Mechanical keyboards grazed a good amount of popularity and this popularity have flooded online markets with budget-end mechanical keyboards, however, these budget-end keyboards miss some of the basic features. Well, to bridge that, Cooler Master has brought in its budget-friendly mechanical keyboard – Cooler Master CK550 mechanical keyboard. So, how does it perform overall and is it worth the price? Let’s find out.
Cooler Master CK550 Mechanical Keyboard
The CK550 gaming keyboard features Gateron mechanical switches (which allows Cooler Master to keep the prices low in this series while still maintaining good build quality), full RGB per-key lighting, and a brushed aluminum chassis.
It also supplies on-the-fly controls for lighting and macros in addition to a well-designed build, an easy-to-use software app that lets you customize your lighting, set macros, map keys, and create profiles.
DESIGN & BUILD QUALITY
The Cooler Master CK550 is a full-size keyboard, a pretty standard one. The CK550 has a brushed aluminum plate at the top (instead of using plastic majorly in the body) giving out a premium-end touch along with a sturdy design removing any form of flex. Not just that, there are pretty broad feet which can flip out to tilt the keyboard, and tiny little feet on the front edge to keep it from sliding around.
The CK550 has a floating key design, so the mechanical switches are exposed and sitting on the aluminum plate. Talking about keycaps, they are made of ABS plastic with the legends laser-etched on them. The keycaps were sturdily built and don’t come out easily, thanks to the dense stem on the keycap. The CK550 uses a plastic-cover cable without any form of braiding.
The Cooler Master CK500 comes with a metal keycap puller inside the box, which kind of necessary when you go for a mechanical keyboard and moreover, at some point you’re going to clean your keyboard and having a keycap puller is convenient.
Sadly, at this price tag, CK550 doesn’t include any keycaps. The wrist rest is not included in the package, but we do understand the cost-cutting measures. Overall, a very satisfying with the design and build quality.
The first thing you will notice while using the keyboard is that there aren’t any dedicated multimedia playback or volume controls buttons. However, they can be controlled in combination with the Fn (Function) key. The lighting modes can be changed with the Fn key without any software installed.
Using the F2, F3, and F4 with the Fn key, you can play around with the levels of Red, Green, and Blue and cycle through different colours. However, the keyboard doesn’t allow you to change the brightness level of the LEDs. Furthermore, the CK550 include Windows lock functionality, which is a lifesaver in certain games.
The Fn + F9 key combination, the CK550 activate the Windows lock function i.e the F9 key will light up Red when the Fn key is pressed. This will lock the Windows key. Not just that, if you press the combination again, all the keys on the keyboard will be locked. To verify whether the second level has been activated, press the Fn key and you should see the F9 key light up in Green. To go back to the default state, press the combination again.
Mind you, on-the-fly macro recording is difficult to spot on keyboards in this range. However, the software support helps, only when the system you’re using doesn’t have the Cooler Master Portal installed. If you have it installed, we recommend you using the utility instead of strangled key combinations.
GAMING AND TYPING PERFORMANCE
The Cooler Master CK550 gives you a liner switching with sort of a tactile feel, a good balance of both actually. For the record we have used this keyboard for over 2 weeks for all sorts of work, be it gaming or writing an article or editing a video. Speaking of gaming, we played several games across different genres.
The keyboard registered all our keystrokes. Even when you press the WASD keys simultaneously, all of the keystrokes will get registered. The hardware-based macro recording is limited and this keyboard doesn’t allow to add mouse functions but you will be able to implement basic key binds.
Mind you, there aren’t any extra keys, so those macros have to been reassigned to existing keys. Well, apart from gaming, we didn’t have issues with the typing experience.
- Great build quality
- RGB lighting with Hardware-based macro recording
- Good software support
- No wrist rest
- No brightness level control
- No extra keys bundled
- No dedicated multimedia keys
With the CK550, Cooler Master is targetting the entry-level mechanical keyboard market, which is packed with low-quality products with no big brands. No denying, the CK550 is slightly priced higher than the budget mechanical keyboards, but mind you, it delivers great build quality with features you wouldn’t really find in any keyboard at the same price tag.
By using Gateron mechanical switches instead of Cherry MX, they have been able to keep the prices down. For the record, this was our first experience with Gateron mechanical switches and we quite like it. Cooler Master is also offering hardware-based macro recording and lighting control. The CK550 is priced at Rs 6,829, well, at this price, the Cooler Master’ CK550 is a pretty good choice for mechanical keyboard enthusiast.