that it is NOT fully mechanical. The following keys use ‘tuned’ silicone dome switches instead of Cherry MX Reds: The entire top row (Esc, Function (F) keys, and Prnt Scr, Scroll Lock, and Pause keys), and the 6 key cluster of Insert, Delete, Home, End, Page Up and Page Down keys. Now Corsair's ‘official’ reasoning is as follows: "Since these keys are typically used for single key presses, rather than “double taps” or rapid, multiple key presses, the use of fast-actuating Cherry MX Red keys would introduce a greater potential for accidental actuation in-game. To prevent these undesirable accidental presses, we tuned the force and the linearity of the silicon dome for extra damping (which mechanical switches don’t have) to ensure they will be actuated reliably in a single press. These tuned silicon dome keys offer a better solution that simply using a different mechanical key, such as Cherry MX Black, as these keys would only provide a stiffer response, but not the extra damping that is desirable to prevent accidental actuation."

There are 2 camps of people with regards to this: People who do not mind the slight hybridization of the K60, and people who can’t see past Corsair’s rationale for making those keys domed and are criticizing them for that. I happen to fall to the latter (yes; I HAVE voiced my displeasure of their decision multiple times on their forum, so there).  To Corsair's credit, it is a reasonable enough rationale. However, while they do achieve their intended purpose, the result is extremely jarring to me if you do press them in-between typing on the smooth MX Reds. Some community members have encouraged nay-sayers to try it out before calling it unacceptable, and now that I have tried it I can say that while I *CAN* live with it, I will never be totally happy with it. Should Corsair release newer keyboards in the near future (and I believe they will), they had better make it a full mechanical keyboard! Of course, you might fall into the former category and not mind the hybrid nature of the keyboard at all (I am kind of a fussy person anyhow), so try them out for yourself if possible before deciding if the hybrid nature of the keyboard is for you or not. Who knows? You may actually like them!

The next feature – or features rather – of the K60 are the little extras included specially for FPS gamers.  Corsair has custom designed WASD and 1-6 keycaps which are coloured a striking red, textured, and contoured. You might not notice at first, but the Spacebar is also textured. There is one problem though: The 1 – 6 keys do not have the upper case symbols !, @, #, $, %, and ^ printed on them. While you certainly will not need them when gaming, I’m thinking users will be doing a fair amount of typing as well and it will definitely be handy to have them on.

Corsair even includes a keycap puller to make replacing your keycaps extremely simple and fuss-free. To pull out the keycaps, push down the keycap puller on the key until you hear a ‘click’. Then, GRADUALLY exert force to pull the keycap upwards until it comes off. Then, slide off the key by pushing it sideways and you are ready for the next! To replace the keycaps, simply align the keycap and press down firmly.

Next, there’s the included ergonomic wrist rest which doubles as a storage unit for your custom keycaps and the keycap puller. Aside from having a pleasant soft texture on its surface, it is perfectly shaped to accommodate your left hand and even the positioning of it is spot-on. As you can see from the picture, I am able to reach all the essential keys with my hand on the wrist rest. A pity you cannot custom-align the wrist-rest though; its position is pretty much fixed. (There are 2 catches below the keyboard where you align the wrist rest to) The wrist rest’s special design could also work against its favor however, as it is not a full-sized one like that provided with Corsair’s K90. While certainly a joy to game with, it is not as practical for use when typing normally.

Let’s not forget something MANY mechanical keyboard users have been pining for: Multimedia control keys!! Yes; that’s right: The K60 is one of few gaming keyboards that actually implement a full range of controls for your media players on the keyboard itself. The volume knob feels AWESOME and is a joy to roll! There's even a Windows Lock key as well. Neat-O!!

Behind the K60 you will find the onboard USB port; handy for connecting anything you do not want stretching too far; even your mouse!

Finally to the ‘intangible’ features: the K60 also features full key matrix anti-ghosting with the help of on on-board keyboard micro-controller. It ensures that any combination of keys you press will not become 'ghosted'. In addition, there's that 20KRO via USB - the maximum possible over USB - more than enough leeway even for hardcore gamers and definitely at the top of offerings versus other established competitors which traditionally only offer 6KRO!

Do note that the K60 does NOT come with software nor Macro capabilities. I have mixed feelings about this because on the one hand, even Razer’s lower-end keyboards support full Macro functionality, and are certainly nice for (especially) a gaming keyboard to have. On the other, it satisfies a ‘no frills’ mechanical keyboard outlook since there are people who think of any kind of keyboard requiring / featuring software as ‘not professional’.

Also, the K60 does not come with LED backlit keys… So this can be a bummer for people who love to game in the dark.


With Cherry MX Red mechanical keyswitches, typing on the K60 is really very easy and only requires a minimal amount of force. Hitting keys feels insanely fluid, but you WILL be prone to making typos as the slightest of presses can trigger a keypress. It will be even worse if you are used to having to feel a tactile bump (e.g. coming from Domes or MX Browns / Blues) which will not activate the keys that easily.

