Cooler Master’s CK550 V2 is the latest addition to the company’s keyboard range, and it includes RGB lighting and plenty of programmability. It has an attractive design with a smart, brushed aluminium-topped casing. The top folds over the edges in a similar way to the Ducky Shine 7, making for a slightly larger footprint than necessary, but it gives the keyboard a more interesting, angular look than usual.
Dimensions (mm) 460 x 135 x 32-40 (W x D x H)
Format Standard 105 keys
Switch type Cooler Master mechanical (Blue, Brown or Red)
Switch life 50+ million keystrokes
Extras Keycap removal tool, foam wrist rest
A welcome design touch is that the lock key indicator lights in the top right have RGB LEDs, so you can control their colour and brightness along with the rest of the keyboard. What this keyboard can’t really claim, though, is to have particularly high-end build quality. It weighs in at just 852g, and although the build is reasonably stiff, it clearly doesn’t have the hefty core of some of the keyboards on test. Pop off the keycaps and you can clearly see they’re not double shot either, so the black paint that outlines the legends will eventually wear through.
You also miss out on a lot of extra features, such as a USB pass-through or extra gaming keys. You do, however, get a keycap removal tool in the box and a large, padded wrist rest. The latter is essentially like a slice of very thick (15mm) soft mouse mat, with a rubberised bottom, foam middle and fabric top. It’s a clever addition, as it’s much more comfortable to use than most included wrist rests, yet it’s also no doubt affordable to make and include in the bundle.
The key layout is entirely standard, with no extra keys, but you do get masses of secondary functions built into the keys’ functions, with labelling for them on the keycaps. Hitting Fn with the F keys controls all the lighting settings, switches on the Gaming mode (Windows key lock) and also controls macro recording.
The Home/End cluster has media playback and volume controls, the cursor keys add further macro control and the 1-4 keys switch the keyboard profiles. It will take some time to learn all the combinations, but it’s handy to have all that extra control built into the design and clearly labelled.
Cooler Master’s MasterPlus+ software makes setup easy as well, with full control of backlighting, key mapping and macros. Unfortunately, the software also ruined our review sample, when it failed to install a firmware update (this broke the backlighting and extra functions, although typing still worked), though a later update fixed this.
At the top of Cooler Master’s current keyboard stack is the company’s MK850 (reviewed in Issue 193), which features key switches that have an analogue response. The further you press down the key, the higher the response in-game, just like the triggers on a control pad. The MK850 is also equipped with real Cherry MX switches.
Comparatively, the CK550 V2 uses an MX clone switch withoutthe analogue response, although they’re available in exactlythe same blue, brown and red configurations as the Cherry ones, with a 50+ million lifespan. We tested the red version and it felt just as good as using conventional Cherry MX red switches.
The CK550 V2 is a great value midrange mechanical keyboard. It offers a stylish aluminium-topped design, fully programmable RGB backlighting and key functions, and it all comes in at a very modest price of under . It doesn’t have the high-end heft of more expensive models, or much in the way of extra features, but it delivers if you just want the basics in an attractive package.