MSI continues its quest for fresh sound and tactile feel in mechanical keyboards. While last time the Vigor GK50 featured exotic low-profile Kailh Chok PG1350 switches, the new Vigor GK50 Elite is experimenting with Kailh Box White clicky mechanisms. Despite the similar names, these keyboards are different in nature. So let’s see what has changed in general.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

Specifications

Model MSI Vigor GK50 Elite
Product page Vigor GK50 Elite
Connection Wired
Interface USB 2.0
Polling frequency, Hz 1000
Type gaming
Number of keys 104
Additional buttons
Keystroke resource, mln. 80+
Key type Mechanical
Switch type Kailh Box White
Changing the angle of the body +
Built-in memory, KB
Ability to record macros +
Handling rollovers NKRO
Backlight + (RGB, 16.8M colors)
USB cable length, m 1,8
Braid material Nylon braid
Built-in display
Material Plastic / Metal
Color Black gray
Software + (Dragon Center)
Removable palm rest
External interfaces Not
Dimensions (L x W x H), mm 435 x 135 x 38
Weight, g 800
OS Compatibility Windows 10 / 8.1 / 8 / 7
Peculiarities Replaceable convex Ctrl and Alt buttons included
average cost UAH 2599

Contents of delivery

The keyboard comes in a black and white box. It has a picture of the product on the front and a description of its benefits on the back.

MSI Vigor GK50 EliteMSI Vigor GK50 Elite

Inside there is no special protection against damage. Only cardboard pads and a bag.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

The package includes instructions, a decent wrench for dismantling the keycaps and two additional caps for the Alt and Ctrl buttons with a surface that is rounded and convex outwards.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

Appearance

The MSI Vigor GK50 Elite is a solidly built and neatly shaped keyboard. There are no extra protruding parts and additional keys. The beauty in the design of the device is provided by the gray top panel, made of aluminum alloy with diagonal grinding and the landing of the switches in the skeleton style. About the gaming purpose of the keyboard in appearance, famously chamfered corners and edges, combined with the dragon logo above the arrows and the plastic chin under the space bar, are reminiscent. By the way, the button caps are also non-standard with an octagonal shape of the sidewalls. However, in addition to the visual effect, this does not affect the sensations of printing. The weight of the keyboard does not exceed 800 grams.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

The layout is made according to the ANSI standard with long single-row Shift and Enter. The F1 button is located above the number «2». The symbols are applied by laser engraving, by burning in the paint. The medium-thick Latin alphabet is shifted to the upper left corner of the caps, and the thin Cyrillic alphabet is shifted to the lower right. All letters are perfectly readable both with and without illumination. The Fn key, marked with the MSI dragon logo, takes the position of the menu button on the right.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

The layout of the numeric keypad looks standard. Lock-indicators are disguised under a plastic insert in the upper right corner and their color depends on the illumination of the nearest keys. There are Num Lock, Caps Lock and Win Lock LEDs (locking the Start button).

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

The MSI Vigor GK50 Elite uses rare Kailh Box White switches. Their device and principle of operation can be seen in this video:

In short, the main difference is that the switch contacts are closed in a separate «box» on the side, which protects them from dust, liquid and excessive friction. Thanks to this, the level of protection complies with the IP56 standard. The mechanism has an additional plastic striker moving horizontally and a “clicking” spring opposite. When it is released, the contacts close, and the spring makes a characteristic click, which always occurs again during the reverse stroke of the stem. The dead zone, in which the repeated operation will occur without clatter, is difficult to find even on purpose. So it’s a very interesting combination. The switch has a linear travel, yet has a crisp tactile feedback and a distinctive dry actuation sound that repeats itself when the button is pressed and released. The rest of the specs are: 45 grams of actuation force and 55 grams of tactile resistance, 3.6mm full travel and 1.8mm before actuation. MTBF is declared within 80 million clicks. Separately, I would like to note the excellent stabilization of both ordinary and long buttons. Stabilizers are internal with separate adapters on the outside, thanks to which the button caps can be easily removed for cleaning. Moreover, there is an excellent key for this in the kit. The caps are made of ABS plastic painted on the outside.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

The height of the keyboard in profile along the back row of keys with folded legs is 38 mm. With the legs unfolded, the height is 48 mm. The keyboard can be used without a palm rest, but it’s better with it.

MSI Vigor GK50 EliteMSI Vigor GK50 Elite

The cable enters the keyboard housing from the back, closer to the left side of the device. Under it, a separate ledge is provided below. There is no protection against bending and additional ports.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

The wire in a nylon braid is harsh and remembers the given shape well. Its length is 1.8 meters. Not far from the connector there is a ferrite pad to eliminate signal interference.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

The reverse side of the keyboard is plastic with a noticeable recess on the left. Along the front edge there are four rubber feet at once, which provide not so much grip on the surface as the complete absence of body deflections during printing. The elastic bands on the rear folding legs are in contact with the table, both folded and unfolded.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

The legs are laid out in one level of height.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

The keyboard has individual RGB backlighting for all keys and lock indicators. It is easy to set up even without software. LEDs show all colors well except white, which goes completely blue. Latin and Cyrillic engraving is perfectly readable both in the light and in the dark. Indicators do not blind your eyes.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

Functionality

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite does not have built-in memory for remapping keys, but remembers backlight settings. All available functions relate to backlight control and multimedia. You can call them through certain key combinations with the Fn button, marked with the dragon logo. Below is a list of features that we were able to replicate.

