Stuffed with premium features and with genuinely useful adjustable-actuation-point MGX keyswitches, the K70 Max is a great gaming keyboard but with a high price.
Corsair’s K70 keyboard is among the longest-running and most successful lines of mechanical gaming keyboard on the market, with its first iteration coming out ten years ago. Now Corsair is back with its latest update, the Corsair K70 Max. It adds in magnetically-triggered keyswitches with adjustable actuation points and has noise-dampening layers, which reduce the deafening clickity clacks of previous mechanical gaming keyboards.
Corsair K70 Max features
The K70 has long been Corsair’s standard-size keyboard design that includes a few extra multimedia controls but lacks the extra dedicated gaming keys of the likes of the K95 and K100. That continues with the K70 Max, with you getting around 105 standard keys (depending on the language/layout of the board) and nine multimedia controls.
On the top left of the board are three small buttons that switch profiles, control backlight brightness, and lock the Windows key so that you don’t exit your game if you accidentally knock the Windows key.
On the top right, there’s a metal volume roller and a mute button below which are Stop, Back, Play/Pause, and Forward media controls. The latter are all stiff and rather unsatisfying to press while the other extra buttons have a mouse-button-like microswitch feel.
In the top center of the board is a black plastic panel that houses a backlit Corsair logo along with indicator lights for Windows key lock and caps/num/scroll lock. The latter are neatly hidden from view behind the clear plastic panel until they’re illuminated, at which point they shine through nice and clearly – though the icons are tiny.
On the rear of the board, you don’t get any USB pass-through ports or other such features. The main USB connection is removable, though, and uses a standard USB-C socket so it’s easy to swap out the cable if it breaks or you want a shorter or longer one.
Next to the USB-C socket is a sliding ‘tournament mode’ switch, which instantly flips the board into a mode that turns off any macros and changes the backlighting to all red (you can alter the backlighting color in iCUE). This reduces the possibility of any backlighting animations distracting you or others around you, and provides a one-stop solution for tournament organizers to be able to ensure you’re not using any macros that you shouldn’t be. This seems like a very niche feature to us, but it’s a potentially useful feature for aspiring pros that might like to take their own board with them to tournaments (or for tournament organizers.
On the underside of the board are four very thick and sturdy rubber feet that really help ensure the keyboard doesn’t slide around. There are also two-setting flip-down feet for raising the back edge of the board. These have rubber tips but are far smaller than the default large feet so the keyboard slides around more easily – though it’s still quite stable.
A really welcome inclusion for such a premium keyboard is a quality memory foam padded wrist rest. It’s pleasingly soft and magnetically attaches to the front of the board via two rubber flaps that tuck under the front edge of the keyboard. These then provide the flexibility for the wrist rest to still stay attached if you adjust the angle of the keyboard.
As is often the case with wrist rests, we found it actually worked best detached from the board and set forward a couple of inches so that its highest top edge nearest the board supports the wrist and minimizes its bend angle. The simple magnet attachment system means that experimenting with this positioning is quick and simple.
Corsair K70 Max design
Looking at the overall design of the K70 Max, Corsair has retained the aluminum top plate that has long been a signature of the K70 series, but you wouldn’t really think it to look at the board. The overall finish is a very smooth ‘bead-blasted’ finish that is far nicer to the touch than the old brushed aluminum but it essentially just looks like plastic.
A pattern on the top edge of the board – that’s reminiscent of the company’s iCUE LC100 lighting panels – further serves to disguise that this is a premium aluminum finish, with only really the tiny sliver of shiny metal from the chamfered edges giving the game away. It’s a long way from the utilitarian charm of the old look.
Also intriguing is that the color of this board is grey rather than black, with no other color options available. Given how established and popular the pure black look is, the slightly washed-out look of this board may clash slightly with your more pure black peripherals. It almost feels like Corsair should’ve leaned into the idea further and gone for a lighter grey, rather than the not-quiet-black look here. In theory, this board ties in with the color of the new Corsair HS80 Max headset, but that unit’s painted finish has a much more metallic grey finish.
Also disrupting the initial stylistic impression of this keyboard is the choice of backlighting colors. Plug this board in without Corsair’s iCUE software to control its lighting and it produces a rippling rainbow effect that combines flowing bands of purple, light blue, light orange, bright blue, red, pink, and turquoise. It’s just an odd mix – neither a full rainbow nor a more cohesive color palette. Install iCUE and you discover this is known as the Watercolor lighting mode, which you can swap out for a myriad of other color effects and lighting options.
Corsair K70 Max keycaps
Looking a little closer at those grey keycaps, they’re made from hard-wearing PBT plastic and use a doubleshot injection molding technique that has the writing on the keys (legends) formed by the plastic rather than painted on. As such, these keys shouldn’t wear to a shine or lose their legends despite years of use.
One slight downside to this material and production choice is that the clarity of the legends and backlighting isn’t quite as good as ABS plastic with printed-on legends. This is most noticeable on the finer writing on the lower portions of some keys, such as the Home/End/Pgup/Pgdn keys. Here the backlighting hardly shines through at all, making the lettering very dim. In most other instances, the large lettering and clear font make the keys nice and legible.
