Per-Key Quality Testing

In order to test the quality and consistency of a keyboard, we are using a texture analyser that is programmed to measure and display the actuation force of the standard keyboard keys. By measuring the actuation force of every key, the quality and consistency of the keyboard can be quantified. It can also reveal design issues, such as the larger keys being far softer to press than the main keys of the keyboard. The actuation force is measured in Centinewton (cN). Some companies use another figure, gram-force (gf). The conversion formula is 1 cN = 1.02 gf (i.e. they are about the same). A high quality keyboard should be as consistent as possible, with an average actuation force as near to the manufacturer's specs as possible and a disparity of less than ±10%. Greater differences are likely to be perceptible by users. It is worth noting that there is typically variance among keyboards, although most keyboard companies will try and maintain consistency - as with other reviews, we're testing our sample only.

The machine we use for our testing is accurate enough to provide readings with a resolution of 0.1 cN. For wider keys (e.g. Enter, Space Bar, etc.), the measurement is taking place at the center of the key, right above the switch. Note that large keys generally have a lower actuation force even if the actuation point is at the dead center of the key. This is natural, as the size and weight of the keycap reduces the required actuation force. For this reason, we do display the force required to actuate every key but we only use the results of the typical sized keys for our consistency calculations. Still, very low figures on medium sized keys, such as the Shift and Enter keys reveal design issues and can easily be perceptible by the user.

Unsurprisingly, the performance of Cherry’s genuine switches is exceptional. Cherry’s products are of excellent quality and we always receive very consistent readings from them. We measured the average actuation force across the main keys of the keyboard to be 44.3 cN, almost in perfect alignment with the manufacturer’s specification (45 gram-force, or 44.1 cN). The disparity is at just 2.6% across the main keys of the keyboard, a low reading even for Cherry MX switches. Only figures above 8-9% could be discernable by touch and we consider everything below 7% to be a very good reading. 

Hands-on Testing

I always try to use every keyboard that we review as my personal keyboard for at least a week. My typical weekly usage includes a lot of typing (about 100-150 pages), a few hours of gaming and some casual usage, such as internet browsing and messaging. I personally prefer Cherry MX Brown or similar (tactile) switches for such tasks but I do not find linear switches to be uncomfortable either. For professional use, the Cherry MX Red switch may not be ideal due to the lack of feedback, yet it is very comfortable for long term use. Generally speaking, the Corsair K63 with Cherry MX Red is comfortable for long-term professional use, with a good wrist rest and soft, comfortable switches. However, it is a tenkeyless keyboard, which is good for portability for the wireless keyboard, but can be an issue for gamers (or power-users in general) who are accustomed to having a numpad.

For gaming, the keyboard is both very practical and comfortable for long gaming sessions, especially on the software side, as the provided iCUE software can be used to work miracles in more complex games. The size of the keyboard also means the keyboard isn't competing for desktop space with a mouse quite as much, making the K63 ideal for several game genres but especially idyllic for FPS/TPS action games. The wrist rest and linear switches make it very comfortable for long gaming sessions. When paired with the wireless Ironclaw mouse, it becomes an excellent desktop for advanced living room gaming.

For any users intending to use the K63 as a mobile solution, the keyboard's battery life should suffice for short trips and events. The K63 has a battery life of nearly a week with the backlighting turned off, however this plummets to as little as 6-7 hours of continuous use with the backlighting at maximum brightness. That should be long enough for a typical LAN party or couch gaming session, but it is not the kind of device that one can rely on to operate for weeks without a recharge.

At this point, we should also discuss the connectivity options of the Corsair K63, especially in parallel with the Ironclaw mouse. Both the keyboard and the mouse offer three connection modes – wired, 2.4 GHz wireless, and Bluetooth wireless. The keyboard can be connected to a USB port and operate as a wired keyboard, capable of switching to either the 2.4GHz USB dongle or Bluetooth connection on the fly. This makes it easy to get the keyboard setup, and while this isn't strictly an on-label feature, it also effectively allows the keyboard to be simultaneously connected to three devices at once.

The mouse is a little bit more complicated matter, with the USB cable overriding the Bluetooth connection if connected to a PC. This means that the mouse has to be disconnected entirely from the USB port in order to switch to a Bluetooth connection. However the same isn't true for the 2.4GHz connection: if the mouse is switched to the 2.4 GHz mode, it ignores the USB cable.

