Corsair Vengeance M90 and K90 Review

BluePanda - 2012-02-19 15:40:48 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: April 2, 2012
Price: $79.99 and $129.99


Not too long ago we took a look at the K60 and M60 from Corsair and got a feel for what Corsair has to offer outside of the typical PSUs, RAM, and cases that we see from them. Well, Corsair didn’t stop with the 60-series for mouse and keyboard options – they've also released a 90-series keyboard and mouse have hit the market as well, which leaves me questioning what would be next…the 120 series? Or perhaps Corsair would just start a new naming scheme as the 60 and 90 are both under its “Vengence” label for gaming-related gear.

Whatever Corsair decides to name its next series, it doesn’t really matter, I hope the K90 and M90 at least stand up to the 60 series that we’ve already seen. At slightly higher prices for each, I’m expecting a little more this time around. The K90 is a mechanical keyboard with 18 dedicated macro keys and the whole keyboard is backlit in blue and white. The M90 is a laser mouse with 15 buttons, all elegantly placed on an aluminum chassis. Both have some serious gaming appeal, but I guess actually giving them a try will give better word of their fierceness.

Today we’ll take a look at the Vengeance 90 Series from Corsair as both are at my grip for gaming and daily use. Will they hold up as well as the 60 Series? Are they truly what Corsair claims they are? Let’s find out if your next birthday wish list will have the M90 or K90 at the top of the list.

Closer Look:


The M90 from Corsair arrived in a cardboard box just as most packages arrive on my porch. Inside I found a plastic shell package wrapped around the mouse. It looked much like the M60, but I’ll try to avoid the constant reference to the 60 series for those of you who are not familiar with them…however, the similarity between packaging of the two is nearly identical. The mouse is in full view through the plastic and leaves no guess work to know what is inside.

The cardboard inside, which is there to add a little decorative feel, fades from blue to black behind the mouse and reads “VENGEANCE M90” on the left and right sides of the mouse. Designed for gaming, it reads in both English and French for the two chosen package languages. The package gets to brag a little about the features of the mouse. The seven main features that the mouse is to be known for are of the following: 5700 DPI laser sensor, 9 ergonomic macro buttons, 48KB onboard dynamic memory, aluminum frame, tracking up to 165 inches per second and acceleration up to 30G, adjustable lift distance, and a solid metal weighted scroll wheel. Now if these things haven’t stirred up your interest, than you might want to check your pulse – you might be a zombie.







Pulling off the plastic, the mouse starts to look a little more real and I want to tear away the packaging even faster to get to use the mouse. I feel this is the hardest part of every review. The package arrives on your doorstep and you have to bust out the camera and white box before you can ever get your hands on the review item. The anticipation kills! Behind the cardboard filler there’s a quick start guide and a little booklet about warranty information – you even have two years for something to fail before you can’t get a free replacement. The cable comes wrapped up with a nice Velcro strap that allows you to take it wherever your gaming may take you.




The K90 also arrive on my doorstep in a nicely packed box; Corsair sure seems to know how to use proper packing methods with bubble pack and all. The box plays off the blue fade to black like the M90 did – it’s like it was a set made to be. “VENGEANCE” is in huge yellow letters on the front of the box with a shot of the keyboard right behind it. A little plastic window on the left gives first glance of the keyboard itself – a good look at those dedicated macros.

English and French are the languages of choice again with the back of the box showing the top-down angle of the entire keyboard with the wrist rest attached. Seven key features are listed: Cherry MX Red switches, 18 dedicated G-Keys, full key matrix anti-ghosting, 20-key rollover on USB, pro-grade brushed aluminum chassis with laser etched keys, customizable profiles, and 36K of on-board memory. The edges of the packaging show a few of the features with close-up shots and you know before opening the box that you’ve got a two year warranty on the keyboard.




Time for opening the box – my favorite part! The keyboard comes in a nice form-fitting, recycled, encasement. The package is shaped to hold the components perfectly and has protected everything perfectly in shipping – seems a lot nicer than the usual plastic packaging that shatters when dropped and this is even environmentally friendly. However, it still has a plastic front, so perhaps it wasn’t designed for the green impact but it sure makes disposing of it a lot easier since it just crushes up in your trash can. The whole keyboard is in view now and I like it.



