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Corsair packs 4 extra keys into an extremely slim wireless mechanical keyboard

Enlarge / Corsair K100 Air.

There are people who prefer a more compact keyboard, either for portability, aesthetic preference or saving space. There are also those who prefer keyboards with as many keys as possible. We’re not just talking about full-size keyboards with a number pad. We’re talking about the kind of extra softkeys that can store macros, launch a favorite app, or enter a complex string of characters with a single press. Corsair’s K100 Air, in a way, seeks to address both groups. The mechanical keyboard has a small bank of macro keys inside an incredibly thin frame that is 0.4 inches (11 mm) thick.

The K100 Air manages to be just 0.4 inches at its thinnest point, according to Corsair’s announcement on Thursday, with Cherry’s MX Ultra Low Profile mechanical switches. The keyboard will use the clicky version of the switch, which has 1.8mm of travel and actuates at 0.8mm with 65g of force.

A profile view.
Enlarge / A profile view.

Even by low-key standards, that’s shallow writing. For comparison, the MX low profile red Switches on keyboards like the Das KeyBoard MacTigr we recently reviewed and Razer’s DeathStalker V2 Pro have 3.2mm total travel, 1.2mm pre-travel, and actuate with a force of 45g. Those keyboards are thicker, naturally, at 1.06 inches and 1 inch tall, respectively. and full height Blue MX Cherry the switches have a specification of 4mm/2.2mm/60.

We’d have to test the keyboard before passing judgment on the typing experience, but we anticipate that keystrokes will feel extremely short and snappy, with the increased actuation force, tactile bump and click to help ensure you don’t feel like you’re writing on musky sand.

Cherry’s MX Ultra Low Profile switches are currently mostly found in a couple of high-end laptops, Alienware m17 R5 and m15 R4 gaming laptops. reviewers like tom hardware have noted that typing exhibits little degradation compared to dedicated mechanical keyboards with traditionally sized low-profile switches. It’s fair to expect that typing on the K100 Air will feel radically different than typing on a full-height mechanical keyboard.

That said, Corsair packed the slim peripheral with a row of G-keys above the number pad that are reprogrammable with macros and app launch, without having to sacrifice any keys for a full-size layout. According to Corsair’s announcement, the keyboard has 8MB of onboard storage for transferring macro settings and even RGB lighting preferences across 50 different profiles. We’ve seen expensive keyboards that don’t even offer a single profile.

Corsair told Ars that the keys use a proprietary ABS plastic.
Enlarge / Corsair told Ars that the keys use a proprietary ABS plastic “blend.”

Corsair is aiming the mechanical keyboard at gamers, which is appropriate considering the advantage some gamers may gain from being able to register key inputs as quickly as possible. Therefore, the keyboard has an extremely high polling rate of 8,000 Hz when using its detachable cable with a PC or Mac, compared to the typical 1,000 Hz. screen to take full advantage of the benefits of high polling rate.

The wireless keyboard connects via a detachable cable, USB-A dongle, or Bluetooth. It can connect to three different devices via Bluetooth, and the user can switch between connected devices by pressing a dedicated button on the keyboard.

If you skip the flashy backlight, the keyboard can last up to 200 hours before needing a charge, Corsair’s announcement claimed (with RGB, the claim drops to 50 hours).

the Air K100 It’s due out on October 4, but Corsair hasn’t confirmed a price yet.

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