Gaming keyboards have garnered a lot of attention over the years. These type of keyboards are all the rage these days. A lot of these keyboards are absolutely filled to the brim with features. Programmable keys, backlighting, different switches, media controls are a few worth mentioning.
However, as you’d expect, these keyboards can get pretty expensive at times. For some people, it’s not easy to justify spending a lot on a keyboard. With that said, it’s important to keep in mind that mechanical keyboards have been coming down in price for a while now. We all know why everyone loves mechanical keyboards so much. There are a lot of switches out there for everyone, and once you get the feel of a great mechanical keyboard, it’s hard to go back.
But what if you’re on a very limiting budget? All of these fancy features might sound amazing, and a mechanical switch is definitely intriguing. Still, on a fixed budget, we all know there are going to be a few sacrifices. If you happen to be one of those people, the Corsair K55 might be a good keyboard for you.
A Quick Overview
The Corsair K55 aims to hit the budget sector of the gaming audience. With a $50 price tag, this entry keyboard could be a good option. By all means, this definitely a membrane keyboard, so you should know what you’re getting. Membrane keyboards are mostly cheaper but the can sometimes cram in all the features a high-end mechanical keyboard would have. Well except for the switches of course.
With the K55, Corsair is trying to serve the people who like the sound of all the features in a mechanical keyboard, but without the price. Corsair is banking on these features, such as programmable backlighting, macro keys, and media controls. For a lot of people with a limited budget, this might be more than enough.
The slight issue is the current price of mechanical keyboards. Price drops are occurring often, and we’ve seen brand new mechanical keyboards come close to the Corsair K55’s price tag. The question is if a membrane keyboard is still worth it in 2019.
Build Quality and Design
The Corsair K55 is an entry-level budget keyboard. So it’s not surprising to see that this keyboard doesn’t stand up to the overall quality and feel of their higher-end keyboards. Still, there aren’t a lot of membrane keyboards out there with great build quality either. However, there are a few good points. The chassis itself has little to no flex. There is plastic all around and the keys have a textured finish.
On the bottom, four rubber feet are visible. These prevent the keyboard from slipping or sliding off your desk. As seen in a lot of keyboards, there are two adjustable stands or feet to adjust the height of the keyboard. Because of the plastic materials, the keyboard still tends. to slip away from the user when there is some furious typing involved.
So build quality is about as good as it can get for a membrane keyboard. However, the design remains clean and sleek. The glossy panel at the top gives it a nice look. It’s a bit larger than standard membrane keyboards because of the extra keys. The addressable RGB lighting provides some flair to this budget-friendly keyboard (more on that later).
RGB Backlight and Software
Here’s what really separates the K55 from every other membrane keyboard. RGB lighting might be the saving grace which can make this keyboard worth it over other membrane keyboards. Removing the keycaps, we can see that there is a white layer all around the membrane itself. This allows the backlighting to shine through nicely. This really provides a stellar glow all around the keyboard. Honestly, it’s tough to find better backlighting at this price.
Sadly, there is no per key backlighting here but that’s forgivable for the price. This means that you can’t control the lighting individually on every key. Instead, lighting is distributed into three zones which are controllable through the Corsair iCue software.
We have to duck a few points because of the iCue software. It’s not just bad on this specific keyboard, but it’s just as bad when trying to control even their higher end models. Corsair really needs to properly update this program. In its current state, it’s a mess and overloaded with bugs.
What’s It Like When Typing?
We’re pretty sure most people are familiar with membrane keyboards. If you’ve ever used a standard keyboard before, the Corsair K55 should feel right at home.
The K55 is a membrane keyboard which has the rubber dome design built in. The stem of the keycap pushes down on the rubber dome which makes contact with the circuit below. The K55 has removable keycaps which make cleaning an easier ordeal. They are not replaceable, however.
Typing is pretty much subjective. Compared to mechanical keyboards it’s not the most enjoyable experience. Since there is no switch in the middle, the membrane keyboards require more actuation distance. Mechanical keyboards have a switch or stem which provides an actuation point midway. This makes them feel more like a typewriter.
Due to the membrane design, typing can feel tiring after a while on this keyboard. However, if you prefer the feel of membrane for some reason, this is one of the better ones.
Before we get on with the remaining features of this keyboard, let’s talk about accessories. The Corsair K55 comes with a wrist rest out of the box, which is actually pretty decent. This provides some support to your wrists while typing. Considering typing can be a tiring ordeal on membrane keyboards, this is an appreciated bonus. We would have liked to see a keycap puller thrown in as well.
Surprisingly, the K55 carries over a lot of features from its high-end counterparts. These features set the K55 apart from other membrane keyboards.
The Corsair K55 has six extra macro keys on the left side of the keyboard. This addition will be appreciated by MOBA and RPG players for sure. There is even a macro recorder button located at the top band. Along with your usual brightness controls and Windows lock button.
We also have media control buttons on the upper right side of the keyboard. This might not seem like a big deal, but even some mechanical keyboards omit this feature. It’s definitely a great addition and helps with adjusting the volume on the fly.
We’re not going to talk about the switches in this department. We’ve already covered them above in the typing sector and the membrane switches don’t really have any positive effects in the game. Sure some might prefer it, but that’s another story.
We’re going to talk about key roll over first. In the heat of a competitive FPS match, the keys had no trouble registering quickly in the flurry of presses. It seems we have ten key rollover in this keyboard as quickly smashing down on the keys registered only 10 keys. This is a good benefit to prevent accidental presses.
Ghosting is almost non-existent. Most of the keys were registered when pressed simultaneously. So to sum it up, apart from the switches themselves, the gaming performance is really good. The addition of six macro keys is also a good bonus.
Overall, we didn’t notice any input lag either. The K55 performs pretty well and keeps up with other expensive keyboards with ease.
The Corsair K55 has a lot going for it. It’s already a pretty popular keyboard for the entry-level market. But keyboard prices are always coming down. There are a lot of other membrane keyboards out there, and even a few mechanical ones at around the same price. The question is if the K55 is better than these competitors.
The real competition the K55 faces is from Redragon. They have been making quite the name for themselves in the budget area for cheap yet great gear. They often offer a lot more value compared to other switches. Their K552 keyboard is a small ten key-less keyboard with blue mechanical switches. Mind you, these are not Cherry MX but actually a Chinese iteration. These are the Outemu blue switches. The K552 often goes for the same price as the Corsair K55 and even cheaper at times.
If we’re talking about membrane alternatives, the market is flooded with them. If you don’t need all the fancy features of the K55, you can get a decent membrane keyboard for much cheaper.
The K55 doesn’t hide its true colors. It’s a membrane keyboard through and through. It feels like when one and types like one, as you’d expect. The interesting thing is it doesn’t look like one. The design along with the RGB lighting gives it its own unique flair. Not to mention the macro keys and media buttons are a big bonus.
Alternatively, you can find a great mechanical keyboard for around $50 as well these days. But there is always going to be a catch. The switches might be Chinese knock offs, or it might be missing some extra features, like media buttons or macros. The Redragon K552 doesn’t have media buttons either.
In the end, it all comes down to how limiting your budget really is. If you can’t stretch your budget more than $50, then this might be the best option for you. But if you really need a cheap mechanical keyboard, you can that route. Just remember there will always be a few cons to be found.
Price at the time of review: $50