The MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic is visually impressive and offers an interesting typing experience, but does not convince in every way.
Carl’s MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic review looks at whether this mechanical keyboard with MSI Sonic Red Linear switches should be your next keyboard.
Mechanical keyboards are now the new standard in the world of PC gaming. Responsive and ‘clicky’ keys are the choice ‘du jour’. However, MSI opts for a different approach with its Vigor GK71 Sonic as a mechanical keyboard. No clicky keys and extremely low ‘travel’ (the distance you have to press before a stroke is registered), but extremely light switches and a higher travel. The result is an interesting and visually impressive experience, yet it is not convincing across the board.
As mentioned, the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic is a mechanical keyboard, yet it has a typing experience that is drastically different from what you’re used to from other mechanical keyboards. That’s because of MSI’s Sonic Red Linear switches. They are particularly light, with an actuation force of just 35 grams. These are some of the lightest switches in the gaming world – a whopping ten grams lighter than the Cherry MX Red switches found on so many other mechanical keyboards. Consequently, the typing experience is much looser. If you go back to another keyboard, it simply feels rigid in comparison.
That doesn’t mean the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic’s typing experience is superior, though. Although the actuation is very light at 35 grams, the travel is 4mm. As a result, the keys tower above the chassis. The result is special to say the least. It’s almost like tapping velvet, as the keys barely resist. At the same time, you do not get any clear feedback in your fingers, so that you are not always sure whether you have pressed a key or not. Only auditory you get a soft click in response. Typing with the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic is certainly ‘different’, but not necessarily better than the competition thanks to the Sonic Red Linear switches.
Visually, the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic does distinguish itself positively. The ClearCaps keys are real eye-catchers. The top of each key lets light through, like many competitors, but three-quarters of each key is also transparent. As a result, the per-key RGB lighting is extremely bright. If you like visual effects where colors alternate quickly, there is no other mainstream keyboard where this comes into its own.
The MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic clearly pulls the premium card. The chassis is made of aluminum, which makes this keyboard durable and high-quality. You also get a set of dedicated media buttons here in the top right, which let you pause, fast forward and rewind, and a volume rocker. You can grab the volume knob with two fingers and turn it around, or twist it more subtly with the side of a single finger through a notch on the side. It’s smart, streamlined design. Finally, you will also receive a memory foam wrist rest. However, it is not very comfortable and causes friction with your skin during longer playing or typing sessions. Moreover, you cannot disconnect the cable that is right in the middle of the keyboard. The premium experience is therefore not completely successfully achieved.
One of the biggest drawbacks has nothing to do with the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic itself, but with the support that MSI offers. Like other manufacturers, MSI has its own software called MSI Center that allows you to adjust aspects such as the RGB lighting. However, MSI Center is extremely unstable. During my review period, the program regularly refused to cooperate and also crashed a few times. Also visually the interface is not pleasant. However, you will find an intriguing feature for the Vigor GK71 Sonic in MSI Center. You can also (limited) control this keyboard via your voice. You must first activate this option in the MSI Center, after which you can, for example, adjust the RGB setting via the voice command ‘Hey Lucky’. A nice gimmick, but MSI Center remains a substandard experience.
The MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic has clear advantages, but also some major drawbacks. The Sonic Red Linear switches provide a unique, extremely soft typing experience. The actuation force is so light it almost feels like tapping on velvet. At the same time, you miss out on much-needed feedback. Typing isn’t necessarily better or worse than other keyboards, but definitely ‘different’. Visually, this is the keyboard of choice if you like striking RGB lighting, with double transparency that shows colors to their fullest. Minor design issues, however, throw a spanner in the works: the wrist rest isn’t as comfortable, and the MSI Center software remains a huge pain point with MSI products. The MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic offers a unique experience but does not convince in every way.