Corsair K70 Max MGX magnetic keyswitches
Moving on to the signature feature of this keyboard, this is Corsair’s first keyboard to feature its magnetically-actuated MGX switches. Instead of having two metal contacts touching each other, as on conventional mechanical keyswitches, or having the key break a beam of light, as on optical mechanical keyswitches, here the switch is triggered by detecting a tiny magnetic field.
The crucial aspect of this technology, other than it not having metal contacts that can wear out, is that the distance of the magnetic field can be detected. This allows the switch to have an adjustable actuation point. The default key actuation point is 2mm but you can reduce this all the way to 0.4mm for a hair trigger feel, or lengthen it to 3.6mm so that a full press is required.
In general, the shorter actuation distance is desirable for certain gaming scenarios where a very rapid repeat key press is required. Alternatively, you may want to lengthen the actuation for keys that you don’t want to accidentally press.
For instance, I tested lengthening the response of the Q key while playing Apex Legends, as this is the button mapped to the ‘Tactical’ ability. I often find I accidentally hit that button in the heat of battle, firing off a Pathfinder grapple or setting off Revenant’s Silence Shadow Pounce in the middle of a gunfight. Extending the actuation point to 3.4mm seemed to reduce how often this occurred.
Another use for these switches is that you can set up two different actuation points for a single switch. So, you might have ‘walk’ configured when pressing the key 0.6mm and ‘run’ configured for pressing the key 3mm.
This keyboard will also support a Rapid Trigger mode, as pioneered by Wooting and recently added to some Razer keyboards with their Rapid Trigger mode. This allows for the key to be re-pressed to trigger another key response as soon as the user has slightly pulled back from pressing the key, in turn allowing for ultra-fast keypresses. It’ll be arriving in a firmware update expected to be released in Q3 2023.
When it comes to typing, the actuation point customization means you can setup the keys to respond just how you like for very rapid yet comfortable typing. However, the MGX keys are linear movement only, with no tactile or clicky options available, so if you prefer that feel, you’re out of luck.
The keys have a fairly standard 45Nm actuation force, which results in quite a light feel. Particularly keys like the spacebar lack the firmer spring back that some users prefer.
Corsair K70 Max performance
The K70 Max comes with Corsair’s latest Axon keyboard processor that provides a host of features including up 8KHz polling rate, 20 layers of lighting programmability, and 4KHz key-scanning. The processor is also multi-threaded and allows for deterministic keypress scheduling, ensuring critical keypresses are put ahead of less critical ones. The end result is flawless gaming and typing performance with no amount of key bashing resulting in a delayed response.
Corsair K70 Max noise dampening
Adding noise dampening to keyboards is becoming something of a trend with the likes of the Ducky One 3 and Razer Huntsman V2 including the feature. The K70 Max is the latest keyboard to get the treatment, and the noise suppressant consists of two rubber layers inside the board.
The dampening reduces the higher-pitch clicking noise that you get with mechanical keyboards but this keyboard is nowhere near as quiet as the two keyboards mentioned above. There’s still a noticeable clack as the key bottoms out and an even more pronounced slightly higher-pitched click as the key springs back.
Measuring with a decibel meter 20cm above the keyboard, the K70 Max registered 56dB whereas the Huntsman V2 hit only 52dB. Still, this is a vast improvement compared to some previous Corsair keyboards. The K100 hit 65dB in the same test.
Corsair K70 Max pros and cons
- Useful key actuation point adjustment
- Removable main cable
- Loads of programmability
- Great typing and gaming performance
- Niche appeal grey coloring
- Some slightly odd design choices
- Noise dampening not hugely effective
Corsair K70 Max specs
The Corsair K70 Max specs list is:
|442 x 166 x 39 (W x D x H)
|Full-size (105 keys)
|USB-C (USB-C to USB Type-A cable)
|Corsair MGX (Magnetic mechanical)
|90 million keystrokes
|Keycap puller, spare spacebar, USB-C to USB Type-A cable
Corsair K70 Max price
The Corsair K70 Max price is $230, making this an expensive mechanical gaming keyboard. You’re definitely paying a premium for the adjustable actuation keys.
Price: Expect to pay $230 (£230).
Corsair K70 Max review conclusion
The Corsair K70 Max is functionally a fantastic gaming keyboard. Its extra multimedia controls, removable USB cable, tournament mode switch, padded wrist rest, and excellent overall typing and gaming performance make it a compelling option. The adjustable actuation point of the MGX keys also provides some genuinely useful tweak-ability, even if it’s a shame the feel of the keys isn’t changeable. Meanwhile, the noise dampening isn’t quite as strong as we might’ve hoped but still takes the edge off the worst mechanical keyboard noise.
The Corsair K70 Max doesn’t quite do enough to earn a spot on our best gaming keyboard list, but it’s still a worthwhile option. Does it tempt you? Let us know your thoughts on the Custom PC Facebook page, via Twitter, or join our Custom PC and Gaming Setup Facebook group and tap into the knowledge of our 400,000+ members.