Flipping over the package you can really see the contours designed to hold this specific package contents. The wrist rest, bundled cable, quick install guide, and warranty booklet are all neatly hidden within. Pulled away from this nifty packaging, the keyboard looks pretty nice and I'm looking forward to using it already. The cables come neatly bundled with the Velcro wrap; it looks like this is going to be a lot of fun.



The 90 series is quite appealing to the eye; both the M90 and the K90 are pretty impressive out of the box. I'm ready to use them but I'm guessing you'd like a little more up and personal look at the two – besides some box shots. Take a look at the next few pages to get a good look and see what each of these really has to offer you.

Closer Look – M90:

Now that we've pulled the M90 out of the box let's take a good look and see if it is something worthy of sitting on your mousepad. From the top-down perspective it takes a left-side dominance rather than begin horizontally symmetrical like some mice. It’s almost as if you are pointing with your mouse. The M90 has the smooth rubber feel all over except for the side buttons – they are just plastic – which makes them easy to feel and find. It seems to fit well in the hand; however, some of the buttons feel a little awkward to navigate my thumb to. The natural forward and backward button positions for me make the default forward and back buttons feel out of reach. Perhaps this is something I can get used to and will have to change to make it feel more natural. Either way, the ability to change things is there, so if you want to use different buttons it’s up to you to choose what and where. A little peek at the 9 macro buttons and you’ll see that you have a lot of options with this mouse.

Designed for MMO or RTS game players, I feel this mouse has a home in any gamers setup regardless of game choice. It’s always nice to be able to give a smack down with the press of a mouse button rather than some key binding on the keyboard. At that point it comes down to a preference of mouse versus keyboard. For me, I’m not much of an MMO player and I don’t really have much use for the extra keys, but I don’t find them a negative by any means.

The arrow-looking buttons on top of the left-click button let you navigate between your pre-set DPI settings. The rectangular button below the scroll wheel cycles through the different profiles you can set up in the software (be sure to check the “hardware playback” box in the software or the lights to go with this won’t quite work right).  There are light indicators for the six different profiles you can have set up. That way you, your friends, and significant other can all have your own settings – or just a per-game setup if you really like to customize things.














Looking at the left and right profiles of the mouse it is clear where all the action is. The right side of the mouse is just the right side of the mouse; usually there aren’t too many buttons here as the pinky isn’t quite as useful as one’s thumb. You can see a bit of the aluminum body in both shots, something I’ve found as a very nice touch in the Vengeance series as a whole – the overall sturdy and classy look/feel.

In the left-side shot you can see all nine of the macro buttons. That’s quite the array of buttons to assign and use. Unlike the Razer Naga or Naga Hex, the buttons aren’t physically numbered or ordered in a number pad sequence. They seem to be laid out in a natural pattern of what is “easy” for the thumb to reach while holding the mouse normally. I have somewhat small hands compared to some of you guys so I found some of the buttons a little less natural to reach – but really you can’t design it to fit every hand; majority rules here.



A glance at the front end of the mouse reveals that the large scroll wheel from the 60 series is still in place. I really love this thing. The wheel has a bit of weight to it and is made out of solid aluminum rather than some plastic or rubber that tends to wear or get sticky. It feels “expensive” and I really wish every mouse at least had the same feel. There are two buttons and an indicator right below the scroll wheel set to change DPI settings between three pre-set options (these can be set in the software). Looking at the back end of the mouse you can see the buttons really fitting the curvature of the mouse along with the standard corsair logo that does light up in brilliant white.



A direct look at the front of the mouse, a head on sort of look, you can see the mouse cable doesn’t come from the center of the mouse. It’s actually offset to the left and comes out right below your left click button. It seems to stay out of the way more than your standard center-pull cable, but perhaps it’s just the braided cable and smooth tracking that makes it seem this way. Either way, I like the uniqueness.

The bottom of the mouse is beautiful in aluminum and I almost wish the entire mouse was an aluminum body rather than just the chassis…perhaps in another mouse. There are no removable weights, what you get is what you got for weight but I find it neither too light nor too heavy — indeed it is just right. The teflon feet seem to make it move effortlessly even on the roughest of mousepads.



