If you've ever built your own PC, then there is a very high chance that you'll be familiar with the brand of Cooler Master. As the name implies, their specialty is cooling products: case fans, CPU coolers, you name it; for over 25 years, they've been the go-to for keeping your PC components cool. But that's not all that the company manufactures. Cooler Master has a long line of gaming keyboards under their belt, with every kind of design and shape for nearly any need. In our ever-continuing journey of keyboard reviews, we'll be checking out their latest release: Cooler Master's Limited Edition SK650 White Mechanical Keyboard.
The SK650 is an interesting mix of concepts; it's a mechanical keyboard, but it also sits much lower than most. To complement the flat layout, Cooler Master has decided to go with thin chicklet-style keycaps, and low-profile Cherry MX Red switches. Upon first glance, the keyboard looks like something that would belong perfectly next to an Apple product, having that striking white-and-silver color scheme. With a brushed-aluminum base and textured keycaps, the SK650 gives off a strong first impression of a premium-looking keyboard.
- Switch Type: Cherry MX Red Low Profile
- Cable: Detachable USB-C
- Weight: 1.3lbs
- Keycaps: Chicklet thin keys
- Build material: Brushed aluminum
Although there's a clear focus on being as minimalistic as possible, the SK650 doesn't make any compromises with the size of its keys. They are, however, very close to each other, having a tiny gap of 2mm in order to save as much space as possible. Surrounding the chicklet keys is a razor-thin bezel, which gives off a shimmering gleam. Matching with the more refined aesthetic, the font atop each key is not the kind you typically find on mechanical gaming keyboards, making for a nice change of pace. Using white keycaps is also a nice choice, offering something with lighter colors to better match setups with a white or grey focus.
Packed alongside the keyboard is a soft sleeve, which can be used to transport the device whenever you need to take it with you on the go. Considering the form factor of the SK650, you will have no trouble taking it with you, should you require a portable keyboard. Clocking in at a weight of 629g, this is a feather-light piece of hardware, built solidly enough to handle the wear and tear of daily use, but weightless enough to barely be noticeable when you pack it in your bag.
From a gaming standpoint, the performance of this keyboard can be hit or miss, depending on what you want from it. The SK650 features real Cherry MX Red switches, just much flatter than normal. Officially called low-profile keyswitches, they live up to their name, allowing the SK650 to look so thin. Because of this, the switches actuate with very little pressure, and have a much smaller amount of travel as compared to a normal switch; 3.mm of travel vs 4mm, which, though it sounds negligible, can make quite the difference. Going back to the keycaps, it's clear to see that they're very flat, and don't contour to one's fingers like how most other keyboards do. There's a level of ergonomics that this keyboard is missing, and without a place for your hands to naturally rest, you're left lightly placing them along an entirely flat surface. Additionally, there is no wrist rest, either, nor can you adjust the keyboard's height, as there aren't any legs folded up underneath. It might not be the most comfortable device, but the less travel time between pressing a key and it activating means you'll be reacting faster in situations, once you've acclimated to using it.
While this keyboard is beautiful, and the switches are nice for games that require precise timing or little to no delay between presses, typing is a completely different story. Since the keys are in such close proximity to each other, it's extremely easy to accidentally hit an extra key or two when trying to type quickly. Typing errors were incredibly rampant, and despite spending some quality time getting to grips with the keyboard for the sake of the review, I found that I could not reliably write said review without feeling aggrieved by the typing experience. A mere few years ago, my main keyboard had been the Apple Wireless Keyboard, and while I didn't mind the chicklet keys at the time, having switched over to a more traditional typing setup has made it apparent just how drastically different the two layouts are. It's hard to judge that as a fault of the SK650 itself or if muscle memory is getting in the way of typing, but with actuation taking such a minimal amount of pressure, and the smooth Cherry MX Reds giving so little feedback, typing can feel downright awkward.
Cooler Master is definitely one of the brands that boast flashy RGB effects, sitting at the top with the likes of Corsair and Razer. There's 20 different presets to choose from, with the standard breathing, cycle, and reactive options. You don't need any software to bloat your PC, if that's a concern, as holding the FN/Logo button + the labeled F keys will allow you to mess with the settings manually. If you do choose to install the Cooler Master Portal program, you'll find that it has a decent amount of options, and the customizations and profiles are easy to navigate and use. Amusingly, there's even an option to play Snake on the keyboard by using the lights, which is perhaps one of the best uses for RGBs I've seen yet. If you happen to not be a fan of RGBs, you can turn them off, and the SK650 will look just as nice, with, or without fancy light effects.
The Cooler Master SK650 Limited Edition White Keyboard with its minimalistic design and sharp appearance will fit perfectly next to a device like an iMac. That's where this product shines; being the ideal complementary piece to a sleek setup. Considering this line is a limited edition run, they might only be around for a short time, which is fine, as Cooler Master normally offers this keyboard in black. However, the white keycaps and silver shine look absolutely amazing, especially with the RGBs set to a pastel color, lightly highlighting the edges of each key. The white SK650 is a visual spectacle, and a delight to look at, but when it comes to typing, I find myself unable to praise it in that department. It's clear to see that this keyboard is filling a more niche role, though: targeting Apple users who want a gaming keyboard with quality keyswitches that won't take up too much space on their desk. And going off that alone, the SK650 excels in that area. Retailing at a cost of $139.99, you'll have to decide for yourself if you prefer style over function. If not, then you're best off looking at Cooler Master's more traditional keyboard offerings.
|What We Liked . . . Very visually appealing to look at. Attempts to eschew the typical "gamer keyboard" style. One of the few boards to use low-profile genuine Cherry MX Reds. The RGBs go well with the thin keycaps.||What We Didn't Like . . . No adjustable feet. Difficult to type on and adjust to.|
out of 10
When it comes to the Cooler Master SK650, it definitely sets itself apart from the pack with its unique form-factor and style. If you're looking for a keyboard with a little more form than function, this is the perfect option. For those that are more concerned with typing rather than appearances or portability, you might want to look elsewhere in Cooler Master's lineup.