The MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic’s strengths become its weaknesses, depending on what you ask from it. For gamers the super light keys are responsive and reliable but for typing it all gets a bit clunky.
the good bits
Clever under body cable channel
Lighting fast, lightweight switches
Dual input volume wheel
Included wrist rest
the not so good bits
Not pleasant to type on
Build quality could be better in places
MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Blue Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
The world of keyboards is a hard place to find your footing, not just because of the sheer amount of competition but also the changing landscape of what’s asked of them. It’s a game of compromises, what benefits gaming often hinders typing so it’s about finding balance – or ignoring one group all together.
A brand largely known for what’s inside your PC rather than alongside it, there’re a handful of options in MSI’s keyboard range including this, the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic. It’s an unashamedly gaming focused mechanical keyboard at a more than competitive price point but can it compete in a packed field?
I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something distinctly ‘gamer’ about the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic. Compared to something like the Logitech G815 there’s just far more of a vibe that this is a keyboard with one thing on its mind, and it’s not essays or tech reviews.
At first glance it’s a relatively traditional looking keyboard with just one colour choice, unlike the MSI GK30 which offers a white variant too, the Vigor GK71 Sonic rocks dark tones across the board with a gunmetal grey faceplate and black topped keycaps. I say topped as the GK71 keycaps have a unique transparent body from the neck down.
It takes a little getting used to at first glance actually, they keycaps almost seem to float and feel considerably bigger as a result. There’s a purpose to the choice of course, the see-through keycap bodies allow plenty of RGB lighting to shine through and the effect becomes far more pronounced as a result.
The media keys above the numpad in the top right corner are always a welcome addition and on the MSI GK71 Sonic they’re joined by a nifty volume wheel. You’ve got the option of a traditional dial on top or a larger wheel poking out of the top corner.
It’s a great idea that’s slightly underwhelmingly executed, it’s a natural movement to slide your hand over from your mouse to that otherwise unused real estate, but there’s a fair amount of wiggle and a hollow feeling to the plastic button that leaves it feeling cheap. I also found that when using the outer wheel it was prone to snagging, strangely. Keep the idea MSI, just refine it for V2 please.
It’s great to see an included wrist rest and it’s a good one too. The memory foam is cushioned but with enough support to feel useful and the faux leather fabric is pleasantly soft on bare skin. While there’s no direct attachment between the wrist rest and the body of the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic, they’re joined in spirit by a clever under-keyboard cable management solution.
A large bevelled X runs seamlessly from the keyboard to the wrist rest and provides a channel for things like headset or phone charging cables. It’s another great idea from MSI and while most may never find a use for it, it’s a harmless addition that’ll hold great value for those who embrace it.
I’ll add my usual caveat at the start here; I’m the furthest thing from a high level gamer so the workload I put a gaming keyboard through is not exactly pro-grade. I do put it through its paces in other ways though as I use keyboards for other areas as much as gaming, writing this review for example alongside other general PC work and productivity.
I’m testing the Vigor GK71 with Sonic Blue clicky switches which MSI say are some of the world’s lightest – requiring just 45g of actuation force. The result is keystrokes that fire off at the gentlest touch, just 1.4mm of pre-travel on its way to 3.5mm total. While this super snappy response time will be welcome for full on gamers, I found in day to day use it became more of a hindrance.
For extended typing I found the keys too sensitive and my accuracy took a hit as a result. I’m not chalking all of this up to the GK71 Sonic itself though, I’ll take some of the blame. I prefer a low profile keyboard and coming from a Macbook Air’s super flat keyboard or the slim profile of the Logitech G815 – the GK71’s keycaps feel like skyscrapers. These are about as full size as you can get, which, coupled with that tiny actuation distance saw me throwing bonus letters in left right and centre simply from bumping the corner of keys on my way past.
After work and into gaming mode though, the MSI GK71 Sonic comes into its own. In this environment the response time is a benefit and I’m sure gamers looking for maximum performance will appreciate what’s on offer. For games with repetitive actions like Minecraft I saw my accuracy concerns disappear and the taller keycaps delivered the opposite result to typing. Without needing to send fingers flying across the keyboard constantly I felt ended up feeling nicely in a groove when pinned to WASD, saddled in and ready to go.
For streamers there’s one extra consideration with the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic. Good lord this is a noisy keyboard. I haven’t found a keyboard that pumps out the quintessential mechanical keyboard clicks better than the GK71 does. If you enjoy that ASMR kick you’re in luck, if you’re trying to hide it from a microphone you’ll likely struggle.
As a mechanical keyboard for gaming alone, the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic performs admirably well with its lightning fast clicky switches. A minimal travel distance and low actuation force means the keys are snappy and responsive, perfect for intense gaming sessions.
The problems arise when you look to this keyboard for more than just gaming. It’s just not nice to type on and actively slowed down both my writing and general productivity as I clunked around. That’s not an issue though if you know what you’re getting yourself in for, as a reasonably priced gaming keyboard, it’s a solid pick.