|Dedication. Diligence. Sacrifice. These are the words that describe us here at Hot Hardware, because when we set out to review these Corsair Vengeance gaming keyboards and mice, we sent the family off to bed night after and night and worked deep into the early morning hours. We spent many--many--hours testing, testing, and testing some more, all for you, dear readers.
Granted, the primary testing method was gaming, but that counts as work in this industry.
Corsair Vengeance K60
We’re also typing this review with the keyboards (in turn), and after spending some quality time with the Corsair Vengeance K60 keyboard/M60 mouse and K90 keyboard/K90 mouse combos, we’re fans of all four devices.
Corsair Vengeance M60
Corsair is relatively new to the gaming peripherals market, and the company undoubtedly took its time refining these products before stepping up to compete. The mechanical keyboards are designed to enhance gamers’ performance, with the K60 tailored for First-Person Shooters and the K90 for RTS and MMO gaming, and they’re built to withstand years of abuse, resist crud buildup under the keys, and look good too.
Corsair Vengeance K90
The M60 and M90 mice are designed to complement the K60 and K90 keyboards, respectively. Although the mice have quite a bit in common, they have a few features that set them apart from one another and make them a bit more suited to one type of gaming over another. We’ll dig into those items shortly.
Corsair Vengeance M90
We admit, it’s a bit difficult to write about keyboards and mice, because so much of the experience is subjective. People have differently-sized hands, shorter or longer fingers, different typing styles, different gaming styles, preferred feature sets, and last but not least, differences in taste of course. With that in mind, we’ll do our best to give you the whole story as well as our experience and let you ascertain how the K60/M60 or K90/M90 may suit you.
First, we’ll have a look at the K60 keyboard.
|Corsair Vengeance K60 Keyboard|
|The Corsair Vengeance K60 keyboard boasts Cherry MX Red mechanical switches. The key action is swift and requires very little pressure (45g, to be precise), allowing a quick-fingered gamer to double- and triple-tap with incredible speed. It’s just 2mm to key actuation, and 4mm to travel all the way to the bottom.
Not all the keys have the Cherry MX Red switches, though; the F1 through F12 keys, as well as Esc, PrtScn, Scroll Lock, Pause/Break, Insert, Home, Page Up, Page Down, Delete, and End all have silicon dome keyswitches. It’s not a huge deal, but there are undoubtedly some for whom the lack of an all-mechanical switch keyboard will be a negative.
To handle ghosting, Corsair built the K60 with a key matrix design that uses individual switches and dedicated diodes per switch, and the keyboard also has 20-key rollover capabilities, which should help improve performance for clumsy newbs and ham-fisted veterans alike.
Though the K60 isn’t packed with extra features, there are a few nice touches on board. There’s a small bank of multimedia keys--stop, play/pause, previous, next, and mute--that is highlighted by a weighted metal volume roller with a diamond-shape grip design. Corsair saw fit to also include a Windows lock button to disable the Windows key and keep gameplay from accidentally being interrupted.
The keyboard cable includes two USB ends--one to connect the keyboard to a PC and one as a USB (2.0/1.1) pass-through, allowing you to plug in a mouse or other USB device to the back of the keyboard if needed.
The brushed aluminum body of the K60 is beautiful and practically begs to be touched, but its defining feature is strength, not looks. The thing is solid; it doesn’t bend one iota at a frustrated key
If you’re used to a grime-collecting membrane keyboard that’s difficult to clean, the K60 will be a breath of fresh air. The body is essentially a solid slab of metal onto which the keys have been placed. There’s nothing to catch crud, so a few well-placed puffs of compressed air should keep things tidy. (That is, as long as you don’t Cheeto and game simultaneously. If you do, god help you and your forever unclean mess of a keyboard.)
Unlike the other devices in this review, the K60 requires no software or drivers, so you can just plug it in and start shooting. You may, however, want to take a moment to swap out a few keys for something better.
Corsair included a set of 10 substitute keys for the K60, so you can pop out the WASD quartet of keys and numbers 1-6 and replace them. The extra keys have red caps with a softer textured grip than the stock keys. They’re also angled slightly to fit the left hand a little better. The keys reside in a plastic case that doubles as a palm rest, which is itself covered in comfortable soft rubber. Corsair included a small key removal tool, which also stows away neatly inside the palm rest, to make swapping the keys a simple affair.
For as nice as the substitute keys were for gaming, they’re awful for typing. The slight angles wreak havoc on your accuracy when typing out anything longer than a Tweet. Further, the substitute number keys don’t include the Shift symbols, so if you’ve forgotten that the "@" symbol is on the 2 key, you’re in trouble. The palm rest has the same problem--we enjoyed using it while gaming, but otherwise it was just in the way. (No matter--it snaps on and off the keyboard easily enough.)
