A couple of years ago, Cooler Master, following a fashionable business trend, tried to market its own brand of gaming peripherals called CM Storm. But something went wrong and they recently abandoned the idea. What happened to product lines, then? Nothing special. Some have been rebranded, some have been discontinued. But the most important thing is that new unique models got their way into production. And in this review, we want to introduce readers to the flagship mechanical keyboard Cooler Master MK750 from the new MasterKeys series.
|Model||Cooler Master MasterKeys MK750|
|Polling frequency, Hz||1000|
|Number of keys||104|
|Keystroke resource, mln.||50|
|Switch type||Cherry MX Red RGB|
|Changing the angle of the body||+|
|Built-in memory, KB||512|
|Ability to record macros||+|
|USB cable length, m||1,8|
|Braid material||Nylon braid|
|Material||Plastic / Aluminum / Faux leather|
|Removable palm rest||+|
|Dimensions (L x W x H), mm||438 x 133 (192 with stand) x 42|
|Weight, g||836 / 1013 (with stand)|
|OS Compatibility||Windows 7 / 8 / 8.1 / 10|
|Peculiarities||Built-in 32bit ARM Cortex M3 processor, soft magnetic palm rest, three wire routing options, detachable cable, keycap removal tool, set of 9 additional purple caps, additional backlighting on the front and sides of the keyboard|
|Average cost, $||160|
Contents of delivery
The packaging of the keyboard is made in a corporate purple-black design, typical for the style of Cooler Master as a whole. On its front part, the product itself is depicted and the type of switches used is indicated. The six main virtues with their illustrations are described on the back side in nine languages at once.
Under the colorful cover is the main shipping box, made of black cardboard. There are no particularly massive dampers here, only cardboard inserts and protective bags.
The package includes instructions, a removable USB cable, a key for dismantling the caps, nine replaceable purple caps (Esc, W, A, S, D and four arrows) and a magnetic palm rest.
Appearance MasterKeys MK750 can be described as beautiful, concise and strict at the same time. The top panel is made from solid gray anodized aluminium. The panel is not just a sheet, it is quite thick and has edges flowing sideways and back, which gives the device a rigidity close to ideal. The keyboard does not creak or flex a single millimeter. The MK750 was made according to the “open frame” or “skeleton” scheme, when the top cover simultaneously serves as a base plate for mechanical switches that protrude exactly half of the case from it. In addition, a palm rest is attached to the bottom on magnets.
The palm rest consists of a plastic solid base, an elastic filler inside and an artificial leather cover on the outside. On its lower part there are six trapezoidal rubber feet glued into a plastic frame. The company logo is embossed on the leather part in the center. Five low power magnets are evenly embedded into the back of the stand.
If you replace the caps of the WASD, arrows and Esc keys with alternative purple ones, it will look like the one shown in the photo. There is no Cyrillic engraving on additional caps.
On the other hand, the structure of the purple caps is reinforced by double casting. Inside, they consist of an opaque shell and an insert of translucent plastic. The key for dismantling is made with high quality, in the form of separate flexible wires, sealed in a plastic handle. With this tool, it only takes a couple of minutes to remove all 104 keycaps for cleaning.
The keyboard layout is a typical American ANSI standard. Both Shift buttons are elongated, Enter is single-row, the F1 button is located exactly above the number “2”. The Fn button has been inserted instead of the menu key. Latin and Cyrillic engraving is factory applied with a laser in the middle of the printed buttons at the top and bottom, respectively. All the main characters are very well readable with backlighting, but without it they look dim and almost indistinguishable in the dark.
There is nothing unusual in the printed block of keys. Additional commands are traditionally implemented through function key combinations with the Fn button, but we will talk about them in more detail in a separate summary table. The keycaps have a pleasant to the touch and non-slip coating, in the middle of the buttons there is a characteristic cylindrical recess and tactile notches on the “F” and “J” keys. All long keys are stabilized vertically and horizontally very well, backlash when pressed is minimal.
The digital and pointer block is standard. Above them, instead of Lock-indicators, four membrane multimedia keys are built in, responsible for mute, play/pause, fast forward and rewind. By the way, the role of Caps-, Scroll- and Num Lock-indicators is performed by the corresponding keys themselves, which glow when the function is active and go out when it is disabled.
The keyboard features lightweight Cherry MX Red linear switches in a transparent housing. Activation force – 45 grams, with 2 mm to actuation, and a full travel of 4 mm The RGB diodes are soldered directly on the PCB, there is not even a focusing lens on the switch. Stabilizers are internal, so all keys can be easily removed for cleaning. The standard caps are made of translucent ABS plastic and painted black on the outside.
