Unboxing and First Impressions
UNBOXING AND ACCESSORIES
Cooler Master is a brand known for making quality keyboards like the quickfire rapid and the trigger. Their keyboards can survive a durability test wherein the keyboard will be run over by a car. Today, Cooler Master changed its packaging color from a gray box from the previous Masterkeys into a bright purple box now. Also they have a cut-out window for consumers to be able to press the keys and test it.
Upon opening the box, you can see that the keyboard is protected by a clear hard plastic cover wherein you can see the keyboard itself. After taking out everything outside the box, we can see that it’s just the keyboard and a manual, nothing else.
- Outemu switches (brown/red/blue)
- Full layout design
- Brushed aluminum design
- Gunmetal color
- RGB, on-the-fly lighting control
- 1ms, 1000hz polling rate, USB 2.0
- 64kb on-board memory
- 440(L)*140(W)*45(H) mm
- 1100g / 2.43 lbs
- 1.8 m cable length
- 2 yrs warranty
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
The Cooler Master CK350 is an RGB mechanical keyboard with a floating keys design and has a 104 key standard layout. It has a brushed aluminum finish which gives it a minimalistic look on top of the gunmetal color of the top plate. CK350 also has an angled case design for maximum comfort while typing. As you can see, there is no visible print of the CM logo in front aside from the subtle branding in the windows key with its famous hexagon design. At the back, there is the branding, 5 rubber feet and 2 flip-out feet. As for the connectivity of the CK350, it has a USB 2.0, non-removable rubber cable with 1.8m in length with 3 cable routing channels.
USER EXPERIENCE AND CONCLUSION
SWITCHES AND STABS
The CK350 offers 3 variants: outemu blue, brown and red. What we have here in our review is the Outemu Blue, a clicky switch with 60cN force. The housing in this switch is clear with 4 pin holes to accommodate the 4-pin RGB LEDs. It is soldered and unlike the current trend of hotswappable board, it offers a 4-pin vibrant RGB LED instead of an SMD LED. The Outemu blue in this mechanical keyboard is somewhat different from other outemu blues that can be found in some china mech kbs. The sound is not that noisy as to what a common Outemu blue sounds like.
The stabs use in the long keys are great and has very minimal rattling. You can check our typing sound test below for the CK350 (00:15 to 00:19 for the stabs) and a sound test of a Cherry MX blue.
As expected from an entry level mechanical keyboard, the stock keycaps of the Cooler Master CK350 is an ABS UV coated laser etched keycaps with <1.0mm thickness and it is in OEM profile. The keys will fade in time due to its printing process in the legends.
SOFTWARE, LIGHTING AND OTHER FEATURES
As for the lighting of the CK350, it only has the on-the-fly setting and doesn’t have any software support which is somewhat disappointing since it has a vibrant and luminous LEDs. You can change the lighting thru FN (CM Logo) + Ins and FN + left arrow key to change the color of the current mode. You can also record your own custom light mode using FN + Home and saving it by presesing FN + End. Press FN+ PgUp/Dn to change the speed of the LED lighting effect.
CONCLUSION AND FINAL THOUGHTS
For the price of around 3,000 pesos or 60$, the Cooler Master CK350 is a great contender. The minimalist look and subtle branding is a plus for me. One of the first mainstream brand to use Outemu switches on their budget boards, Cooler Master definitely offers a budget-friendly oriented mechanical keyboard. As we all know before, Cooler Master is only using Cherry MX switches with their whole line up starting from the Quickfire Rapid, Rapid-I up to their recent Masterkeys series, now they are venturing and exploring other options like Outemu and Gateron.
Offering a 2 year warranty even to their budget mechs gives their customers a piece of mind in case something happens or in case of faulty switches/leds. Cooler Master should have made it hotswappable and instead use an SMD led for faster replacing of the switches in case of chattering switches. The cable is also not removable and a non-braided one. The on-the-fly led control for me is a plus since I’m not into customizing the LED lighting often but it will be a major deal breaker for others.
- Full RGB and vibrant LEDs
- Standard Layout (most aftermarket keycaps will fit)
- Offers 3 different switch variants
- On-the-fly lighting control*
- Minimal rattling of stabs and smooth Outemu switches compared to other OEM mechanical boards with outemu switches
- Most keycaps will fit even if it has a bulging LED on the top of the switch
- Subtle branding in front, minimalist look/design
- 4-pin LED, hard to remove when replacing switches
- Thin ABS UV coated keycaps
- Non-removable, non-braided USB cable
- No wirepuller included
- No software customization to customize per key lighting, no profiles*