Corsair is entering the compact gaming keyboard market with the all-new K65 Mini. A minimalist keyboard, without a numeric keypad or directional arrows, but at a fairly steep price. Does the brand’s know-how justify the investment?
Keyboards gamer compacts have become increasingly popular in recent years and mainstream manufacturers are starting to gradually get started. It is now Corsair’s turn to enter this market with the K65 Mini, a “60%” keyboard, therefore devoid of numeric keypad and directional arrows.
Offered at rather high price of 129.99 euros, this new model plays the card of simplicity with a plastic frame and Cherry MX Red mechanical switches. It also benefits from RGB lighting and AXON technology to which we will have the opportunity to come back.
A plastic brick
Corsair was not very inspired when it came to the design of the K65 Mini. We find here a very simple plastic frame and finally in the market standards for this type of keyboard. No eccentricity comes to sweeten this simplistic aspect except for the very discreet mention “K65” present on the left edge.
The PCB is installed slightly behind the chassis and benefits from a white finish allowing a better diffusion of the RGB lighting integrated into the Cherry MX switches. On this point, there is nothing to complain about since the lighting effects actually stand out very well and bring a little more life to the keyboard.
The base of the keys is just flush with the edges of the K65 Mini chassis. The keyboard is therefore relatively thick and is not supplied with a wrist rest. This is a point to be taken into consideration, as it can cause some pain in the wrists in some users. However, it is still possible to add a wrist rest from another brand. Note also the absence of retractable feet, which will prevent changing the orientation of the keyboard.
Coming back to the keys themselves, Corsair had the good idea to provide double-injected PBT keys. A material more resistant to the test of time and to traces of grease that we could already find on the K100 that we tested a few months ago. All the characters are perfectly legible and benefit from the integrated lighting with the exception of the function indications present on the edges of the keys and to which we will come back later in the test.
In terms of connectivity, there is a removable USB C to USB A cable, a positive point that is important to underline. This is sufficiently long and discreet and will allow the keyboard to roam more easily. We regret, however, the location of the connector which is not perfectly centered on the rear edge of the keyboard.
Finally, the keyboard box is rather well supplied since in addition to the K65 Mini and its cable, we benefit from a patterned space bar and a second “Esc” key bearing the brand’s logo. Corsair also had the good idea to provide a small tool that makes it easier to extract the keys.
As you can see, this new keyboard clearly goes to the essentials when it comes to its design. This is not necessarily a reproach since the overwhelming majority of 60% keyboards aim above all for compactness and therefore do not overbid visual artifices. On the other hand, we regret its entirely plastic design which, in addition to being less durable, will have consequences on the typing experience.
A facelift for Corsair iCue
The arrival of this new keyboard coincides with the release of a brand new version of the iCue software, essential for fine-tuning all aspects of the brand’s peripherals. While the overall operation of the tool does not seem to have changed much, the interface has been completely overhauled.
A makeover that is not necessarily to displease us, as the tool began to be sluggish in use for a few months. Once on the interface dedicated to the keyboard, we discover the menus that we already know well. The first is dedicated to the allocation of keys which can be modified at will. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily of much interest on such a small keyboard where all the keys are more or less essential.
Regarding the lighting effects, there are again very many and customizable. Each key can be configured with a specific color and we can obviously use the many existing settings. As with assignments, the software separates effects and configurations that necessarily require the use of iCue and those that can be saved directly to keyboard memory.
Settings can be saved in profiles to associate with games and applications. These same profiles can also be saved in the internal memory of the keyboard to be used on any machine, without having to install the iCue driver.
In addition to all these features and because of its size, the K65 Mini has many built-in shortcuts accessible using the Fn key. The brand has also had the good idea to include in the pilot a small summary of the various shortcuts available.
It is thus possible to navigate between the saved profiles, to modify the lighting on the fly and of course to access the action and function keys usually present on a classic keyboard. We also take advantage of multimedia shortcuts that are not necessarily very accessible.
Finally, and more surprisingly, the K65 Mini has shortcuts allowing you to move the mouse cursor and perform the various clicks of the latter. On our side, we have not really found a use for this feature, but it at least has the merit of existing.
In terms of functions, the K65 Mini has everything a great with a very complete driver whose facelift is not to displease us. The keyboard also benefits from a significant batch of integrated shortcuts which cover the vast majority of needs.
Correct performance, plastic sound
The K65 Mini we received is fitted with Cherry MX Red mechanical switches. These are therefore very classic and rather reactive linear switches. On paper, their total stroke is 4 mm with an activation point positioned at 2 mm. As for the necessary activation force, it is 45 grams.
So there is no real surprise when it comes to the typing experience since these switches are already well known and have been for many years now. The keyboard is therefore relatively responsive and pleasant to use, whether in game or in pure writing. The most demanding players may not find their account and prefer to turn to a keyboard equipped with more responsive switches and more pleasant to the touch.
It is a pity that Corsair did not decide to use the optical switches that we found on the K100 RGB. By choosing to use “basic” Cherry switches, the brand does not allow its keyboard to stand out from the competition. We also remain cautious about the absence of a wrist rest as well as tilt adjustment and invite you to test the keyboard before purchasing it, as its thickness may not be suitable for you.
Likewise, the choice of an all-plastic chassis induces a half-tone “sound experience” characterized by strong keyboard reasoning with each keystroke. Not necessarily pleasing to the ear, this sound signature is particularly felt during writing and gives the keyboard a damaging low-end appearance when we think back to its price of 130 euros.
Finally, Corsair has equipped the K65 Mini with its Axon technology, allowing on the one hand to offer complete lighting effects, but also to bring more interesting performance to the brand’s peripherals. In practice, it is possible to configure the K65 Mini to use a polling frequency of 8000 Hz (against 1000 Hz for most devices), reducing its response time to 0.25 ms.
If this characteristic can make sense on mice, we doubt the real added value of such a frequency on a keyboard which will logically be less used than a mouse. Especially since the switch to 8000 Hz significantly increases the system load.
In the end, we regret the lack of innovation of Corsair on this new model which does not take advantage of the brand’s OPX switches, however very convincing. In addition, the use of a plastic frame clearly taints the typing experience. Pity.