Corsair enters the 60 percent keyboard gold rush. A slight refresh of the company’s K65 TKL design, the $109 K65 RGB Mini strips away everything but the essentials to create a minimalist mechanical keyboard that’s compact and portable. On the surface, the K65 is a highly accomplished 60 percent customization. The keyboard is small, but the layout doesn’t feel compressed like compact designs can sometimes feel. At the same time, with a 60 and 65 percent wave of keyboards being released by major manufacturers this year, there isn’t a feature or component that makes the K65 Mini particularly noteworthy. It’s a solid but ultimately bland choice in a warming keyboard category.
Fewer buttons, more room to breathe
First of all, it should be noted that the K65 Mini is a 60 percent keyboard. It has 61 keys, which is actually just under 60 percent of a full-size 104-key layout. To get to that point, the K65 removes the number pad, function bar, edit keys, and navigation keys. It also eliminates the large gaps between keys; it is a single block. The result is a mechanical keyboard that measures 1.78 x 11.53 x 4.00 inches (HWD).
Unlike many 65 percent keyboards that pack about five extra keys into the same space, the K65 Mini doesn’t rearrange the classic keyboard layout or reduce the size of the keys. This eliminates the slight, fleeting discomfort of switching to a compact layout.
To compensate for the many cut off keys, almost every key has a secondary input that is activated with the FN key. Every 60 and 65 percent keyboard has these, but Corsair has gone all out with its shortcuts. In addition to adding the missing buttons and media controls, it also has an integrated profile cycle button, lighting controls, and buttons to control your mouse pointer with the keyboard. These standard and unique inputs are identified with side caps on the inside edges of the buttons. This is important because there are many inputs to learn.
Given that, it might not surprise you that the K65 is a relatively understated keyboard. It forgoes Corsair’s anodized aluminum top in favor of a smaller, firmer base with no adjustable feet. Also, the K65 has black twin keycaps that don’t significantly improve the visual appearance of the keyboard. It also features a detachable USB-C cable, which has quickly become the standard among smaller keyboards.
However, there is one noticeable component. The spacebar features a unique fractal design that allows RGB light to shine through. While their look is unlike any keycap design I’ve seen, the concept of letting RGB light penetrate the spacebar is one that’s already seen in HyperX Alloy Origins 60.
Under the caps, the K65 Mini features either Cherry MX Red or MX Speed Silver switches. My review unit features Speed Silver, Cherry’s fastest hair trigger switches. With slightly less travel than Cherry Reds — 1.2mm to actuation / 3.4mm to end, versus 2mm / 4mm — and the same amount of power, it feels like you could squeeze them with a thought. In fact, I find it a bit too easy to mis-press keys and that the shorter travel isn’t as comfortable as a full 4mm sub.
The K65 RGB Mini has one distinctive feature, but it’s not particularly helpful. It supports up to 8000 Hz “hyperpolling”, which increases the keyboard’s input reporting rate to 0.125 milliseconds. The default polling rate on most keyboards is 1000 Hz or 1 ms, so the higher setting will theoretically reduce most of the already unnoticeable input lag your keyboard introduces.
In practice, it is impossible to tell the difference between the polling rates. As I’ve said in other reviews, setting polling above the standard of 1000Hz produces diminishing results, especially on keyboards where your input already appears instantaneously. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t do anything, but it’s hard to say it’s useful if there’s no tangible benefit. It’s certainly not a good reason to choose one keyboard over another.
Small keyboard, small iCue
The K65 RGB Mini is compatible with iCue, Corsair’s peripheral configuration software. With the recently redesigned iCue app, you can create keyboard profiles with remapped keys and custom macros, change RGB lighting, and customize other settings. With the overhaul, iCue is easier to read than before thanks to a larger, more visually appealing interface.
Rather than having a limited number of keyboard profile slots, the number you can create depends on what you change in each profile. Corsair claims you can create up to 50 profiles, but presumably these would only have a few modified keys and no macros at a time.
My only issue with iCue and the K65 RGB Mini has to do with the 8000Hz hyperpolling of the keyboard. Switching to 8000 Hz will trigger a warning that using such a high polling rate should be reserved for “high-end systems”. Corsair does not provide any information on what this means exactly.
Corsair informed me that keyboard hyperpolling isn’t as system-demanding as mouse hyperpolling, and that the language is being changed to alleviate the concerns. However, if the potential performance impact is large enough that Corsair deems it necessary to include a notification, the company should also be more transparent about the system requirements and provide recommended specifications.
A high curve to climb
In fact, the K65 RGB Mini is a good keyboard. It’s well constructed, comfortable to use, and has a few interesting features. At $109.99, the average price for 60 percent mechanical keyboards, it’s a perfect choice on paper. That said, it’s less impressive when compared to the rest of the rapidly evolving 60 and 65 percent keypad. If you’re willing to spend a little more money, check out the $175 Kinesis TKO, our Editors’ Choice, which brings new features (adjustable feet, dedicated macro keys) to the table. At the other end of the spectrum, the HyperX Alloy Origins 60 offers a simple, sophisticated 60 percent keyboard experience for just $99.99.