I recently found myself looking for a new keyboard after my four year old membrane started to show its age, along with the fact that my desk had gotten radically smaller as my computer room was shifted to hold more computers in comfort. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I was keen on the idea, but I had heard of keyboards that lacked a numpad. I gave it a shot by buying a brand that I was somewhat used to (the same brand as my outgoing membrane) but after less than two months, I needed to replace this one already.
Then came along my Corsair K65 LUX Cherry MX Red RGB Compact Mechanical Gaming Keyboard.
Shockingly, the moment it hit my desk, I fell in love with the small size of the tenkeyless K65 – probably the most noticeable feature of this keyboard. Even as a tenkeyless keyboard, it has minimal rim, so it really saves on space. It reminded me of how clunky a full size keyboard was on my desk, and as a gamer, I won’t look back on making the decision to remove the numpad and have extra freedom to use my MMO Mouse (perhaps a review for a later day). However, the thought never crossed my mind that when work comes home, I’m stuck playing seek and destroy with the top row to enter numbers. It is a gaming keyboard, but one does not just use a keyboard for only a single purpose.
The keyboard is pretty sturdy at 0.85kg – 0.94kg with the detachable wrist rest – and has an anodized brushed aluminium frame. Each corner has a rubber pad to make sure that it doesn’t move. Even the fold out feet, while being plastic, have a thin layer of rubber to keep the position of the keyboard when it is propped up. The easy to clip in wrist rest has a soft-to-the-touch, almost rubbery feel to it, which feels great for long gaming sessions. However, any dirt or grease (even sweat) is very visible and not really appealing. Being somewhat of a clutz, and an easy pressured gamer, this means that anything I might possibly mess will leave a mark, and it must be wiped off with a damp cloth or it’ll be sticky or become bothersome, or just plainly look bad.
The K65 is indeed a red cherry mechanical keyboard that comes with a 45g operating force and an actuation distance of 2mm without that definite click. This means that it takes just enough force for me to press it only slightly to get the reaction I want while I’m gaming. The anti-ghosting ensures that keys I’m not pressing don’t get picked up, regardless of any combination I might be holding down, and a 104 key rollover means that my days as a button basher are limited the longer I have this keyboard. In fact, if I were to turn the keyboard upside down and press it against my desk, every single key would register. How neat is that?
For my more dainty hands, the standard key spacing had me spread the fingers to get to my preferred Push To Talk button, an issue I didn’t seem to have with my previous keyboard, but I am grateful for the gentle concave shape that my fingers can rest in. The keyboard also comes with an extra ten, tread plate textured keys and a key cap puller, especially for FPS and MOBA players, and the space bar comes standard with the same tread plate texture.
Shifting from membrane to the K65 has one major drawback from me – it’s noisy. Now, most mechanical keyboards are known for their precision so users accept the noise as collateral damage, but the red cherry removes the click sound that would normally come with actuation. So, it must be “bottoming out” which is the key hitting the top of the keyboard. I tend to abuse my keyboards – abuse might be understating just that. A mechanical keyboard that goes through rage typing of 75 words per minute sounds like a tank is face-rolling continuously over it, and is clearly audible through not just my headset, but that of those around me too. This raises eyebrows. How can a cuddly little person like me make this much noise at someone across the internet? But, beyond the loud clickity clack, the keyboard is incredibly resilient and responsive, and rage deletion for spelling errors are rare – keeping my focus on defeating the in-game monsters (or players) with my words instead.
Then, the RGB. Now – don’t crucify me – but I honestly find this RGB lights thing a little overrated when it comes to computers…. And I love unicorns and sparkles. But. I do love that the K65 LUX, in its small size, can light up my whole desk. The Corsair Utility Engine (or CUE for short) is really simple to use, and if you are a Corsair fan like myself, you already have the software installed and ready to go. Just plug it in and the software discovers it, searches for the drivers and updates it with a click of a button. Set up some profiles for macros and choose from an array of different lighting configuration. Personally, I like that my most used keys are light up one colour and a left to right rainbow wave flows over every few seconds, but there are so many other interesting presets to choose from and making a custom lighting arrangement is incredibly simple.
