How do you improve on one of the most loved keyboards on the market right now? That’s the question Corsair had to ask itself when updating the venerable K70 Pro RGB. The answer it settled on was to look at the competition and equip the new K70 Max with features inspired by one of the most sought-after gaming keyboards you can buy right now.
Corsair K70 Max RGB – Photos
Corsair K70 Max RGB – Design and Features
More than an update to the K70 RGB Pro, the K70 Max is a response to Wooting, a company that disrupted the PC gaming space last year with an analog mechanical keyboard called the 60HE. It wasn’t the first analog keyboard to hit the market, but with the 60HE (and its full-size sibling, the Two HE), Wooting used magnetic switches to introduce features not seen on any other gaming board. The two most relevant to this review are Rapid Trigger and Mod-tap.
The former allows the 60HE’s Gateron-made ‘Lekker’ switches to reset the moment they begin to travel up after you press down on a key. It’s a game-changing feature for tactical shooters like Valorant. With some practice, strafing is easier and more precise since you don’t need to wait for your movement keys to travel back to their starting position before they can register an input again.
Mod-tap, meanwhile, allows you to bind two different actions to a single key, thanks to the fact that the 60HE’s analog switches can differentiate between taps and holds. Mod-tap is useful because you can get more functionality from the keys nearest to WASD and QWER. In a shooter, for instance, you could tap the “f” key when you want to open doors and press down on it when you want to melee someone. Subsequently, you will less frequently need to move your hand away from your movement keys. That’s something that can give you an edge in any competitive game.
With the K70 Max, Corsair is debuting a new magnetic linear switch. As of today, the Corsair MGX replicates most of the features you can get from a Wooting Lekker switch. The one exception is the Rapid Trigger capability I described above, but Corsair plans to release a firmware update later this month to bring that feature to the K70 Max. In the meantime, you can independently adjust the actuation point of every MGX switch on the K70 Max from 0.4mm to 3.6mm in 0.1mm increments. It’s also possible to set the reset point of each key and decide if a key can activate more than once. If you own an older Corsair keyboard and are serious about competitive gaming, those features alone make the K70 Max a worthwhile upgrade.
What Corsair hasn’t done is redesign the fundamentals of K70. It’s still a tray-mount keyboard, with all the limitations of the format. The K70 Max can’t match the typing feel of even an entry-level gasket-mount board like the CannonKeys Bakeneko65. There’s an unsatisfying stiffness whenever you bottom out a switch. The lack of flex is especially noticeable when you press the same key repeatedly like you frequently do with Backspace. The stabilizers on my K70 Max were decent out of the box. The Spacebar key produced a noticeable rattle, though the Shift, Enter and Backspace keys were solid.
As for Corsair’s MGX switches, the best comparison I can think of is a set of Cherry MX Speed Silvers. They’re both fast linear switches with a 45g actuation force. According to Corsair, the new switches come lubricated from the factory, and it shows. They don’t sound scratchy and there’s a consistent action to them.
New to the K70 Max are two layers of silicone sound-dampening foam. The foam prevents the keyboard from resonating, like some aluminum boards are known to do. For keycaps, the K70 Max comes with a set of double-shot PBT shine-through ones that do a good job of showcasing the keyboard’s RGB lighting. Once you combine all those components, the K70 Max produces a high-pitched clack that won’t wow keyboard enthusiasts, but it sounds good enough for a gaming keyboard. As with the K70 Pro RGB before it, the Max comes with a memory foam wrist rest. It also ships with a braided cord. Other freebies include a pair of novelty keys and a handy keycap puller.
Above the ESC key, the K70 Max features three buttons you can use to switch between hardware profiles (more on those in a moment), adjust the brightness of the RGB lighting and turn off the Windows key. On the opposite side of the board, there’s a mute toggle and a volume roller. Below that, you will find a set of four media playback buttons. All of the secondary keys have a satisfying feel to them, and they add to what you can do with the K70 Max.
