Corsair K100 Air Review: Ultra Thin, Ultra Fast
The top-line specs of the Corsair K100 Air were enough to catch our eye when this one made its way into the Man of Many office. It’s our first time testing the brand new Cherry MX Ultra Low Profile Tactile switches, experiencing the 17mm thin design, brushed aluminium frame, sub-1ms Slipstream Wireless connection, and up to 50 hours of RGB battery life. It reads as a very capable machine, but how well do those new switches work? Does the thin board have any chassis flex? And is this keyboard suited to office work? Let’s check it out.
Related: Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless Review: Hot-Swap Pocket Rocket
|What We Like||Could Deter a Buyer||Our Verdict|
|Very thin, ultra-fast, and convenient with its full-size layout. Macros, RGB, customisation, and Bluetooth memory mean switching between devices is a breeze.||The sound of the keyboard would be the biggest deterrent for a buyer. Even with the shorter stroked switches, the keys and stabilisers are simply too loud for most scenarios. Unless you’re gaming in a room by yourself this might be a miss.||The Corsair K100 Air is a great choice for gamers who are looking for a long-lasting battery (50 hours RGB), a thin full-size layout and don’t care for louder switches and stabilisers. Ultimately, it’s perfect for a fan of Corsair who wants per-key RGB customisation through iCue and top-notch speed if professionally gaming.|
Inside the Corsair K100 Air
We recently tested the hot-swap-friendly Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless and were impressed by the build quality of the board. It goes without saying then, but we were more than excited to get behind the Corsair K100 Air and test its brand new CHERRY MX Ultra Low Profile Tactile mechanical switches. It’s the main reason this board is able to achieve an ultra-thin 17mm profile (11mm at its lowest point).
Switches and Keycaps
|Corsair K100 Air Switch Specs|
|Key switches||CHERRY MX Ultra Low Profile Tactile, mechanical, 65g actuation force, 0.8mm actuation distance, 1.8mm total travel.|
|Backlighting||Individually LED lit and per-key programmable.|
|LED colour||RBG, 16.8 million colours.|
|Number of keys||108-112 (depending on regional layout).|
Upon first inspection, you’ll find that the K100 Air’s keycaps are concave to the touch. This helps those who switch between boards regularly, but also those that like the feeling of extra security when gaming for longer periods and in intense competitive sessions when sweat can become a factor.
When you press down on the keys you’re welcomed by a rather loud sound from the CHERRY MX Ultra Low Profile Tactile mechanical switches. This isn’t something we expected or liked particularly, but you can tame the sound by placing it on a desk mat. After testing the keyboard on multiple surfaces you will find some sound leakage through the back of the board that’s amplified on melamine desktops, especially when the keyboards ‘feet’ are folded out.
The switch sound is not the solid ‘thocc’ you get from a really good quality mechanical switch, nor is it the near silence you get from Apple Macbooks butterfly switch (before they switched back to a scissor-style switch). The stabilisers on our board seemed too loose (especially on the spacebar) and the overall sound from the board was just too much for office use without a desk mat of some sort.
You might assume – like we did – that the reduced travel of the switches might result in a quieter and more suitable office and/ or workplace board. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tame the switches or stabilisers because they’re not designed to be removed. It goes without saying really, but the K100 Air isn’t hot-swappable. We did appreciate the per-key RGB that’s fully configurable in Corsairs iCue software.
We’ve been typing on 65% boards as long as we can remember so it’s nice to go back to a full-size board and make use of a Numpad, scrolling wheel for sound, and all-around larger keys (even if they aren’t as efficient of a typing experience). There’s a handful of macro keys that are available and ready to be assigned to specific inputs and there’s a streamlined media bar that allows you to fast-forward, rewind, or pause any music or video clip at the press of a button.
Technical features are where the Corsair K100 Air stands out from the competition and begins to make a serious case for its price tag.
The first cab off the rank is Corsair’s AXON hyper-processing technology that takes advantage of an MCU to deliver ultra-low latency. This is particularly effective when gaming, however, you’ll probably never notice the effects these have on your performance. We’ve added the Corsair table below to illustrate the effect this technology has on the user below.
The second piece of technology woven into the Corsair K100 Air is the brand’s Slipstream Wireless, a premium wireless technology that is tournament ready. Working in conjunction with the AXON hyper-processing technology, Slipstream takes the wireless aspect to the next level with 2,000hz hyper-polling offering 2x faster transmission than a typical wireless keyboard and sub-1ms latency.
In practice, this basically means that you’ll end up with a cleaner workspace devoid of USB cables unless absolute tournament precision is your M.O. in which case you’ll want to plug it in and access up to 8,000hz poll rates. We’ll also mention here that Slipstream wireless offers up to 10m of connection and can connect to three devices at once.
Should You Buy the Corsair K100 Air
We’ll start by adding some more praise to the Corsair K100 Air before addressing some of its shortcomings. Firstly, it’s extremely fast and prepared for any amount of gaming you can throw at it. The battery life is great at 50 hours RGB and the overall build quality is solid with little to no chassis flex in the board itself or pinging from the keys.
Ultimately, we feel the board is let down by the CHERRY MX Ultra Low Profile tactile mechanical switches and the stabilisers the brand has chosen to use. While construction is solid, the rattle sound is prominent and most likely too much for use in an office. We managed to quiet down the stabilisers on our Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless, however, because the K100 Air is so thin it’s simply not customisable.
As you’re limited to private use, the price of the keyboard ($489 AUD) because far too much to stomach with the only advantage over its sibling K100 being the switches. We recommend checking out the Corsair K70 RGB Pro that’s more than half the price at the time of writing.
Check it out Buy it here (PLE Computers)
You’ll also like:
HIBI Design’s Knocks it Out of the Park for First Keyboard ‘HIBIKI’
Roccat Magma Gaming Keyboard Review: Shining Bright
Can Razer’s Productivity Suite Finally Bridge the Gap Between Gaming and Work?