The cable is also an important feature for some, and I am both impressed and unsure of how I feel about this: it’s a two meter, fairly thick, braided cable that splits into two USB ports. For some reason, the USBs are pretty large and I struggled to fit in all my USBs around these two. Thankfully, it’s not necessary to use both unless you only have 2.0 USB ports on your motherboard; otherwise, only the keyboard icon USB into a 3.0 USB port and Bob’s your uncle. Pity I didn’t realise that till a few weeks later…
Of course, the K65 LUX comes with a plethora of other attributes and features.
The USB pass-through port on the back of the keyboard is perfect for plug and forget wireless USBs or even to plug in a mouse or headset to keep the cable close to home.
BIOS Mode Switch, found right next to the USB pass-through, allows your keyboard to work with legacy motherboards and setups. However, when using this mode, the full-key rollover is disabled, which isn’t preferable.
The keyboard has two LEDs on the top right corner for Caps and Scroll Lock. And, if you are in BIOS Mode, the Scroll Lock LED will flash to make sure you remember you have put it in this state.
The large font keycaps allow for the RGB to shine through, making the letters clear to see. The RGB brightness can be toggled through three modes by using the Brightness Control button on the keyboard, which is amazing when you don’t want to be blinded if playing in the dark – if that’s your thing.
For media lovers, the keyboard has “dedicated” media keys, though, I can only find the Volume Up, Volume Down and Volume Mute buttons to be particularly dedicated. The function keys F9 through F12 do serve media purposes when used in conjunction with the FN key.
Lastly, Corsair have included a Windows Lock button to disable accidentally pressing the Windows key next to the ALT key, and bringing you into your desktop.
What the K65 doesn’t come with is probably a somewhat short list. Only one thing I really feel I should mention: dedicated macro keys, and indeed, it is a compact keyboard. Corsair have said that every key on the keyboard is macro-able, and using CUE, that is indeed true.
All in all, I find this keyboard meets all my requirements for gaming. It is a size fitting for my desk, doesn’t move around and responds well. I love that I can dim the RGB LEDs when it gets a bit darker, and the customised rainbow wave across my desk is fitting for me.
A frustrating aspect about current consoles is the lack of support for less predominant monitor resolutions. It is a more sensible option though; TVs stick to the standard resolutions you will find in HD and UHD sets - so unless you’re using a TV straight out of The Flinstones, it’s either 1080p or 4K and nothing in between.
This is unfortunate for those who use PC monitors to play console games, where resolutions like 1440p are common. There’s no native support for those monitors though; the monitor usually has to upscale from 1080p, softening the image and producing picture quality that is less crisp than it should be. It’s mitigated due to supersampling, a feature in the Xbox One X, and will soon reach the PlayStation Pro.
According to Kevin Gammil, program manager for Microsoft’s Xbox, states in a tweet that “many questions recently around the timing of our 1440p support. Those of you in our early preview ring should be pleasantly surprised very soon if you have an Xbox One S or Xbox One X.” This indicates that support is imminent and Xbox One S and X owners should look forward to the new support.
If you do own an Xbox One S though, don’t expect the console to support anything but media and the interface in 1440p. The system logically just does not have the power to run games in that resolution.
It will be interesting to see how Xbox One X performs though. We may see 4K downscaled to native 1440p, or we can see a performance increase at that resolution, hitting a stable 60fps a little easier than that of 4K resolution.
Sony released the beta version of the upcoming 5.50 OS update today for the PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro. Although not yet available to everyone, we now know what features we can expect: the return of a feature the PS3 offered almost a decade ago, improved overlay menu functionality, new OS control options, and new tabs in the abysmal games library.