Plugged in through USB, the mouse glows a mix of blue and snow white. A couple lights in the front light up the aluminum scroll wheel a bit and a couple up top light up the DPI indicator and buttons I told you about earlier. Even the fancy Corsair logo on the butt of the mouse lights up in snowy white. Overall it's pretty good looking and the fit seems just right.

The profile selection button, like I mentioned earlier, lights up in blue as well. If you look along the side of the aluminum chassis there is a light indicator for the six different profiles you can have set. The profile button allows you to cycle through the different ones and light up from one to six light dots to indicate the profile number. You can also enable on-screen display for selection the different profiles if you’d rather not count dots.

Overall it’s a pretty nice looking mouse. Whether you need the nine macro buttons is up to you. Personally I think if I were an MMO player, they’d have more use; for me they are just nifty extra buttons to assign random actions to like spamming random ASCII art through the chat console in Left 4 Dead 2.



Closer Look – K90:

You already got a quick peek at the keyboard on the first page, but there is definitely more to see. With the wrist rest in place and plugged in for blue lighting you get this little snap shot. It’s pretty nice looking if you ask me. I’m always a fan of blue, so maybe I’m a little biased here, but I think the glow from beneath the keys looks really nice. This might be the final product set up, if you remember from the first page, it wasn’t shipped with the wrist wrest attached (we’ll see how that works a little further on) and the blue lighting, that’s just a perk of being plugged in – however you can always turn off the lighting. Let’s take a closer look at what it took to get from the box to working.















I’m a fan of Cherry MX reds, if you haven’t seen the switches before or even felt them at your own finger tips, they are linear switches with a rather light feel to them. Pulling away a couple of the keys you can see how Corsair has used multiple switch options here. For the main keys, the number pad, and the arrow keys you’ve got the Cherry MX reds. The ESC, F1-F12, page up/page down cluster, and macro keys all have membrane pads. The keyboard somewhat denotes the change in key type with an a change in lighting as well, which I’ll explain later. Lit up with the key off you can really see the blue of that individual LED on the tilde key.



The media key setup is just like the K60 (sorry to keep making past refrences) and is again one of my favorite things about this keyboard. The keys are discrete for the media options and a scrolling drum wheel is used for volume control. It gives you that nice precise feel that allows you to adjust your volume up or down just a slight bit while in game without having to adjust your speakers or Windows volume settings. The mute button makes it easy to grab a quick phone call or even just mute the sound so it doesn’t “sound” like you are playing games when you should be studying. I won’t carry on and on as I’ve already rated this media setup with a major +1.

On the left side of the keyboard you can see buttons for quick profile switches. You can save up to 50 different profiles within the software and can access three with quick-press buttons. With onscreen display turned on you can see the switch on the screen as well – much like changing the volume on your TV. It makes it really easy to have specific setups for different people or different games. Lighting up in blue is just a bonus!



Like many keyboards these days this one has as USB port on the upper edge. It’s only one slot, for a mouse or perhaps a quick thumb drive connection. It's not much of a hub since it's a simple pass-through but it moves a port from the back of your computer to the front – I guess if you are lazy or your computer is in awkward place this is a bonus. With front ports on most chassis today, I find no need for this…but it’s there if you need or want it.



Flipping over the keyboard you'll find two feet to prop up. They fold out to the sides rather than up and down. They seem high quality and add about half an inch to the back edge. I generally don’t like extra rise to my keyboard but the fact that they are nice feet is an added bonus. If you don’t use them, they do fold nicely and stay put out of the way. Four rubber grips then hold your keyboard securely in place.



I’m sure you noticed in the back shot of the keyboard that the wrist rest wasn’t simply clipped onto the keyboard. It actually requires a little bit of assembly or disassembly to add or remove the wrist rest. It sort of clips into place and then two thumbscrew-like screws are used to hold it in place. I really felt some tools were necessary, even with my small fingers the screws were difficult to turn without a screwdriver. With the rest on it certainly is a beast of a keyboard. It looks great and is sturdy enough that even the wrist rest won’t be going anywhere.



