Compact 60% keyboards have become more popular among gaming communities in recent years. It appears to be in a large enough demand, that Corsair believes the category can be sold in a sufficient volume to warrant a new product launch. Yesterday (March 16th), the company releases its latest K65 RGB MINI mechanical keyboard. Let’s check it out.
The K65 RGB MINI is shipped inside a familiar neon yellow-themed cardboard box. Highlighted features, translated into four languages, are printed at the back. The keyboard is compatible with both Microsoft Windows 10, Apple macOS and Xbox One. Our particular sample (CH-9194014-NA) is kitted out with Cherry MX Speed switches.
Some technical specifications are listed on the side of the box, as well as Corsair’s motto “PRESS THE ADVANTAGE” for their gaming keyboard lineup.
Apart from the usual manual and warranty guide/safety information, there are a detachable 1.82-meter braided USB Type-C to Type-A cable, a keycap removal tool and two extra keycaps.
Corsair K65 RGB MINI 60% Mechanical Keyboard
The K65 RGB MINI is the smallest keyboard ever from Corsair, which is a 60% keyboard with only 61 total keys. It has a width of 29.4 cm, a depth of 10.5 cm and a height of 4.4 cm. Weight is at around 580 grams. Not only is the number pad section removed, but the arrow keys and the row of function keys are also gone. There are four anti-slip vibration rubber feet under the keyboard, but they cannot be unfolded.
The reversible USB Type-C port in the middle is the only port available on the K65 RGB MINI, which is about 10 mm off-center to the left. The Corsair sail logo is embossed on the top right corner of the keyboard.
The K65 RGB MINI sports a fairly traditional keyboard frame design, where the key switches are mostly hidden by the plastic enclosure.
Our sample is equipped with genuine Cherry MX Speed (Silver) switches, but you can select Cherry MX Red and Silent Red (Pink) as the alternative options. Although the switches are not user-replaceable, aftermarket keycaps should be possible, assuming they use the standard Cherry MX-style stem and stabilizer design. All keys on the K65 RGB MINI are individually-lit by a RGB LED inside the translucent plastic housing. A white steel plate is installed underneath the switches to better reflect and diffuse the lighting.
The stock PBT (Polybutylene terephthalate) keycaps on the K65 RGB MINI have a wall thickness of around 1.5 mm and double-shot molded legends on top. They are more resistant to normal wear and oil/shine from your hands, compared to regular ABS plastic keycaps. The additional replacement radiant space bar and logo keycap are made from ABS plastic.
The plastic chassis of the K65 RGB MINI is rigid with minimal flex. The 60% form factor clears up the desk space for more aggressive mouse movements. The smaller size and weight also helps, if you tend to take the keyboard out to friends’ homes or LAN parties. The high-profile frame design is classy and suitable in nearly all environments without drawing much attention, when the RGB lighting is switched off or set to single color. Thanks to the standard keyboard layout, you can further customize the appearance of the keyboard by swapping to differently-styled third-party keycaps, which should be abundant in the DIY keyboard community. Corsair also offers a series of first-party PBT keycap kits.
Cherry MX Speed (Silver) Switches
Identical to the K95 RGB Platinum XT, the Cherry MX Speed and Red mechanical switches on the K65 RGB MINI are rated for an extended 100 million keystrokes. The Cherry MX Silent Red has a shorter standard lifespan of around 50 million clicks. The Speed switches in our sample are designed for extremely quick operations. Key presses are linear and do not have any feedback. Combined with the 45 gram actuation force, the low actuation and total travel distance of 1.9 mm and 3.4 mm make them perfect for light typing users and gamers.
RGB Lighting and Software
The K65 RGB MINI can be customized via the iCUE software, just like most of Corsair’s peripherals. Our pre-release software is at version 4.9.318, that has a download size of 741 MB and took up about 1.12 GB after installation. It is a completely-revamped version of the existing iCUE software (v3.38.61), which the user interface is now redesigned with more modern and colorful graphics.
Update: The latest version of the publicly available iCUE software after the product launch is v4.9.338.
The iCUE 4 software is divided into 6 different sections for the K65 RGB MINI. All your connected iCUE-compatible devices will be listed in the home page, along with some customizable scenes and sensor readouts from your computer. Clicking the information icon next to the model name will pop up a list of default keyboard shortcuts, in case you forget some of them. A new notification panel is added to alert users about software, firmware updates and battery information.
