Typically I prefer mechanical keyboards but recently I have been on the lookout for a basic wireless keyboard to use in our living room with our VR setup. Currently, I have a keyboard with a short cord under the TV and while most interaction is through the VR headset and controllers from time to time I need to update things or change settings and it’s a pain to do. It also makes the current setup impossible to use for viewing media. We do use a Shield TV in the living room, but there have been a few times I wouldn’t have minded using Twitch Multistream on the PC. Well, I originally was going to use a normal wireless mouse along with a Corsair Laptop and keyboard but Corsair came out with the K83 which is a lot more compact and seems to have the potential to be perfect for couch use. So today I’m going to check it out and see what the K83 has to offer and then figure out how it worked out for our setup.
Product Name: Corsair K83 Wireless
Review Sample Provided by: Corsair
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
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So while the K83 is a keyboard and touchpad together the box is surprisingly small. It is decked out in yellow with a photo of the board taking up most of the front. Corsair kept their branding simple with a smaller Corsair logo in the top left corner and the model name in the bottom left. Around on the back is a second top-down picture of the K83 but a little smaller this time along with a second picture showing the top edge and back buttons. The back also shows how the K83 supports mobile, TV, Game consoles, and PCs. The bottom edge of the box also has a small specification listing, a list of what is inside of the box, and the system requirements.
The box opens up and the K83 greats you right up on top and it is wrapped in plastic to keep it scuff free. There is foam on the top of the box to help hold the keyboard in place as well as a pouch where Corsair has put the documentation. Up under the K83 they have the wireless dongle tucked in a plastic tray and then the bottom of the box opens up where you will find the other accessories.
As for documentation, I was very surprised at the overall thickness of everything they included. You get a safety and compliance book of course then a warranty guide. But the actual user manual was thick. This does run through everything you need to know for use and setup though.
Photos and Features
So the K83 is a compact 60% keyboard on the left with a round touchpad over on the right side in an aluminum frame. The aluminum frame matches well with Corsairs normal Mechanical keyboard designs only this is a scissor switch keyboard with a laptop like key profile. Being a media keyboard it is designed for two-handed use on the couch when using the touchpad, volume, and joystick on the right or you can put it on your lap or a table to use the keyboard. As for the keyboard layout, size wise it is a 60% keyboard but with all of the functionality of a TKL layout. To do that down in the bottom row the modifier keys have all been taken down to 1U in size to fit a direction pad in the bottom right corner.
Corsair did include a function layer which all of the F row takes advantage of. Because this is a multifunctional keyboard there are android buttons in the first section with back, home, and the overview button which is what pulls up all of your open tabs. The F4, F6, and F7 keys, on the other hand, are how you switch between devices. The WIFI looking icon switches you to the wireless dongle then the other two are both Bluetooth. You can have three devices connected to the K83 at once and hope back and forth between them. Then from there are the media keys starting with the launch media player, stop, back, play/pause, and skip forward. Between all of the K keys, there are also three indicator lights. The one on the far left is the status LED which helps show when you are in Bluetooth or wireless modes as well as when Bluetooth is searching. The second LED is the caps lock indicator and the last is for the scroll lock button. All of the other buttons like the home button, delete, and scroll lock which are all on a TKL keyboard are around the keyboard in the function layer on keys like the tab key.
The direction pad in the bottom right corner would normally drive me nuts but I have gotten used to a similar layout on my notebook. Cutting the space on the up and down buttons is a bummer but this is much better than putting these buttons on to the function layer, especially considering how useful they are when using the K83 on a mobile device or Android TV. Next, to the direction pad, the control button is actually the function button as well.