Some of the most impressive or at least the most fun pictures are always the pictures of lighting on different peripherals. If you recall me mentioning the different lighting on the different key types previously, then finally, here is what I was referring to. The main keys and number pad (the Cherry Reds) show up in brighter/darker blue. The rubber dome keys (function keys, page up/page down cluster, and macro keys) are all a bit dimmer. In my opinion, I’d rather them have all been the same brightness. I don’t think it was originally intentional; however, I think it is actually just due to the different switch types that allow the lighting to be so different. The lighting isn’t perfect on the number keys either, as the LED is near the top of the key – which leaves the bottom of the key a bit dim in comparison. This seems to be a trend with most lighted mechanical keyboards though. Overall I wouldn’t have chosen the lighting to be this way, but it definitely doesn’t look too bad at all.  The important keys are extremely bright on the highest setting and the macro keys are easily readable even in a pitch-black room.



M90 Specifications:

Up to 5700 (adjustable by 100 DPI)
Report Rate:
Programmable Buttons:
USB – gold plated
Cable Length:
1.8m braided
2 years


M60 Features:


K90 Specifications:

Key Switches:
Cherry MX Red
Windows Lock Key:
USB with USB port pass through (gold plated)
Cable Length:
2m braided
2 years


K90 Features:

All information provided by:

M90 Configuration:

The M60 had a little bit of semi-optional configuration. If you want to use it just as is, it will play nice in Windows 7 and comes with default settings for forward and back on the buttons as well as default DPI-setting changes. However, if you want to take full advantage of what you paid for (all 15 programmable buttons) take a second and install the current beta driver/software from Corsair's website. It seems like it shouldn't be in beta anymore but I guess that’s one way out of issues on the customer-support end.

Either way, if you have multiple Corsair products installed on one rig when you start up the software, you can cycle through them at the top right. On the left, a diagram of the current selection comes up with numbers pointing to specific buttons of the mouse. Click on the number of the button that you would like to change, then click advanced options to pull up lists of both basic and advanced commands to set for the button. You can also play with playback options to have your button press be a rapid fire button, press continuously or press a specified number of times. You can even control delay options under the Delay Option button. You pretty much have free control over what each of the 15 buttons of the mouse do.

















The second tab at the top "Manage Performance" allows you to control the actual movement of the mouse itself. You can set the three DPI settings of the buttons on the mouse to whatever you desire. The Sniper function, as on the M60, can be set to a "lower" DPI setting of your choice – you can even set it higher than your normal settings just for fun. You can control the DPI settings in increments of 100 starting at 100 and going all the way up to 5700. The sampling rate and lift height can all be controlled here as well. The surface quality test allows you to see how well your desk acts as a mouse pad compared to your mouse pad, pad of paper, or whatever it is you use as surface. Higher quality = better mouse control.


The last tab allows you to manage different profiles you decide to set up. If you and your friends, family, or significant others tend to share a computer in the house it's nice to be able to quickly switch between profiles. Some people like a fast mouse, others don't. No need to come to an agreement here, just have your own settings! Name them, delete them, or store them to the mouse. It's nice being able to manage all the different ones without having to remember who is "Profile 1" – just name it "Loser" or whatever nice name you call your siblings.


K90 Configuration:

The K60 had a little bit of optional configuration as well. The keyboard of course functioned as any keyboard might if you had the plug n’ play option. However, if you want to take full advantage of it and use those macro keys then you’ll want to install the software. Again the software is a beta version, but it seems to work just fine. They even have a firmware update available now – so be sure you are keeping things up to date. The keyboard and mouse software are essentially all-in-one. You just need to install the separate drivers for each. So when you bring up the software you can see the option to cycle between keyboard and mouse in the upper right corner.

There are really only two pages to play with here; the first page lets you play with a lot. “Assign Keys” allows you to assign the 18 macro keys to whatever your heart desires. You can control playback options with the number of clicks per press under the playback option button. Advanced options allow you to assign basic commands to the macros – such presets as open web browser or save file. The delay options button obviously lets you set delays of your desire. For me, I just set up some ASCII art to spam and see what servers would like to ban me today.



The only other page is the “Manage Profiles”. It works pretty much like the mouse options. You can save up to 50 different profiles here and name them whatever you want. Save them locally, import them from your friends, or even save them to your keyboard so when you play on other peoples computers you macros are right there with you – no problem.

M90 Testing:

The Corsair M90 was put through a week of rigorous testing. During this time it was closely examined regarding the following four traits: speed, comfort, precision, and customization.

