MacBook Touch Bar-style keys mark Corsair’s first laptop
Apple ditched capacitive touch strips along the top of its MacBook Pro decks last year, giving Corsair the opportunity to offer a similar input bar. Corsair seems to think it has found a fitting use for the design, incorporating it into its first laptop, which it built with a heavy focus on streaming.
Corsair made a name for itself in gaming desktops, but the Corsair Voyager a1600 AMD Advantage Edition announced Monday marks the first foray for the gaming brand, also known for PC peripherals and DIY components, into Corsair-brand laptops. The move comes about two years after it acquired boutique PC-maker Origin.
In its announcement, Corsair said the 16-inch clamshell is made for the “aspiring content creator, avid gamer, or a full-time streamer.” Thus, it’s equipped with a 1080p resolution webcam with a physical shutter flanked by four microphones with ambient noise cancellation and a colorful “macro bar with center LCD display” as well as a colorful, programmable soft-touch keyboard.
The bar has 10 keys for programming oft-used features of the Elgato Stream Deck software, which Corsair also owns via acquisition. One-touch access to things like switching scenes, adjusting volume levels, or launching media or a gaming macro can be a lifesaver in the stressful world of live video, and the laptop even makes the controls usable if the clamshell is shut. Elgato Stream Deck’s versatility also means you could find a use for these buttons outside of the streaming world, such as controlling smart bulbs, taking a screenshot, opening an app, or controlling Zoom. Just don’t forget which number key is for which function.
Hard to miss is the bar’s bright battery meter. It provides a clear read on battery status; although, with this being a power-hungry gaming laptop, you’ll likely have it plugged in when doing anything serious like streaming or gaming.
Corsair’s Voyager a1600 joins the Dell XPS 13 Plus in reviving touch bars atop keyboards, à la Apple. Corsair takes a more niche approach, focusing on the new age of livestreamers and gamers open to flashy, potentially trendy, technology and who may already make use of things like the Elgato Stream Deck hardware or macro keypads. Corsair also isn’t forcing the touch bar on a beloved product.
There is, perhaps, broader appeal in the Voyager a1600’s integrated wireless receiver. It’s like having a wireless Corsair dongle built into the laptop, meaning up to three peripherals using Corsair’s Slipstream-branded wireless USB-A dongle technology to work without a dongle. This requires a greater commitment to the Corsair ecosystem than most have but is still a novel concept I’d love to see broadened—especially if Corsair successfully executes it without distracting lag or dropped connections.
Otherwise, Corsair built the Voyager a1600 like a solid AMD gaming PC with up to an 8-core, 16-thread AMD Ryzen 9 6900HS CPU running at up to 4.7 GHz, an AMD Radeon RX 6800M graphics card, 32GB of (Corsair brand) DDR5 RAM, and 2TB of PCIe 4.0 SSD storage. These specs will cost $3,000, but the laptop will start at $2,700.
Corsair’s PC also has a rapid 16:10 IPS screen with 2560×1600 pixels and a 240 Hz refresh rate. Corsair didn’t get specific but claimed the laptop will employ an “advanced compact vapor chamber cooling system that evenly spreads heat, achieving lower temperatures with a thinner profile than traditional cooling methods.”
The laptop is expected to debut this summer.