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Cooler Master CK552 Gaming Keyboard Review

Let’s face it, the world of mechanical gaming keyboards has been over-saturated for quite a while now. It makes choosing a keyboard these days quite hard and just a lengthy process. While many companies have gone over the top with lights and other gimmicks many of us just want a solid keyboard that performs. Cooler Master thinks their new CK552 is the answer, as their tagline for the keyboard is “No-nonsense, no-compromise”. This full-size gaming keyboard features Gateron mechanical key switches, RGB backlighting, and a pretty simple design that will look great on any desk or setup. What’s even better is the price at only $86.99 at our favorite online retailer. That price makes it very attractive, especially for gamers who want to put as much money as they can into their graphics card, memory, etc.

Special thanks to Cooler Master for providing us with the CK552 Gaming Keyboard to review.

Specifications
Switch Type: Gateron
Material: Plastic / Aluminum
Color: Midnight Black Brushed Aluminum
LED Color: RGB
Polling Rate: 1000 Hz
Response Rate: 1ms / 1000Hz
MCU: 32bit ARM Cortex M3
On board Memory: 512KB
On-the-fly system: Yes, for Multi-media, Macro Recording and Lighting Control
Multi-media Keys: Through FN
Cable: Fixed Rubberized 1.8m
Software Support: Yes, through Portal
Connector Cable: USB 2.0
Cable Length: 1.8m
Dimensions: 460*135*41 mm (L*W*H)
Product Weight (without cable): 850 g
Warranty: 2 years

Packaging
The CK552 comes in a typical Cooler Master retail box. On the front we have a picture of the keyboard in action and there is a cut-out in the box that allows you to try out the switches before you buy the CK552.

Flipping over to the back many of the details are highlighted like the mechanical key switches, RGB backlighting, the brushed aluminum design, and the on-the-fly adjustments.

Getting everything out of the box we have the CK552, key cap puller, and a user’s guide.

Cooler Master CK552 Overview
The Cooler Master CK552 is a full-size keyboard meaning you have a full compliment of keys as well as a full number pad. The design of the keyboard is quite simple with a black brushed aluminum top plate and black keys. Again, Cooler Master has not gone overboard with the design.

Since this is a full keyboard with no extra keys Cooler Master has added secondary functions to the function row as well as a few other buttons. F1-F8 has to do with the on-the-fly controls for the lighting. F9 is the Windows Lock key. F11, F12, Print Screen, Scroll Lock, and Pause are all for macro recording. Insert, Home, Page up, Delete, End, and Page down are your multimedia controls.

Removing some of the key caps with the included key cap puller you can see that we have Red Gateron mechanical key switches. This is actually the first keyboard we’ve tested with these switches, but Gateron is pretty well-known, much like Kailh. Cooler Master is offering this keyboard with Red, Blue, and Brown Gateron switches.

Looking at the keyboard from the side we can see that the keys are already set at an angle when you don’t have the pop-out feet extended. Also the first three bottom rows have their key caps angled down, while the top there are angled up. This is a pretty standard layout when it comes to gaming keyboards. The pop-out feet will give you an even more extreme angle.

Flipping the keyboard over there is nothing all that fancy. You have two rubber feet and the pop-out feet, which have rubber on them as well.

The attached USB cable is rubber and just under six feet long, so you should have no problem reaching your tower.

Lighting and Software
Like most gaming keyboards we see these days the Cooler Master CK552 has full RGB backlighting, per key RGB backlighting actually. It looks quite good and there are a bunch of different effects to choose from. One thing that was odd was there was no brightness selection at all, either on the keyboard or in the software.

Cooler Master is making use of the their new Portal Software for most of their gaming accessories. This piece of software has a fresh look at will even allow you to link lighting effects between Cooler Master accessories. When you open it up it will detect which Cooler Master accessories you have connected. From there you can install control software for each as well as update firmware.

When you go into the control software the first tab is “LED” which of course allows you to control the lights on the keyboard. You do have per-key RGB backlighting and there are a bunch of different effects to choose from. Inside of each effect you can pick the direction and speed of the effect as well. Colors can be selected by using the color-picker window or by entering the RGB code, so you can get the exact color you want.

The next tab is “Macro” which allows you to create, record, and assign macros. Recording a macro is very easy, you basically just record what your actions are.

“Key Map” is next and here you can reassign each key on the keyboard to another key or macro. One thing I did find missing here was the ability to launch a program, windows commands, etc. All you have the ability to do is change each key to a macro or another key.

Finally the last tab is “Profiles”, which will show you your current profile (there are 4 total) and you can import, export, or restore each profile to default.

Usage & Final Thoughts
So I’ve been using the Cooler Master CK552 as my main keyboard for a couple of weeks now. While I am not a hardcore gamer I do enjoy gaming in the evening and when I have free time so this keyboard was not only used for gaming, but also quite a lot of typing and general computer use.

First let’s talk about the key switches, as I mentioned earlier this is the first keyboard I’ve reviewed that make use of Gateron mechanical key switches. I’ve had quite a lot of experience with Cherry MX and Kailh switches. I would say the biggest difference between the Gateron and Cherry MX switches is that the Gateron switches feel lighter. For someone like me who does a lot of typing this is a great thing as I was easily able to get into a “flow” using this keyboard. It was both enjoyable to use for gaming as well as typing. We had the Red version of the switches, but Cooler Master offers the keyboard in Gateron Blue and Brown as well.

The RGB backlighting on this keyboard is good and Cooler Master made sure you were able to fully customize the backlighting with per-key customization. They have also given the keyboard quite a lot of effects (20 total) so you won’t get bored with just static and breathing. I did find it odd that there was no brightness adjustment in the software though.

Talking about the software it is quite good and easy to understand. Anyone can go in and adjust the lighting, remap keys, create macros etc. So often we see bad gaming software, but Cooler Master has done a good job here. The only thing missing really was the ability to remap a key to launch a program or do a Windows command.

Cooler Master wanted a no-nonsense keyboard and they have one in their CK552. It has a solid design, mechanical key switches, RGB backlighting, and software to control everything. You are getting all of that for a great price of $86.99! Overall ThinkComputers gives the Cooler Master CK552 Gaming Keyboard a 9 out of 10 score and our Good Value Award.

Pros:
– Price
– Mechanical key switches
– Per-key RGB backlighting
– Solid design
– Good software

Cons:
– No brightness adjustment
– Unable to remap a key to launch a program or run a Windows command