On the software side of matters, although there is profile synergy between Corsair’s different products via the iCUE software, there is no option for connectivity synergy between the different devices. This means that if, for example, the keyboard switches over to another device, the mouse will not follow unless manually switched too. That feature is especially useful for users that have multiple devices and want one desktop capable of switching between all of them (PC, laptop, tablet, and even a phone). Only very few office-oriented desk sets offer such a feature and it would be very interesting to see a gaming desktop with a mechanical keyboard capable of such swift connectivity changes.

The Corsair K63 Wireless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Final Words and Conclusion
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  • Lord of the Bored - Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - link

    I'm annoyed by new devices adopting USB-C. It is a terrible connector from both a physical and electrical standpoint, and there's nothing wrong with MicroUSB. Reply
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - link

    I like the fact that MicroUSB cables are designed to fail before the port on the device, but still, I do wish the port was a little more sturdy. I also wish there were slimmer or stubbier connectors that hugged up against phones. Even some the compact, 90-degree bend connectors protrude a few millimeters more than I'd like outward from a phone. Those gripes aside, MicroUSB has been perfectly reasonable as a connector standard. Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Wednesday, January 22, 2020 - link

    I definitely had failed micro-USB ports on some phones (parents devices so I don't know 100% how it failed) so they definitely aren't always sturdy.

    MicroUSB was fine, but I much prefer the reversibility of USB-C.
    Reply
  • catavalon21 - Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - link

    It's tiny, and tiny doesn't go well when teenagers plug phones in to charge. Maybe a lousy implementation of the connectors themselves, but our family had 2 phones where the MicroUSB connector on the phone failed. Reply
  • piiman - Saturday, September 28, 2019 - link

    This is not a new product Reply
  • bloodgain - Monday, September 16, 2019 - link

    The K63 is not available with different switches. It is strictly a Cherry MX Red keyboard marketed toward gaming, though why they didn't install their "lag-free" SLIPSTREAM wireless solution in it, I don't know.

    More importantly, why are you reviewing a keyboard that was released nearly 3 years ago -- from what I gather from review dates on Amazon? Heck, I bought this with the compatible lapboard back in June because it had at least decent reviews and was one of the few solutions for couch K&M gaming/productivity available.

    That is, unless the answer to both of these comments is that Corsair is about to start offering this with Brown switches. I might buy one and flip my Red if they did. But if that was the case, it seems like they would have shipped you a Brown switch review unit. So...?
    Reply
  • MadAd - Monday, September 16, 2019 - link

    Typing this on a K63 now, had it for a month and a half. As far as typing goes its adequate enough, seems a bit less positive tactile feel than the K60 (same reds, should be the same but its not) and the keys feel a weird shape, im still getting used to that. Its quite heavy even for a mechanical, oddly I was expecting less being 10keyless.

    My main issues with it is how I either have to have the LEDs super bright, or memorize the shifted key character positions as, for some stupid reason, Corsair chose to put the symbols _below_ the numbers on each number key (instead of like every other keyboard in the world having them above the numbers) and then poorly illuminate the character so you have to really blast the lighting to see them. The numbers are clearly illuminated however. Badly thought out IMO.

    The software also has an annoying aspect, Why on earth would Corsair put the LED timeout setting in the damn global settings and not per profile? When I play a game I want the LEDs on all the time, when I'm on my desktop I want the keys to time out after 10 minutes. My fav game I play with Mouse and Controller with the keyboard containing the backup keys and typing into chat and its forever going off meaning I still have to guess keys in the dark, or have it on 24/7 on the desktop, or futz with the global setting every day before/after each game. Again another badly thought out aspect.

    Overall id give it 6/10
    Reply
  • pheno.menon - Monday, September 16, 2019 - link

    Where did you see it on sale for $50? I think that may be referring to the wired-only version of this keyboard.

    Also, no mention or pictures of the Lapdock accessory for this keyboard in the article.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, September 19, 2019 - link

    "Where did you see it on sale for $50? I think that may be referring to the wired-only version of this keyboard."

    D'oh!

    You are correct. I'd like to pretend that this was all planned, but that's a dumb error on our part. When we went price hunting, the K63-non wired is what came up. So thank you for pointing that out.

    The article has been updated accordingly.
    Reply
  • Tchamber - Monday, September 16, 2019 - link

    Why is it so hard to find an economic mechanical keyboard? Reply

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