MSI released its Vigor GK71 Sonic mechanical keyboard with Blue switches early this month. MSI’s Sonic Blue switches are clicky with a 45g actuation force. The Vigor GK71 is also available in Red switches, and that’s what we are going to check out today. Both the old and the new GK71 Sonic are similar, and the only difference is the switch. Unfortunately for me, the GK71 is not yet available in Brown or similar switches. And between Blue and Red, I’d go with the Red switch. If you’re looking for a mechanical gaming keyboard, please continue reading our Vigor GK71 Sonic keyboard review below.
MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Mechanical Keyboard Review – with Red Switches
Packaging and Closer Look
The Vigor GK71 Sonic’s retail packaging has the same theme as other MSI gaming peripherals, like the GM51 Lightweight gaming mouse. A photo of the mechanical keyboard and the color of its switch can be seen at the front. Meanwhile, you can read some of its highlighted features at the back of the box.
Opening the box reveals a cover that says “MSI SONIC RED – Linear”. I’m positive that the new Blue switch will have an “MSI SONIC BLUE – Clicky” as its welcome message.
The package includes the keyboard, keycap puller, memory foam wrist rest, and reading material. Like most mechanical gaming keyboards on the market with a wrist rest, I’m sure that MSI uses faux leather. And based on my experience, it will start to crack and peel after a few months of use. The wrist rest pad with memory foam is an excellent addition, but don’t expect that it will last long.
I think peripheral companies should consider using real leather for their wrist pads. I don’t think it will be that expensive since I was able to buy a cheap brand-less wrist pad with real/genuine leather. It feels more premium, and I’m certain that it will last longer than any of these leatherette-covered wrist pads.
The Vigor GK71 Sonic
The Vigor GK71 Sonic’s body is a combination of aluminum and plastic. The top plate cover is made from “aircraft-grade” aluminum alloy that adds rigidity and durability to the keyboard. Thanks to the metal plate, the keyboard doesn’t flex or bend and feels sturdy.
Underneath you’ll notice that there are grooves for cable routing. MSI calls this feature the “X-shape” cable routing. In the photo above, it doesn’t look like an X shape (yet) since the other half of the grooves that form the X are on the wrist pad. According to MSI, the four-way cable routing design prevents the peripheral’s cable from stretching, pulling, or messing with the table, which can keep the desktop clear and tidy.
The Vigor GK71 has a braided cable and uses the standard USB Type-A cable. Unfortunately, the cable is non-removable. I wish MSI had made the cable removable. It is not really a big deal, but it is something that I have gotten used to after switching from one keyboard to another.
Smart Dual Touch Volume Knob and Media Keys
Another key feature of MSI’s Vigor GK71 Sonic keyboard is the “smart dual touch volume knobs and media keys”. The dedicated media keys allow you to play/pause, previous/next, and mute or change the volume.
While a dedicated media control is an excellent addition to a keyboard, I noticed that the volume knob on the GK71 is wobbly and feels cheap or plasticky. Turning the volume knob doesn’t feel smooth or has a somewhat scratchy feeling when I turn it. It does have a “step” feeling when turned, and one step means 1 volume up or down.
The Vigor GK71 Sonic mechanical gaming keyboard also features a hybrid 6+N key rollover. According to MSI, the GK71 can automatically detect the current pressed number and switch to a 6-key or N-key rollover that fights on without missing or unexpected key presses.
There are also integrated hotkeys for lighting effects and function. Luckily, you don’t have to refer to the user’s manual to guess or identify which key has a secondary function. You can identify the secondary function easily since they are printed on the keycaps.
Underneath the GK71 Sonic is its height adjustment. Unlike most keyboards, the height adjustment on this keyboard is opened sideways. There’s only one height adjustment level. But I think the height or its angle is just enough for a comfortable typing or gaming experience. I don’t want the angle to be higher as it would strain my fingers. However, this is subjective since some people like their keyboards flat, while others prefer a higher angle.
MSI is using its ClearCaps, which features a transparent dual-layer design. It allows light to pass through for a more vivid per-key RGB illumination.
The keycaps are dual layers; the main body is transparent, and the top portion is coated black with a translucent passthrough for the letters and symbols.
