We've never found Corsair's gaming software to be too intuitive, especially when it comes to key assignment. Thankfully, a quick read through of the detailed guide (supplied with the download) will be all you need to get to grips with it.
Recording macros is painless thanks to the dedicated record button, and the software includes a powerful editor that lets you adjust each key press, release and delay in case you make a mess of your initial recording. There are also numerous options related to how macros can be played back and how delays are (or aren't) recorded. Finally, users can assign commands such as copy/paste or launch programs with the G-keys, and macros can easily be exported and imported too.
Click to enlarge - The software is powerful but could be a bit more user friendly
The Manage Profiles tab is where you create and edit the keyboard's various profiles, each of which can hold different key assignment and lighting settings. There's a limit of 50 active profiles (again with import and export options), and they can be assigned to programs such that when said program is launched or brought into focus the profile becomes active, which happens instantly. You can also save a profile directly to the keyboard's memory, provided you're in hardware playback mode. This ensures maximum game compatibility (some will block software based macros from running), but you must re-save the profile of the mouse whenever you edit it and only one can be saved at any one time, so there's no auto switching.
You can set the colour of the keyboard's LEDs in the Backlight tab to anything within the RGB spectrum (16.8 million colours is the usual figure spouted in sales materials) and also use different colours for each M-key. For a brighter backlight you can set the keybord to 'Full Brightness' mode, but we found this to be too distracting and preferred the colour accuracy of the 'True Color' setting. Lights can also be set to pulse or cycle through colours – not as many effects options as the Isku FX, for example, but still enough for most.
We've been spoiled by having a wholesome selection of mechanical keyboards scattered around our desks and test benches for some time, so the first thing we noticed about the Raptor K50 was just how quiet it was to use, although this is true of most domed-key boards, especially when they're new. There was definitely a bit of sponginess when typing, and definitely more resistance to the keys than with a fine set of Cherry MX red switches, for example. The keys also lack the linearity of such switches, of course, but the experience of actuating them was still smoother than most other membrane designs we've used recently.
Click to enlarge - The keyboard features raised keys, but they're not wobbly
We found the keycaps to be well spaced too and they offer a comfortable, smooth surface that still has enough grip so that you won't lose your place. The keys don't suffer as a result of being raised either, as they aren't too wobbly. The final thing of note is the contoured set of bottom row keys, which angle downwards. We only noticed this looking at it, however, finding it neither a hindrance nor a benefit in use.
We were still surprised by how pleasant the typing experience was and how quick and responsive the board felt. That said, we still wouldn't forgo the mechanical alternative if we had the option, as we did begin to miss our Cherry MX keys, especially in games (although the Raptor K50 didn't make us any worse at Battlfield 4 than we already are).
The K50's full key rollover and anti-ghosting are more features we're happy to see. Despite manoeuvring our hands into positions that would make the world's Twister experts cringe, we weren't able to find any combinations where keys wouldn't register, so you should be safe in this regard.
Click to enlarge - The Raptor K50 without its optional wrist rest
Finally, with regards to the backlighting, the key symbols being printed in the middle means that the light shines through them very evenly. With mechanical boards, that need to have the LEDs positioned above or below the actual switch, this isn't always the case (although Corsair's own RGB switches are set to change that soon).
The Raptor K50 is a suitable keyboard choice for those who need its large array of features but don't want to fork out £130 or so for a similarly featured mechanical board. Roccat's Isku FX is another alternative, with even more customisation, but is costs about £15 more and has a far less appealing design. If you don't need as many macro keys, the basic SteelSeries Apex [Raw] is now just £35, but the slicker design and better typing experience of this Raptor board means we'd rather opt for the £45 Raptor K30 instead. All in all though, while each person requires different things from a keyboard, the Raptor K50 strikes a healthy balance between its features, usability and price tag.