The Bottom Line
- + A smooth and fast type
- + Dedicated media buttons
- + Lots of customization options
- + Full iCUE integration
- + Great price point
- - iCUE can be cumbersome for beginners
- - Not a replacement for a good mechanical board
Should you buy it?AvoidConsiderShortlistBuy
Introduction & Specification Details and Close-up
Corsair's latest keyboard aims its sights squarely on the entry-level market. For those looking to pick up their first PC gaming keyboard without breaking the bank or someone looking for an affordable option to connect to an Xbox or PlayStation console - it's a great choice. The $39.99 USD price point, paired with Corsair's excellent physical design and software support, make the new Corsair K55 CORE RGB Gaming Keyboard an outright value winner - even if you're looking at a keyboard that sacrifices going the mechanical switch route to step back into the era of the membrane/rubber dome.
There's no substitute for a mechanical keyboard's tactile and accurate response. Still, it's not fair to expect a budget gaming keyboard like the Corsair K55 CORE to feature hot-swappable switches, layers of sound dampening, and high-quality linear switches on every key. Check out our recent Corsair K70 Core SE review for that type of board.
The Corsair K55 CORE excels in leveraging the excellent iCue software suite and the company's intuitive design to make the K55 Core feel like every bit the gaming keyboard as something twice the price. Having robust software with nice-to-have features like robust lighting and dedicated media keys helps give this keyboard the feel of a more premium product. Now, the real question you might have is how well does it handle - you know - actual PC gaming?
The Corsair K55 CORE RGB Gaming Keyboard lives up to its namesake as a gaming keyboard. If you go back far enough to the era when PC gamers were all firing up Quake with non-mechanical keyboards - something like the Corsair K55 CORE would have been a go-to. Let's dig in.
Specifications & Close Up
- Product Name: Corsair K55 CORE RGB Gaming Keyboard
- Product Type: Wired Gaming Keyboard
- Size (Full/TKL): Full
- Switch: Membrane
- Interface: USB
- Lighting: 10-Zone RGB
- Dimensions: 451.35 x 141.15 x 35mm
- Weight: 752 grams (keyboard)
- What's in the Box: Corsair K55 CORE RGB Gaming Keyboard, Guide
Kosta's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: MSI MPG X670E Carbon Wi-Fi
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 7900X
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 Founders Edition
- Cooler: Corsair iCUE H100i RGB PRO XT Liquid CPU Cooler
- RAM: 64GB (2x32GB) Corsair DOMINATOR PLATINUM RGB DDR5 DRAM 5200MHz
- SSD: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus-G M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 4TB, Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus Plus M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD 8TB
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 850W
- Case: Thermaltake Core P3 Tempered Glass Snow
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11 Pro 64-bit
Design & Software
For the price, you're getting an all-plastic build with little heft - the Corsair K55 CORE weighs around 750 grams, which is fairly light for a full-sized keyboard. As an entry-level keyboard under $40, it's impressive that Corsair kept the full-size form factor instead of TKL or something a little more compact. In terms of size, there's not a lot of wasted space with the sleek and slim build.
In addition to the usual keys, you've got dedicated media buttons in the top right, a Windows lock button to turn off things like the Start key when gaming, and a dedicated button for cycling through various lighting brightness modes - and eventually turning it off. As a non-mechanical keyboard, you've got 10 distinct lighting zones instead of per-key lighting, which can be customized or synced with other devices within iCue.
As for the 'feel' of the keyboard, the overall typing feel of the Corsair K55 CORE RGB Gaming Keyboard is soft and quiet. There's some feedback to hitting each key, which is nice, but it's still a far cry from a linear mechanical switch regarding responsiveness. For day-to-day typing, it's quite enjoyable, more so than a lot of mechanical keyboards, and the shape of each key and the spacing do wonders for avoiding the 'mushy' feeling you can find with some non-mechanical offerings.
