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Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless review: A compact gaming keyboard with many features

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One of the main advantages of mechanical keyboards is their customizability. With the right keyboard, there’s an almost infinite amount of parts you can upgrade, swap, or customize to get a keyboard that exactly meets your needs. There’s nothing wrong with using a keyboard exactly as it comes out of the box, of course, but sometimes it’s just fun to tinker.

Hot-swappable keyboard switches take this customizability one step further. Instead of soldering the switch from each key on the board (meaning you have to pull out a soldering iron to replace it), hot-swappable switches can be removed with a simple pull-out tool. It makes replacing it as easy as replacing a keycap. The feature has become more common on enthusiast boards, but is still relatively rare on mainstream or gaming brand keyboards.

That makes Corsair’s K70 Pro Mini Wireless an interesting accessory. At first glance, it looks a lot like the kind of mechanical gaming keyboards Corsair has been producing for years with its aggressive gamer font and RGB lighting. But below that, it’s the company’s first keyboard with hot-swappable switches. It means it offers a powerful blend of Corsair’s gaming-focused features, such as low input latency and enthusiast board customizability.

At $179.99, it’s expensive, and the 60 percent compact layout isn’t for everyone. But it ticks a lot of boxes if you’re willing to pay the price.

The Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless is a very recognizable Corsair product. It’s all black, save for the flashy RGB lighting, and each of the keys is styled with an aggressive all-caps font. At the top, there’s a single USB-C port for charging and connectivity, a physical power switch, and a small dock for the keyboard’s 2.4GHz USB dongle.

There’s no switch to put the keyboard into a macOS layout mode, and no Mac-specific keycaps or legends. This is a Windows-focused keyboard – understandable given Corsair’s focus on gaming. Two feet on the bottom of the keyboard allow you to angle it at a steeper angle if desired.

In addition to the USB dongle, the ability to store up to three different Bluetooth connections, and the good old-fashioned wired connectivity, there’s a host of connectivity options. That said, some are not as responsive as others. You’ll need to use a wired connection to get the keyboard’s maximum polling rate (with it scanning internally at 4,000 Hz for keystrokes and reporting them to your PC at 8,000 Hz), but it can only report at 2,000 Hz when using the 2, 4 GHz dongle. Corsair doesn’t say what the keyboard’s polling rate is over Bluetooth, but usually the wireless standard isn’t known for its low latency.

From left to right: USB receiver, power slider, and a USB-C port.

With an included switch puller you can remove the mechanical switches from the keyboard.

Corsair only sells the K70 Pro Mini Wireless with linear Cherry MX Red (which my review sample had) or gaming-focused linear Cherry MX Speed ​​Silver switches, but the fact that it’s hot-swappable means you can get a lot of other options if you are willing to buy switches separately. You could trade in alternative Cherry switches, such as tactile browns or clicky blues, or even more esoteric community options, such as Holy Pandas or Gazzew Boba U4s. The world is really your lobster.

Corsair has the necessary switch puller in the box with the keyboard (there’s also a keycap puller) for removing the switches, and I was able to replace a few with relative ease. The only problem here is that only three-pin (aka plate-mount) switches fits into the keyboard circuit board, which means you have to cut the plastic feet off five pin (PCB mounted) switches to get them to fit. It’s not the end of the world, but it means choosing your replacement switches carefully or being prepared to mod a little. It’s not ideal if the hot-swap selling point is simplicity.

It is of course also possible to exchange the keycaps of the K70 Pro Mini Wireless. This isn’t necessary right away, as the keys that come with the keyboard are durable double-shot PBT and the keyboard’s RGB backlighting shines through. It is also worth noting that because each of these keys has a secondary function, there are many additional legends printed on the sides of the keys. Replace the keycaps and it can be hard to remember your keyboard shortcuts. Finally, the keyboard’s switches face north, which: may cause compatibility issues with some Cherry-profile keycaps.

North facing, 3 pin switches.