Next to its USB-C port, the K70 Max features a “Tournament Mode” toggle that limits the board’s RGB lighting and disables macros. It’s an interesting feature, though I can’t imagine a scenario where I would lug around a full-sized keyboard like the K70 Max to a LAN over a smaller and lighter 60- or 65-percent board.
Corsair K70 Max RGB – Software
All of the K70 Max’s signature features are customizable through Corsair’s iCue software. The app is available on Windows 10 and 11, as well as macOS 10.15 and up. I tested the K70 Max on a Windows 11 PC. Once you have iCue up and running on your computer, most of the K70’s new features are grouped under the “Key Actuations” section of the settings menu. This part of the app allows you to group keys under presets. With each preset, a pair of toggles allow you to decide whether a key has a user-defined reset point and if it can trigger more than once on a single key press.
The software could better communicate that you can select more than one key at a time to include in an actuation preset. Instead of clicking on a single key, you must drag a selection box or hold down Shift or Ctrl to select more than one key at a time. As a result, it can be tedious to create multiple profiles and set different actuation presets for each one, but it’s well worth the effort to take full advantage of the K70 Max’s MGX switches.
Once you’re happy with all your tweaking, you can save profiles to the keyboard’s 8MB of onboard storage. According to Corsair, 8MB is enough to store up to 50 profiles on the K70 Max. Thanks to the company’s Axon processing technology, you can also program up to 20 lighting layers. If you plan to use the K70 Max with a console, the hardware profiles allow you to carry over your tweaks to the PlayStation 4, PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.
Corsair K70 Max RGB – Gaming
I already mentioned some of the benefits of an analog switch that allows you to adjust its actuation point. That said, it’s worth noting that you will get the most out of the K70 Max if you play competitive first-person shooters or MOBAs. For everyone else, the benefits of analog switches are more subtle. For instance, it’s possible to decrease the actuation point of your movement keys to make them more responsive to even the lightest touch. Conversely, you can increase the actuation point of a key to lessen the likelihood you will fat-finger it. Those are features anyone can appreciate, but they truly shine in games like Apex Legends, where the K70 Max makes it easier to pull off tricky movement tech. Respawn’s battle royale features an air strafing mechanic that requires you not to overlap movement inputs to pull off successfully. With enough practice, it’s possible to air strafe on any keyboard, but it’s a lot easier to do when you can set the reset point of your keys. It will be even easier when Corsair releases the K70 Max’s Rapid Trigger update.
Corsair K70 Max RGB – The Competition
The K70 Max’s primary competitor is the $195 Wooting Two HE. At $230, Corsair’s newest keyboard is $35 more than the Two HE, but you get some features that aren’t available on Wooting’s full-size keyboard. Specifically, the K70 Max comes with media keys and the Tournament Mode toggle I described above. However, the K70 is missing a dedicated set of macro keys.
That aside, availability is the reason most people will probably decide to buy the K70 Max over the Two HE. Wooting is producing its boards in batches, and demand for the Two HE and 60HE is high. That means you might have to wait a while before your unit is shipped out. As of the writing of this review, the next batch of Two HE boards won’t arrive at the company’s warehouse until August 23. You won’t need to wait for restocks to order the K70 Max. If you live outside of Europe, you’ll also likely save money on shipping. As a Canadian, I would have to pay $29 CAD to ship the Wooting Two HE, erasing any cost-savings from its lower price.
If the full-size form factor of the K70 Max doesn’t work for you, a Corsair spokesperson told me the company plans to outfit some of its other keyboards with its new MGX switches in the future. They also said Corsair intends to continue selling the K70 RGB Pro.
It’s also worth mentioning Razer recently released a free Synapse update that added the Wooting feature set to the Huntsman V2 Analog and Huntsman Mini Analog. So if you own one of those boards, you already have access to the K70 Max’s standout features.