The Corsair K95 Platinum was widely regarded as the definitive gaming keyboard, an ultra-premium, high-quality board meant for serious enthusiasts willing to spare no expense. With the K95 Platinum XT, Corsair has upped the ante, taking the same sleek design, but adding PBT keycaps and Elgato Stream Deck compatibility. You can check it out on Newegg.
Design and Comfort
Like the original K95 Platinum, the XT is a standard 104-key (plus an additional six macro keys) keyboard and sports a brushed aluminum frame and a floating keycap design. When it comes to the build quality, Corsair has spared no expense. The frame is rock-solid and durable, and doesn’t give a centimeter when you try bending it. Even the cord is high quality – it’s so incredibly thick that even a pair of scissors wouldn’t be enough to cut through it. The only thing I would have liked to have seen is some sort of cable routing option underneath the board. Though I must admit, I’m not sure how Corsair would be able to pull that off, given just how thick this cable is.
The XT is not only an incredibly durable board, but a gorgeous one, too. The brushed aluminum is incredibly stylish, and the RGB lighting is amazing. There are 19 (!) lighting zones along with per-key lighting to let you customize to your heart’s content. Whether you want a solid pattern, some fancy pants ripple effect as you press each key, or something else entirely– you’ll be able to set it up with Corsair’ CUE software. There’s also a dedicated key to quickly switch lighting profiles, along with a brightness button with four separate stages (and an option to turn the lighting off).
On the top of the XT is a volume wheel and a mute button, and a whole suite of media keys. On the left hand side of the XT is six fully customizable macro keys. These can be rebound to launch an application, perform a media key function, output a body of text, or execute any sequence of keystrokes you’d like. A lot of other high-end keyboards these days are doing away with macro keys, so it’s nice to see Corsair stick to their roots and offer gamers the power and flexibility of macros. Wisely, Corsair didn’t overdo and offering too many macro keys, crowding the board and overwhelming the user with too many options. For my money, six is the right number. I also particularly like how these keys feel. These keycaps are textured, so there’s no mistaking them for regular keys when you hit them. This allows you to quickly find your macro keys by feel alone while in-game.
On the comfort side of things, Corsair included a plush leatherette palm rest, and it’s a real beauty. It’s got a thin layer of foam padding inside that feels nice on my wrists, and genuinely made typing more comfortable for me. My only nitpick is I wish it was a litter longer, since I have larger hands, but most people won’t have a problem. I should note that unlike a lot of recent gaming keyboards, this palm rest isn’t magnetic – instead, it snaps on the bottom of the board. The physical connection proved to be the right way to go, as the palm rest didn’t slide around or detach itself during my testing.
Performance and Features
While the XT has some quality of life features, like USB pass through, full key rollover, and anti-ghosting, the biggest and most impactful one is the PBT double-shot keycaps. Brand new to the XT edition, these keycaps are precision-molded and 1.5mm thick. If you’ve never used a keyboard with PBT keycaps, you’re in for a treat. They not only feel amazing, they’re highly durable, immune to the fading you’d see after a few years from ABS keycaps. And you can forget about the nasty fingerprint oil residue that show up on your traditional ABS plastic keycaps – PBT keycaps are shine-free. It’s so rare to see PBT keycaps on a board with RGB lighting, and they’re my favorite thing about the board, hands down.
While other mechanical gaming keyboards have gone with custom in-house switches, Corsair has stuck with Cherry MX switches for the K95 Platinum XT. My board came with Cherry MX Speed Silver switches. If you’ve never used them, they kind of feel like Cherry’s MX Red switches, but requiring slightly less force. They’re incredibly fast, with 1.2mm actuation, making them perfect for shooters or RTS games that need fast, reliable inputs. They’re also great for typing, with just enough feedback to prevent any errant keystrokes. You can actually change the keyswitch debounce time in Corsair’s CUE software, to prevent an accidental doubletap. And if you don’t like the Speed Silvers for whatever reason, you can also get the XT with Cherry MX Browns or Blues.
Speaking of Corsair’s CUE software, it’s cumbersome, but incredibly powerful, letting you customize practically everything about the board. The XT has 8 MB of onboard memory, allowing you to save five completely separate profiles. This is great if you want to quickly switch between different layouts for different genres, or if you’re a generous enough soul to share your XT with a roommate. If you use Elgato’s Stream Deck software to stream games, you can drag and drop actions from the Stream Deck software seamlessly into CUE to assign to the macro keys. While it’s not a game-changing feature by any means, it’s nice for streamers who use Stream Deck.
As much as I want to praise the K95 Platinum XT, there’s no getting around the elephant in the room – its price. $199 MSRP is pretty steep, and it’s hard to justify spending what amounts to a decent mid-range graphics card for 1080p gaming on a mechanical keyboard. But there’s no denying it’s one hell of a board. If you already have a K95 Platinum, there’s no reason to upgrade. But I can’t think of another keyboard that has PBT keycaps, extensive RGB lighting, and this level of build quality. If you can afford it, you should pull the trigger. And maybe buy one for a less-fortunate gamer in your life, too.