Rating: 7/10 ?
  • 1 - Does not work
  • 2 - Barely functional
  • 3 - Severely lacking in most areas
  • 4 - Functions, but has numerous issues
  • 5 - Fine yet leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 - Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 - Great and worth purchasing
  • 8 - Fantastic, approaching best-in-class
  • 9 - Best-in-class
  • 10 - Borderline perfection
Price: $129.99
MSI Vigor GK71 SONIC Gaming Keyboard
Arnold Carreiro / How-To Geek

Professional Esports competitors and dedicated PC gaming hobbyists alike invest in premium gear to help consistently win games and climb leaderboards. The MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Gaming Keyboard is one such accessory that can help you reach that level thanks to its lightning-fast keys.

Here's What We Like

  • Highly customizable RGB lighting
  • Cozy wrist rest
  • Lightest key switches you’ll ever press
  • Convenient volume wheel
  • Rugged construction

And What We Don't

  • Featherweight keys feel strange for non-gaming use
  • Bold lighting isn’t for everyone
  • Multiple clashing apps

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Featherweight Keystrokes

The keyboard’s brilliant RGB LEDs may catch your attention, but the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic’s exclusive Sonic Red Switches will hold it. Seasoned gamers will appreciate rapidly jumping between menus and performing game-winning maneuvers with speedy, nearly silent, and consistently smooth keystrokes.

Performing crucial actions a moment quicker than your opponent with the slightest touch of this extra-clicky keyboard feels great mid-game. Its Hybrid 6+N-key rollover support ensures that it registers every key you press, even if you press six at once. All of this can mean the difference between landing big plays and game-breaking near misses.

I felt that these boxy raised linear switches were comfortable overall. This model was designed to “reduce finger fatigue,” and I can confidently say I didn’t feel any real difference in my hands and wrists after testing the MSI Vigor GK71 for lengthy gaming sessions.

If you regularly jump between your favorite games, you’ll appreciate the ability to map up to three custom keyboard profiles directly to the MSI Vigor GK71’s onboard memory. Launching your preferred RGB color profile and collection of essential macros at the tap of an assigned Function (FN) key is a handy touch.

MSI Vigor GK71 SONIC Gaming Keyboard
Arnold Carreiro / How-To Geek

Eye-Catching Presentation

MSI Sonic Red Switches aside, the first thing you’ll notice about this full-size gaming keyboard is its kaleidoscopic appearance of bright LED keys. The addition of ClearCaps was a brilliant one, as no matter how you customize each individual key’s hue and pattern with over 16 million colors via the MSI Dragon Center app (available for Windows with a weaker version on iPhone), you’ll be treated to a bold and bright light show from every angle. Creative minds will take advantage of this app to customize their MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic and produce a unique design that matches their desktop setup or favorite games.

The included ergonomic memory foam wrist wrest is notably cozy, and I’m glad it was designed as a separate piece from the keyboard itself so I could place it exactly where I need wrist support for maximum comfort. Its immobile rubberized underside was a nice touch, as lesser PC accessories tend to move around the desktop as you use them.

MSI Vigor GK71 SONIC Gaming Keyboard
Arnold Carreiro / How-To Geek

Don’t let its lightweight feel at a mere 854g fool you into thinking that this model isn’t durable. The MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic’s slick-looking solid aircraft-grade aluminum frame, Sonic Red Switches (rated for over 70 million keystrokes), and 1.8-meter sturdy braided USB Type-A cable highlight how well-made this keyboard is.

And Speaking of that aluminum frame, the inclusion of a four-way X-shaped groove in its underside is a nice touch if you need a little help managing your tangled mess of desktop cables.

MSI knows most appreciate customizing every aspect of their gaming gear, so the bundled key puller tool to swap out individual keys as needed was a nice touch. Unfortunately, this board is not hot-swappable, meaning the switches you get are what you’re stuck with. This feature, which can be found on many other gaming keyboards at or below this price tag, would’ve essentially solved the issues with casual typing (more on this later) and greatly improved the appeal of the board.

The addition of dedicated media buttons is a handy feature for instant in-game sound adjustment, and I’ll take the tactile feel of twisting this keyboard’s stylish volume knob over mashing individual volume buttons any day.

The 8 Best Hot Swappable Mechanical Keyboards

Best Overall
Drop CTRL Mechanical Keyboard — Tenkeyless TKL (87 Key) Gaming Keyboard, Hot-Swap Switches, Programmable Macros, RGB LED Backlighting, USB-C, Doubleshot PBT, Aluminum Frame (Halo True, Gray)
Best Compact
DROP ALT
Best Mid-Range
Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard (GMMK)
Best for Simplicity
Logitech G Pro X
Shine Bright
Womier K87
Best for Enthusiasts
GMMK Pro

Best Reserved for PC Gaming

Although the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Gaming Keyboard is genuinely useful for buttery-smooth gaming, it feels out of place when used for daily tasks. For example, using MSI’s Sonic Red Switches led to an annoying amount of typos because they’re just so easy to activate by accident when typing. It was so bad that I can’t recommend the Vigor GK71 Sonic unless you have a backup keyboard for regular typing or don’t mind featherweight actuation forces.

No one is arguing that this keyboard’s rainbow of vivid custom colors doesn’t look cool, but the extra-bright glow and flashing of its LEDs can be distracting at best and annoying at worst. Although the 104 ClearCaps were perfectly designed to pump out an impressive light show, these transparent black-topped red switch keys aren’t nearly as stylish when the lights are turned off.

MSI Vigor GK71 SONIC Gaming Keyboard
Arnold Carreiro / How-To Geek

This isn’t a complete dealbreaker, but installing and setting up the companion software from MSI was far clunkier than it should’ve been. I first installed the MSI Center app from the Windows Store, but it didn’t work, so I was forced to delete it and set up the Dragon Center app directly from MSI to be able to adjust the keyboard’s essential Mystic Light feature.

An all-in-one app from MSI would be far more convenient than testing which of their multiple programs works best with your gaming peripherals, but you’ll discover the best way to access the features you need after a little trial and error.

Should You Buy the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic?

Whether you prefer action-packed shooters like Overwatch or frantic Real-Time Strategy titles like StarCraft II, the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic Gaming Keyboard and its lightning-quick mechanical switches makes it a top option for bringing a competitive edge to your gameplay and a lot of flash to your desktop’s presentation. As long as you understand that the MSI Vigor GK71 Sonic is a gaming tool and a poor choice for regular typing, this supplemental keyboard is worth investing in for hardcore PC gamers.

Rating: 7/10
Price: $129.99

Here’s What We Like

  • Highly customizable RGB lighting
  • Cozy wrist rest
  • Lightest key switches you’ll ever press
  • Convenient volume wheel
  • Rugged construction

And What We Don't

  • Featherweight keys feel strange for non-gaming use
  • Bold lighting isn’t for everyone
  • Multiple clashing apps
Profile Photo for Arnold Carreiro Arnold Carreiro
Arnold B. Carreiro is a professional writer, author, and product reviewer who digs through the tsunami of new high-tech consumer goods to find the top picks so you don’t have to. His insight and comprehensive product reviews have been published at BestReviews, the Baltimore Post, and Chicago Tribune to name a few, but How-To Geek is the best place to read his latest tech guides.
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