MSI Sonic Switches
MSI’s “Sonic” switches is a rebranded Kailh switches. Looking at the vanilla or original Kailh Red switches specs, I think MSI has modified or altered these switches. For example, based on Kailh’s site, the Blue and Red switches have an operation force of 50g. Meanwhile, MSI’s Sonic switches have a lower operating force, especially the Sonic Red.
The MSI Sonic Red has a lower operation force and actuation point that sometimes I get accidental key presses just by resting my fingers on the keys. My fingers are a bit heavy, and I am used to Cherry Brown or a similar tactile switch requiring more force to actuate.
MSI’s Vigor GK71 Sonic has several competitors on the $100 to $130 price tag. Each mechanical keyboard has its own pros and cons, and some offer unique feature(s).
MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Specifications
The specifications listed above are for the Blue switches – the recently released variant. But it’s also the same for the Sonic Red switches. The only difference between Sonic Red and Sonic Blue is the switches. I am not sure why the Sonic Red is a bit pricier than the Blue one.
MSI Center App
You can use MSI’s Center app to customize and set profiles for the GK71 keyboard. You can assign three profiles, and there are several lighting effects as well. However, most lighting effects can be accessed using the keyboard’s Fn (dragon) key function. However, other lighting effects like the Game Sync and Ambient Link require the MSI Center app.
While there are no dedicated macro keys on the GK71, you can set macro keys using the MSI Center app. I prefer a dedicated macro key for macros since it can be confusing altering the value of a key, although your mileage may vary.
MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic (Red Switches) Subjective Testing
I have been using the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic for several weeks now. I come from a Machenike K600 Prussian Blue keyboard with a G.Rule Brown tactile switch. The K600’s switches have a similar feel to Akko’s Lavender Purple tactile switches.
For me, I find the Sonic Red too light and easy to press. Sometimes when I rest my fingers on the keys, I get accidental presses easily. I have no issues with the font style, although the light passing through the crystal keycaps can sometimes be distracting. They do look pretty and mesmerizing, though, and I’m sure some people will find this effect attractive.
The keys also don’t sound “thoccy” when pressed, and it somewhat feels mushy. Some people will likely find this type of switch to their liking. I used to love the Blue clicky switches, and I’m certain some gamers still like the feel and sound of clicky switches. But For me, I’ll stick with tactile brown-type switches.
I have written several articles reviews with this keyboard, and while I do prefer the brown tactile switch, it wasn’t difficult for me to adjust since the distance between each key and the layout is pretty standard. However, I do encounter accidental presses from time to time due to the lower actuation force of the Sonic Red switches.
Pricing and Availability
The MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic mechanical gaming keyboards are now available. The recently released Sonic Blue comes with an MSRP of $109.99, while the Sonic Red retails for $129.99. For the latest pricing and availability, kindly check out the links below. (#ad)
Vigor GK71 Sonic Blue Switches is available on Amazon.com here.
Vigor GK71 Sonic Red Switches is available on Amazon.com here.
MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic (Red Switches) Review Conclusion
Aesthetically speaking, the Vigor GK71 Sonic looks attractive, colorful, and gaming-centric. It also has excellent build quality thanks to the top aluminum frame. The dedicated media keys are a nice additional feature, giving you quick access and control. However, the volume knob with the mute button is wobbly and has a somewhat scratchy feeling when turned. It’s not as smooth compared to other mechanical keyboards with volume knobs.
The included wrist pad with memory foam is also an excellent addition to the package. It makes typing and gaming more comfortable, even in a long session. The only downside is that since it uses faux leather, it will start peeling or tearing in several months.
I would like to see a couple of things in future versions of the GK71 or its predecessor. It would be nice if the switches were hot-swappable. Since the current lineup is limited to Sonic Blue or Sonic Red, I hope MSI can support hot-swappable switches. Another thing is a removable or detachable cable would be preferable. So that users can replace the cable if it gets damaged, or users can customize the look with a third-party cable.
At the end of the day, just like choosing a gaming mouse, a mechanical keyboard and its switches is a matter of personal preference. If you like clicky but noisy keys, the Sonic Blue may fit you. If you want a linear and easy-to-press/actuate, the Sonic Red may do well with your fingers instead. MSI is marketing the Vigor GK71 Sonic to early adopters or people willing to try a new product or something different. The GK71 checks most of the essential things for a mechanical gaming keyboard.