I’ve been testing Corsair’s new $229.99 K70 Max mechanical keyboard for the last few days — its first to use magnetic Hall effect sensors to register keypresses, allowing for new features like the ability to customize how far you have to press a key before it registers a keypress. The company is branding the switches as “Corsair MGX” to distinguish them from its existing optical mechanical OPX switches and keyboards with standard mechanical Cherry MX switches. Alongside it, the company is also announcing a new headset: the HS80 Max Premium Wireless RGB.
Manufacturers like SteelSeries and Wooting have been making keyboards equipped with Hall effect sensors for a few years now. The basic idea is that each switch has a magnet inside its stem. Press the switch, and a Hall effect sensor in the PCB under the switch can sense that the magnet has gotten closer and register a keypress. In contrast, traditional mechanical switches rely on two metal contacts coming together to register a press, while optical switches spot when a switch stem gets in the way of a beam of infrared light.
The advantage of this magnetic approach is that it’s inherently analog, meaning the Hall effect sensor can tell whether a switch has been pressed a little bit or a lot. Corsair is making use of this capability in a couple of different ways.
First, it’ll allow users to customize the exact point when one of its MGX switches actuates (read: registers a keypress) from anywhere between an ultra-responsive 0.4mm to a full 3.6mm (the default is 2mm). You might want something close to the former when playing twitchy games where speed is of the essence or the latter to minimize accidental keypresses while typing.
Second, Corsair’s software lets users set two actions to a single switch, so a half-press can do one thing, but a full press can do another.
A third feature is one Corsair’s calling “Rapid Trigger,” and it’s designed to make the keyboard more responsive when pressing the same key repeatedly. Rather than registering a keypress at a set actuation point, Rapid Trigger instead registers it the moment the keyboard detects any kind of downward movement, which is theoretically much quicker. The feature, which is also available for Wooting’s Hall effect keyboards, won’t be available at launch for the K70 Max, but Corsair spokesperson Justin Ocbina says it’ll be released via a firmware update before the end of the month.
What Corsair isn’t doing with the K70 Max is offering full analog control like we’ve seen with previous Wooting or Razer keyboards. This would allow each key to emulate analog input methods like an analog stick, throttle, or trigger to — for example — give you granular control over a car’s acceleration when playing a racing game. But given my experience with the Wooting Two HE, I don’t think it’s a huge miss. The reality is that the vast majority of PC games aren’t designed with analog keyboards in mind, which can lead to games getting confused when they receive an analog button input while being controlled primarily with a keyboard and mouse.
Beyond its MGX switches, the Corsair K70 Max is very similar to the company’s existing lineup of K70 keyboards. It uses a full-size layout that includes additional shortcut keys, media controls, and a programmable volume roller. It also advertises a polling rate of “up to 8,000Hz,” which is eight times higher than what keyboards typically offer and should result in lower input latency. Unlike Razer, Corsair’s keyboards scan for keypresses at a slower 4,000Hz before reporting them to a connected computer at this maximum 8,000Hz, but in practice, I’ve never noticed any difference in input latency.
Around top, you’ll find Corsair’s standard “tournament switch,” which is designed to be used during competitive play and disables any recorded macros or distracting flashing backlighting. The keyboard comes with a six-foot detachable USB-C to USB-A cable, and there are a couple of extra keycaps and a keycap puller included in the box.
Despite its premium price, in terms of typing feel quality, the K70 Max isn’t a serious competitor to Keychron’s $199 Q1 Pro or even its more affordable $84 V1. This is a gaming keyboard through and through, and while I’ve been using it for office work this past week, I’ve found it to sound quite hollow and rattly, without the smooth crispness of Keychron’s competing models. Here’s a typing sound test:
Alongside the K70 Max keyboard, Corsair is also announcing a new $179.99 headset, the HS80 Max Premium Wireless RGB. The company advertises that the headset is compatible with PC, Mac, and PlayStation consoles via its 2.4GHz dongle and can also connect to additional devices via Bluetooth. Battery life is rated at up to 65 hours via the dongle and 130 hours over Bluetooth.