MSI Vigor GK50 Elite review: A great budget gaming keyboard
PC gaming accessories can get expensive and, while it may be easy to justify the cost if you’re one of the small minority who makes money from professional gaming, for most people blowing £150 to £300 on a keyboard is an unnecessary extravagance.
Fortunately, the MSI Vigor GK50 Elite keyboard proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that you don’t need to spend the earth to enjoy all the main benefits of a good-quality gaming keyboard. Available for only £80, it’s a great product that offers (almost) all the features you could want without breaking the bank.
MSI Vigor GK50 Elite review: What do you get for the money?
That means you get all the staples you would expect from a mechanical keyboard designed for gaming. There’s anti-ghosting and n-key rollover – ensuring all your key presses are registered without fuss – and macros can be programmed with the accompanying software. Most interestingly, MSI bundles a keycap puller and alternative, convex Ctrl and Alt keycaps in the box, for FPS gamers who prefer the feel of rounded modifier keys.
There are also all the RGB backlighting settings you could possibly want and, while these can be customised to the nth degree via MSI’s Dragon Center software, the real triumph here is how little you actually need this additional step.
Not only can you cycle through all the lighting presets by pressing the MSI button and Insert at the same time but other keyboard shortcuts let you cycle through brightness settings and a range of solid colours as well. There’s even a keyboard shortcut that lets you toggle between the direction in which the light travels for every preset. It’s a great way of fine tuning without getting bogged down in software settings.
MSI Vigor GK50 Elite review: What’s it like to use?
Despite the (initially blinding) RGB lighting, the MSI Vigor GK50 Elite keyboard actually looks quite professional with the lights toned down or disabled entirely. Only the faint dragon logo above the arrow keys would make this stand out in your average office setup.
Build quality is generally really good, with the matte coated keys feeling inviting against the fingers, and an “aircraft-grade” aluminium plate for them to bash against. The one weak spot is the slightly flimsy-feeling braided cable for connecting it to your PC, but that’s hardly a deal-breaker.
Typing on the GK50 Elite is a real pleasure, and you should feel at home immediately. Indeed, when I first got this and a whole bunch of other gaming keyboards in for a roundup, it was on this keyboard that I was able to produce the best typing speed and accuracy (98%).
The ‘clicky’ Kailh white switches beneath each key aren’t exactly quiet but they’re far from the loudest I’ve typed on. And, for me, key sensitivity is about right, requiring a little force to deploy. That means you aren’t faced with a row of “aaaaaaaaaaaa” if you rest your fingers on the keys while thinking. Nor will you end up strafing by mistake in a tense FPS shoot-out, although you may find the extra force required means you aren’t quite as quick on your virtual feet as you’d like.
MSI Vigor GK50 Elite review: What isn’t it good at?
The MSI Vigor GK50 Elite’s shortcomings arise from omissions. Personally, I prefer keyboards to have dedicated media keys and, while you can control music volume and track selection via the function keys, it requires you to hold down the MSI button at the same time, which limits convenience.
Likewise, there’s no wristrest in the box (although you can buy one for an additional £20), and there’s no USB passthrough, either. But if I were looking at features to ditch in order to keep costs down these would be the cuts I’d make, so I can’t be too critical given the competitive pricing.
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MSI Vigor GK50 Elite review: Should I buy it?
It may still seem that £80 is an awful lot to pay for a keyboard, but anybody who has stumbled into the gaming peripherals market will know that this is a suspiciously good price considering that alternatives can go all the way up to £300.
MSI VIGOR GK50 ELITE Mechanical Gaming Keyboard UK-Layout, KAILH Box White Switches, Per Key RGB Mystic Light LED Backlit, Tactile, Floating Key Design, Water Resistant
MSI Gaming Gear Backlit RGB LED Kailh Low Profile Mechanical Switches Anti Ghosting 104 Keys Brushed Aluminum Gaming Keyboard (Vigor GK50 Low Profile US)
I’m pleased to say that the MSI Vigor GK50 doesn’t feel cheap compared to any of these. Yes, there are sensible cost-saving omissions, but they’ve been made in all the right places and the keyboard is a pleasure to type and game on. If you want a dedicated gaming keyboard but don’t want to spend the earth, I can’t think of a better place to start.