Wireless Keyboards: Corsair K83 Review

Whether sitting at my desktop writing articles or playing the latest keyboard-intensive 4X game, I exclusively use Corsair keyboards due to their high quality construction and excellent key travel and action. Using anything else is a big step down. This is especially noticeable when using the latest Mac laptop keyboards or wireless keyboards for iOS.  So when Corsair announced its first wireless keyboard designed to connect via either Bluetooth or an included 2.4 Hz USB dongle, I was very interested in seeing how well the company translated its desktop expertise into a more mobile-oriented product.

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The first notable attribute of the Corsair K83 Wireless Entertainment Keyboard ($99.99) is how heavy and solid it is compared to other wireless keyboards. The base is machined aluminum, the curved keycaps are well spaced ,and the placement of the touch pad and cursor knob is ideal for gripping the keyboard with two hands. Of course, since iOS doesn't yet support a mouse, the right side of the device where the touch panel and joystick cursor control are located won't be used (though it would be a nice surprise if Corsair can upgrade the joystick to be MFi-compliant with a future firmware update so it can be used on games for the AppleTV and iPhone and iPad). But if the keyboard is intended to be used in a multi-purpose environment, switching between PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and SmartTV devices, the utility of this portion of the keyboard will be put to good use.

The key travel is pretty good, though since the keyboard is intended to rest on your lap while relaxing on a family room couch, it's really not designed as a desktop keyboard replacement. The primary reason I gravitate toward high-end Corsair desktop keyboards in the first place is their incorporation of independent lit keys into their weighty, click-satisfying Cherry MX mechanical key switches. Instead, the key action reminds me of premium Dell desktop keyboards. Key presses are responsive and feel right, but they don't pack that extra clicky feedback that you get when using Corsair's desktop keyboards.

The K83 has rechargeable batteries embedded in its aluminum base, and the keyboard lasts up to 40 hours on a single charge. The keyboard can be recharged via the included USB to microUSB cable. The same cable can be used to connect the keyboard to a desktop or laptop USB port for a more traditional wired keyboard mode.

Keys are backlit with white LEDs that can be dialed up or down in brightness. Unlike Corsairs high-end desktop keyboards, the K83 keys cannot be individually lit. That's fine for occasional couch potato use but I do prefer light mapping when using certain applications or games to help me recall specific keyboard accelerator commands.

The aforementioned touchpad and joystick on the right side of the K83 are ideally suited for Windows PCs, especially since the touchpad supports up to four finger gestures on Windows 10. Like the MFi-compatibility wish for the keyboard's joystick, it would have been a technical coup if Corsair had figured out a way to make the impossible possible by somehow interpreting the multi-touch signals from the K83's touch pad and somehow mapping those to touch events on iOS. Alas, until Apple decides to include mouse support on iOS, this will continue to remain an unlikely dream for now. In the meantime, the touch panel and its inset mouse buttons (left and right below the touch panel on the top of the keyboard as well as underneath, especially handy when gripping the keyboard and joystick) are convenient when using the K83 on a Mac or Windows computer.

It's obvious that Corsair designed this keyboard to be predominantly used from a couch or lounge chair to control a Windows PC connected to a TV display. I tested this using a Steam link that streams my desktop PC to my family room TV and the keyboard worked well enough for the most part. For basic navigation around the screen and quickly responding to emails or performing web searches, the keyboard, touch pad, and mouse buttons worked as expected. Its joystick was fine for simple four-way direction casual game, but didn't do so well with complex shooters that demand a dedicated controller.

Pros

  • Solid construction with ample key spacing and travel
  • Built-in multi-function, multi-touch pad, mouse buttons, and joystick
  • Backlit white LED keys with uniform variable brightness

Cons

  • Currently no MFi support for AppleTV or iPad joystick-optimized gaming
  • Touch pad and mouse buttons not currently applicable to iOS devices

Final Verdict

Overall, the Corsair K83 is a decent wireless keyboard that may be over engineered for iOS users who are unhappy with Apple's ultra-thin key traveling keyboards and are seeking a wireless keyboard alternative for their iOS data entry needs. For the relatively small population of Mac and PC users who have hooked up their computers to their TVs, the K83 performs adequately for simple keyboard and mouse access needs without the hassle of wires or balancing a full-size desktop keyboard and mouse on the users' laps. The K83 is priced as a luxury item and, unless you are a diehard fan of Corsair products or have a highly diverse digital product lifestyle demanding wireless keyboard use, this is a luxury you might be able to live without.

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Mike Riley's picture

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.