As expected, typing on the Cherry MX Reds was quite alright for me to get used to coming from MX Browns, but the difference in fluidity is very noticeable. On the one hand, fluidity is definitely a good thing as the MX Reds really feel extremely responsive. On the other, I am too used to feeling slight tactile bumps whenever I press a key as well as actuating them with slightly more force (i.e. not so fluid), so I can’t see myself making a permanent change to MX Reds. At the end of the day though; I can’t stress this enough: TRY ALL THE KEYSWITCHES FOR YOURSELF. This is the only way to make the best informed decision as to what keyswitch you like best / suits you best. Also, give yourself some time to get used to mechanical keyswitches. You will love them soon enough.

But let’s come back to the K60’s performance. Now; the K60 was made to cater to primarily FPS gamers, and this is where the MX Reds will shine. Their fluidity combined with their ease of actuation is definitely suitable in instances where you want to make lightning quick taps to your keys (which will in turn be lighter presses compared to a regular press). I fired up Battlefield 3 and took the K60 on a spin for no less than 2 hours. In general, there was really nothing ‘wrong’ with the Reds and it did not affect my gaming performance whatsoever. Moving and sprinting / steadying my scope were extremely pleasant as well due to the minimal effort I had to hold down the keys with. The contoured, textured WASD and 1-6 keys REALLY felt phenomenal as well, and especially helped me to ‘register’ whether I was pressing the correct keys for movement or other adjacent, frequently used keys like Q or E. I just wish that Corsair made these with an MX Brown variant since that’s ‘my’ keyswitch.

The K60’s anti-ghosting and 20KRO support was exceptionally important too; I occasionally get my keys unregistered with my Razer BWUS (it only has 6KRO) resulting in screwed up scenarios where I either not move at all when I’m supposed to or do not jump over objects properly. There was absolutely no such issue with the K60!

However, there’s that issue with the silicone dome switch keys. Del, Page Up, and Page Down are keys I use fairly often in Windows, and so they definitely did not feel ‘welcome’ whenever I pressed them. In Battlefield 3, you can also utilize the F keys to change positions in vehicles, as well as the Esc key whenever you need to bring up the game menu. The difference in ‘feel’ when I press them in game is enough to snap me out of my concentration briefly. Again, I might be making a mountain out of a molehill so I cannot say for sure if this will be a big issue for any of you reading this; give it a spin before calling it. Chances are you will not find it as disruptive as I do.

To conclude, here's a short video of me pressing the keys and media buttons.


For a first swing at the PC gaming and peripherals market, Corsair’s attempt with the K60 is far from a longshot. The K60 boasts a variety of design firsts in this market that puts competing products to shame. Its superior overall build quality, FPS-catered extras, and overwhelming attention to detail down to media keys and ‘open air’ design make for a very compelling product! On the whole, the K60 is a VERY commendable first mechanical gaming keyboard release from Corsair that not only feels awesome but works great.

The challenge for Corsair, however, is to not just come up with these unique plus points that give it a clear edge, but to also really keep up with popular competitor offerings and functionalities such as software macros and keyboards that are fully mechanical, with keyswitch variants to boot. The K60 does have some flaws which are cause for concern amongst enthusiasts, and sadly Corsair’s strong brand reputation has backfired as many people were literally expecting their new Vengeance gaming line – especially their keyboards – to be ‘perfect’. Their choice to include just a few silicone dome keys – no matter the rationale – disappointed many users who swear by using mechanical keyboards that are 100% mechanical. Also, without software macro capability and backlights, it decreases the K60’s overall versatility. I am confident however, that should Corsair release newer iterations in the future and take to heart user criticisms and suggestions, they will be the perfect mechanical keyboards every gamer has been dying to have!.

To conclude, here are the pros and cons:


-              Second to none build quality
-              Fantastic design and ergonomics
-              Specially catered FPS extras (keycaps & wrist rest) are far from ‘rubbish extras’; they feel awesome and serve their purpose well
-              Cherry MX Red keyswitches deliver superior fluidity and minimum strain on your fingers
-              Onboard media keys
-              20 key rollover via USB and anti-ghosting matrix
-              Plug and play


-              Not fully mechanical; with a total of 22 keys (albeit not frequently used) using tuned silicone domes instead
-              No LEDs on keyboard. But a non-issue if you don’t require them!
-              No software capability; if you NEED keyboard macros then you would need to look elsewhere
-              Not available in other Cherry MX keyswitches currently

OVERALL SCORE: 9/10. Excellent product that should be at the top of your shortlist! What Corsair needs to do for the K60 to earn a 10/10 in my book is to make it FULLY mechanical, make it come with full software macro functionality, and available in other keyswitches (*COUGH* Especially MX Brown.. *Cough*).

You can pick one up at Fuwell, Bell Systems, or Cybermind at an SRP of $159, and is distributed locally by Convergent Systems with a 2 year limited warranty!