While I appreciate the simplicity of the PS4 OS, the lack of many classic features and the inability to simply sort through your library of digital games - a library that for many people is now more populated than game discs on their shelf - annoyed the hell out of me, especially when stacked up against the intuitive digital game libraries on the Xbox One, Steam client and GOG Galaxy client.
Play Time Management
First up is the ability for the primary account holder (whom they appear to assume is a responsible adult) to dictate limits on playtime using enhanced parental control functions. You can do this from the PlayStation website, monitor total playtime, and even adjust it on the fly if you want to traumatize your children/siblings/spouse mid gaming session. The system will give notifications as the cutoff point approaches so they can save their game.
Custom Wallpapers from USB
It only took over three years for Sony to allow us to use screenshots to create custom backgrounds on the PS4 with the 4.50 OS update. Now, a year later, their software engineers have achieved the impossible and allowed us to create our own backgrounds using images uploaded from a USB drive!
In all seriousness, they've at least included some basic tools that allow you to zoom, crop and preview them once imported. If you've created an events page for multiplayer titles or tournaments, you can also use this feature to upload a custom background.
Quick Menu Enhancements
The updated quick menu on the PS4 is definitely one of the best features and this update brings some tweaks that now allow you to quickly access friends lists for sending messages or invites. In addition, there's new functionality if you enjoy listening to your own music while playing; Spotify, media player and the USB player all have new shortcuts on the quick menu.
Library UI Improvements
I honestly don't understand why we've had to wait over four years for this functionality in an era that has seen digital games sales grow by leaps and bounds. The utterly useless library will now offer several new tabs and features that will allow you to filter and customise your visible games.
You can now pick if you want to see all games associated with all accounts on the PS4, or just the game available to one PSN ID. You can also filter that list to see which games you own but are not currently installed (great for hunting down long-forgotten sale purchases or appreciating the magnitude of your shameful backlog).
Another new tab allows you to see which games you "own" by way of the PlayStation Plus service. A great way to confirm what you'll lose if you're going to let your subscription lapse or are taking your PS4 to a location without internet access for a while.
Possibly the highlight of these changes - you can now "hide" items from your library. As someone who's tried out more than a few multiplayer betas and single player demos, it annoyed the crap out of me that they continued to populate my library, long after the beta had expired or the full game had been purchased.
Supersampling Mode On PS4 Pro
Given the somewhat lacklustre support from some developers for PS4 Pro owners with 1080p displays, this new option will force the PS4 pro to render the game at resolutions above 1080p and downscale to your display. This effectively provides supersampling antialiasing for your games, one of the best, albeit most GPU intensive forms of antialiasing.
Overall, it's a solid update, introducing some much-needed improvements to Sony's increasingly archaic-looking OS in this burgeoning digital age.
In addition to their high-end Platinum Headset, Sony have announced an update to their mid-range Gold Wireless Stereo Headset.
Straight from the mouth of the marketers - "The headset maintains the great features you loved about the Wireless Stereo Headset 2.0, and builds on them with a new sleek form and refined over-ear cushions that make it even more comfortable for long gaming sessions. Two optimally-positioned hidden noise-cancelling mics also help support clearer communication with friends and team-mates."
Given that the existing headset is extremely comfortable and already sports excellent mic and audio quality - with virtual 7.1 surround sound where supported, it would be interesting to see how Sony has tweaked the design. If you're in the market for a quality headset, the Sony models are always worth considering as you often get great quality audio at prices considerably lower than other recognised brands.
My old pair, still going strong, is used wirelessly for my PS4, PS3 and
PC thanks to the simple plug-and-play dongle. It also gets plenty of use plugged into my Xbox One remote (using the 3.5mm jack) for both gaming and party chat for online games. As an added bonus, it works well with the Xbox One Dolby Atmos app, producing a 3D sound mix for games that support it (something I'd like to see Sony offer for those who can't afford their high-end headsets).
There's no release date yet but we've been promised more information in the near future.