Some great design touches are not immediately noticeable, like the rubber feet on the underside and the adjustable height stand that help keep the Corsair K55 CORE from moving even when hacking away at the keys. Another nice touch is the matte finish to the keycaps and their smooth feel that isn't prone to fingerprints or dust. Corsair notes in the review guide supplied that the Corsair K55 CORE RGB Gaming Keyboard is 300ml spill-resistant.
Like all Corsair products, all PC-based customization for the K55 CORE is handled by the company's iCUE software - which will download the required module when you first plug in the keyboard. What's great about this keyboard, especially for PC gamers, is that you can remap the keys and media buttons like a premium product. You won't save multiple profiles onto the keyboard, but you can take full advantage of iCUE's detailed Key Assignments.
Granted, it's not the easiest software to get the hang of, but after reviewing, testing, and using various Corsair keyboards over the years, I've figured out all the various little tricks.
As a keyboard you'd consider entry-level or for a family member or friend looking to get into PC gaming, it would have been nice for Corsair to include or offer some simplified, easy-to-use UI for iCUE's more advanced features.
In iCUE, you can also adjust the lighting with powerful options. Even with 10 lighting zones, there's a lot of customization on offer, and the overall RGB quality of the Corsair K55 CORE is impressive for the price - it's vibrant and a testament to the quality of RGB components in 2024. There are some concessions, such as brightness adjustment being limited to five options.
Gaming Performance and Productivity
With 12-key Rollover with 1,000Hz Polling, the Corsair K55 CORE RGB Gaming Keyboard performs well. It's been a while since I've used a non-mechanical keyboard for gaming, so the first title I fired was the classic Quake II. The smooth feel of the K55 Core brought back some memories, so much so that what was supposed to be a quick test was a decent session. Responsiveness is great; there were no issues with keys not triggering or anything - and it was the same result when switching to Apex Legends, Diablo IV, and Starfield.
With the overall plastic construction, even though the keycaps don't feel cheap, it's hard to say how long something like the Corsair K55 CORE RGB Gaming Keyboard would last with steady use over a prolonged period. After all, one of the reasons most PC gamers and peripheral makers switched to mechanical was the added reliability and peace of mind that comes with a product that will last years. Even after a few weeks of gaming over the holiday break, the Corsair K55 CORE feels as responsive and smooth as it did on day one.
With the lengthy 1.8-meter cable, connecting the Corsair K55 CORE to an Xbox Series X console was also a breeze, and using it to play the classic RTS Age of Empires 2 on an OLED was a great way to spend some time on Christmas.
This might sound a little strange, but the smoothness of the Corsair K55 CORE, with the nice feeling keycaps (for a budget keyboard), is wonderful for typing and day-to-day PC use. The response isn't tactile, but it is crisp. The dedicated media buttons and the ability to remap keys to any number of functions is great - as is having a full-sized keyboard with a numpad for Excel and spreadsheets.
The depth of the keys is also great for fast-touch typers who might prefer the feel of this style of keypress over a mechanical switch. Plus, the Corsair K55 CORE is quiet. Usually, we put each new keyboard on a chart showcasing the overall noise generated by typing - but it didn't seem fair to do when the Corsair K55 CORE is non-mechanical. Just know that it's super quiet.
For under $40, you'd be hard-pressed to find a keyboard as versatile and comfortable to type and game with as the new Corsair K55 CORE RGB Gaming Keyboard. It is the perfect choice for an entry-level gamer or as a second keyboard for that second rig or console connected to a TV. The K55 CORE doesn't try to mimic the feel of a mechanical keyboard but instead leans into the design strength of Corsair - great customization options, dedicated media buttons, robust RGB lighting, reliability, and great feeling keycaps.
This is an easy recommendation for gaming and productivity if you want something outside the mechanical switch realm or want 'PC gaming style' without spending too much. The membrane/rubber dome keypresses aren't mushy or imprecise but responsive and smooth. From fast-typers to first-person shooter fans, the Corsair K55 CORE is worth a look.