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MSI has been manufacturing some of the best PC components for longer than many of you have been alive. With a hard focus on gaming, MSI is still going strong, producing everything from motherboards, graphics cards, chassis, coolers, and a variety of peripherals. Today, we reviewed the new Vigor GK71 Sonic Blue mechanical keyboard. This freshly launched keyboard represents the latest version in the successful Vigor GK-Series, with the Sonic Red being the original GK71. The Vigor GK71 Sonic is feature-rich and an excellent option on paper. Let’s dig in and find out what MSI’s newest keyboard has to offer.
Specifications and Features
MSI built the Vigor GK71 Sonic Blue with dual-layer keycaps that are half clear and half black to enhance its brilliant RGB lighting. The MSI Sonic Blue switches have an actuation force of 45g and provides solid haptic feedback creating a light and clicky feel. A multi-media section at the top right offers dedicated media controls and a dual-function volume knob for easy on-the-fly adjustments. An Aircraft-grade aluminum alloy top provides a rigid frame that is highly durable for years of reliability.
Download MSI Center for a completely customizable experience. This versatile software works well with all of your compatible components. MSI Center requires a Windows 10 or newer operating system.
Below is a list of specifications taken from MSI’s website.
|MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Blue Specifications|
|MODEL NAME||VIGOR GK71 SONIC BLUE GAMING KEYBOARD|
|KEYBOARD INTERFACE||USB 2.0|
|NORMAL KEYS||104 / 105 / 109 keys (different by languages)|
|MAIN KEY SWITCHES||MSI SONIC Blue|
|USB CABLE||1.8m Type-A, braided|
|WEIGHT (PRODUCT / PACKAGE)||854g / 1700g|
|DIMENSIONS(MM)||442.5 x 138 x 41 mm|
Windows 10 (or above)
|ASSESSORIES||1x Key Puller|
1x Ergonomic Wrist Rest
|KEYSTROKE LIFE||70+ Million|
|N-KEY ROLLOVER||Hybrid 6+N key rollover|
|Download Page||MSI Center|
MSI packages the GK71 Sonic in a full-color, highly detailed retail package. The front displays a beautiful graphic of the motherboard and wrist rest and identifies the product model number. The back of the box goes into more detail, listing some significant details and a large section dedicated to the new MSI Sonic Blue switch. The keyboard and wrist rest are securely nested inside with foam padding on the sides. A thin plastic bag is also used to protect the keyboard and wrist rest.
There are only so many accessories included with most keyboards. The GK71 Sonic is no exception and comes with the keyboard, wrist rest, keycap puller, user manual, and a European Union Regulatory Notices pamphlet. MSI Center customization software is also available for download on MSI’s website.
The Vigor GK71 Sonic
Pulling the Vigor GK71 Sonic out of its protective plastic, we see a full-sized board with a mostly traditional 104-key layout. The frame is an aircraft-grade aluminum alloy making the keyboard light yet highly durable. The gray and black color will match nearly any build color scheme. The USB cable is adorned with a tightly woven black braid and has a rubber cable tie to aid in cable management. Deviating from tradition, the Vigor GK71 Sonic utilizes the two function keys located just inside either of the control keys. Both function keys are dual-purpose; the left acts as a function key and a Windows key, while the right function key displays MSI’s dragon logo and can select various built-in lighting options. Thirteen pre-programmed functions can do multiple tasks, from changing profile settings, launching MSI’s Afterburner software, changing the RGB settings, and even resetting the keyboard to the factory settings. These are all described in detail in the user’s manual.
At the top right, you will notice the dedicated multimedia controls. As expected, the three buttons allow for the previous track, play/pause, and next track. When pressed, the volume knob is also a mute button and can be rotated using either the side wheel or by turning the knob. Flipping the keyboard over, you can see a pair of fold-out feet to raise the back for a more ergonomic presentation. These feet feature rubber pads for both the folded-up or folded positions. There are an additional four pads at the front of the keyboard. Regardless of the layout, the GK71 stays firmly planted even during the most intense gaming sessions. Also, notice the “V” channel at the back. This is a cable routing pathway for your headset or microphone. This is an excellent option for those who still prefer wired cans.
Here we look at the side profile of the keyboard. The side images show the keys’ contour and the elevation gained by flipping out the feet. The tops of each keycap have a nice lateral and longitudinal contour providing an easy landing spot for your fingers. Looking at the right side, we get a good shot of the volume knob and its lightly checkered texture.
A wire-style keycap puller is included with the GK71 Sonic. This is my preferred puller style as I have found the molded plastic pullers are more apt for wearing and breakage over an extended period.
