Say what you will about the popularity of tenkeyless (TKL) and 60% keyboards, but full-size gaming keyboards will always have a place in the market. Corsair is back with another offering for PC enthusiasts with the new Corsair K100 Air Wireless mechanical keyboard.
It’s an enthusiast’s keyboard geared, in my opinion, to the professional that also wants to game without the need for multiple boards. The Corsair K100 Air Wireless is an ultra-thin low-profile board that’s as enjoyable to type and work on as it is to game. But at a retail price of $279.99, it may be out of the range for many based on what you get.
Corsair K100 Air Wireless design, specs, and features
Sitting at just 17mm at its thickest point, the Corsair K100 Air Wireless features low-profile Cherry MX Tactile switches with a 0.8mm actuation distance and a 1.8mm total distance. It also offers battery life of up to 50 hours with the RGB backlighting active or up to 200 hours with it off. Charging it takes about 3-5 hours total, but you can easily use the keyboard via the included USB-C to USB-A cable while it charges.
|Chassis materials||Brushed aluminum top plate, plastic shell|
|Keycount||108-112 (region dependent) + four media keys|
|Keyswitches||CHERRY MX Ultra Low Profile Tactile, mechanical, 65g actuation force, 0.8mm actuation distance, 1.8mm total travel|
|Backlight||Individually lit and per-key programmable|
|LED lighting||RGB (up to 20 layers of independent patterns)|
|Keycap type||Laser-etched ABS|
|Matrix||N-key rollover, 100% anti-ghosting|
|Polling response rate||1,000; 2,000; 4,000; or 8,000 via iCUE|
|Connectivity||USB 3.0 / SLIPSTREAM Sub-1ms Wireless / Bluetooth 4.2|
|Wireless range||Up to 33ft / 10m|
|Onboard profiles||Up to 50|
|Media keys||Yes – Four dedicated keys and volume roller|
|Windows lock function||Yes|
|Software support||Yes – iCUE|
|Battery life||Up to 50 hours w/ RGB, up to 200 hours w/o RGB|
|Wrist rest||None included|
|Cable||6ft / 1.82m|
|Dimensions||437mm(L) x 156mm(W) x 17mm(H)|
|Weight||1.72lbs / 0.78kg|
The build quality is just as great as you’d expect from something released by Corsair. Featuring a brushed-finished aluminum top plate, the K100 Air is a solid piece of equipment. Still, even with the high-quality material build, it’s one of the lightest low-profile keyboards – at just 1.72lbs – I’ve ever used.
One of the best features of the Corsair K100 Air is the number of connections you can have. You can set it up via a wired connection, the included Slipstream dongle, and via Bluetooth. During my testing, I took advantage of every connection I could. I had it connected via Bluetooth to my desktop, laptop, and phone with the easy ability to switch between the devices.
A simple hotkey combination on the keyboard allows you to bounce between the Slipstream connection and the three Bluetooth connections. I even had it connected to my PlayStation 5 with no issues, and continued to go back and forth. Obviously, though, you can only use it with one device at a time. Otherwise you’d have nothing but headaches.
For those that like macros, the Corsair K100 Air Wireless includes four G-key macros right above the number pad. You can also store up to 50 different profiles for your keyboard using Corsair’s iCUE software. That’s a lot of options allowing for different macros for each piece of software you use and each game you play. Even the RGB lighting of each key can be customized individually or via preset zones. If you’ve owned any Corsair peripheral before, none of this is going to be new to you.
Performance is solid
Now, because it’s a low-profile keyboard, it does take some time getting used to since it’s not your normal type of mechanical gaming keyboard.
Starting with typing and day-to-day usage, this keyboard is a dream. Whether it’s writing longer pieces like this review itself or diving into a program to get some development work done, the K100 Air Wireless is quite comfortable. It comes with two different tilt heights that allow you to set it at your own preference. Personally, I’m waiting for the day when a keyboard, especially one near $300 USD, comes with more of a truly custom height option for users rather than one or two tilt heights.
Now let’s talk about the gaming experience on the Corsair K100 Air. The response time is nearly flawless, especially when playing games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive where you need to be quick on both the mouse and the keys. However, the wireless connection response speed is only advertised at a quarter of the polling rate as when in wired mode. I didn’t find that to be a hindrance whatsoever. In fact, it works so well via Bluetooth that it quickly became my connection method of choice no matter what I decided to do. That’s going to come down to your personal preference though.
A reason for that response time is the polling rate managed by Corsair’s proprietary AXON hyper-processing technology. The keyboard is set at a default rate of 1,000Hz, meaning it updates every 1ms. The AXON technology allows it to be set via iCUE up to a rate of 8,000Hz. For many users, however, you won’t notice a difference above the 1,000Hz rate. Additionally, higher polling rates put more stress on the CPU, so you will need to figure out what your system can handle without impacting in-game framerates. The AXON tech is multi-threaded, so higher core count CPUs will perform noticeably better with it on higher settings of 4,000Hz and up.
One thing that won’t matter no matter how you connect is just how quick the keys react to presses. Because of the short distance, it’s really easy to bounce around the board, click your key, and bounce to another one without any need for finger prep. Once you get used to the low-profile nature of the board, you quickly find yourself flying around the keys without a second thought. It sounds a bit tough to explain, but just know that it feels like the press and overall actuation of the keys are instantaneous.
There are limitations
We now need to go back to the Cherry MX switches included in the board. Because these are tactile, this is a very clicky and loud keyboard. That’s fine if you like the sound of a response with each key press, but I understand there are many out there that prefer linear switches for the silence. Unfortunately, though, because of the low-profile design of the switches, the Corsair K100 Air Wireless doesn’t offer the ability to swap switches. Nor does the company offer the keyboard with a different set of switches. Maybe different options will come later on, but for now, it’s a big disappointment that will stop those that would otherwise be interested in buying it from doing so.
As for the keycaps, the surface curvature is slightly concave to better fit your fingers. However, the curve isn’t as deep as keys found on other keyboards due to the low-profile nature of the K100 Air. Therefore, you could find your fingers slipping a bit off the keys if you are either just starting with it or aren’t used to these types of keyboards in the first place. But don’t worry, these aren’t nearly as bad as average laptop keyboards which tend to cause typo after typo and misclick after misclick.
Another slight annoyance I found is that some keys are generally louder than others. The main culprits are the spacebar, enter, backspace, shift, and number pad keys. It’s not the end of the world, but those who prefer consistency in sound – like myself – will get a bit frustrated.
Corsair K100 Air Wireless gaming keyboard review verdict
From a performance aspect, it’s hard not to recommend the Corsair K100 Air Wireless to anyone looking for a new keyboard that they can use for both gaming and productivity purposes. It’s comfortable, fast, and offers a number of connection options so you can use it for all of your devices and purposes.
The problem is, however, that it only offers one type of switch for users without the ability to swap. Also, at that $279.99 USD price point, it’s a tall ask for anyone. If it was cheaper, I’d no doubt suggest picking it up today. But unless the low-profile keyboard is a must for you, there are other great Corsair options worth picking up until the price comes down a bit. If low-profile is specifically what you’re after, there’s also now more competition in that space as well.