Corsair K83 – Living-Room Keyboard

I have had a PC in the living room connected to the family TV for a few years now, and in the past we used a wired Corsair K65 keyboard with it. The point of the machine was at least in part to play games, and for that a mechanical wired keyboard is de-rigeur (and I do love RGB backlighting). However, some recent changes to the computer fleet made the living-room PC into more of a media machine, and it was time to move to a wireless keyboard. Preferably one that also made the mouse superfluous. After some research, I ended up with the Corsair K83. I am rather happy with the keyboard overall, even though it is rather small and lacks RGB.

The Corsair K83 on a holiday-themed tablecloth

Overall

The K83 is a “media control” keyboard, designed to let you control the computer and in particular media applications. The keyboard part is “75%”, i.e., it is missing both the numerical keypad and the cluster of navigation key, while it does include F-keys and arrow keys (pushed down below the main alpha keys). It is essentially a laptop keyboard, including the use of an Fn modifier key to make some keys do double duty. The keys are flat laptop-style keys of a rather comfortable variety, just as good as my Thinkpad laptop and some of the non-mechanical quality keyboards we have around the house. Quite decent to type on, even though I do prefer a real mechanical keyboard with full-size full-travel keys for work.

If you put the keyboard on a table it is still good for typing serious amounts of text, while a bit of surfing and searching for things to watch in a web browser or other media application can be done with the keyboard in your lap (making use of the touchpad and maybe the joystick).

It pretty much achieves what I was looking for.

Touchpad and Joystick

The right-hand part of the keyboard includes a circular touchpad (obviating the need for a mouse), plus a volume roller and a joystick. The touchpad is small, and it might seem odd that it is circular, but so far that has worked very well in practice. I guess I rarely use the full square of a regular touchpad in practice. The touchpad supports Windows 10 multi-finger gestures just as well as any laptop I have ever used.

The joystick is a bit of an odd creature. When the keyboard is in game mode, the joystick moves the mouse pointer around. The joystick also has a couple of buttons at the back and bottom of the keyboard to put left and right mouse buttons within easy reach. This makes it a theoretical replacement for the mouse part of a mouse-and-keyboard control system, but a rather poor one. For couch-based gaming, a standard xbox-style gaming controller makes more sense than trying to use the K83 as a single large controller.

When not in game mode, the joystick provides an alternative way to input arrow keys, making it useful for navigation in most applications (including Word, as it happens). It is not brilliant for scrolling in web pages – that works better by using two-finger gestures on the touchpad. Thinking about it, it would have been nice to see a scroll wheel control on the keyboard. An additional roller like the volume control would work very nicely to scroll.

Media Controls

The keyboard features a rather extensive set of media controls. The volume roller is just as good as the one on high-end Corsair mechanical keyboards, and if it is pushed in it serves as a mute button. In addition, the F9 to F12 function as media playback controls (as long as the gaming lock is not engaged, in gaming mode you need to use Fn to get to media controls). Using the F-keys, I can control Spotify in the background as a I am typing this, skipping tracks and pausing playback even though Word is in focus.

Software

The Corsair iCue software can do a surprising amount with this keyboard. Given that this keyboard has a single color backlight that covers everything, you get the most basic “color” control I have ever seen on a Corsair keyboard (it looks a bit comical in its simplicity):

Apart from this, the software can customize what the media controls do and set the sensitivity and speed of the touchpad and joystick.

Overall, well done, and I am rather happy to stay in the Corsair family with this keyboard – since it means that I can use the same keyboard control panel program on all my various computers and get a reasonably consistent customization experience.

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