We all know mechanical keyboards are generally considered the best for gaming, but the loud clicking and jaw-dropping price of most models aren’t for everyone. With that in mind we’re going to be taking a look at some quieter and more affordable membrane gaming keyboards, such as the new Corsair K55 (See it on Amazon) / (See it on Amazon UK). It shares a lot of the design cues and features from its more expensive stablemates, but with quiet membrane switches and a more affordable price tag at just $50.
The Corsair K55 is a membrane keyboard, which means it utilizes rubber domes under its keycaps as opposed to mechanical switches. The result is a softer keypress with a nearly silent response. Thankfully, this doesn’t translate to spongy keys—there’s still a pleasant amount of resistance when typing or gaming. Under the keycaps are three RGB lighting zones instead of more expensive per-key lighting. The colors on the K55 have an excellent diffused glow and really fill up the space with light, thanks to the rubberized domes and floating keycaps.
The keycaps have good spacing and typing feels natural, but the faces of each key are a bit flat; I would have preferred a more concave edge to help with blindly acquiring keys while gaming. A handy set of dedicated media keys rests above the numpad, including volume control and buttons for skipping tracks. While it’s not as easy to use as a roller wheel, this is one of those tradeoffs you must make for a significantly reduced price, and they are better than nothing. Unfortunately, these keys aren’t illuminated, which makes it a hassle to adjust volume while gaming in the dark with an otherwise lit-up RGB keyboard.
The Corsair K55 also includes a rubberized, detachable wrist rest. It works well-enough, and provides a basic level of support while the textured face does offer some nice grip. Like most keyboards in this price range, Corsair didn’t include USB passthrough on the K55, so though it’s not surprising it’s still a bit disappointing, but again, it’s just one of the drawbacks to going with a less expensive keyboard.
The K55 uses the same Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) used by all of the company’s products. This is a good thing, as the CUE software is easily some of the best keyboard software out there—albeit that’s a pretty low bar. Setting up lighting presets is pleasantly simple, thanks to a drop-down menu, as is picking custom colors for all three zones with a color wheel. Macros can be recorded from within the software with an impressive amount of detail, including the option to add keystroke delays. Overall, even though the K55 doesn’t offer an as much customization as more expensive keyboards, but the options is does provide are well-designed and easy to use.
Setting up your personal light show is fairly straightforward, using either Function key shortcuts on the keyboard or just loading up the Corsair Utility Engine software. Compared to higher-end Corsair boards, the available lighting presets are fairly subpar. You can choose between a rainbow wave effect, color shift, color pulse, or just a static color. It’s also possible to assign custom colors per zone, but without single-key lighting effects the results are kind of mediocre. It would have been nice if Corsair simply offered more effect presets via its software. The K55 is unable to use custom RGB profiles, which is another one of those drawbacks of going with a lesser expensive Corsair keyboard, as the higher-end boards with per-key lighting open up a ton of possibilities for lighting along with the ability to import user-made profiles.
(Note: This is no way an endorsed or sponsored article, we paid for this K55 ourselves)