Cooler Master CK350 Review

Cooler Master CK350 Gaming RGB Keyboard

Cooler Master CK350 is great for a beginner as a mechanical keyboard which offers a high price-quality ratio. Cutting down on  many useless accessories and features, this keyboard is a great choice for those who want to start using a mechanical keyboard without spending a lot of money.

For Against
Simple and clean design Lack of software
Double injection keycaps Rubberized cable
Mechanical switches Ping sound


Specifications

Materials Plastic, brushed aluminum
Polling Rate 1000Hz / 1ms
Switches Outemu Blue
Clicky, 60g
Outemu Brown
Tactile, 55g
Outemu Red
Linear, 50g
Lighting Adjustable RGB LED
Cable 1,8m, ruberized
Dimensions and weigth 440 × 140 × 45 mm / 1.19 kg

Design

The design of the CK350 is not eye-catching, simple and unloaded one. The basis of the body - black and a bit rough plastic that does not collect fingerprints easily. At the top of the keyboard there is a brushed aluminum plate that "folds" on the front side of the keyboard; it is dark grey color, not particularly glossy and looks simple yet not cheap. The shape of the keyboard - a common rectangle of a wedge profile with a slanted border on the front.The shape is compact, with no unnecessary angles or exaggerated "gamerish" patterns.

Cooler Master CK350 Gaming RGB Keyboard
Wedge-shaped keyboard profile

The double injection keycaps are made of ABS plastic (in US version only). It is rather unexpected that the keyboard at this price point would have double injectio keycaps, which ensure a longer life of them - symbols, unlike laser engraved keys, do not wear out in the long run. The texture of the keys is quite rough, can irritate the more sensitive skin although that might help with reducing "shining" effect on the keycaps. The fingerprints, as on the keyboard body, leaves no trace.

Cooler Master CK350 Gaming RGB Keyboard ABS keycaps ANSI layoutRough double-injection keycaps texture

 

The keyboard connects to the computer with a 1.8m length rubberized cable. It is quite flexible, but it certainly does not escape the problems each rubber cable has in common - it is difficult to straighten after unpacking the keyboard and can wear down on the edge of the table. But there is also a high note -  a space left at the bottom of the keyboard, which allows the cable to from the keyboard in three different places - left, right and in the middle; the cable is pressed into its intended position, so you have no fear that it will fall out when the keyboard is raised.

Cooler Master CK350 Gaming RGB Keyboard
Routing options for the cable

RGB lighting? It is there, it has RGB and it can be adjusted – unfortunately, without using software, but with with secondary keyboard key functions. LEDs are SMD, not hole-through, which means that the keys does not shine particularly brightly, and the switch is illuminated quite unevenly: the lower part of it shines much more dimly than the upper one. Adjusting the lighting itself is quite confusing and even using the explanations in the manual is quite difficult to change the appearance of the keyboard. By the way, to determine the exact color is impossible.

Cooler Master CK350 Gaming RGB Keyboard Outemu switches
Uneven and relatively dim lighting of the switch

Switches and user experience

CK350 uses Outemu switches that are Cherry MX clones. They are considered the cheapest of all mechanical switches, but not the worst - mechanical keyboard communities consider them to be better than the more expensive Kaihl switches. The keyboard is offered with three switches - Blue, Brown and Red, whose colors correspond to the Cherry MX marking scheme (Blue -  click, clicky; Brown - a quiet click, but having a tactile bump; Red - the quietest, smoothest stroke).

However, Outemu switches are not the top quality, so they also have tiny but annoying features. First of all, these switches often hear the ping of springs. Secondly, the moving part of the switch - the stem - is quite loose and rubs unevenly into the switch itself; this results in additional silent but audible scratchy sounds using the keyboard. And thirdly, the hit of the metal plate used on the keyboard for firmness purposes "triggers" very subtle, but in the long run, the starting shady ping sound - to avoid it or put the keyboard on a desk mat, or put soft, sound-absorbing material inside it (by the way, this will cancel the warranty). And the solution to "silence" switches and reduce the noise emitted during their movement is their lubing, which, again, will cancel  the guarantee since it requires disassembling the keyboard and desoldering all the switches by hand.

Cooler Master CK350 Gaming RGB Keyboard

The key press itself is quite similar to the "real" Cherry MX. The keyboard model with Outemu Red click was not even enough and reminded of a  membrane keyboard. The inconsistency of the click was slightly weaker on the Brown and Blue models, their click almost equated with Cherry MX. However, the experience using such a budget friendly keybord which looks like a Cherry MX while writing and gaming works wonders.

In conclusion, the experience of using CK350 is really different from membrane keyboards and makes it possible to understand whether there is a perceived need to invest in a better mechanical keyboard. Perhaps it will not be particularly pleasant for the keyboard enthusiasts, who are used to smooth lubed switches, but for a simple and less demanding user taking the first steps in the world of mechanical keyboards, it will be an excellent option that will allow you to understand the passion of the enthusiasts for custom mechanical keyboards.

The verdict

Being budget friendly, the CK350 is certainly a good choice for a person looking for a quality mechanical keyboard without useless accessories at a reasonable price. If you're worried about the ping sound - it can be greatly reduced or even removed using a large mouse pad. Lighting adjustment is probably the biggest problem on this keyboard, but seldom do the users deal with lighting issues even with the keyboards having sofware. Cooler Master CK350 is one of the best price and quality ratios offering keyboard on the market.

Cooler Master CK350 Gaming RGB Keyboard

 

There are not so many alternatives in such a price category - the only keyboard that can compete would be SPC Gear GK550 or GK540 with less pleasant Kaihl switches.

Did you enjoy the review? Then we suggest you to read the review of Cooler Master MH750 headphones containing an eye-catching design and good sound quality and the review of Glorious Model D mouse especially  popular among gamers.