The right side of the K83 is really what sets it apart. The entire section is raised up slightly and the large round touchpad in the middle is the main feature. It has an LED ring around the outside edge and the Corsair logo in the middle. Most entertainment keyboards like this would go with a square or rectangle shaped touchpad which better matches your TV or monitor shape but the round shape is designed with you having your hand around the side of the K83 and it covers the reach of your thumb. Below the touchpad are left and right mouse click buttons for navigation though I think you are more likely to use the back and top edge buttons. Then up above the touchpad is a metal knurled scroll wheel for quick volume control. Below that is a backlighting adjustment button that can turn the K83’s full backlighting on, off or down to a lower brightness. The F lock button switches the top edge and back buttons from media mode (select and back) to gaming mode (left and right mouse click). It also locks the entire F row into the normal F keys rather than the hotkeys. Up in the top right corner, the K83 also has a proper joystick with a pushdown click as well. When the F-Lock is turned off this functions as a direction pad and turning the F-Lock on switches the joystick to do mouse movement. The Joystick is also analog so you can adjust mouse movement speed depending on how far over you push it.
Around on the back side of the K83, you can see how Corsair is expecting you to hold on to the keyboard with indented areas on both ends where you grip. The right side behind the touchpad and joystick has a very large button back here which depending on your F-Lock being on or off can act as a mouse click or a select button. The bottom also has thin rubber feet that run from end to end on the top and bottom edge so if you do sit it down it isn’t going to slide around. The Corsair logo is back here in the middle as well.
Around on the back edge of the K83, there is one large trigger button, similar to what you would find on a gaming controller. This trigger is tied in with the joystick up on top of the touchpad where you can hold the keyboard on the sides and use the trigger to click or navigate. Also on the back edge is the power button which has an LED in the middle. Pushing it turns the K83 on, holding it turns it off. Then next to that is the Micro-USB charging port which is recessed back a little into the keyboard and is notched slightly on the bottom corners. The area is relatively large but some USB cables aren’t going to work if you plan on using any old charging cable on your desk. Assuming your cable does fit though, the K83 can be charged by any Micro-USB cord which is nice. Personally, I would prefer to see Type-C be used here for better compatibility with mobile devices.
The side profile helps show that laptop-style chicklet keys and the low profile scissor switches. The keyboard itself has a significant angle to it with the front edge being very thin and the back having a little thickness to it.
As for accessories the K83 only comes with two things. You get a small wireless dongle and a charging USB cable. The USB cable has a traditional plug on one end and then a Micro-USB connection on the other end to plug into the K83. Then the cable itself has a flat design which I’m not sure I’m a big fan of. Flat is great for anything you need to tuck away but it does restrict side to side flexibility so keep that in mind. As for the wireless dongle, it is also USB of course and it is relatively large with the protruding part being longer than the USB plug where a lot of companies (Logitech especially) have dongles that can stay plugged in without worrying that you might break them by bumping into them. I also wish the dongle could be used with the cord to move the wireless antenna up out of your entertainment center for better reception like some will do. The dongle does have a small reset button built into the back along with a QR code and the model name which is nice if you are like me and end up with way too many wireless devices and can get dongles mixed up sometimes.
So the K83 which on its surface seems like a simple media keyboard which wouldn’t have any extra software level features does have software. It is tied in with Corsairs all in one software called iCue, I think they were making an IQ or smart joke there. The software when I installed it picked up the Corsair digital power supply my PC also has and with that you can see how up top it lists all installed devices and you can flip between them. You can also see a warning symbol below the K83 picture indicating it needed a firmware update which the software walked me through as well.
Over on the left, they have all of the K83’s settings split up into a few different sections. The first is the Actions section. This is where you can program macros line by line or by recording. You can also use the dropdown to pick any other function that you might want to tie to a key like opening up specific media, a specific application, windows functions, or even start a timer. You can also go through and remap any of the current keys as well.
Because of the large touchpad, the K83 does support Microsoft Gestures but you have to turn them on through windows. You can also run them through iCUE as well if you prefer to change them in there. This isn’t something I like to use though, when screwing around moving the cursor around I don’t want to delete something important or close everything on my screen.
Now the lighting effects page, well this would be a lot more useful if this was an RGB keyboard. But you do have the option to turn lighting on or off or have a breathing effect. You can also set the overall brightness by adjusting the light color from white to black and anywhere in between.