The keyboard case has a slight initial slope towards the front. The first two rows of caps are slightly tilted back in profile, all the rest are even.
The upper bevel of the side face is metal and is a continuation of the top panel. The lower part of the edge is plastic. Between them in the middle there is a narrow strip of LED, which is almost invisible in the off state. This backlight diode is both on the left and on the right side. The extended legs add 12mm to the height of the back of the keyboard, increasing its forward angle.
The front face of the keyboard is made of translucent glossy plastic. It also hides a line of backlight LEDs, which is visible only if you completely remove the palm rest.
The keyboard has no additional external ports. But there is cable management. The cord can be pulled out of the case strictly in the middle at the back or in the region of the left or right leg. By the way, the upper part of the rear face is also made of metal and is a monolithic continuation of the top panel.
Detachable signal cord. Its total length is 1.8 meters, it is completely covered with a nylon braid, has an average thickness and rigidity, and remembers a given shape well. There is no ferrite filter, but there is a Velcro for adjusting the length of the cable. To connect to the keyboard, a symmetrical USB type C connector is provided, which can be turned on by both sides. And a regular gold-plated USB with a purple contact pad is stuck into the PC.
The base of the keyboard is flat, plastic and solid. There is a pocket in the middle at the back, in which there is a hole for connecting the signal cable, as well as slots for turning and outputting the cord to the left or right side. Two small rubber feet are glued to the front corners, and large square rubber patches fit right over the fold-out legs at the back.
Two folding legs are made of plastic, on their contact side there is also a rubber damper. There is only one fixation position in the unfolded position.
RGB backlighting is well done, all Latin and Cyrillic characters are read without problems. The color rendition is correct, with the exception of white, which casts purple. It is also interesting that the side LEDs have four separate backlight zones, the front strip is completely divided into 16 zones, and even the logo in the center is divided into a left and right glow zone. In general, you can set it up as you like, the only thing that I could not find here is the brightness adjustment.
Cooler Master MasterKeys MK750 has built-in memory for four separate profiles, and has a fairly wide range of options for hardware customization of its functions using key combinations. Some of them are described in the instructions, and some, such as the order in which macros are written, are not. Therefore, for the convenience of future users, we have made a summary table for all the additional commands that we managed to reproduce.
|Fn+Esc||Switching to a basic unchangeable profile|
|Fn+E||Resetting the keyboard to factory settings|
|Fn+R||Reset the current profile to default settings|
|Fn+F1||Quick selection of 8 colors (off, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, cyan, purple) in all modes|
|Fn+F2, F3, F4||Custom color setting using RGB palette. Each press of the key increases the content of the corresponding hue in the color by one point, the level changes cyclically from 0 to 9 positions. Video instruction|
|Fn+F5||Backlight mode switching: 1) static, 2) color wave, 3) crosshair, 4) color change on click, 5) custom button color, 6) starry sky, 7) rain, 8) color cycle, 9) breathing, 10) circles on the water. Video instruction|
|Fn+F6||Select front color setting (in any reactive backlight mode). Video instruction|
|Fn+F7||Selectable background color setting (in any reactive backlight mode)|
|Fn+F8||Demonstration backlight mode (all modes are switched cyclically and automatically)|
|Fn+F9||Win key lock (one press), keyboard lock (two presses), unlock (one more press)|
|Fn+F10||Record backlight profile (custom button color mode). Video instruction|
|Fn+F11||Macro recording. Video instruction|
|Fn+F12||Deleting a macro (press Fn + F12, then the key highlighted in red)|
|Fn+PrtScr, ScrLk, Pause||In macro recording mode, select the option to play it: once, continuously repeat while holding the button, repeat the macro until the key is pressed again|
|Fn+1, 2, 3, 4||Activate one of four backlight profiles and macros|
|Fn+PgUp / PgDn||Increase or decrease the volume|
|Fn+left/right arrow||Changing the direction of the light effect. Video instruction|
|Fn+Down/Up Arrow||Changing the playback speed of a lighting effect|
MasterKeys MK750 uses the Cooler Master Portal version 1.00 integrative shell as software, on top of which the keyboard driver itself is installed. From the shell, you can find out the current version of the software, update or register it, visit the company’s website or online store. After the device is detected by Portal, it offers the option to install the driver, run it, update, remove, or update the device firmware.
