For gamers who want a compact, wired board that’s all about speed, the K65 Mini Pro is the best around. It’s a bit pricey and the internal foam isn’t doing much, but solid hardware and an excellent layout push it above the competition.
Have you looked at the market for mechanical mini gaming keyboards lately? You might think that’s a pretty small niche, but it’s absolutely swarming with competitors from manufacturers both big and small. So, to make its latest itty-bitty keyboard, the K65 Pro Mini, stand out, Corsair did…well, not a lot, at least at first glance.
But looks can be deceiving. While the K65 Pro Mini doesn’t wow you with flashy gimmicks or an eye-catching design, it nails the basics and includes some features that gamers will love. Optical switches and high-quality materials make a statement all on their own.
That probably isn’t enough to justify a hefty price tag, especially for such a small board…except that the competition is about the same price. If you’re willing to splurge and you want a solid, straightforward optical design shorn of unnecessary extras, the K65 Mini Pro is a good option.
Design & build
Impressive PBT keybcaps
Fast and precise OPX switches
Sound dampening could be better
The K65 Pro Mini differentiates itself from other mini gaming keyboards with a few specific features. It comes with PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) keycaps as standard, and this is a particularly well-made set with a nice rough texture that’s very grippy during gaming sessions.
The board has foam dampening inside the body, and perhaps most importantly, comes with Corsair’s speedy and semi-proprietary OPX linear optical switches.
For the uninitiated, optical switches interrupt a beam of light to actuate a key press instead of waiting for a physical connection on an electrical contact. Combined with a smooth linear action, it makes the switches extremely fast and light with no scratches or bumps through the press.
Corsair says this keyboard has two layers of internal sound dampening, proven by the exploded view. But if it’s significantly quieter than other linear boards, I can’t hear it.
Optical, linear switches are probably the best switches for gaming, at least in purely technical terms. The optical build means this board comes without the hot-swap sockets for true customisation beyond lighting and keycaps, though. For that feature, you’ll need to look at something like the K70 RGB ($129.99/£159.99).
But the K65 has other charms. These include the aforementioned PBT keycaps (standard), an impressive 8,000Hz polling rate (for those of you with literally superhuman reflexes) and a solid aluminium top deck.
It also retains a lightweight main body for travelling, alongside a braided, detachable USB-C cable and intelligent layout that’s helpfully illustrated by both the keycaps and lighting system. Between that and the forgiving 65% layout with arrow keys, it might be the mini keyboard with the least amount of adjustment time.
Let me show you what I mean. See how the default position of the Delete key is right next to the \ key, only a few millimetres away from where it is on a standard layout? That leaves the far less-used Page Up and Page Down to be physically shifted.
Media and volume keys are all clustered in the bottom-right corner, so they’re easy to manipulate with one hand. The Print Screen key is matched to Fn+P, an obvious choice that a shocking number of smaller keyboards simply don’t make. It’s good stuff. And all this is clearly visible on the default keycaps.
But the smartest tweak for usability is that the function layer lights up when you press the Fn key, instantly showing you which keys do what, and leaving the unused keys dark. It’s a great little way to give you an instant refresh on functions, even in the dark.
Lots of features via iCue companion software
Custom macros, custom profiles, lighting effects, PlayStation mode
No ability to move Fn button
Speaking of lighting, the K65 can do all the usual bells and whistles, and then some, through Corsair’s iCue software.
iCue is frankly a little clunky, but once you’ve assigned any custom layout and effect you want, there’s no reason to go back. Since this is a wired board, there’s no reason to turn down the lights or that fancy 8,000Hz polling.
But Corsair has an impressive range of features on the keyboard itself. Indeed, most of the important functions can be accessed without iCue installed at all.
Custom macros can be programmed and cleared from the keys alone. Up to 50 custom profiles can be saved on the keyboard’s local memory, cycled through with Fn+Z by default. You can even save up to 20 on-board lighting effects, all of which are selectable and adjustable via the keyboard hardware.
You also get PlayStation mode for the PS4 or PS5 – just press Fn+Win for five seconds to enable it.
The only thing you can’t do, with or without the iCue software, is move the Fn button. That was a big detraction for me on the similar-sized K70, but it’s less of an issue here thanks to the extra keys.
So, you won’t have to re-learn the placement of arrow controls, but I still long for a day when you can easily move the Fn button on a mainstream keyboard. It’s already straightforward on specialised versions with VIA compatibility.
As for other gripes, they’re few and far between. I wish the keyboard feet were double-staged for a slightly higher profile, and maybe that a wrist rest was included for the price. But there’s not much to dislike here.
Price & availability
Talking of price, the K65 Pro Mini doesn’t come cheap.
It’ll set you back $129.99/£129 when paying full price, from Corsair and Best Buy in the US or Corsair and Amazon in the UK.
That makes it one of the more premium keyboards around, but it’s not extortionately priced for everything you’re getting here.
Assuming a super-fast optical setup is what you want, and you don’t care about some high-end features, the the K65 Pro Mini is a great compact keyboard.
It offers an excellent typing feel and intelligent layout choices. Also, the fact that you can access so many functions without the iCue companion software is a big plus.
I wish it was cheaper, but you could say the same about almost any gaming keyboard these days. It’s still in line with the competition, and likely to be on sale at some point in the future.
But unless you’re feeling frugal, you probably won’t regret buying the K65 Pro Mini right now.