The mechanical gaming keyboard market is so overstuffed that you can find a decent one for a fair price from just about any brand that has ever even seen a video game. In an effort to save my sanity, I’ve decided to do fewer of these in the future. If you see me do a keyboard review from this point forward, it’s because I think it is doing something interesting.
And really, I don’t know where this device category goes in the future except for better materials and more RGB. This brings me to the Cooler Master CK552. I’m sure you’re wondering if this would have made the cut under my promise to only review keyboards that are doing something new or interesting. And no — it probably wouldn’t have. But that’s only because, on paper, it doesn’t stand out.
But the CK552 does have noticeable features when you get your hands on it, and that makes me more excited to use it — even if the model I used has issues with specters and spooks.
The CK552 is exclusive to Best Buy in the United States and Staples in Canada for $80, and it is available for purchase now.
What you’ll like
Well-made and designed
When you first slide the CK552 out of its packaging, you probably won’t have too many strong feelings about it. This is a keyboard. No one can argue with that. But as soon as I picked it up, I grew more attached to it. This is thanks to its brushed aluminum chassis and substantial, high-quality key caps.
The CK552 is a full-sized QWERTY keyboard with a numpad. It uses Gateron red switches, which — as you would expect — work, sound, and feel a lot like the popular Cherry MX Reds. The CK552 also has programmable per-key lighting that you can control with Cooler Master’s simple software.
The RGB looks great and works as expected without any headaches. If you want to go without the Cooler Master software, you will still get plenty of basic lighting options as well. That’s nice, and I almost like the basic spectrum wave enough to stick with that just so I don’t have to install anything else onto my system.
The Gateron switches are also OK. They are mechanical with a linear actuation, which is nerd for they don’t make a click when you depress them. They will still clack when the caps crash into their wells, but the switch itself doesn’t have a physical or audible click to let you know that you’ve activated it.
Instead, as many want from a gaming switch, the key actuates the instant you press it. It’s also not as loud as blue or brown switches from Gateron or Cherry.
I’ve had some problems with the linear actuation, but I’ll touch on that in a moment.
The CK552 does not come with other switch options if you prefer something more tactile or clicky, but you could just get the Cooler Master CK550 instead. That’s essentially the same keyboard with some minor differences in its look, but it comes with option for Gateron red, blue, or brown switches and is available on Amazon.
But the best part of the CK552 are those quality materials. The aluminum is solid and cool to the touch. It makes it seem like the keyboard is drilled into the desk and immovable. And the default keycaps have a subtle resistant surface that makes them catch your fingertips at the slightest touch.
You can find plenty of keyboards that have similar qualities, but not as many in the $80 price range.
What you won’t like
As I mentioned, I like the Gateron Red switches, but I will note that I frequently notice false-positive inputs from the “F” key and a few others. Whether I’m typing or playing a game, the keyboard seems to register F when I don’t intend to press it.
I may be brushing it or depressing it just a fraction of a fraction of an inch, but that is enough to actuate the Gateron. That’s not great during typing. I’ve done it multiple times while writing this review, and it’s annoying. But it’s especially deadly in a game. During a match of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the keyboard registered F while I was driving a car. Of course, I wasn’t driving the car after that because that’s the button I use to exit vehicles … even those that are traveling 100 kmh.
This problem is anecdotal, and I don’t have the resources to buy 5,000 of the these keyboards to test how often it registers false-positives. But that is my experience, so I’m letting you know.
Best Buy has a good return policy, so if you like what you see and what I have to say about it, I think you could try it out to see if you have the ghost inputs. But if you’re on the fence, you have a million options for keyboards that do a lot of the same stuff with similar materials. The Logitech G610 Orion Red is on sale on Amazon for $80. I like the HyperX Alloy FPS Tenkeyless. Corsair has some nice options. The Razer Ornata, which I love, is $85 on Amazon.
The point is that you have options. But if you do go with Cooler Master, it has great support. And other than the weird inputs from another dimension, I like the CK552.
The Cooler Master CK552 is available now for $80 at Best Buy or Staples in Canada. Cooler Master provided a sample unit for the purpose of this review.