Combination: Function:
Fn+Esc Resetting the keyboard to default settings
Fn+F1 Start MSI Afterburner
Fn+F9 Rewind
Fn+F10 Start/Pause
Fn+F11 Stop
Fn+F12 Flash forward
Fn+Prt Scn Mute/Unmute Sound
Fn+Scr Lk Turn down the volume
Fn+Pause Turn up the volume
Fn+Left Win Enable or disable game mode. The Win key is disabled by default. The corresponding indicator lights up
Fn+Ins Switching lighting effects, 12 options
Fn+Del Changing the direction of the light effect
Fn+Home Acceleration light effect (3 levels)
Fn+End Slow down light effect (3 levels)
Fn+ Page Up Increase shading effect
Fn+ Page Down Reduce shading effect
Fn+↑ Increase brightness (6 levels)
Fn+↓ Decrease brightness (6 levels)
Fn+← Previous color (8 colors)
Fn+→ Next color (8 colors)

Software

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite uses the MSI Dragon Center software (the current version at the time of writing the review is 2.0.86.0), which needs to be downloaded from the official website and installed. In fact, this is a full-fledged complex for the company’s motherboards, and unless you just need to fine-tune the backlighting of the keys or record macros, installing Dragon Center does not make sense.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

The first tab that touches the keyboard directly is Mystic Light. Here you can individually adjust the backlight and brightness of each key, set one of nine lighting effects or turn off the glow completely.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

In Gaming gear, you can choose your keyboard among other devices, record and assign up to 30 individual macro commands to any of the buttons except Fn. Three profiles are available for recording. Only keyboard key presses are logged, with or without delays.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

Ergonomics and testing

MSI provided us with not only the Vigor GK50 Elite keyboard for review, but also the Vigor WR01 palm rest, which successfully complements this device, making it much more convenient in everyday use. It is estimated at a little less than 600 UAH and is sold in the following retail packaging:

MSI Vigor WR01MSI Vigor WR01

The dimensions of the stand are 432x86x25 mm (if you measure the height along the back). The upper side is made of very soft and stretchy lycra with an antibacterial coating. Inside is memory foam mixed with a cooling gel. All this is stitched with white threads to a tenacious rubber base.

MSI Vigor WR01MSI Vigor WR01

In profile, the stand has a wedge-shaped shape.

MSI Vigor WR01

In combination with the keyboard, this palm rest allows you to work or play for hours without fatigue. Unlike leather or plastic rests, the base of the palm not only lies very comfortably, but is also well ventilated.

MSI Vigor WR01

I did not expect any special surprises from the MSI Vigor GK50 Elite in operation, but it still managed to surprise me. Yes, in terms of dimensions, key heights, layout and everything else, everything is standard here. A new user will not need to get used to it. Without a palm rest, the device turns out to be a bit tall. In addition, the body does not hold onto the surface very tightly. But, unlike the Vigor GK50, which tried to flirt with laptop lovers, the Elite version is all about tactile sensations in a standard form factor. Especially if you combine it with a palm rest firmly holding onto the table.

So what’s so great about Kailh Box White switches? First of all, fans of «clicking» mechanisms will like them with their tasty dry clatter sound. At the same time, the buttons have a clear tactile feedback and the practical absence of a dead zone when triggered, where re-activation would be possible without a click. But, due to the peculiarities of the device, the click mechanism will always be two — when the key is pressed and released. However, if this happens quickly, then two sounds merge into one, creating one volumetric “click”. And due to the fact that the striker of contacts at the moment of activation is not pressed, but released, the actuation point is almost always at the same level. And Box White is much more similar to linear mechanisms in terms of pressing force and recoil character. And if the return is required mainly when printing, then the linearity is welcomed by the players. In general, in short, this is one of the best options for tactile and clicky switches for my subjective taste, which allows you to play well and accurately type texts in large quantities.

Another good thing about the MSI Vigor GK50 Elite is that it is possible to quickly customize the backlight “for yourself” without installing software. Although white light is displayed incorrectly here.

The Dragon Center software is still too heavy and cumbersome, especially if your PC motherboard is not from MSI. If there is no need to record macro commands or individually adjust the color of each key, installing this software is strictly not recommended.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite supports full NKRO anti-ghosting, which allows you to activate all buttons at the same time and in any combination.

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

Results

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite is a successful mechanical keyboard equipped with unusual and rare Kailh Box White switches. These movements combine a rare range of features: tactile feedback, dry and loud double click sound and linearity of movement. Added to this is IP56 dust and moisture resistance and a claimed MTBF of 80 million clicks. The rest of the keyboard is also made very well. It has a sturdy chassis with an aluminum alloy top panel, standard layout and backlighting. An excellent addition to this device can be the MSI Vigor WR01 palm rest, which can make life much more comfortable for those who spend a significant part of it at the computer.

Of the shortcomings of the Vigor GK50 Elite, only two points can be noted: the lack of the correct white color in the backlight and extremely cumbersome software. However, the keyboard works fine without it, if you do not need to record macros.

The MSI Vigor GK50 Elite is a simple and comfortable mechanical keyboard that will appeal to anyone who needs tactile feedback, actuation sound and linear key travel. It’s good to see that the company is catching up on lost ground in the field of computer peripherals and releasing products aimed at a wide range of gamers, and not just fans of the brand, whose desktop looks something like this picture:

MSI Vigor GK50 Elite

The picture shows MSI products Vigor GK50 Elite, Vigor WR01, Clutch GM30, Agility GD30.

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