In the “Key Assignments” tab, you can re-map/re-assign all 61 keys on the keyboard. You can set the key to operate as mouse clicks, media controls, or to type in a string of text, launch an application and record/edit macros. “Hardware Key Assignment” is mostly the same thing, but any changes made inside will be saved to the onboard memory of the keyboard, which will not require the iCUE software to run in the background.
The “Lighting Effects” area, as the name implies, allows you to configure the per-key RGB backlighting. There are a total of 10 effect presets, such as rainbow, visor and rain. You can modify the brightness, speed and direction of the effects. Keys can be grouped together as a single lighting zone to make it easier to assign a specific lighting layer. “Hardware Lighting” is limited to up to 20 lighting layers.
In “Performance”, you are able to alter the behavior of the Windows Lock, which is used to prevent unwanted presses in games. You can also customize the colors of the indicator light for Caps Lock, profile and macro buttons. Polling rate can be changed from 125 Hz to 8000 Hz in “Device Settings”, where it is also the place to save up to 50 modified profiles into the 8 MB of onboard memory.
The RGB lighting of the K65 RGB MINI is bright and vivid, with very smooth animation between effects. The white panel under the switches help reflecting the light towards the users. The included Radiant space bar has many small translucent triangles on the surface, that light can shine through.
Despite having no dedicated arrow, multimedia and macro keys on the K65 RGB MINI keyboard, you will still be able to perform those functions via various layered shortcuts. For example, “FN + U/H/J/K” will act as the arrow keys, “FN + O/L” to adjust volume, “FN + Z” to switch profiles and even “FN + W/A/S/D” to move the mouse cursor. There are laser-etched legends on the front sides of some keycaps to show the specific functions.
The K65 RGB MINI is fitted with the Corsair’s AXON Hyper-Processing Technology, which harnesses the power of the internal SoC and advanced algorithms to more efficiently process instructions. It is first introduced on the K100 RGB keyboard. AXON allows the keyboard to have a 8000 Hz (0.125 ms) polling rate and play up to 20 layers of onboard hardware lighting effects synchronously. Other keyboards in the market typically have polling rate up to 1000 Hz (1 ms). This technically means the keyboard will send the input signal to your computer 8000 times per second, instead of 1000 times. The keyboard is defaulted to 1000 Hz out of the box to ensure compatibility, but you can later change it in the iCUE software.
The usage of our Intel Core i7-9700K CPU stayed at around 3% to 4% in both 1000 Hz and 8000 Hz modes, when typing constantly to notepad. The software does show a warning that the keyboard may consume additional system resources to support the 8K polling rate. Without professional equipment, I personally did not notice any difference between the two polling rates.
The K65 RGB MINI is Corsair’s first take on growingly-popular 60% mechanical keyboard market. It receives some of the features, found in the flagship K100 RGB, such as the AXON technology and 8000 Hz polling rate. The minimalistic design and compact size allows the keyboard to save desk space and improve portability. It is surprised to see Corsair does not opt to include its own OPX optical-mechanical switch as an option for the K65 RGB MINI, which its ultra-short 1.0 mm actuation distance and zero debouce delay can perfectly complement the 8K polling rate to increase responsiveness.
The updated iCUE 4 software is a joy to use with the less cluttered and simplified user interface. It is easy to navigate around and provides plenty of features to customize the keyboard. It is welcome to see the software prompting short explanations in each sections, when first connecting the device, to help minimize confusions.
The K65 RGB MINI is priced at $109.99 USD (MSRP) with a 2-year warranty. It is on par with other similar Cherry MX-equipped 60% keyboard in the market. For comparison, the Ducky One 2 Mini and Razer Huntsman Mini costs $99.99 USD and $119.99/129.99 USD (MSRP) respectively. However, the Huntsman Mini is paired with Razer’s optical switches. All in all, the K65 RGB MINI is a solidly-built, feature-packed and reasonably-priced keyboard, that is worth considering if you love the form factor.
You can purchase the keyboard from your local/online resellers or the links below from Amazon and Newegg.
- Amazon US: Corsair K65 RGB MINI 60% Mechanical Keyboard
- Newegg US: Corsair K65 RGB MINI 60% Mechanical Keyboard
Thanks Corsair for providing us the keyboard for review. (Review Sample)
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