Corsair K100 Air Wireless review: An unusual misfire
Corsair’s brand-new K100 Air Wireless gaming keyboard promises gaming-grade performance, with an impossibly thin profile. Unfortunately, it pales in comparison to getting a standard gaming keyboard.
When looking for the best gaming keyboard, you’re often out looking for mechanical switches, what board has the best response time, or if you need an analog board that possesses optical inputs. Corsair appears to have put all its efforts into not making the board feel good to use and is instead hinging its hopes that the slim profile of the K100 Air Wireless will carry it to being in contention with other low-profile boards like the Razer Deathstalker V2.
- Switch type: Cherry MX Ultra Low Profile (Tactile)
- Connectivity: 2.4GHz Corsair SLIPSTREAM Wireless, Bluetooth 4.2, Wired
- Form factor: 100%
- Lighting: Per-key RGB
- Price: $279.99
- Features: Up to 200 hours of battery life, 8,000 Hz Polling rate, volume rocker, media controls
- Where to buy: Best Buy
Included in the box: Corsair K100 Air Wireless, USB-A to USB-C cable
The Corsair K100 Air Wireless is adorned with a beautifully thin chassis, with a black brushed aluminum frame that feels exceptionally high-quality. This is rounded off with a 100% layout, where you also have functions for macro keys, media controls, and a small volume rocker over on the top.
Things also look great, the board is delightfully thin, and the RGB looks brilliant, with each key looking fantastic under the illumination, over on the top, there is a slot for the included dongle, in addition to a recessed USB-C port, and a power button to turn the K100 Air Wireless on.
There’s not much to complain about here, though Corsair has not specified the type of material on the keycaps, which are not removable. However, there’s something unique about the switches being used here. The K100 Air Wireless manages to outdo even the Razer Deathstalker with its slim profile, and that’s thanks to the Cherry MX Ultra Low Profile tactile switches.
The switches themselves have a very short throw, with a tactile feeling upon keypress. There is only 0.8mm of pre-travel on the keys themselves, they are simply either on or off. Each key is neatly squared off, meaning that it can be difficult to get used to initially after using a “normal” gaming keyboard. However, after some adjustments to the layout, we were typing away like any other board. You can also seamlessly switch your device’s connectivity type at the touch of a button, though we would have preferred to have a switch at the top for distinguishing the different wireless modes, too.
It really feels like you are using a slightly snazzier laptop keyboard, and would be adequate for most office-based users. However, despite the impressive technical specifications of the Corsair K100 Air, the switches are also the death knell for this particular keyboard in gaming scenarios.
When wired up, the Corsair K100 Air Wireless has every single piece of tech in the world making it seem like one of the highest-performing gaming keyboards around, an 8000 Hz polling rate, and a sub-1ms latency response time makes all the power under the hood seem excellent. Even if you opt for 2.4GHz wireless, you can still get a 2,000Hz polling rate.
So, the board has everything that you need for esports chops, but the switches will let you down. The tactile feeling of the board is excellent for typing on, but it’s relatively unsuitable to rely on day-to-day for esports gaming. Slower titles or MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV were fine, but the high-octane action of Doom: Eternal and Warzone made us wish that we were using a board that was using a linear switch, instead.
Ahead of tapping out this review, we were sent a disassembled version of this switch to see how it all works, and the mechanism is devilishly simple, yet innovative. However, we think this is more of a solution for laptop keyboards, rather than a full-sized desktop model. Especially when boards like the Deathstalker V2 exist, it’s difficult to justify the price tag of this keyboard for the amount of money that Corsair is asking, which ultimately ends up feeling slightly mediocre, no matter the amount of fancy technology that Corsair has put under the hood.
Should you buy it?
The Corsair K100 Air is a confounding board. It has high-end components, but the switches, by their very nature, are not removable, hotswappable, nor can you even take the keycaps off. Compounding this is the fact that the switches might allow for a very slim profile, but it comes at the cost of being less useful for competitive play compared to things like the Razer Deathstalker V2, which makes use of optical switches, but manages to also retain an adequately slim form-factor.
In its current state, the Corsair K100 Air Wireless costs too much, for what it offers. It’s a passable experience, which is bolstered by great battery life, build quality, and performance tech under the hood.
Unfortunately, the switches in this form factor just don’t work for many used to higher-end options, and we don’t think many others would essentially want a laptop keyboard as their main keyboard for gaming.