The keys are simple enough to remove, so putting the stock keys back on before you type a long article or a raging missive isn’t a huge deal. However, if you use your keyboard frequently for both typing and gaming, you’ll likely find yourself either always leaving the stock keys in place or grabbing a standard cheap keyboard to plug in when you’re typing something substantial.
That said, it’s not much of a knock against Corsair; the keys and palm rest are optional, so if you’re not interested in using them, you can just leave them be.
|Corsair Vengeance M60 Mouse|
|The K60’s sidekick is the M60 gaming mouse, and it’s also designed with FPS gaming in mind. Like the K60, the M60 is built with aluminum at its core, and it certainly feels as sturdy as its companion keyboard, with a satisfying heft to it. The aluminum construction also facilitates adjustable weight distribution, enabling the user to tweak three different “tuning zones” to achieve optimal balance.
Stylistically, the M60 is reminiscent of a metallic alien insect, with soft, rubberized black plastic surfaces (contoured for the hand and comfortable to the touch) wrapped loosely around a metal skeleton. The effect is one of strength, but with a lightness as well. The top buttons are backlit by blue light, which also glows from the front of the mouse.
The weighted scroll wheel is solid metal, with a rubber grip running along the edge for both comfort and control. Underneath the mouse you’ll find ultra-low friction PTFE pads that offer a buttery-smooth glide.
Of course, it’s not all about the look and feel of a mouse; the underlying features tell us a great deal about what the thing’s really made of.
The M60 has a 5700 DPI Avago Technologies ADNS-9500 LaserStream Gaming Sensor, and the DPI settings can be adjusted with the mouse on the fly. Users can choose between 1ms (1000Hz), 2ms (500Hz), 4ms (250Hz), or 8ms (125Hz) response time, and the mouse can track up to 165 inches per second with 30g acceleration and automatic frame rate control.
To ensure better accuracy, the M60 features surface quality detection and lift detection as well, so when you lift the mouse during heated gameplay, the high-precision tracking kicks in and keeps the cursor placed where you intended it to be. Every player is different, so Corsair gave users five different choices for lift distance settings to ensure the best accuracy.
Speaking of accuracy, there’s a sniper button on the thumb side of the M60. You can program it to switch to whatever DPI you prefer to use for long-distance headshots, regardless of what DPI you’re using for other action.
All eight buttons on the M60 are programmable, actually. In addition to the sniper button, right and left buttons, and scroll wheel, there are two buttons on the thumb side of the mouse and two on top, just behind the scroll wheel.
To program the buttons, you’ll need Corsair’s (free) software. Although the K60 doesn’t use it, the M60, K90 keyboard, and K90 mouse all make use of its many configuration and programming options. Technically, the software is still in beta, so you may yet encounter a glitch or two here and there, though.
Like its companion the K60, the M60 mouse isn’t especially fancy; it has striking looks, yes, but it’s not laden with too many extra features. Instead, Corsair kept things relatively simple, adding a few nice touches such as the backlight and sniper button.
|Corsair Vengeance K90 Keyboard|
|As we mentioned before, the K60 and K90 have quite a bit in common--the same Cherry MX Red mechanical switches (and the same membrane keys), multimedia controls, Windows lock button, USB pass-through, anti-ghosting and rollover features, and beautiful brushed aluminum body. They’re essentially cut from the same cloth--er, piece of metal.
However, the K90 has several additional features that plenty of gamers will no doubt sell them on it over the K60. (Again, though, it likely depends on your preferred type of gaming.)
The most striking (though least important) difference is cosmetic: the K90 has a full backlit keyboard. We hope you like blue, because that’s the color you’re going to get. The lighting is simple enough to control--there’s a dedicated toggle button next to the Windows lock button that gives you four settings: off, 66%, 75%, and 100% brightness--and the blue glow against the brushed metal looks great.
The keys themselves have a softer, rubberized finish, as opposed to the more conventional hard, glossy plastic finish on the K60’s keys. The sensation actually takes a bit of getting used to, but after a while all you notice is that the keys feel good under your fingertips.
It’s also worth noting that the K90 doesn’t have the replacement keys the K60 has, nor the palm rest. However, the K90 has a removable wrist pad that stretches the length of the unit, and we found that we would much rather have it snapped on than not, whether we were gaming or typing.
One complaint we had, though, was that although the clickety-clack of the mechanical keys is kind of enjoyable, there was another noise--a metallic, springy sound--that we noticed after using both the K60 and K90 for several hours. It’s a low enough noise that you won’t notice it while gaming, but without any music (or screaming, machine gun fire, explosions, or whatever the case may be) to distract your ears, it might bug you after a while. (Full disclosure: It definitely started bugging us after a while.) This phenomona is known as "pinging" and affects many boards that use Cherry MX switches.
The extra keys are your playground for creating macros. Of course, you can configure whatever you want through Corsair’s software, but you might as well take advantage of the K90’s built-in on-the-fly macro recording capabilities. Indeed, the keyboard itself has a small amount of onboard flash memory, so you can take your customizations with you no matter what PC you’re using.
