Keyboard RGB Backlighting

By James Cao, on 7 de febrero de 2014

At CES 2014, we announced the Cherry MX RGB project by both Cherry and Corsair. In this blog, we’ll go over the RGB backlighting and how it works with the new Cherry MX RGB switch.


RGB Keyboards

Keyboards often use backlighting to compliment the shape and design. While the desire for backlighting is subjective, most people will find that backlighting can make the keyboard very attractive. In some cases, illuminated keys can even help the keys be more easily distinguishable (especially in the dark).

light show

One of the biggest reasons that make backlighting subjective is the shade of color. The most popular colors usually are red, blue, and white. As we have seen with some of our own Corsair keyboards, there is usually feedback from customers requesting X keyboard with Y color. To satisfy everyone’s wishes of Y color, the best way to solve this problem is the implementation of RGB which usually allows for any color (up to 16.8 million) to be customized as the backlight.

Our Corsair Raptor K40 and K50 is one example of how RGB is implemented in most current keyboards. Basically the RGB backlighting is done in an array so that if any color change is implemented it shows up uniformly on the entire keyboard. This gives the user the backlighting color they desire and the ability to change on a whim based on their mood.

Cherry MX Single LED Backlighting

Cherry MX switches are the most popular mechanical switches found today on keyboards and have always been known for their variety of choices (MX Red, MX Blue, MX Brown, etc.) to fit different preferences. On top of that, Cherry MX switches are also known for their great durable design that can withstand over 50 million key presses. Backlighting on a Cherry MX switch is also much better than what would be found on a membrane keyboard because each key is lit by an individual LED and not in an array. This means that if you remove the keycap, you should see an LED directly under it to maximize the effect.

K70 Red 

Our first keyboard to use Cherry MX switches with LED backlighting was the K90, and we also implemented the LEDs into the newer line-up of keyboards like the K70. One of the reasons that drove the release of the K70 was the demand for LED backlighting to the 104-key layout. Therefore, we have red and blue LED’s for the K70 while the K95 has white LED’s. While this appeased some of the demands, there was still a lot of feedback for wanting blue LED’s on the K95, white LED’s for the K70 and etc.  Unfortunately, due to the current design of the Cherry MX switch, there is only room for a single 3mm LED versus needing 5mm for a RGB LED. This meant that all manufacturers (including us) who incorporated LED backlighting onto a Cherry MX Switch would be limited to that single color. It would also have been difficult to create a K70/K95 with all types of color combinations to meet everyone’s expectations.

Cherry MX RGB Backlighting

To solve the single LED limitation, and to provide a keyboard that could meet everyone’s preference for specific colors related to LED backlighting, we approached Cherry and they stepped up to the plate in a big way. They took our feedback and then by working together, completely designed an entirely new switch. As a result, we are the exclusive launch partner with Cherry for the Cherry MX RGB Keyboard.

For those interested in exactly how the switch is broken down, Cherry has a great page explains everything along with what makes every Cherry MX incredibly durable and reliable: To give it a brief rundown though, the key switch will not feature just a single LED anymore. Instead, it utilizes a clear housing and will instead use a SMD LED mounted to the PCB of the keyboard and will utilize a controller for different LED settings. This means that with this new Cherry MX RGB switch, not only would we be able to finally allow for a very wide range of color choices for backlighting, but we would offer INDIVIDUALLY customizable backlighting for EACH and EVERY SINGLE key.


Every key will have an SMD LED that with RGB functionality and with our software, you’ll be able to set what color you want, and various other features too associated with LED customization. Basically, what you would get if you combined the versatility of the RGB membrane keyboard with the individual backlighting nature of the Cherry MX Switch (along with all of the features already provided and grown to be accustomed to).  There is no other keyboard with Cherry MX Mechanical keys that will have this type of backlighting and with 16.8 million colors available for each and every individual key, the customization options will be endless.


Although it is a new switch, the feel is no different than what everyone expects from a Cherry MX Keyswitch. To ensure we meet almost all preferences, will be offering the keyboard with the 3 most common switches: Cherry MX Red, Cherry MX Blue, and Cherry MX Brown.

Stay tuned for more updates as we reveal more of what surprises we have in store for our Corsair RGB keyboard.