Corsair Utility Engine
With dozens of vendors producing high end mechanical gaming keyboards these days, Corsair’s CUE software has served to distinguish their products. While it’s always been extremely capable, CUE has also been quite complex, and somewhat hobbled by a less-than-intuitive user interface. The new release of CUE solves many of these problems.
CUE can control all of your Corsair external peripherals: keyboard, mouse, and trackpad. The new main screen defaults to showing the connected keyboard (if there is one), complete with synchronized, animated lighting effects that match your current keyboard settings. CUE now includes “demo modes” for peripherals you don’t have, such as the Scimitar mouse, Void headset, and Polaris trackpad as shown in this image. You can select these missing devices and explore their capabilities within CUE, a clever marketing trick.
At the left you can see the three main selections for the K70 LUX RGB keyboard: Actions, which are macros and other operations you can assign to keys; Lighting Effects, and Performance. Let’s look at these features individually.
Actions are where you’ll define macros, but you’re not limited to macros: as shown in the menu above, you can define keys that replay simple text sequences, control media, launch applications, set timers, and switch profiles as well (a Profile is a collection of actions, lighting effect, and performance settings.)
Macros are normally recorded with millisecond precision, and you can choose whether to include mouse actions in macros as well, even with a non-Corsair mouse.
You can edit macros by inserting or deleting individual steps, and Corsair provides convenience functions such as a one-click way to remove all delays between macro steps. If you screw up when editing a complex macro, you can revert it to its original form.
CUE comes loaded with a number of lighting effects: color waves, pulses, and spirals; static lighting, and whimsical effects like the Rain effect shown above. Each effect has a specific set of controls that apply to it: in the Rain effect above, note that you can select random or alternating colors, as well as the speed at which the virtual raindrops fall. Dedicated users with time on their hands can create arbitrarily complex lighting effects, which can be saved and shared with other users. Corsair maintains a library of third party lighting effects that users can download and install.
The Performance tab lets you selectively disable key combinations such as Alt-Tab that, pressed accidentally, might blow you out of your game. This is a welcome addition to the more standard feature of simply disabling the Windows key. You can also select colors for the Lock and Brightness button lights.
Any set of associated Actions, Lighting Effects, and Performance settings is called a Profile. Profiles can be linked to specific games (or any other applications) so that they load automatically when the game is launched. CUE can identify most applications on your system, but apparently cannot “look inside” Steam or Origin folders for games there– you’ll have to dig down through the folders yourself. Profiles may be saved and shared with other users.
Although the K70 LUX RGB keyboard required CUE to be loaded and running to power its features, you can save a single static lighting configuration directly to the keyboard, which will be in effect when CUE is not present.
I’ll present my final thoughts and conclusion about this keyboard in the next section.