Mechanical keyboards can be pricey, especially if you’re looking for the best gaming keyboard. At that point, not only are you looking for a sturdy, attractive build and good typing experience, but you’re also for a favorable gaming experience. That may require extra features like programmable keys, per-key RGB and manageable software.
The MSI Vigor GK50 Elite checks off a lot of those boxes, but not all of them. It’s an updated version of the MSI Vigor GK50 Low Profile that ups the ante with full-height mechanical switches and keycaps. At about $80 (opens in new tab) as of writing, this is a steal. With a gamer-friendly design, customizable per-key lighting and grease-resistant keys, the MSI Vigor GK50 Elite is one of the best budget mechanical keyboards (opens in new tab) for gamers. If you’re in the market for an RGB clacker with luxurious comfort and typing that won’t kill your pockets, take a close look.
MSI Vigor GK50 Elite Specs
|Switches||Kailh Blue (tested) or Kailh Box White|
|Media Keys||With FN shortcuts|
|Interface||USB 2.0 Type-A|
|Cable||6 feet (1.8m) USB 2.0, braided|
|Construction||Metal top plate, plastic base|
|Software||MSI Dragon Center|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||17.1 x 5.3 x 1.5 inches (435x135x38 mm)|
|Weight||1.8 pounds (800.5g)|
|Extra||Left Ctrl keycap, Alt keycap, keycap puller|
Design of MSI Vigor GK50 Elite
The MSI Vigor GK50 Elite carries over the same beautiful look as the preceding VIgor GK50 Low Profile. That means you’re getting a sleek metal top plate with a brushed finish. This makes for a subtle shine that helps the keyboard look a bit more expensive than it actually is. You also get a couple of appearances from MSI’s mascot, Lucky the Dragon, without it getting tacky.
But it’s not just about how nice the Vigor GK50 Elite is to look at; it’s also about how functional the design is for long-term use. Thanks to some matte coating, the octagon-shaped plastic keycaps did a good job of fighting off grease stains, making this a good fit for the snacky gamer. The coating also makes for decent resistance; the keycaps squawk loudly if you rub your finger across them. Overall, the keycaps feel as thick and quality as your standard plastic keycaps aka nothing particularly special.
The top-plate brings durability to the keyboard, but the Vigor GK50 Elite is still relatively lightweight overall at 1.8 pounds. For comparison, the similarly priced Cooler Master CK552 (opens in new tab) and Corsair K60 RGB Pro are 1.9 pounds and 2 pounds, respectively. Of course, our review focus takes up more space than its low-profile counterpart. While our review unit is 17.1 x 5.3 x 1.5 inches, the Vigor GK50 Low Profile is 17.1 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches. Both offer feet on the underside that flip out sideways, providing more height without the losing stability.
One shortcoming is in the Vigor GK50 Elite’s cable. It's a braided cable but doesn't seem to have much reinforcement where it connects to the keyboard and is a little flimsier than what you'll find on some rival keyboards. It seems like it could break after too much manipulation.
Typing Experience on MSI Vigor GK50 Elite
The MSI Vigor GK50 Elite is available with two types of mechanical switches, and they’re both tactile and clicky. You can opt for Kailh Box White (opens in new tab) switches or the Kailh Blue (opens in new tab) switches in our review unit.
Kailh Box Blues are loud and clicky and specced for 1.9 ± 0.4mm pretravel, 4.0 ± 0.4mm total travel and actuate with 50 ± 10 grams of force, bottoming out at 60 ± 10g. That makes them similar to the more traditional Cherry MX Blues (2mm pretravel, 4mm total travel, actuating at 50g and bottoming out at 60g). These types of switches are popular for typing, thanks to their discernible tactile bump along the way and satisfyingly loud clicking sound. And if you type hard enough, those clicks will be accompanied by dings on the keyboard’s metal top plate, for an even louder experience.
The amount of space between the keys was another positive, making it comfortable for me to type on for hours. If you’re used to linear switches or non-mechanical keyboards, the Vigor GK50 Elite will definitely take some getting used to it, particularly when it comes to applying enough force to get through that tactile pump. For comparison linear Cherry MX Reds only require 40g to actuate.
But eventually I found myself typing faster on MSI’s clacker as I got more used to it. On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I was able to hit my standard speed and accuracy. Now, I’m singing this keyboard’s praises to heavy typists.
It’s also worth noting that this will likely provide a more comfortable typing experience than the Vigor GK50 Low Profile. That keyboard comes with Kailh Choc White switches, with just 1.5mm pre-travel and 3mm total travel. We enjoyed the Vigor GK50 Low Profile’s sound and clickiness and didn’t think the switches were too shallow, but if you’re doing a lot of typing or want a more traditional feel, the Vigor GK50 Elite may be a little more up your alley.
Gaming Experience on MSI Vigor GK50 Elite
While my typing grew to improve with the Vigor GK50’s tactile, clicky switches, it’s a bit of a different story with gaming.
Whether playing Destiny 2, Ark: Survival Evolved or Dead By Daylight, I found the Kailh Blue switches slightly tiring because I had to apply more force to actuate them than I’m typically used to. This slowed me down, especially when I first started gaming with the keyboard. Again, this will present a greater learning curve to gamers used to linear switches particularly. Minding that caveat, after I got more used to it the Vigor GK50 Elite felt responsive and reliable when it came to rapid inputs. MSI also equips the keyboard with n-key rollover.
The keys on MSI’s Vigor GK50 Elite are well-spaced, which was advantageous when gaming. Not only did it help me avoid mistresses, but it made the keyboard more comfortable to use, and I didn't experience the normal wrist fatigue after many hours of gameplay.
With ARK, I was able to program keys to my liking, making consumables and my hotbar more readily accessible. I even used my per-key RGB to set different colors to important keys, which was super helpful in battle. It was all so convenient that it made me want to stay away from console gaming for a while.
Another thing to keep in mind when gaming on this keyboard is how loud it is. Not only do the Kailh Blue switches have a prominent click, but if you type hard enough you’ll also hear a ding on the metal top plate.
MSI includes an extra left Ctrl keycap and Alt keycap, as well as a keycap puller. These additional keycaps have rounded tops, instead of being indented like the rest, and are supposed to help gamers. But I thought they felt odd alongside the other keycaps and served no purpose
Features and Software on MSI Vigor GK50 Elite
The Vigor GK50 Elite works with MSI Dragon Center software, which I happened to already have installed. However, I had some difficulty downloading it, though others on staff did not.
The MSI Vigor GK50 Elite offers great hotkey mapping out of the box, allowing you to switch between modes for media, volume and launching software. You can also control RGB settings, including speed, colors and brightness here. This is a nice touch, as it means you don’t have to download or open software to change up your lighting.
If you’re in the market for a mechanical keyboard, the MSI Vigor GK50 Elite is a no-brainer. It’s not just about throwing specs at you: MSI has built a keyboard that’s comfortable that I loved every second I spent typing or gaming with it. I also highly recommend it for people who get wrist fatigue.
On the down side, this keyboard only comes with clicky, tactile mechanical switch options, which can get tiring when gaming, particularly if you're used to linear switches. Finally, the cable doesn’t look the sturdiest.
But at this price, the Vigor GK50 Elite is a great value. I typically use a Logitech G915 TKL, one of the best wireless keyboards and more pricey at $230 (opens in new tab), but I’d still opt for the (roughly) $80 (opens in new tab) Vigor GK50 Elite with its full-sized typing experience and easy RGB control. Built for comfy gaming while staying shiny and sleek, this keyboard is one to rule them all.