MSI worked closely with Kailh to develop the Sonic Red and Sonic Blue switches. The force required to register a keystroke with the Blue switch is only 45 grams making it among the lightest in its class. There are 1.4 millimeters of pre-travel with a total travel of just 3.5 millimeters. This makes for an extremely lightweight and responsive switch that takes some getting used to. The keystroke is registered before the audible click, and it can sometimes lead to double strokes or even inadvertent keystrokes. The switches feel very nice, and adjusting will not take long. The click that is generated is moderately loud. It’s not enough to annoy your co-workers or wake your parents for you late-night gamers (who should be sleeping). The click also creates haptic feedback that is gentle and quite pleasant. We’ve included a “Clicky Switch Comparison Table” that MSI provided if you are familiar with some of the other mechanical switches on the market.
Memory Foam Wrist Rest
The wrist rest that comes with the GK71 Sonic is very comfortable. The top material feels like soft vinyl and has a leather look and feel. The MSI logo and dragon are imprinted just left of center. It has a plastic base and measures about 20 mm from the top of the desk to the crown of the padding. The cable pathways are positioned well and align seamlessly with the keyboards. Just like the keyboard, rubber feet keep it securely planted.
MSI has developed its proprietary software for managing compatible devices known as MSI Center (formerly Dragon Center). In this review, we will not go into all the aspects of the software, but there is plenty that we will discuss. Once installed and your profile is set up, there are three primary tabs, Hardware Monitoring, Features, and Support. Today we will focus on the Features tab. There is a slew of downloadable features, but the two we’re after are Gaming Gear and Mystic Lighting.
The Gaming Gear tab configures detailed settings such as button assignment, DPI settings, and custom macros. Once we select the Vigor GK71 Sonic, we are presented with the below image. From here, every key, except the left function (dragon key) and multi-media buttons, can have a macro assigned to it. Up to 30 macros can be stored in three different profiles. There are also options to import and export your macros.
The second option under the features tab we will talk about is Mystic Lighting. Once again, we have the three profiles tabs. Each profile can link some or all of your compatible RGB devices. Eleven LED styles and the ability to turn the RGB off all together are available. Depending on the style you choose, various options will become available such as light speed, brightness, fade in, fade out, direction, creating color zones, and of course, individual key programming. There is another tab that allows you to enable Game Sync. There are a variety of games that supports Game Sync, and the list is growing. Some notable choices are Tom Clanc’s Division 2, Watch Dogs: Legion, and Far Cry 6, to name a few. The next tab on this feature is Ambient Link. This neat option allows you to program external devices like Nanoleafs and smart bulbs. Finally, the last tab is Mystic Light Settings. The options presented here are to allow Mystic Light to overwrite third-party Software, and this is also where you determine if Mystic Light should remain on when your monitor goes to sleep.
Over 16 million colors are available and can be fully customized, as we discussed. The addressable RGB in the MSI Sonic Blue switches are pretty bright and, fortunately, can be dimmed. This can be accomplished via the MSI Center software, the Dragon Function key, and the up or down arrow keys. These built-in functions override MSI Center, making on-the-fly adjustments quick and painless. Other built-in functions are: toggling between the three profiles, speeding up or slowing down the RGB animation, advancing to the next default color, switching to the previous color, switching to the next LED style, and switching to the previous LED style. The illumination for the LEDs through the half-clear key caps can honestly be overpowering and washout the backlight characters on the keys. For me, dimming the lighting was necessary, but your tastes will vary.
Below we’ve included just a few images of the lighting options for you to look at. We tried to capture some video of the LED styles, but the camera did a poor job of recording them, so we opted to exclude them. The three angular LEDs near the directional keys are for Number Locks, Caps Lock, and Windows Key. As you can see in the images below, the lighting changes based on the RGB setting. This is only the case for some RGB keyboards and is a welcomed bonus feature.
The MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Blue is a well-built mechanical keyboard that should last many years. It is comfortable to use with the included wrist rest and the contour of the keycaps. While the key switches are a new design, MSI worked closely with one of the top switch manufacturers, Kailh. The switches worked flawlessly during the review period, and took little time to become familiar with the different feel from what I’m used to. The addition of the multi-media keys and the build in lighting functions make the GK71 Sonic a new personal favorite. The cable channel under the keyboard and wrist rest is a thoughtful touch. However, its application will be situational depending on where you store your headphones and how often you wear them.
MSI Center is a powerful utility for controlling many compatible MSI products. It is easy to understand, and setting everything up was simple. I recommend turning off the automatic updates once you have everything the way you like it as up, dates clear your profile settings (super annoying). The overall lighting through the keycaps are powerful, and the customizable options are superb. If we change anything with the lighting, it would be to change the single light under the space bar to a full light bar. The single LED switch looks off compared to the rest of the lights. However, this is highly ‘nit-picky’ and just a personal preference.
Selling for $129.99 at both Amazon and Newegg places the new GK71 Sonic at the higher end of the spectrum when compared to its closest competitors, though well within reason. Some keyboards it can be compared to would be the Corsair K95 on sale right now for $159 on Amazon. The Redragon K580 VATA RGB on sale for $65 and SteelSeries APEX 7 for $115. With everything the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Blue offers and the reasonable price, we are confident in giving it the Overclocker’s Stamp of Approval.