Custom keyboards have exploded in popularity in recent years, raising the bar and expectations for mechanical keyboards across different price points. Gaming keyboard brands are busy taking notes, and releasing products matching these expectations.
Cooler Master has recently launched the CK720 hot-swappable keyboard, their answer to the widely popular 65% form factor enthusiast keyboards. So let’s find out how they fare against enthusiast grade keyboards.
For the price of RM299, what do you get, and what are the compromises to hit the competitive price point? Read on to find out.
What’s In The Box?
- Cooler Master CK720 Mechanical Keyboard
- USB Type-C to USB Type-A data cable
- 2 in 1 keycap and switch puller
- Quick start guide
- Cherry MX Green switches X 8
Cooler Master CK720 Keyboard Design
At first glance, the CK720 looks like any other ordinary keyboard. However, there is more under the hood than you might think. It has a 65% form factor, which omits the F-row and number pad.
The base material is made of plastic, and the top cover is made of aluminium. The edges of the top cover is polished, a nice touch and certainly makes the keyboard look premium. At the bottom you will find adjustable feet with two levels of adjustment.
You will find a knob at the top right, a common staple among enthusiast keyboards. The USB-C connector is located at the top, which is embedded quite deep inside a narrow channel. We will get back to this later.
In terms of mechanical switches, Cooler Master has opted for factory lubricated Kailh Box V2 switches, and comes in three flavours: White (clicky), Red (linear), and Brown (tactile) respectively. The keyboard also comes with 8 sample Cherry MX Green switches for you to swap some keys around if you like.
The CK720 is equipped with double-shot PBT keycaps that comes in OEM profile. The keyboard’s PCB is tray-mounted, so you will get a satisfying bottoming-out feel when you type.
The CK720 is clearly targeted towards keyboard enthusiasts, with the features to match. First, the keyboard itself is hot-swappable with other 5-pin or 3-pin switches. You can easily change your switches in any ways you like, no soldering needed.
Also, to minimize pings and noise, the CK720 comes preinstalled with silicon padding sandwiching the PCB. Cooler Master has used their own pre-lubed stabilisers as well, which silences annoying rattling noise and allows for smoother travel.
Lastly, the aluminium top cover is removable. You simply need to remove a few keycaps on the right side, then press the lever located at the left side of the case to slide it out. This gives you almost unrestricted access to the keyboard internals if you want to install your own mods in the future.
Software And Customization
The CK720 can be further customised through Cooler Master’s MasterPlus+ software. You can set up macros, map your keys, load and save profiles, and set up the ARGB colour options. The knob can be mapped to perform other functions as well, such as play/pause, adjust RGB brightness, changing lighting modes, and media navigation.
Manufacturers have often lagged behind enthusiast keyboards of the same price point for the past few years, but not any more. For a pre-built board, the CK720 ticks almost all the right boxes.
Cooler Master did a good job with the factory lubing of the switches and stabilisers, resulting in a smooth and consistent typing feel. There is minimal switch wobble, and rattle is almost inaudible especially the spacebar.
The Kailh Box V2 switches feel great to type on too! We were given two keyboards to review, one with Brown switches, and one with Reds. Both switches performed admirably, each stroke feeling consistent with the rest, a testament to how good factory lubing has become lately.
Personally I prefer the Brown switches thanks to the satisfying bump whenever I type. The Reds felt a too light for me, but that is mainly due to my hard hitting typing style. It is definitely the quietest of the two, great for office environments if you do not want to annoy your colleagues.
As mentioned earlier, the switches are hot-swappable, presenting a gateway for you to explore a plethora of switches in this hobby.
Moving on to the included Cherry MX Green switches. It can be summarized with ‘meh’. It sounds muted compared to the notoriously loud Cherry MX Blue, but it does feel noticeably scratchier. You really need to lube these switches to get the best out of them.
Aside from typing feel, the next thing enthusiasts care about is how it sounds. Thankfully, the CK720 is well dampened, effectively eliminating most of the annoying pings. However, the side effect of this level of noise dampening is that the keyboard sounds quite muted. Yes, it does have ‘clacks’ and ‘thocks’, but it certainly does not sound ‘creamy’.
My only pet peeve with this keyboard is the connector port. It is positioned deep inside a narrow channel that I could not plug in my coiled cables. Your choice of custom coiled cables will be limited to those with slim connectors.
Overall, the Cooler Master CK720 is a great pre-built keyboard that easily rivals some of entry level enthusiast keyboards. Being priced at RM299 locally in Malaysia, it has all the features that newcomers to this hobby would need, and some extra if you plan to modify it to make it your very own.
Cooler Master had clearly took some notes from the enthusiast keyboard community, and might give them a run for their money with the CK720.