Tom's Hardware Verdict
The Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless is a versatile, highly customizable keyboard with outstanding responsiveness. Scratchy switches and rattly stabilizers challenge its high asking price, but it remains an excellent choice for gamers with big budgets and a desire for compactness.
Compact size saves desk space, is great for FPS games
Great for travel
Supports hot-swapping switches
Scratchy switches don’t sound or feel great
Position of Fn key makes using secondary functions in games difficult
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Corsair released its first ultra-compact K65 RGB Mini gaming keyboard just over a year ago. And, today, it’s finally ready to reveal its successor: the K70 Pro Mini Wireless.
On the surface, the two keyboards have a lot in common. Both feature a space-saving 60-percent layout and a heaping helping of secondary functions tied to nearly every key. But this new keyboard is about more than just a fresh name. It features upgrades inside and out, cutting the cord with Corsair’s high-speed Slipstream wireless technology and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as featuring the same AXON processor found on the company’s flagship K100 gaming keyboard. It’s also Corsair’s first to feature hot-swappable switches, making it the most customizable keyboard the company has ever released.
All of this comes at a high price of $180, putting it right in line with the Steelseries Apex Pro Mini, sans cable, and making it more expensive than most of the best gaming keyboards available today. That high price also comes with a significant learning curve that may be a turn-off to the productivity-minded, as its dozens of missing keys and secondary functions are all tied to Fn combinations that need to be memorized to use efficiently. For gaming, desk space, and travel, however, the K70 Pro Mini has a lot to offer.
Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless Specs
|Switches||Cherry MX Red or Cherry MX Silver|
|Onboard Storage||50 profiles|
|Media Keys||Secondary keybinds|
|Connectivity||Detachable braided USB-C Cable, Slipstream Wireless, Bluetooth|
|Battery Life||Up to 32 hours with RGB backlighting, 200 hours with backlighting disabled|
|Keycaps||Doubleshot PBT plastic|
|Construction||Plastic case with aluminum alloy top plate|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||11.6 x 4.3 x 1.58 inches|
Design and Construction of the Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless
The Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless is a 60-percent keyboard, and Corsair leans into its tiny size. This slimmed down layout does away with the function row, number pad, and navigation keys, relegating each of these functions (as well as extras like lighting and media controls) to secondary layers accessible with Fn combinations. The result is one of the smallest keyboards you can buy without venturing into the even more niche 40-percent market. We don’t usually remark on packaging here at Tom’s Hardware, but the K70 Pro Mini’s box is so small that it doesn’t even look like it holds a keyboard at first.
This layout is a staple in the custom keyboard community and has been slowly gaining popularity among gamers for years. By removing all but the most important keys, you’re left with a functional keyboard that’s nearly six inches shorter and more than two inches narrower than Corsair’s full-size K70 RGB Pro. That amounts to some serious space savings on your desk, more room for your mouse hand to make big sweeps in first-person shooters, and more ergonomic spacing for your arms when it’s time to get work done (or browse Twitter).
To make that layout work, the majority of missing keys are accessible through secondary functions accessed by holding the Fn key and pressing the requisite switch. Instead of dedicated arrow keys, you can press Fn+IJKL. Home and End are Fn+N and Fn+M. The function buttons are all tied to Fn and their matching number key. Corsair even expands this functionality by adding mouse controls, media controls, onboard macro recording, Bluetooth switching, and a battery level indicator all to their own button combos.
All of that is a lot to remember, but thankfully every key has its second function printed on the side of the keycap. These are easy to see from a normal sitting position, but I did have to stop and check those legends regularly throughout my first week of use. They’re not backlit like the regular legends either, so using the keyboard in a dimly lit room may prove difficult until you have them all memorized.
The keyboard itself is light enough to travel with but heavy enough to stay in place easily on your desk. The top plate is aluminum in classic Corsair fashion, but the rest of the keyboard is plastic. An RGB diffuser splits the two halves and wraps all the way around for 360-degrees of programmable RGB lighting. The back side of the keyboard features an on-off switch, a USB Type-C port, and a cutout to hold the Slipstream wireless dongle when not in use. The bottom of the keyboard is simple, with a pair of single-stage tilt feet surrounded by anti-slip pads and a long rubber foot to keep it from moving during normal use.
Just like Corsair’s other recent premium keyboards, the K70 Pro Mini Wireless features doubleshot PBT keycaps. These caps are excellent, with thick sidewalls and textured tops to improve their sound and feel. The texturing feels fine in normal use but can straight up feel like sandpaper if you wipe your finger across it. Be warned: if you try to rub away an imperfection, you may just leave behind a mark from your fingertip!