The keyboard driver is not always active, you need to run it either from the Portal shell or directly through its own shortcut. The driver works with the memory and keyboard processor directly, in real time, therefore, when executing some settings, short-term freezes are possible while recording is in progress. The first tab that greets the user is “Highlight”. Here you can individually customize the color of 108 buttons or 26 LEDs using an RGB palette, or choose from multiple effects for them. All this is stored separately in four on-board memory profiles.
In the “Macros” tab, you can conveniently record a macro. To begin with, a team with an individual name is created. In the second window, a sequence of clicks is entered, where mouse and keyboard button activations are read, as well as wheel scrolling with the ability to edit the time interval and select the macro playback method. And then it remains only to assign a macro to the desired key.
In the “Key Assignment” tab, the functionality is limited. All you can do is reassign the buttons to each other or disable them. Through this menu, there is even no way to bind a macro, or a standard Windows command, which is rather strange.
In the “Profiles” tab, one of the four profiles stored in the on-board memory can be imported or exported to a PC. Or reset them to default values.
By clicking on the question mark in the upper right corner, you can view the driver version, the current firmware version, and the keyboard firmware version available for updating. And also forced to update it.
Ergonomics and testing
The Cooler Master MasterKeys MK750 is one of those keyboards that you lay your hands on right away and then don’t want to use anything else. The standard layout of the buttons does not require any time to get used to and allows you to immediately apply the blind speed typing method. The large height of the keys, which is a consequence of the “skeleton” design, is perfectly compensated by the correct inclination of the body of the device and a well-made palm rest. The magnetic stand itself is very thoughtful, its artificial leather coating does not cause sweating of the palm, and the elastic filler creates a hard and pleasant support for the hands. You can also use the keyboard without a stand, but in this case, the legs on it should be lowered so as not to cause wrist fatigue syndrome. And under the keyboard itself, it would be better to put a large soft rug. The assembly of the body of the device and its rigidity are close to ideal. Neither in intensive printing, nor under special loads, the body does not bend one iota, and does not emit extraneous sounds. The same can be said about the stability on the table – MK750 confidently clings to the surface, if you do not try to move it deliberately.
Separately, it is worth noting the implementation of the backlight. From a practical point of view, everything is fine, both engravings are clearly distinguishable in the dark and in the light. The only pity is that there is no convenient adjustment of the brightness of the backlight. In terms of aesthetics, everything is also great – a lot of effects for every taste, the ability to individually configure 26 LEDs on the front and side faces of the case will allow you to create a disco of your dreams. Of the complaints, I can only note the incorrect reproduction of the white color, which slightly pulls either into blue or into the violet spectrum. Well, with the magnetic stand installed, the front battery of LEDs is not visible at all, so it makes sense to turn them off in the driver so as not to waste energy in vain.
The possibility of a cable outlet in the middle or on the sides of the rear panel of the keyboard is also very pleasant and helps in the comfortable organization of the working space on the table.
The operation of Cherry MX Red mechanical switches will be quite familiar and familiar to everyone who has ever used them. They are light, linear, recoil is felt only after the cap hits the mechanism case. It is also interesting that in this version of the MX Red, I did not observe random operation, which indicates reinforced springs. In addition, there is no spring ringing, and all long keys are perfectly stabilized. The use of replaceable purple caps is justified if the user is an avid player of FPS games, then it is really better to replace the WASD keys to avoid premature wear.
Keyboard hardware settings are mostly about backlight adjustment and very little about macros. Both the first and the second are much more convenient to do through the driver, which, by the way, turned out to be quite successful and concise. In addition, it starts only on demand, and the rest of the time the keyboard relies on its own built-in memory.
Anti-ghosting in this keyboard is a constantly active NKRO mode for all keys, although the description on the official website mentions the combination of NKRO and 6KRO. How exactly this is implemented is unclear. There is no manual mode switching option.
Based on the results of acquaintance with the MasterKeys MK750, it can be argued that this is the best and most thoughtful keyboard that Cooler Master has ever released. The MK750 is a worthy competitor for top-end mechanical keyboards from leading brands in the field of computer peripherals. It has everything you need: excellent mechanical switches (red, brown or blue to choose from), good backlighting with many customization options, a perfectly assembled case, a nice palm rest, on-board memory, simple and understandable software and cable management.
There are also a few small (in my opinion) shortcomings. In particular, the white color is incorrectly reproduced, there is no quick adjustment of the brightness of the backlight, the magnets in the palm rest are rather weak. On and front diodes are not visible together with the installed stand.
Working with Cooler Master MasterKeys MK750 is a pleasure. Expensive pleasure, with an eye to its recommended cost. But this is just the case when you don’t have to regret the money spent. Especially if you are not new to mechanical keyboards and have already tried many different options.