A mouse is a key effort in any shooting game and just general working about your computer without using the keyboard for everything; however, as a mouse there really is no apparatus or methods for systematically testing it. Subjective commenting and critiquing on speed, comfort, precision, and customization will help you decide if you are ready for the M90 from Corsair.


Testing Setup:


Comparison Mice:



Speed is a major factor in using a mouse. If you can’t get from point A to point B in a reasonable time, you might be dead in your game, or just simply frustrated with whatever you are working on. To rate speed, I used a scale of 1 to 10 with a score of one being representative of it just won’t move and a score of 10 being this mouse got ticketed for speeding.



Precision is a key element in making your every headshot. If the mouse is wandering or just not quite pointing where you feel it should be then your skill almost doesn’t even matter. The mouse was rated from 1 to 10, with 1 meaning just give up, and a score of 10 meaning it was meant to be.



If you are going to raid all night you will need a comfortable mouse, something your hand can control without really knowing you are using a mouse. A scale of 1 to 10 was used to rate the comfort level of the mouse. A value of 1 means you might just want to use the keyboard to do everything, and a value of 10 says that without the mouse, something is missing… almost like when you are missing your car keys in your pocket.



If your mouse doesn’t even have a scroll wheel, I cannot talk to you. However, if you are one of those people sitting here with only a left click, a right click, and a scroll wheel… well then we need to talk. I’m not saying your mouse needs to be as full of buttons as the Razer Naga but having some buttons can really improve not only the way you move about menus but also the way you get around in game. Using a ranking from 1 to 10, a score of 1 goes to those of you with only one button (go Apple!) and a score of 10 goes to the mouse that can do everything!



Overall it's always hard to compare one mouse to the next after using it for a week or so, or even after switching between multiple in a month. It is always easy to say which ones were comfortable compared to others and the Corsair M90 was one odd mouse to me. I never got used to the standard forward and back keys and ended up moving them somewhere else. I guess it was nice being able to do this, but disappointing that the other keys were so “odd” to reach. Perhaps it’s my small hands that prevented me from really enjoying this one, so I’ll truly have to leave this one up to you to critique.

Speed and precision are really dependent of user settings. You can have a really fast mouse if you want or you can move it around slower than a sloth. It's up to you. Corsair lets you control this 100% so you can't complain much there. This essentially goes hand and hand with the customization. Being able to set DPI settings in 100 DPI increments is pretty nice considering most let you change sensitivity with little Windows slider only. Being able to assign any of the 15 buttons to whatever you desire was a nice touch as well – the Sniper feature from the M60 was available and still was my absolute favorite feature on the mouse.


The Corsair K90 was put through over a full weeks worth of testing. During this time I did everything from writing school papers, random net surfing, and most importantly some casual gaming with some friends.

Although a keyboard is a crucial part of any system build there really are no concrete “tests” that can be performed that can really define this keyboard as better than any other. However, in a subjective manner it can easily be broken down into key categories that really show where a keyboard shines or fails miserably. The most defining traits of a keyboard can be summarized numerically under the categories of: Comfort, Customization, Gaming, and Accuracy.


Testing Setup:


Comparison Keyboards:



Comfort is a major player when it comes to choosing a keyboard. If I need to spend 15 hours working on a report then I want to be miserable from the report itself, not because my hands are cramping from the unusual keyboard design. If the keys are too far apart or it has a sharp edge where my palms sit then I probably will not be much of a happy camper. With this in mind, comfort is measured on a scale from 1-10 with a score of 1 being, “Are you sure this is even a keyboard?” and a score of 10 as, “This keyboard was molded to fit my hands”. A 5 shall represent your typical stock keyboard.



In a gaming situation it might be nice to have a few keys on a keyboard that are designated for weapon selection or giving commands. The ability to assign macro keys can be the difference when you are being beaten by someone who simply does not have to click to do every action. Therefore a scale of 1-10 is assigned with a value of 1 representing, “There are fewer keys than an average keyboard”, and a value of 10 as “WOW! Where are my normal keys, there are SOOO many”. Again a 5 is representative of the “stock” keyboard (including media keys). This category also covers the options of appearance customization (i.e. replacement keys, lighting, and other color options)



Gaming plays in hand with customization. Being able to assign macros can make some games much easier to play – especially if it replaces scrolling through several menu options. This category for rating is based on the concept of the keyboard being designed for gaming or not. This category is based completely on the compatibility to play with games. Does it have specifically designed macro keys, are there many of them, and how easy are they to use. A scale of 1-10 is used with a score of 1 representing a keyboard with only the main keys (no media keys, no number pad), and a score of 10 means the keyboard was designed solely for a gamer.