Underneath those caps, you have your choice of Cherry MX RGB Red or MX Speed linear switches. We’ve seen these same switches on countless keyboards at this point, and their reliability and responsiveness is well established. Despite this, I would have loved to have seen other options, like the Gateron Pro switches we enjoyed on the Keychron Q2, as they’re much smoother and better sounding, and may have even let Corsair lower the price a touch. The switches here are fine, but noticeably scratchy, which you can both hear and feel. This leads to a worse typing experience when compared against the excellent Omnipoint switches of the Apex Pro Mini.
That scratchiness isn’t helped by the keyboard’s poorly lubed and rattly stabilizers. Each of the larger keys on my sample was lubed, but only very lightly and not at all where it would have actually helped the larger keys to sound better. After the K100, Corsair has mostly done better with the sound of its stabilizers, which makes the rattle of the K70 Pro Mini Wireless stand out all the more.
You can fix this or mix-and-match new switches easier than ever before thanks to this keyboard’s other leading feature: hot-swappable switch sockets. Hot-swappable switches are nothing new for gaming keyboards, but it’s great to see Corsair include the feature here as it adds customization potential that wasn’t previously possible within its line-up. Rather than be locked to the switch you choose at purchase, or having to break out the soldering iron, the switches can simply be unplugged using an included switch puller and replaced by pressing a new switch into its slot.
This is a killer feature for keyboard tinkerers and anyone who wants to extend the life of their gaming keyboard. Trying new switches is one of the most fun aspects of the mechanical keyboard hobby and allows you to completely change its feel without buying a whole new keyboard. You’ll also be able to try boutique switches, like NovelKeys Creams or Kono Midnights, that are impossible to find in premade keyboards. Easily swappable switches also make repairing a keyboard that’s been the unfortunate victim of a spilled drink far easier. Sticky or dead switches can now be replaced individually instead of taking your whole keyboard with it (or again, having to break out a soldering iron to replace a switch or two).
Underneath those keys lies the beating heart (or perhaps pulsing brain) of the K70 Pro Mini Wireless: the AXON micro-processor. This processor allows the keyboard to connect at a ridiculously fast 8,000Hz and with a key scanning rate of 4,000Hz over USB. In real-world terms, key presses can be detected in just 0.25ms instead of the 1ms common to most other gaming keyboards. While you may not feel that difference, pro and pro-aspiring players will appreciate that AXON essentially removes keyboard responsiveness from the equation for competitive play.
What more of us can appreciate is the ridiculous number of profiles and lighting options it provides. The AXON tech allows the keyboard to store up to 50 separate profiles, each with its own layouts and lighting effects, right onboard the keyboard. Those lighting effects are able to have up to 20 separate Photoshop-like layers, so you can create and replay intricate, animation-like lighting effects, all without the need for iCUE running in the background.
AXON also powers the keyboard’s expansive connectivity options. In addition to 8,000Hz, the K70 Pro Mini Wireless is able to connect using Slipstream 2.4GHz hyper-pollng at 2,000Hz, or to two separate Bluetooth sources. The Slipstream dongle also supports PlayStation 5, so you can use the keyboard for console play. You can also swap connections on the fly with different Fn button combinations. This versatility, paired with its svelte size, makes it an effective travel companion that won’t weigh you down or fill up your bag on the go.
Battery life on the device is good, but will vary depending on your settings. Corsair quotes up to 32 hours with RGB enabled and 200 hours with backlighting turned off. If you’re using the highest connectivity options and turning backlighting up all the way (which I am guilty of) this will obviously be less. Over the course of a week, I was able to get around 24 hours of use with demanding settings and a custom, lightly animated RGB backlight.
Typing Experience on the Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless
The Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless comes with your choice of Cherry MX Red or Speed Silver switches. The unit I was sent was outfitted with Speed Silvers. The two switches share the same 45-gram actuation force, but while MX Red switches actuate at 2.0mm and have a total travel distance of 4.0mm, Speed Silvers actuate at 1.2mm and have a total travel of 3.4mm.
Though 0.8mm might not seem like much, it makes the Speed Silvers much more sensitive to the touch. This can be great for gaming when you need to send rapid inputs. But for typing, it’s less than ideal. I’ve found that I can adapt to just about any switch given enough time, but that increased sensitivity invariably led me to make more typos for me. It’s possible to trigger keys just by bumping them, so you need to be sure your fingers are centered above each key and you’re not dragging your fingers when you type.
