CORSAIR K83 Wireless Entertainment Keyboard REVIEW
I’ve been a fan of Corsair keyboards and other products for quite some time. So, you can imagine my excitement to be able to test out the K83 Wireless Entertainment Keyboard. It’s very similar to another entertainment keyboard I’ve tested — the Logitech K600 keyboard. This is a very different style keyboard though and when using it with a Mac laptop, it can be a very tricky proposition.
The K83 Wireless Entertainment Keyboard is designed to provide users with a premium media control experience. It features an aluminum design with white LED backlighting. In addition to standard keyboard operation, the K83 has quite a few features including:
- An intuitive joystick with click buttons
- A precision touchpad with advanced Windows Microsoft 10 four-finger gesture support
- A dedicated aluminum volume roller with press-to-mute functionality
- Quick keys for media playback and navigation
- Rechargeable battery
- Programmable with Corsair iCue software
- Flexible wireless connectivity — ultra-fast 2.4GHz or low-latency Bluetooth
The K83 keyboard comes packaged with a USB wireless receiver, charging/data cable, warranty card, quick start guide, and safety leaflet. In addition to wireless connectivity, users can also operate the keyboard as a wired accessory. According to its specs, the battery life for the keyboard should last up to 18 hours on a full battery charge at low brightness or up to 40 hours with backlighting off.
- Weight: 0.48kg
- HID Keyboard Report Rate: 1000Hz
- Key Switches: CORSAIR Ultra-low Profile Scissor
- Matrix: 77 Keys
- Keyboard Rollover: 20-key (20KRO)
- Wired Connectivity: USB 2.0 or 3.0 Type-A
- Wireless Connectivity: 1ms 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth 4.2
My fascination with wireless keyboards really comes from my desire to have the best possible set-up for using a laptop as my main computer. I need my workspace to be functional, but minimalistic. These smaller form entertainment keyboards are ideal for that purpose. As much as love using the larger RGB mechanical keyboards, I’ve just not found one that is the ‘just right’ size for my desk. The K83 is pretty perfect because of its compact size.
In addition to size, one of the biggest features I look for in a wireless keyboard is of course its wireless functionality. The K83 is strong in the wireless game as it offers both a 2.4GHz wireless connection and Bluetooth. In order to connect to the 2.4GHz option you must use the provided USB receiver. For me, this presented a bit of a problem. You see, I have a 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro. Therefore, the only ports I have natively on my computer are USB-C ports. Given that I like having a ‘workstation’ I do have a Thunderbolt 3 docking station set-up (courtesy of the Akitio Thunder3 RAID Station) so I can connect standard USB to my MacBook Pro through that dock. There is, however, only one USB-A port on my dock so I didn’t really want to tie it up semi-permanently if I didn’t have to.
Since Bluetooth was available as a connection option, I decided to give it a try. To activate the Bluetooth pairing for the keyboard, press Fn + F6 (or F7). The LED indicator next to the Esc key will blink letting you know that it’s in pairing mode. On the Mac, I opened the Bluetooth Preferences and selected connect next to the “CORSAIR K83 WRL KB” device that appeared in the list. I experienced very little lag time between key presses and when the action would occur on the MacBook Pro. It felt as if the keyboard was plugged directly into the computer. I did notice that the trackpad worked, but you could only move the mouse pointer to different areas of the screen. The right/left buttons for the mouse did not function at all. The same was true of the joystick. It would move the mouse pointer (very slowly) but the press of the joystick did nothing.
With that in mind, I attempted using the wireless receiver. The first thing I figured out was that in order to achieve full functionality with the K83, I needed to use the iCue software by CORSAIR. This proved to be tricky because version of the software that is included in the downloads section of the product page is only compatible with Windows machines. After some searching via Google, I stumbled across a CORSAIR forum where someone included a link to iCue for Mac (Public Beta). I downloaded the DMG file and installed it.
As soon as I had the keyboard paired through the iCue software, the mouse buttons were functional. I was also able to access other exclusive functions of the keyboard through the software like Lightning Effects (the keyboard will provide a static white light or pulse), calibration for the joystick (I’m not sure if it really did much; the push button of the joystick still didn’t work), and navigation control (this allows you to change the speed of the touchpad autonomously from the system preferences of the computer).
While I appreciate the additional functionality of the keyboard, I don’t like that I can only use this software when the dongle is attached. The application won’t even detect that there is a keyboard detected unless you use the dongle. And when you connect the keyboard using the dongle, the Bluetooth connection is automatically disconnected.
Since one of my primary uses of this compact wireless keyboard was to have an all-in-one option for controlling my MacBook Pro when docked, typing speed and accuracy was also important to me as a feature/function. When the keyboard was connected via Bluetooth, I thought it was very quick and responsive. The K83 was also quite responsive when it was utilizing a wired connection, but when it came to using the keyboard with the wireless receiver, I did have periods of time where the keyboard would stagger and I would experience some lag between when I pressed the keys and when the action would happen on screen. It was a sporadic problem and if I found the issue wasn’t resolving itself, I would disconnect the keyboard from the dongle and reconnect it using Bluetooth. While this wasn’t a problem per se, it was an annoyance.
The K83 Wireless Entertainment Keyboard is a very capable compact keyboard. I used it primarily for standard computer operations (typing, etc.) but given its responsive nature, it should work beautifully for smart TV and media box functions, too. I don’t think I would recommend this for ‘gaming’ though because it just isn’t designed for heavy gaming activity. It’s really great for when you need to type a quick message to someone while you’re playing Xbox but it can’t replace a gaming controller. You can use it without the software, but you lose some of its functionality so that’s definitely something to consider depending on what your particular use is going to be.
Originally published at macsources.com on March 13, 2019.