Backlighting

The backlighting of the Raptor K40 is by far its most notable feature. There are many illuminated keyboards available today but you are typically stuck with a single color, depending on which product you purchase. The Raptor K40 has multiple LED lights installed, allowing it to change colors and even mix colors. Corsair claims that there are 16.8 million possible colors and the software truly allows for 16.58 million combinations; however, this reminded us of the following popular picture:

Although this picture is wrong in a number of ways, it depicts a simple truth: the number that a human can differentiate from one side of the visible wavelength to the other is between five and twenty colors. Females can usually differentiate more colors than males, although not to the level that the above picture depicts. The keyboard does allow you to select from millions of combinations, but most people will never care to choose a color outside the eight basic color settings provided by the software.

Although the ability to change the color of the backlighting is definitely nice, having >16 million colors to choose from is quite a bit of an overstatement. In addition, we should mention that you cannot program the color of individual keys. By changing the color in the software, the backlighting of the entire keyboard is changed. Per-key programming (both lighting and function) is a feature that Corsair will introduce in their new MX RGB mechanical keyboards, which are planned for a release in mid-2014.

Final Words

The Raptor K40 is an interesting product, with Corsair trying to bridge the gap between typical keyboards and expensive high-performance mechanical keyboards. True enough, the Raptor K40 is a very good product and with many notable features, and some users will even prefer good rubber dome keys to mechanical switches. Corsair also provides useful items like dedicated multimedia keys, the six programmable macro "G keys", and the on-board profile storage memory.

However, the most notable feature of the Raptor K40 by far is the customizable backlighting, offering the ability to select virtually any color of the visible spectrum that you want. It may be limited to a single color for the entire board at a given time, but the ability to change the color of the backlighting is somewhat unique (though several laptops have had this ability for years, e.g. Alienware, MSI, and Clevo all have RGB backlit keyboards). We could say that the Raptor K40 is the precursor, a portent of sorts, of the upcoming Cherry MX RGB keyboards that Corsair is currently working on.

As far as quality goes, our feelings are mixed. On one hand, the Raptor K40 is a well made keyboard. Even though the rubber dome keys are lacking in terms of texture, they are firm and consistent across the entire board. There was no discernable wobble in the keys and the larger keys retain their linearity even when pressed near their edges. On the other hand, if you have ever owned or seen a Vengeance K60/K70, the Raptor K40 feels like a cheap imitation. It's not that the Raptor K40 is bad; it is better than the average keyboard but it just cannot compare to the feel and quality of the Vengeance series.

Of course, the Vengeance series keyboards are significantly more expensive, but with a retail price of $79.99 the Raptor K40 is really pushing the limites of "value for money". The Vengeance K70 retails for $129.99, and $50 is a substantial difference; however, a mechanical keyboard with an aluminum frame is on an entirely different level. That said, quite a few gamers tend to prefer non-mechanical switches, whereas typists (like most of our staff of writers) would much rather use a mechanical keyboard. Or if you really want to live on the edge, you could try making the switch to an ergonomic mechanical keyboard, but that's not a step — or a purchase — to be taken lightly.

In summary, we would recommend the Raptor K40 to advanced users and gamers who want a "better-than-average" keyboard. If you've never used — or do not care for — mechanical key switches, the Raptor K40 is a good alternative. You also get RGB backlighting, which we won't see with Cherry MX switches for at least a few more months. However, if you are the kind of person that wants a keyboard "for life" and you're not afraid of pushing the budget a little, we strongly recommend spending more for a premium product with mechanical key switches, as the difference in terms of feel and quality is rather substantial.

A Closer Look
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  • JarredWalton - Saturday, April 12, 2014 - link

    I was actually at a CES meeting with a keyboard company and one of the reps (an avid gamer) was emphatic that he would rather have a good non-mechanical for gaming, but that for typing he still prefers mechanical. It's not unheard of. I do think you need to be at a pretty high level in terms of gaming skills before the keyboard makes that much of a difference, but finger fatigue from longer key travel is certainly possible. Reply
  • Tal Greywolf - Saturday, April 12, 2014 - link

    I personally have the Corsair Raptor K30 Keyboard, which is similar to the K40 save that it has only one color (red). I bought it for several reasons: One, I wanted something that would be comfortable for me to use on a daily basis. Two, I wanted something that would hold up to my typing habits and yet be comfortable (I currently have to deal with a broken wrist). And finally, I wanted something reasonably priced (it was $45).

    Frankly, while I might have grown used to a mechanical keyboard, the K30 has done just fine for what I use it for, which is NOT gaming. And while I know the focus around here tends to be for gamers, there are those of us average users who would find this keyboard perfectly fine, and save the $$ for other things.
    Reply
  • crimson_stallion - Sunday, April 13, 2014 - link

    In all honesty I really don't get the fascination with mechanical keyboards at all.

    Read all the hype, bought one. Used it for about 6 months and I tried my absolute best to find excuses to like it but I just couldn't bring myself to enjoy using it. After about 6 months of using the most expensive keyboard I had ever bought, I threw it away and got a Logitech G510 which has kept me happy ever since.

    I had a Razr keyboard (the one with the blue backlight, can't remember the model) so maybe it was just a bad model. Really frustrated the hell out of me though.
    Reply
  • kevith - Sunday, April 13, 2014 - link

    I just don´t get what´s so fantastic about thes mech keys.They are way, way too high. It´s impossible to write fast and there´s errors in typing all the time, because you have to lift the fingers so ridicously high up in the air to hit the next letter.

    And then the noise. And the price.

    Luckily we´re all different, but it´l never be a choise of mine.
    Reply
  • jabber - Sunday, April 13, 2014 - link

    Okay will this keyboard suffer from the issue that my old back lit Saitek gamer keyboard did? Basically if you are one of those people that doesn't bite your fingernails the keycaps wear off pretty quick and it looks a mess. Reply
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  • philipma1957 - Monday, April 14, 2014 - link

    I did a review on this for Newegg. Not bad for typing. Not really a gamer keyboard and leaving out a usb port was cheesy price saver. Reply
  • Mr Alpha - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    This paragraph is really weird:

    " Although this picture is wrong in a number of ways, it depicts a simple truth: the number that a human can differentiate from one side of the visible wavelength to the other is between five and twenty colors. Females can usually differentiate more colors than males, although not to the level that the above picture depicts. The keyboard does allow you to select from millions of combinations, but most people will never care to choose a color outside the eight basic color settings provided by the software."

    While it is probably true that most people will be satisfied with one of the eight per-programmed colors I fail to see what that has to do with differences in color perception between the sexes or what that in turn has to do with the number of colors seen in pure wavelength light.
    Reply
  • erple2 - Saturday, April 19, 2014 - link

    I think that the point being made was despite having access to millions of colors, people are going to settle for one of the eight presets. Also once you have picked a color, particularly given that you can't do per key colors, you're probably going to keep that one color. So why the hype for 16+ million? Despite being able to name many more colors, I still tell my wife that her blouse is green or blue or pink, not one of the sub colors. Reply
  • dorekk - Saturday, June 21, 2014 - link

    I'm pretty sure humans can distinguish a hell of a lot more than twenty colors... Reply

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