After about a week, the impact on typing definitely diminished, but didn't disappear entirely. Across more than 100 tests taken this year on MonkeyType, I average 111 WPM with 96% accuracy. In the dozen tests taken following a week of use, I averaged 105 WPM with 94% accuracy on the K70 Pro Mini Wireless. If you find normal Red switches to be typo prone, these switches will be substantially worse.
Even with their added sensitivity making them a second choice for typing compared to the Reds, the MX Speed Switches offer a crisp, clear travel that is smooth across the key press. Though there is a scratchiness you can feel on every keystroke (common to Cherry MX switches), the plastic bottom case minimizes the amount of spring noise you can hear in normal typing. Still, between the rattly stabilizers and scratchiness, the sound of the keyboard is significantly worse than competing 60-percents like the HyperX x Ducky One 2 Mini.
And while the 60-percent layout might work well for games, the position of the Fn key makes it difficult to use for productivity. It takes the place of the right Windows key, forcing you to stop typing with your right hand or to awkwardly reach with your pinky. There’s no way to tell if you’re on the right key without looking, which caused me to stop and interrupt my work any time I needed the Home or End keys. This isn’t an issue unique to the K70 Pro Mini Wireless, but did leave me reaching for a normal keyboard when I needed to get writing done.
Gaming Experience on the Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless
Gaming on the K70 Pro Mini Wireless is great. Switch scratchiness aside, the MX Speeds are extremely responsive and reliable. Add to this exceptional profile and macro support, and superior comfort, and you have a recipe for quite a capable little gaming keyboard — but not one without some shortcomings.
I went through my library of games and played everything from Doom Eternal and Battlefield 2042 to Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan, Disco Elysium, and World of Warcraft. Without question, the Mini excelled most in first-person shooters. These are games that don’t require many buttons but rely heavily on mouse movement. I was able to angle the keyboard to the side and have ample space for even large mouse sweeps. If you play shooters with low sensitivity and high DPI, the K70’s form factor is sure to please.
The benefits were less pronounced but still meaningful in other genres. For games that don’t require those sweeps, positioning the keyboard normally allowed me to keep my mouse and keyboard hands closer together. It’s a more ergonomic posture than is possible with a full-size keyboard, and it’s more comfortable, especially over longer gaming sessions.
The form factor begins to work against it with keyboard-heavy games, like World of Warcraft. There, the extra keys of a larger keyboard can be easily remapped to carry skills and macros. The K70 Mini can also be remapped using software or on-the-fly macro recording, but with fewer buttons total, you wind up losing its precious few buttons to those keymaps.
Corsair’s answer to this is supporting multiple profiles. Using the company’s iCUE software, you’re able to record up to 50 different layouts. Think of this like having 50 virtual keyboards, each able to be swapped between on the fly and customized for different games. It’s an excellent solution for games without text chat. If you do need a normal layout for typing and don’t want to lose keys to custom keymaps, at least one key will need to be assigned to swap profiles, which leads to a lot of tapping and re-tapping to change back and forth.
Features and Software of the Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless
One of Corsair’s biggest claims to fame with its peripherals is RGB and deep keymap customization. This is made possible through its iCUE software suite. The software has become quite the heavyweight program over the years, and weighs in at nearly a full gigabyte to download. But it’s highly recommended for anyone considering this keyboard, even if only for initial setup. Thanks to the keyboard’s plentiful onboard storage, it’s not necessary to continue running iCUE in the background for most of its features to work correctly.
The software includes sections for key assignments and lighting effects, with additional tabs for onboard lighting and keymaps. It’s a little bit confusing at first, but the “hardware” settings can be saved to the keyboard while the normal sections require iCUE running in order to load. If you plan to close down iCUE once you’re done, you’ll want to do your programming under the hardware settings to make sure it carries through without the software.
With the exception of the Fn keys (the menu button can act as a second Fn button), the entire keyboard is remappable and programmable, but there are a few too many clicks to get started. You’ll need to click the tab to enter the programming section on the left, click an arrow to add a new key assignment, then click the type of remap you’d like before entering what you’d like that key to do. A faster option is to right-click the key you would like to program and choose these options from a drop-down menu, but the most intuitive method — simply clicking a key and skipping the intervening presses — doesn’t work.
Once you have your key selected, iCUE provides lots of options to choose from. You can record keystrokes to full macros, mouse buttons, text strings, media controls, or even set programs to launch with a single button press. If you’re creating multiple profiles for different games, you can set a key to swap to specific layouts, or cycle through a list if you have several to choose from. iCUE also features VoiceMod integration, allowing you to change your voice if you’re chatting with a microphone, but you’ll need to keep iCUE running to access those features.