You’ll note that there are four “M” buttons--MR, M1, M2, and M2--near the top of the keyboard and over near the extra keys; this is your one-stop shop for making macros, and because you can toggle between three sets of 18 macro keys, you can set up to 54 different macros.
The bank itself was designed well; it’s broken up into 3 groups of 6 keys each (2x3) with a slight gap in between each group so you can easily keep track of where your fingers are without tearing your eyes from the screen. The whole bank is set off nicely from the main keyboard area; it’s much lower, so you aren’t likely to engage one of your macros by accident, and they’re completely out of the way when you’re just typing for purposes other than gaming.
|Corsair Vengeance M90 Mouse|
|Just as the K60 and K90 keyboards have a lot in common, the M60 and M90 mice share some DNA. They’re packing the same 5700 DPI sensor, and both can adjust the DPI in increments of 100 on the fly. Their response time settings, tracking capabilities, surface detection, lift adjustment capabilities, and low-friction underside pads are the same, and both are built on an aluminum core. The scroll wheels look identical, although the M90’s felt like it had slightly smoother action.
Whereas the M60 is a more straightforward gaming mouse, however, with strong specifications and a couple of extra features such as the sniper button, the M90’s array of additional goodies border on the excessive (in a good way).
Specifically, the M90 has 15 programmable buttons--nearly twice that of the M60. In addition to the right and left buttons and scroll wheel, there’s a single button on top, two up/down toggle buttons, and nine buttons rimming the thumb area.
Somehow, Corsair nailed it on the ergonomics front, as all nine buttons are within easy reach of the thumb--or at least an average-sized adult male thumb--and it’s shockingly easy to hit each button without accidentally bumping another.
Using Corsair’s software, users can create and save (and share, import, and export) up to 50 macro profiles. However, the M90 has 48KB of onboard memory, which allows users to keep six macro profiles on the mouse itself.
When combined with the many, many programmable keys available on the K90, having 15 programmable buttons on the M90 is perhaps a bit overkill. If you can actually remember what all of your programmed keys and buttons do, we unsarcastically doff our caps to your superior brainpower.
|Performance Summary and Conclusion|
|Performance Summary: Corsair has a quartet of attractive, high-quality gaming peripherals here. Though the differences are somewhat subtle, the K60/M60 and K90/M90 offer features that tend to appeal to FPS gamers and RTS and MMO gamers, respectively. The K60’s angled, gripping substitute keys enhance fast-moving gameplay, and the M60’s sniper button and overall uncluttered design is ideal for shooters. Few could max out the number of programmable macros and profiles on the K90 and M90, and the M90 mouse itself is perfect for quickly unleashing macro-enhanced barrages.
All of the devices have solid specs, great overall design, and attractive looks, and all are comfortable to use over long periods of time.
Because there are no benchmark tests to run on keyboards and mice, any performance evaluation is inherently subjective. Further complicating the issue is that everyone is physically built differently and has opinions on what features are preferable. With that in mind, we offer our assessment with as much objectivity as possible.
We don’t really have any gripes aside from the extra key noise both keyboards made, and even that is a minor issue, as you likely won’t ever notice it with a game’s volume up at any reasonable level. (When quietly typing for any length of time, however, the extra noise may be an issue.) The substitute keys on the K60 are inconvenient because you have to yank them off and put the stock keys back on if you plan to do any non-gaming keyboard work, but as we mentioned before, most people may either get used to typing with the substitute keys on or skip them altogether. Still, it’s a slight negative.
The kicker, as always, is the price. Indeed, these delicious peripherals don’t come cheap; the K60 and M60 are $109.99 and $69.99, respectively, bringing the combo to $179.98. The K90 and M90 pairing ($129.99 and $79.99) comes to a total of $209.98.
If the notion of dropping that kind of moola on a keyboard and mouse when you can buy serviceable alternatives for a fraction of the cost is ridiculous to you, think of it this way: If you’re buying an expensive, souped-up sportscar, you’re not going to balk at the extra cost to upgrade from a cassette deck to a CD player and from a plastic steering wheel to a soft leather cover. Likewise, you’re already dropping loads of cash for a powerful gaming rig, so why suddenly turn miserly and deprive yourself of peripherals that match the craftsmanship and performance of the rest of your system?
Besides, when you get right down to it, the guts of your gaming rig may drive a game’s performance, but the gaming experience consists of the interfaces--the screen, speakers, mouse, and keyboard--so it makes as much sense to spring for a top-notch keyboard/mouse combo as it does to invest in a great monitor and headset.
Are these devices expensive? Yes, though not extravagantly so, compared to the competition. Are they worth it to gamers looking for a great experience from their peripherals? Indeed.
Corsair Vengeance K60, M60, K90, and M90--yep, all four.