Almost every key has a secondary function printed on the side.

The K70 Pro Mini Wireless is a very compact keyboard. It uses a 60 percent layout, which means it has no extra special keys, such as a function row, numpad, or even arrow keys. The result is a keyboard optimized for desks with limited space or even large desks when you absolutely want to maximize the amount of space your mouse gets.

If you are a gamer who sometimes runs out of mouse space due to a large keyboard, a compact model like this can be very useful. But for others, such a restrictive layout is less ideal, and I’ve struggled to use the K70 Pro Mini Wireless as a work keyboard for the past week. All the “missing” keys are accessible via a function key at the bottom right of the keyboard, but it’s tiring pressing two keys to access the arrow keys, and it only gets worse when you have to add more modifiers. I often had to press four keys at once while I was working, and it felt very inefficient. I would not recommend this keyboard for office work.

It’s also not a particularly good keyboard for typing. While Corsair uses original Cherry switches, which are durable and long-lasting, the keyboard’s construction makes them cheap and plastic-like, and doesn’t feel as good as competing compact keyboards from Epomaker or Keychron. That’s doubly true for larger keys, whose stabilizers sound clingy and metallic.

The K70 Pro Mini Wireless feels much more at home when you use it for gaming, not missing out on the extra keys and (in theory) making the most of the reduced input latency. But I remain skeptical that most people can feel the benefits of polling rates above 1,000 Hz. I tested the K70 Pro Mini Wireless by using it to play overwatch on a 120Hz OLED display, first in its wired 8,000Hz polling mode (which has to be manually enabled in Corsair’s iCue software) and then with its 2,000Hz dongle, and I couldn’t tell a difference between it and a standard 1,000 Hz keyboard . It’s reassuring that there doesn’t seem to be any input lag for using the keyboard wirelessly, but don’t expect a major upgrade.

One aspect of the K70 Pro Mini Wireless that I didn’t expect to be useful, but was, is the mouse shortcuts. By default, pressing the Fn key along with WASD moves your mouse around the screen, and there are also shortcuts to speed up and slow down mouse movement, as well as left and right clicks. It’s inaccurate enough that I’d never recommend anyone play a game like this, but it’s a nice feature for folks like me who need to control a gaming PC under their TV with a wireless keyboard and trackpad. It means the K70 Pro Mini Wireless is a nifty little tool that bank gamers may want to use to boot up a game and then play with a controller, although at $180 it’s very expensive compared to the cheap wireless keyboard/ trackpad combinations that are available.

Battery life is OK, but not exceptional, based on Corsair’s estimates (my testing involved plugging in the keyboard via USB regularly to test latency, so I couldn’t use it consistently during my review period). It promises up to 32 hours with the backlight on, increasing to 200 hours when it’s off. So expect to charge it weekly for the privilege of keeping the lights on or a little more than once a month otherwise. That’s nothing compared to Logitech’s (otherwise lower-spec) $150 MX Mechanical Mini, which offers 15 days backlit on, or 10 months off, but roughly in line with the RGB model of Keychron’s $65 K12 (up to 240 hours with backlight off).

You can adjust the tilt of the keyboard.

My sample came with Cherry MX Red switches.

With its compact 60 percent layout, the K70 Pro Mini Wireless is a keyboard that will never be for everyone. It’s great that Corsair has caught up with the emerging trend towards hot-swappable switches, but if you’re looking for a compact keyboard to use for equal parts productivity and play, my advice would be – at a minimum – get a slightly larger board at 65 percent with an arrow cluster. No modification of switches or keycaps will make up for the missing keys.

Primarily used as a gaming keyboard, the K70 Pro Mini Wireless does a lot better, and it’s nice to get the customizability of an enthusiast mechanical keyboard without sacrificing the quality of life of a big brand like Corsair. But $180 is a lot to pay for a keyboard just for gaming. The Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless may be a highly customizable keyboard, but ultimately it’s not very versatile.

Photography by Jon Porter / The Verge

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