Lighting controls are, as expected from a Corsair keyboard, phenomenal. The board comes with 18 preset effects pre-installed, so you have plenty to choose from if you’d rather ignore the software, but it’s worth investing time into. The level of customization that’s possible is industry-leading, only really flanked by what’s possible in Razer Synapse’s Chroma Studio applet.
The RGB backlighting options are, as expected from Corsair, phenomenal. The lighting options include nine customizable preset effects (Rainbow Wave, Spiral, Visor, and so on) and five completely customizable options for gradients, ripples, waves, and static colors. These can be applied to individual keys or you can click and drag to select sections or the whole keyboard or outside lighting ring. Each can be adjusted for speed and color and tailored for the total animation time, and in the case of ripple, how many lights they should cover each second. You can then layer these effects on top of each other in similar fashion to Photoshop and create lighting profiles that are incredibly intricate and uniquely your own.
This system has allowed modders to create full-fledged animations for their Corsair keyboards. You can download a selection of these directly from Corsair using its iCUE Profile library or take a look at the amazing animations of Lewis Gerschwitz to see what’s possible if you master the settings. In just a few minutes, I was able to create a thunderstorm theme using static purple and the rain effect, then copy those settings to my Corsair RGB fans to tie together my whole system.
If you’re connected over USB and keep iCUE running in the background, you can also one-click sync the K70 Mini Pro Wireless with any other Corsair RGB components you may have using the Lighting Link lighting presets. These settings make unifying your whole system fast and easy, but you can’t take the effect with you between PCs unless you create a separate onboard profile for just the keyboard.
The software also includes a set of Device Settings to control how the keyboard functions. This is also where you’ll go to save your custom keymaps and lighting profiles to the K70’s onboard storage and to set its highest polling rate (8,000Hz polling is disabled by default). To save battery life, you can adjust sleep settings, swap the Fn button with the menu button to potentially improve comfort, and pair other compatible wireless Corsair peripherals to the same wireless dongle to save USB slots.
The Corsair K70 Pro Mini Wireless is an impressive keyboard. It offers great programmability, outstanding responsiveness, decent battery life, and beautiful RGB backlighting with an eye-catching diffusion ring to throw light onto your desk. It’s also the first of what we hope will be many new keyboards from Corsair to feature hot-swappable switches. At nearly $180, it’s also one of the most expensive keyboards Corsair sells, despite being much smaller than its closest recent counterpart, the K70 RGB Pro.
That price has some important caveats, too. If you’ve used a recent linear switch from even the lower-cost competition, you may find yourself wondering why the K70 Pro Mini Wireless doesn’t feel as good. It’s not bad, but the first thing I wanted to do when I tried it was swap to a different set of switches, which isn’t what you likely want from a $180 keyboard.
If that’s likely to bother you, the Steelseries Apex Pro Mini is an easy recommendation that also gives you the benefit of analog keys. That keyboard will set you back the same amount and doesn’t give you wireless functionality, however. If you crave freedom from your USB overlords and don’t mind having a few extra navigation keys to enhance its productivity performance, the Razer Blackwidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed is another excellent option. There’s also the Ducky One 3 Mini, which is the same size, cheaper at $129, and has hot-swappable sockets, but lacks software or wireless functionality.
There’s no way around it: At $179, the K70 Pro Mini Wireless is pricey for such a small keyboard. But for that price, you’re getting ultra-fast connectivity, wired and wireless, hot-swappable switches, and next level lighting. The only other keyboard that comes close in features and functionality is the Apex Pro Mini Wireless, which tips the scales at $240. If you’ve got a craving for the compact, and don’t mind its handful of drawbacks, the Corsair K70 Pro Wireless is a uniquely capable option.
Chris is a regular contributor for Tom’s Hardware, covering mechanical keyboards, peripherals, and content creation gear.
Wow, this is an absolutely wild offering for an extreme niche.Reply
Were this keyboard at least a TKL, I would jump on it without any issues, but that's tiny as is.
As for stabilizers, over time I don't mind them rattling, my main problem is if they make the key press harder or if it makes the key press feel weird instead of solid.
I think only Das Keyboard has this figured out well, though I hate they don't have a hotswappable keyboard option, but that alone justifies it not being hot swappable. Maybe Logitech's higher end Pro X, but that one has a huge caveat on programmability.
If this one is as solid as those, I'd be OK with it regardless of the rattling, but that's a super personal preference.
I'm extremely biased on that as I used to use Cherry MX made keyboards with black switches for the longest time, and I don't know they make those anymore for general availability, just for enterprise, and I'm not even sure they make them anymore.
Looking forward to reading more. Great post.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on…Reply
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