Navigation control, this is where you adjust all of the touchpad side of the board including the two buttons on the top edge and back of the keyboard. The joystick is also included here and the main thing you can do is adjust the sensitivity of both the touchpad and joystick which as you can see I have turned up when I was doing initial testing on my PC with multiple monitors.
The performance page is also a little lacking but here is where you can turn off a few of the usual suspects like Alt-Tab Alt-F3, and the windows key which can interrupt or complexly close whatever you are doing. Gamers are more interested in these functions but even on a media PC, you might want to use these. You can also turn the touchpad off completely here.
Lastly, there is a settings page and this has more functionality than most of the other pages combined. Here you can actually see the wireless connection and battery status. You can turn the backlighting brightness up even higher by using the override option to go to 100% and also adjust the LED and full keyboard shutoffs to keep battery life decent. Then, of course, you can also check and update the firmware here as well as down lower you can update the iCUE software as well.
For testing I couldn’t really do my normal testing which is just replacing my main keyboard on my PC, the K83 does work perfectly on a PC but using it exclusively on a desk wouldn’t really do it much justice. So I moved it into the living room where we have a few devices that it pairs with. Our VR PC could work with Bluetooth or the wireless dongle but I went with the dongle. That left the two different Bluetooth channels available for other devices. My original plan was to use it with our ShieldTV and PS4 as they see the most use but when I went to pair it with the PS4 it picked it up and then let me know it wasn’t supported. So I ended up going with the ShieldTV and the Xbox One which supported it right away. Bluetooth setup was as simple as using the Function+F8 or F9 keys once to switch to that device then pressing and holding it until the blue light flashed. From there I just had to type the code on the screen into the keyboard.
With everything up and running I just left the keyboard in our living room to see how it might tie in with use. We use the ShieldTV paired with Plex and PS Vue for all of our TV then have the VR PC, PS4, and Xbox One for gaming. Having a keyboard available for the shield is especially helpful when searching for things in both Plex and Vue as well as reinputting overly long passwords but what was interesting is having the keyboard/touchpad option adds a normal mouse to AndroidTV which you don’t get at all when using a normal remote or the Shields game controller. I found that sometimes the mouse was quicker, especially in apps. Speaking of Twitch is used often but saying anything in Twitch chat was basically impossible with a controller, by the time you type anything out the conversation has already moved on. Having the K83 made chatting possible, though to be fair on a lot of channels I doubt I would want to read chat let alone be associated with it lol.
Normal ShieldTV navigation was possible with the joystick or with the direction pad. The same could be said with the Xbox One as well. I only really needed to flip the joystick into its second mode when on the VR PC and for that it was mostly just to get the back button on the K83 switched over to be the mouse click button, the touchpad was more than enough to navigate. I did, however, have to make the cursor larger, at 4k from across the room it was hard to see.
The chicklet shaped keys and flat profile would normally be a complaint for me on a normal keyboard. It works out well on the K83 though because it keeps it smaller, less likely to have the keys broken when sliding it around, and it helps keep the thin form factor that the K83 needs to be held in hand. The scissor switches are about as good as you would expect. The movement is consistent front switch to switch but these aren’t high-end mechanical switches. It feels like you are typing on a laptop because you basically are. The caps do have a slight concave effect to them even though they do look flat and that helps a lot in how they feel as well as helping to keep your clicks centered.
I was really happy with the 60% size, after adding the touchpad area on to the side if the K83 was any wider it would have been cumbersome but has it sits it isn’t bad. Having a direction pad still fit into that was also nice, I ended up using that a lot when navigating in Android over using the joystick simply for a recognizable click over using an analog stick. Like how on a game console you might prefer to use the direction pad over a stick in menus or some games. I was worried that having a lot of things on the function layer might be an issue but it wasn’t too bad. I mostly only used it when switching between the dongle and the two Bluetooth devices. Having the volume control scroll wheel, not on a function layer was nice though I think it might need a click to keep it from being easy to bump. I also liked having the brightness button. The F-Lock, on the other hand, could have been function layer.
