MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic gaming keyboard review

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MSI has introduced a new mechanical keyboard named MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic, which is being considered as one of the best quality/price options in the market. The keyboard is equipped with MSI blue switches that provide a clicky sound and have a low actuation force of 45g, making it a suitable option for both typing and gaming. Along with a full-size layout, the keyboard features a multimedia panel, padded wrist rest, and keycaps with a transparent base for better visibility of the Mystic Light backlighting. It remains to be seen whether the keyboard will meet the expectations, but it certainly seems promising.

Design and external characteristics

The MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic has been designed with a new and improved aesthetic, with the most notable feature being the plate – the area where the switches are located. The plate is made of approximately 1mm thick aerospace-grade aluminum in a metallic gray color, and the keyboard is a full-size format measuring 443mm in width.

Despite its size, the keyboard has narrow edges that closely follow the area occupied by the keys, with diagonal cuts in the corners, except for the top right corner, which is curved to integrate the volume wheel. Additionally, the keyboard has a front edge that slopes downwards for added comfort when positioning the hands, whether or not the wrist rest is used.

The base cover and some edges of the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic are made of integral plastic, providing a slight inclination to the keyboard in its initial position. The keyboard has a fixed 1.8mm long braided USB cable located at the back. On the bottom of the keyboard, there are four non-slip rubber supports, two of which are extendable legs with an additional tilt position. There are also several channels for routing the USB cable.

Overall, the keyboard has a solid and aesthetically pleasing build. However, there is no padding inside, and the hard surface of the base and typical plastic noise at the end of the switch’s travel could be improved.

MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic gaming keyboard

One appreciated detail for the price is the inclusion of an excellent wrist rest with a plastic chassis and a 9mm deep padded top. The wrist rest does not have a fastening system for the keyboard; it is placed next to it, and the multiple non-slip rubber feet ensure a secure grip on the surface. The wrist rest’s best feature is its padded surface, with foam and synthetic leather cover, offering excellent comfort for the palms of the hands.

Keycaps optimized for RGB lighting

The MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic features new keycaps with a transparent base that enhances the keyboard’s RGB Mystic Light illumination system, giving it the appearance of a custom keycap kit. The key design is typical, with a concave surface measuring 12 x 14mm, which creates a slight concave curve between rows to fit the hands better.

However, the transparent design may have a negative impact on the keycaps’ construction quality and character printing, as they are not double-shot keycaps. The clear plastic structure has an additional translucent plastic piece on top, covered with a layer of paint where the characters are printed. This system results in a surface wear that is greater than PBT and double-shot systems.

The font used for the characters is the same as other MSI models – futuristic, bold, and easy to read – although personal taste will dictate whether it’s considered attractive or not. The double function is located beneath the main characters, and when activated, they will also light up perfectly. These keys include some F keys, the intermediate key block, and the direction keys for controlling the onboard lighting system.

MSI mechanical keyboard switches

To reduce costs, MSI has developed its own switches rather than purchasing them from another brand. The MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic is one of many models to be equipped with these switches in the future. The switches were developed in collaboration with Kailh.

The MSI Sonic Blue switches included in this keyboard produce a clicky sound when pressed, but only require a force of 45gf for activation. They have an activation distance of 1.4mm and a total travel distance of 3.5mm, providing ample distance for fast typing without the need for complete key presses.

MSI claims to have one of the fastest switches in the world, achieved by providing a spring with quick rebound to the initial position, which exerts almost 80gf for return at the end of the travel distance. To ensure optimal RGB illumination, the switch’s dome is transparent, allowing a clear view of the mechanism. The keyboard has a 1000Hz polling rate and an Anti-Ghosting system with keystroke detection, switching from 6-key rollover to N-Key Rollover to avoid unexpected keystrokes.

MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic gaming keyboard keycaps

The keycap mounting cross has a relatively high degree of play, making typing noise louder and reducing stability. However, this is not significantly different from most mechanical switches with this type of system. As mentioned earlier, the keyboard is noisy, particularly at the end of the travel distance, but the clicky sound is quite smooth and without any pinging effect, making it quite pleasant in this aspect.

Management software

The MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic’s Mystic Light illumination system comes with 11 predefined effects stored in its internal memory. We can manage these effects directly from the keyboard, adjusting their brightness, speed, direction, and color. For additional options, we can install the MSI Center from the Microsoft Store.

By using the MSI Center, we can create game or application macros, access Mystic Light software, and add more effects. Up to three profiles can be stored in the keyboard’s memory. The keyboard may not support key mapping or secondary functions, but key-by-key lighting customization is available.

The keyboard’s highly visible illumination system and minimal black key surface may make it difficult for those who look at the keyboard while typing. However, this can be easily remedied by lowering the brightness level and using a fixed color effect.

Final words about the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic gaming keyboard

MSI has introduced a keyboard that combines an attractive design, good build quality, mechanical switches, and a stunning lighting system with transparent keycaps. Although the full-size keyboard may not be the most versatile option, it is suitable for office work, multimedia, and gaming if we have ample desk space.

One significant advantage of this model is its striking and powerful lighting system, which has individual key management through MSI Center and up to 11 predefined effects. The mechanical switches are also of good quality, very fast, and have a pleasant clicky sound. It was about time that MSI had its own excellent switches. The robust aluminum plate, multimedia panel, and padded wrist rest are additional features not commonly found in its price range.

However, there are some areas for improvement, such as the lack of internal padding, which results in a rather noisy and dry key press at the end of the travel distance. The keycaps, which do not have a Double-shot system, may experience greater character wear, and the key stem has more play than we would like.

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