MSI Vigor GK80 Red is a keyboard that attracts gamers’ attention. Here is the MSI Vigor GK80 Red review. What are the MSI Vigor GK80 Red Features?
The MSI Vigor GK80 is currently the manufacturer’s flagship keyboard. This is noticeable through many clever features, but above all through the choice of materials and workmanship. It is available as a red or silver version, which provides information about the built-in Cherry MX RGB switches. As you can see from this, lighting is of course also at the start, which can be set using MSI Mystic Light or on-the-fly. The test clarifies everything there is to discover and how it fares.
From a purely visual point of view, there are few similarities between the Vigor GK50 Low Profile and the Vigor GK80 presented here. A simple expansion of the compact keyboard has therefore not been carried out. The GK60 and GK-701 RGB also look completely independent or differ significantly from the GK80. Only when it comes to the choice of switches is there an intersection. Because the three last-named all rely on switches from Cherry. With the GK80, as mentioned, you can choose between the MX Red and MX Speed Silver, both of which are used as RGB versions. These are required because the GK80 uses per-key lighting.
Another big difference to the other keyboards in the range can be found in the box. Because here a palm rest is included, which is not the case with all other models. In the present form, however, it is also a special feature. It is made from solid aluminum. black-coated and provided with a rubber cover on the top. The box also contains 16 additional keycaps. What this is all about will be clarified later. A puller should of course not be missing if you are already supplying additional caps.
The design of the full-size keyboard has omitted protruding overhangs. Thus it can be described as quite compact. This also goes hand in hand with the fact that there are hardly any additional buttons. Specifically, the 105 normal keys are joined by four discreet multimedia keys. The special keycaps on the WASD keys are less subtle. These are metal caps that live on a transparent red base. In addition to the special use of materials, their shape is also unusual. They are designed so that W, A and D tilt towards the center, so to speak. If you don’t like that, the normal, labelled caps are also included.
Otherwise, the keyboard is still quite inconspicuous, which is also due to the brushed and dark anodized aluminum base plate. But the impression disappears when you look at the keyboard from behind. Contrary to what you might think, the back is always provided with a red panel, regardless of whether it is GK80 Red or Silver. That doesn’t have to appeal to everyone, but it actually fits the brand very well. The back also has a USB-A port. This is specified according to Standard 2.0, so it is less intended or suitable for data exchange than for headsets or mice. The data line for this runs separately and is connected to the 2m long cable with its own plug.
Cable channels for the permanently attached cable have been incorporated on the underside, which may help you keep your desk tidy. Four rubber stoppers should prevent it from slipping. The two stands are also rubberized. There is no gradation here: either flat or high. As on the top, no defects in workmanship can be seen here. In addition to the screws under the caps, the baseplate is also screwed to the side. Before that, two more RGB elements were incorporated. However, the side lighting has not experienced its own control. It depends on the remaining buttons or the selected mode.
If you take a closer look at the caps, you will discover significantly more functions than just the four media buttons. There are a large number of second assignments for setting the lighting so that one could also save the Mystic Light software. Also, hotkeys have been integrated for the keyboard and graphics card. Of course, both must come from MSI. You let the components switch between OC, gaming and silent mode without having to go into the gaming app. The polling rate and the Windows key can also be set or blocked on-the-fly.
The Vigor GK80 RGB is set up or configured like the other peripherals from the manufacturer using the Dragon Center. But as with the GK50 Low Profile, there is unfortunately not very much to discover here. Actually, individual keys can only be assigned macros here. The recording itself works well, but you could have expected a little more from the keyboard. A simple reassignment is also possible via macro, but there is no integration of further multimedia commands, etc. The lighting can also be adjusted in the Dragon Center of Mystic Light. But here you can only choose from predefined effects. As you can see on the RGB keyboards from Corsair or Cooler Master, much more should be done.
The lighting is based on addressable diodes under each cap and two small strips on the edge. The illumination is typical for the Cherry MX switches. This means that significantly more light arrives above than below. As for the effects, the choice is okay. The software offers even less scope than the assignment on the keyboard itself. There are a total of 14 modes here. Three of them are special gaming modes, which should be designed for DOTA, FPS and MMORPG.
There are also user-defined profiles. With this, the individual colours can be defined using the function keys and theoretically each key can be assigned a different colour. The changes made can be saved in six profiles on the keyboard. The procedure for this is described in detail in the instructions, but it is not necessarily implemented very simply.
The practical test
As a gaming keyboard, the Vigor GK80 Red does well as expected. The handball pad serves its purpose very well. Despite the rather cooler material, it does not radiate cold. The rubberized surface not only provides grip but also provides some warmth. In return, it magically attracts the dust. The fact that you can position them flexibly is also positive. Probably nothing more needs to be said about the buttons on the GK80. The Cherry MX Redwork reliably and precisely. The noises caused are limited, but it is not a silent keyboard. The hotkeys for the graphics card and the mainboard did not work in combination with the Dragon Center. The gaming app was not installed on the test system. MSI might have to improve this again.
In everyday life, it basically does well. You can of course write quickly with the Red Switches, but it’s also a matter of taste. What was not so popular in everyday use, however, was the reduced range of multimedia keys. The fact that there is no skip button is annoying. The keys are also quite small and a bit spongy in the pressure point. However, since gaming is the focus of the GK80, the criticism shouldn’t weigh too much. As far as the special keycaps are concerned, the metal versions have the advantage that they do not wear or only wear very little. If you want to protect the coating, it’s not a bad solution. The same applies to the rubberized caps. Whether they create an advantage in the game remains to be seen. At least you have something from the labelling of the keys for longer,
Overall, the MSI Vigor GK80 Red made a good impression. This is mainly due to the workmanship and the massive palm rest. This not only looks good in terms of touch and fulfills its purpose perfectly, but can also accommodate the additional button caps. Clever! However, you also have to be clever yourself with the GK80, at least if you want to deal with the lighting adjustment on the keyboard yourself. You have more options here than in the Mystic Light software, but you need some training to be able to implement the principle quickly. Otherwise, the keyboard’s customization options are somewhat limited, at least when compared to the competition. The software only allows macros to be recorded. Links or reassignments cannot be made. It’s a shame. On the other hand, it can also be said that you don’t necessarily have to rely on the software. The hotkeys for the gaming app are to be considered without evaluation. The software was not installed on the test system because the Dragon Center replaced it. The buttons didn’t work with this. Apparently, the software is not necessarily the manufacturer’s strength.
The keyboard showed its strong side in gaming. The shelf ensures that the keys are at a comfortable height. The different caps can do justice to their purpose and let you enjoy the keyboard for a long time because you can relieve the labelled ones. USB passthrough is a good thing, but only the 2.0 standard is used here. But that’s usually enough for mice or headsets. The GK80 is also suitable for paperwork. For a real everyday keyboard, one or the other might be bothered by the lack of or the small expansion stage of the media keys.
One can say that the MSI Vigor GK80 Red is a good keyboard in and of itself. The software leaves a bad aftertaste, however. With a price of ~ 150 €, it is also not very easy. A Kingston HyperX Alloy Elite RGB with similar equipment costs ~ 116 €, for example.