- Responsive key switches
- PC RGB synchronisation
- Compact size
- Lacks a luxury feel
- Cherry MX Red only
- Iffy software
- Too expensive
- Review Price: £129.99
- RGB backlighting
- Tenkeyless form factor
- MSI ‘Mystic Light’ synchronisation
- Weight: 900g
What is the MSI Vigor GK70?
The Vigor GK70 is MSI’s flagship tenkeyless keyboard with all the bells and whistles, including Cherry MX Red key switches, swappable key caps and, of course, RGB lighting.
Unfortunately, while the performance leaves very little to complain about, MSI’s use of cheaper materials, poor software and uninspired design means there’s little reason to pick this keyboard over rivals at a similar price. The GK70 is good, but it isn’t good enough.
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MSI Vigor GK70 – Design, build and features
I’m a big fan of compact keyboards, and as such I love the form factor of the GK70. It’s well sized, and the lack of any bulk frees up space for extra mouse movement, as well as increasing the cleanliness of you desk.
The GK70 is also well put together: the keyboard feels super-sturdy, without any real traces of flex. Yet the Vigor doesn’t feel particularly expensive, since it’s constructed mainly of plastic. There are metal plates on the top of the keyboard but it doesn’t feel as premium as, say, the Corsair K70. The end result is disappointing; the look and feel simply doesn’t match up to the £129.99 asking price.
The overall design will be very much ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’, since its look is very ‘gamery’. The top plate houses a glossy metal bar, with the MSI dragon present on the right hand side of the board, continuing over the right hand side. Each key shines bright with RGB lighting, and you have the choice of using the optional gaming key caps to help understand where you’re hovering. These are useful for gaming, but they do ruin the typing experience, with overly slippy keys.
Each key houses a Cherry MX Red switch – the industry standard for gaming, with a smooth linear press, and a short actuation distance. They’re not always the best for typing however, and unlike Razer, Corsair and ROG, there are no other switch options available. This is a real shame, and somewhat a missed opportunity.
Media and function key integration is possible, but you’ll need to hold a function key to activate them. I prefer dedicated keys, but on a compact keyboard such a setup works very well, and is worth the compromise.
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MSI Vigor GK70 – Performance
When it comes to gaming, there’s very little to complain about. MSI’s choice of Red switches meets my personal preference for gaming boards, and the mechanism is smooth and responsive.
Playing games such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Smite yields fantastic results. The snappy nature of the keyboard makes hitting that ability or gunswitch that little bit quicker, and it’s easier to feel confident in heated situations. It likely won’t be the difference between life and death, but it’s more comfortable to use than any membrane keyboard.
Typing on the GK70 is a mixed bag. The linear switches lack any sort of tactile bump, and as such you’d likely find it easier to type on a Brown or Blue switch.
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It isn’t a concern for me personally, as I’m well accustomed to Red switches – and it’s nonetheless a pleasurable typing experience. You may just find that you make a few more mistakes due to the short actuation distance, so it’s worth bearing this in mind.
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MSI Vigor GK70 – Software and RGB lighting
A you’d expect from a top-end gaming keyboard, the GK70 includes RGB lighting and it’s highly customisable. Like the ROG Flare, you get the added benefit of being able to synchronize your lighting to your PC – assuming you’re using an MSI Mystic Light motherboard, GPU or third-party component. The effects work well, with a range of options to suit any colour scheme or setup style.
The software proved to be a big issue for my review uni, however. After installing the MSI Gaming Centre application, I was prompted to update the keyboard. Despite following the prompts to the letter, it actually ended up bricking the keyboard.
Granted, this may be an bespoke issue with my keyboard or PC. Nevertheless, it really isn’t a good start to any keyboard adventure – especially when the keyboard is this expensive.
Assuming you don’t encounter such issues, you’ll find that the software works in a similar way to Asus’ suite, where you have an application for PC-wide lighting, and another for settings and macros. In general it’s okay, but it remains a long way behind Corsair and Razer in terms of features and usability.
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Why buy the MSI Vigor GK70?
The GK70 is a decent keyboard. It offers buyers a rather garish design, but performs superbly in games, and is solid for typing too. The ability to match the RGB lighting with your PC is a nice touch, and is something that isn’t always possible on rival peripherals.
It’s a shame then that I have a hard time recommending the GK70. Priced at £129.99, it’s expensive for a tenkeyless board. Better-value options can be found from Cooler Master alongside better-built options from Corsair. Add to this flawed software and a lack of any real unique selling point – and the GK70 offers a very lukewarm proposal.
A solid option for MSI fans, but superior competition makes this keyboard a tough sell.