The other big feature that you wouldn’t think would stand out as much as it did was the backlighting. I’m used to having backlighting on all of my keyboards anymore and it is always a big sticking point when buying a new laptop. The same reason I need it on my laptop is why having it on the K83 was so important. When I watch TV, sometimes it isn’t in a bright office and there is a good chance it is at night, especially during the shorter winter days of the year. Being able to see all of the legends was nice, especially for the function layer stuff which was also lit up well. The backlighting doesn’t stay on for very long so it doesn’t use too much battery life or become a distraction when you sit the K83 down. But without it, I don’t think I could have used it, which makes me glad I didn’t pick up a few of the keyboards I was considering for this same use. Having the touchpad ring lit up also helped to keep me from accidentally touching that when I didn’t want too.
Now as for the wireless performance, Bluetooth was about what you would expect. I was able to use the K83 with the ShieldTV from two rooms over. The wireless dongle, on the other hand, worked well in the room but I didn’t get the same range. I had more trouble with it in my office where even plugging it in on the back of the PC caused issues. What I ran into mostly were hiccups with the touchpad and the joystick. Oddly enough on the dongle, the joystick would skip sections when going left but not right. Battery life, on the other hand, they don’t even bother listing time when you run backlight brightness turned up. They say with it turned down you get up to 18 hours or 40 hours with it off altogether. Because of the way the backlighting turns off quickly when you aren’t using it, I wasn’t able to get a solid number on total hours but I didn’t have to charge it until about a week in on my testing which was using it for a few hours a day.
Overall and Final Verdict
I’ve been looking for a nice wireless keyboard with a touchpad built in for a while now for use with our VR PC in the living room and I thought the K83 from Corsair might be a good choice for that. With the K83 having a wireless dongle as well as being able to connect to two different Bluetooth devices it ended up being more useful than expected by being able to also control our ShieldTV at the same time. The backlit keyboard was easy to read even in a dark room as well but it’s the touchpad/joystick combo that I really liked. You have a few options and with the button on the back of the keyboard and one up on the top edge, you can navigate without moving your hand at all. In fact, I almost never used the top-mounted left and right buttons.
The K83 did have a few problems. Initially, when setting it up I was a little disappointed to find out that it wasn’t supported by the PS4, this isn’t on Corsair specifically but I was hoping to be able to use it on the PS4 as my third device. Xbox One support was solid though. Beyond that, I wasn’t impressed with the performance of the wireless when using the included dongle. The range wasn’t bad when unobstructed but as soon as you put something like the PC in between the keyboard and the dongle it struggled. Even with line of sight using the touchpad and joystick was an issue on the built-in wireless but not when on Bluetooth. I hope it is fixable through a firmware update because after checking on Amazon reviews the issues I had seem to be a problem for most people. In other words, if you plan on using the K83 for the touchpad or joystick use Bluetooth if possible.
Is the K83 a good pickup? If Corsair is able to address the wireless issues with the touchpad and joystick yeah. It is an easy to hold keyboard perfect for living room use with backlighting that can control three different devices at a time. That doesn’t even mention the joystick and volume scroll wheel. Currently, the Logitech K830 (Corsair was suspiciously close on their name!) is the only keyboard that is similar and it only can be paired with one device at a time. As for pricing, the K83 has an MSRP of $99.99 which is the same as the K830 but at least right now the K830 is selling for half that on Amazon where the Corsair K83 is selling at its MSRP. Long term, I hope that the wireless issues are resolved on the K83 and I’m sure over time its pricing will come down a little to be closer what the K830 is. Those will both help make the K83 a much better choice as it stands out for features and build quality. Right now I would only recommend the K83 for someone who like me needs to control more than one device without pairing and unpairing. With the wireless issue fixed though the K83 would come highly recommended from me, so keep an eye out for any updates on that front.
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