Introduction

Today we’re taking a look at MSI’s recently released mechanical gaming keyboard, the VIGOR GK71 SONIC, a full-size keyboard with light linear switches for $129.99 MSRP. Its motto is “Light Touch, Instant Kill.” The VIGOR GK71 SONIC joins a growing line of mechanical keyboards from MSI and features unique switches and keycaps on an aluminum top plate with media keys, volume dial, and per-key RGB lighting. The GK71 is on the higher-end of wired keyboard offerings from MSI, as part of their gaming gear hardware, with an enthusiast and gaming focus loaded with features, and MSI Center software support.

MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic right side 75

MSI Sonic Red Switches

MSI has collaborated with switch manufacturer Kailh to produce their extremely fast linear MX-compatible mechanical switch, which they’ve branded the MSI Sonic Red. These lightweight switches have springs that require only 35g of operation force and have a 1.9mm actuation point with 4.0mm of total travel, similar in specification to Cherry MX Speed switches.

MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic key comparison topless

Kailh mechanical switches, produced by Kaihua Electronics Co., LTD., are used in a wide variety of mechanical keyboards – and are available in an extremely wide variety themselves. The MSI Sonic Red switches in the Vigor GK71 Sonic appear to be very similar to the Kailh Red switches above. This keyboard has a keystroke life of 70+ million.

MSI ClearCaps

MSI outfitted the Viper GK71 Sonic with a set of of their new MSI ClearCaps which have a standard black top with a white translucent typeface, while the bottom two thirds are completely transparent, leading to a gem-like presentation when lit. Because these are MX-pattern switches and keycaps, the keycaps are absolutely swappable, and MSI has included a keycap puller in the box for swift keycap removal.

MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Closeup of MSI ClearCaps
MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic key puller

Lighting

MSI has equipped the Viper GK71 Sonic with per-key RGB lighting. All keys are lit, as well as the num lock, caps lock, and scroll lock indicators situated vertically above the left arrow key, and the three media buttons and volume scroll wheel that also functions as a mute button. Lighting is controlled through MSIs Mystic Light module in MSI Center which can be downloaded from the Microsoft Store.

MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Head On

When turned off, the indicator lights adopt a red color, while the keys remain legible in moderate lighting. 

MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Indicator Lights

Wrist rest

Padded black faux leather with a plastic bottom. Features cable run cutouts for headphones or headsets.and generously sized rubber feet. Very light, easy to move, doesn’t have any means to ground to the keyboard and is liable to slip around. 

MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic keyboard and wristrest head on

Cable Routing Channels

MSI has cut channels in an ‘X’ pattern into the back of the Vigor GK71 Sonic as well as the included wrist rest. These channels provide a convenient path for headset or other cables to run, keeping them in place while allowing the keyboard and wrist rest to remain flat. There is also a generous cutout for the keyboard’s cable along with smaller channels to route the cable to the left or right.

MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Underside with Cable Channels

Styling

MSI has gone with a brushed metal top plate which does give the Viper GK71 Sonic a refined look. The Sonic Red keys are flush-mounted to the top plate leaving no room for debris to fall down into the keyboard. The three indicator lights are styled with a ‘backslash’ slant, and the three media keys and combo volume knob and mute button above the numpad have a slightly raised base.

MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Top Left Caps Off

Outside of the very visibly red switches, MSI has kept the gamer bling to a minimum – the MSI logo just below the end and page down keys is silk screened just a few shades darker than the top plate and almost disappears outside of bright lighting.

MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic right side half

Around the edges MSI has gone with an industrial look, with the top left, bottom left, and bottom right corners cut, while the top right corner hosts the knurled part of the volume dial. The keyboard dimensions are 442.5 x 138 x 41 mm. The USB cable is a USB 2.0 1.8m Type-A braided cable. Keyboard weight is 854g.

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John Tharp

Long-time follower of computer gaming and computer assembly from the days of the i386, photographer, husband, and lover of gaming peripherals

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