No matter how fast a keyboard can respond or how fast you can type, writing up papers and maneuvering the battlefield both require great accuracy. If you can’t get your point across in an email because you had to spend half your time going back to retype words because a keystroke was missed or over-typed then why even bother. Same goes for in game – pressing the correct key should always, always, always produce the correct response. A scale of 1 – 10 was used to rate accuracy; a score of 1 represents you might as well give up, and a 10 means your keyboard knows what you were thinking before you typed it.


Comfort of a keyboard is always an important factor. The K90 was pretty good about comfort. The only thing I felt was a bit hard to adjust to was the “chalkiness” of the keys themselves. With longer nails it felt like I was typing on a chalk board. With shorter nails it felt a little more like a keyboard and was much more reasonable…not that too many of you have to worry about this – I just felt that it was an odd feeling. The wrist rest was smooth and comfortable but I feel it could have been a bit higher up. The keys were nice and easy to work with after hours of typing or gaming.

Macros were easy to set up and easy to use. I’m not generally a big fan of keyboard macros as most games I play don’t have much of a use for them. It is nice to be able to set up random functions around Windows or in different programs to get things done just a little bit quicker than moving the mouse. They were easy to assign and didn’t require a lot of outside effort other than opening the software and making a few changes. It typed like normal, all I found a little “off” was the fact that the backspace key seemed a little delayed or non-responsive in some use. Overall this keyboard was a cut above your standard kit.


In conclusion the M90 is a pretty nice mouse; however, it didn’t win me over the M60 Corsair released just before it. To be honest I will probably pass this off to one of my MMO-playing friends who might be able to get some better use out of it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the extra buttons that made me not want to keep it around it was the slightly awkward placement of the programmable buttons as well as the default forward and back buttons that made it just a bit awkward for me to use. The mouse itself worked well, and trust me, it was nice being able to set extra mouse functions here and there – it just wasn’t comfortable for my “little” hand. I’d still recommend the mouse, but I still prefer the M60 over the M90 hands down.

I still loved the weighted scroll wheel, it felt like I had better control and it didn't feel cheap nor did it have the horrible grinding scroll sound when going through several pages of information. The ability to add in the Sniper button was also still by far my favorite aspect of the entire mouse. I'm not much for sniping and getting many headshots because I tend to never "lock-on". The Sniper button allowing me to slow down my motions really helped me grab a lot more head shots than normal and enabled me to actually attempt to snipe things I normally wouldn't have bothered with. It sort of felt like cheating, but I loved it! M60 vs. M90 – it really depends on what games you play. If you don’t play MMOs or RTSs then go for the 60, and obviously if you do play them…go for the 90. No brainer.






In conclusion, the K90 was a fun keyboard. The added length for the macro keys was a bit annoying after a while and resulted in me returning to another keyboard. They keys showed no wear in the time I did use it, which speaks positively compared to some other keyboards out there today. Not being a big fan of macro settings other than to spam ASCII art or annoy friends I don't tend to use them; having them wasn’t a major plus for me, but was a bit of fun. It’s always fun to be a little annoying when you're goofing off with friends (or enemies).

For the price, I think I honestly would have bought it without having tried it before. Having used it, I’d say I probably wouldn’t have bought it. It’s one of those situations where you love it because you paid for it, or would rather have something else because you didn’t pay for it. The fact that it is a mechanical keyboard with brilliant lighting sets it apart from the normal mechanical keyboard crowd (which, by comparison, is usually dull and unlit). I truly like the keyboard but without taking full advantage of it all the time I feel it is wasted. The extra length is annoying and leaves me less room on my desk. I’d rather have the space back and lose the 18 macro keys. However, for some of you this is one hell of a keyboard. Any of you that play MMOs, this is for you. You gotta get your hands on this. It’s a mixed feeling, like the mouse – it depends on what you play – but either way Corsair, has set up the 60 series for us “normal” game players, and the 90 series for you MMO multi-key-needing types. The Vengeance series is a win!