The Touch Bar Is Back, But For Gaming

The Touch Bar Is Back, But For Gaming
Corsair Voyager a1600 (Image: Corsair)

Corsair is best known for its premium desktops and accessories, specifically gaming headsets, keyboards, and monitors, but now the hardware maker is getting into laptops, and it’s setting itself apart by opting for a gaming touch bar.

Revealed at Computex today, the Corsair Voyager a1600 is a 16-inch gaming laptop running entirely on AMD components. But what stands out when you look at the design is Corsair’s version of the MacBook Touch Bar, which is a row of ten easy-access, customisable capacitive shortcut buttons (called S keys). These reside not on the top keyboard row but as a separate panel that’s integrated into the hinge above the keyboard.

Corsair Voyager a1600 (Image: Corsair)

Photos provided by Corsair show these buttons split into two groups of five on each side of the panel. Outlined by attractive stylised brackets, each S key is a different colour, augmenting the RGB keyboard below with a rainbow of hues. They look great, but what’s the benefit? Oddly, Corsair didn’t specify. However, given that they run on Elgato Steam Deck software, they are probably best used for controlling live streams or setting hotkeys on certain apps. The panel strip, by the way, also shows remaining battery life.

We’d also assume you could use these as macro keys for in-game actions, with the reveal video for the laptop straight up calling the panel strip a macro bar, although Corsair hasn’t specified any built-in macro functionality.

Before you slam Corsair for adopting Apple’s controversial Touch Bar feature, the Voyager a1600’s version doesn’t replace the keyboard shortcut row, but rather exists alongside it. Corsair isn’t forcing you to use these capacitive buttons — they are simply there if you need them.

Corsair Voyager a1600 (Image: Corsair)

Ignore those S-key buttons, and the Voyager is a premium gaming laptop with powerful specs and a high price tag to match. Games are displayed on a 16-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel (QHD+) IPS display with a 240Hz refresh rate and support for AMD FreeSync Premium technology.

Configs are available in powerful and even more powerful, with either Ryzen 7 6800HS or Ryzen 9 6900HS processors. Whichever you choose, it’ll be paired with a Radeon RX 6800M GPU.

Opt for the lower tier and it’ll come with 32GB of Corsair’s DDR5 RAM (2×16) while the Ryzen 9 model is paired with a generous 64GB of DDR5 memory. The high-end model also doubles the entry-level’s 1TB of storage to a 2TB PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVMe SSD.

Corsair Voyager a1600 (Image: Corsair)

The Voyager has a straightforward blacked out design with simple Corsair branding on the lid. On the deck is a full-size Cherry MX low-profile mechanical keyboard with per-key RGB backlighting. Up top is a 1080p webcam with a physical shutter to block the lens when you’re done streaming.

At 14 x 11.29 x 0.78 inches and 2 kg, the Voyager is relatively portable for the performance it brings. It won’t be your first choice to bring on an international flight but it shouldn’t be too much of a hassle hauling around your houses or taking it to a cafe. You also get a good selection of ports, including two Thunderbolt 3 USB4 ports, a USB 3.2 Type-C, a USB 3.2 Type-A, an SDXC 7.0 card reader, and a headphone jack. Modern connectivity support gets you Bluetooth 5.2 and Wi-Fi 6E.

Corsair will announce availability later this year. When they arrive, the Ryzen 7 version will cost $US2,699 ($3,747) while the Ryzen 9 SKU will go for $US2,999 ($4,163).

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