As time ticks by and the market for mechanical keyboards gets more and more entrants, manufacturers have to work harder to make their offerings stand out. Cooler Master hopes its new CK550 mechanical keyboard's combination of a standard layout, per-key RGB LED illumination, and choice of three different Gateron switch types will make it attractive to the part of the market that demands customizability above all else.
Despite Cooler Master's (CM) pitch that the CK550 is a no-nonsense board, it still sports per-key RGB LED backlighting with 15 canned effects plus single-color and custom modes. CM says the lighting can be controlled on-the-fly without having to dig into the included software utility. Users can also customize macros without the software, though the manufacturer does say its app has been streamlined and improved for those that don't want to memorize the key combos needed for the on-the-fly tweaking. An ARM Cortex-M3 SoC with 512 KB of storage space runs the macros and the light show.
The curved gunmetal-finished deck of the CK550 is made of brushed aluminum for a premium look and durability. Cooler Master highlights the standardized layout of the entire board, a feature that should help particularly picky typists find a set of replacement key caps that will work with the CK550. The buyer's choice of Gateron blue, brown, or red switches wait for input beneath those key caps. Cooler Master says the switches should hold up for 50 million key presses.
Cooler Master says the CK550 mechanical keyboard is on sale today for $90 at Amazon, though the product page says the item isn't stock yet. The company is also offering the Best Buy-exclusive CK552 keyboard (available to Canadians at Staples) that lops $10 off the price and exchanges the gunmetal-gray finish for plain old black. The manufacturer backs the board with a two-year warranty.