An expensive option underrated before use, but certainly not after.
The Corsair Raptor K50 is a gaming keyboard which aims to provide a steady alternative to mechanical keyboards. The dimensions are 19.7” x 6.4” x 0.94” making it slightly larger than average, due to the new panel where the macros are stationed. It largely consists of rigid plastic with only a strip of aluminium which runs across the top.
The size of the keyboard is slightly wider than “standard” but only due to an additional panel with 18 macro keys. The size of the keyboard and keys means that keystrokes are not a strain for users with regular hand spans being able to suitably use the keyboard when requiring quick reactions.
From a visual perspective, the shell of this keyboard is not immediately exciting but the RGB backlight availability improves upon the somewhat classic approach.
18 Programmable macro keys are provided on a side panel to the left of the standard key layout you would expect of a keyboard. These keys are available in 3 profiles meaning that up to 54 macros are available to be saved on-board at any time. Because these macros are saved on-board, the keyboard can be taken and used anywhere without the hassle of setting the keys up again. Three profile buttons are available at the top left to quickly switch between sets of macros based on your requirements from switching between CS and browsing.
RGB customisation is possible too with the Raptor K50 offering up to 16.8 million variations of colours as backlights for the keys to match your setup or style. A button is included on the aluminium strip to alter the brightness and state of the backlights.
There are also dedicated multimedia controls which allow for full control over any situations. Some controls include a volume roller a mute button and the standard media controls of play/pause, stop, forward and backwards. Another feature includes a personal favourite of mine, a Windows lock key. This prevents any accidental windows key presses from affecting important gameplay situations, especially in CS where momentum is required to get the best out of yourself.
The Raptor K50 performed well in game, although it was evident that this was not a mechanical keyboard because of the lack of ‘crisp’ from the keys. This was really the only discrepancy through. Keyboards used in gaming are expected to be responsive enough that the action is understood in enough of a response time that does not disadvantage yourself against other players. This was certainly not the case with the Raptor K50 feeling as if it was able to keep up with the demands of weapon switches, crouches, jumps..etc. Despite the K50 being largely made from plastic, it did not at any time feel weak or frail and held up well from occasional aggressive mashes.
Depending on the player, CS can be best utilised with extra keys to allow functions to be set for quick and easy changes depending on situations, such as weapon loadouts for certain types of rounds. In our experience, the macros were excellent for switching between in-game macros used for loadout purchases/switches and general browsing shortcuts. The fact there were three profiles meant an extra set of keys were also available should a different situation require it.
The software required for programming each macro key and modifying the backlighting options is actually very intuitive and simple to use. One drawback to the software is that based on the website downloads, each new piece of hardware requires new software installation for customisation. It should be noted however, that the software is not required for the keyboard to function, but only for customisation.
Even without the design being revolutionary, the K50 is still very easy to use while remaining comfortable.
Keys felt like they required less force than an average keyboard, without mechanical switches, while also not making unnaturally loud noises either, a usual discrepancy associated with mechanical keyboards.
The Raptor K50 also has a rest panel at the bottom, which is standard method of aiding the wrist for support. All of these points together created a comfortable environment for using the Raptor K50 for large periods of time while engaging in different types of situations in Counter Strike or out of game.
The Corsair Raptor K50 is certainly underrated from initial expectations based on the keyboard not being mechanical, but certainly exceeded expectations. Mechanical keyboards are heavily preferred due to their durability and keys which don’t require so much force to function while sending the key press to the system in half the time of a regular keyboard, but these sorts of differences were negligible from our perspective.
With all that being said however, the price for one of these brand new is about £180, with refurbished available for under a quarter of that. In comparison to other gaming keyboards with the main focus being towards gaming and CSGO, it can be felt that other options are equally viable for a lower price. The performance certainly justifies the high ratings we felt the K50 deserved however the price is a major flaw in what has proved to be a fantastic product.