Windows Central Verdict
Cooler Master offers one of the most approachable 65% form factor mechanical keyboards to beginners and enthusiasts with a choice of switches. Customization is a breeze with an included keycap puller and extra parts for experimenting, easing newcomers into the concept of personalized peripherals. The rotary dial sits in an awkward position and loses some of its usefulness but combined with the somewhat obtuse MasterPlus+ suite can offer more exciting functions than simple volume controls.
Easy to customize.
Choice of switches from the manufacturer.
Uncomfortable dial position.
Disappointing RGB brightness.
MasterPlus+ software is impractical for beginners.
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Cooler Master might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of keyboards, perhaps reserved for consideration in PC cases and its fan-cooled namesake. Still, the manufacturing giant has explored the realms of peripherals for years, including a range of high-quality keyboards.
Looking to expand its horizons into the enthusiast scene, the CK720 aims to be approachable without compromising quality. There is no shortage of competitors targeting the same goal, so this 65% form-factor beauty has an uphill battle. I spent a few days typing for work and jumping into some late-night gaming for our Cooler Master CK720 review to determine if it hits the mark.
Cooler Master CK720: Price, availability, and specs
Cooler Master sells the CK720 65% mechanical gaming keyboard through third-party retailers, including Amazon, for a $100 MSRP. Available in gunmetal or white with a choice of switches, it comes packaged with a detachable USB-C cable and keycap puller.
|Switches||Kalih Box V2 red/white/brown|
|Row 1 - Cell 0||Cherry MX green (x8)|
|Connectivity||Detachable 1.8m USB-C|
|Software||Cooler Master MasterPlus+|
|Dimensions||334 x 118 x 37 mm|
|Weight||950g (without cable)|
Cooler Master CK720: What's good
Cooler Master proudly advertises the CK720 build quality, professing its combination of an aluminum top plate and two-part silicone pads should provide a sturdy yet customizable construction. Unboxing this 65% form factor keyboard has me assuming the design team must be genuine enthusiasts; there's evidence that great care and thought have gone into every part of its first enthusiast-level offering.
At 950g, it's not exactly lightweight, but it does shed a little bit of heft compared to some wireless alternatives. There's no danger of the CK720 slipping around your desk with this dense construction and two-step kickstands alongside standard feet grips towards the front.
Even with the stands closed, there's a slight incline you would usually expect for the sake of ergonomics. Using both at full extension provides a perfect degree of tilt for my taste, so typing is plenty comfortable. There was no sign of any rattling keys or switches out of the box either, matching Cooler Master's inclusion of pre-lubed stabilizers. Jargon like this can confuse newcomers, but it's fantastic news for first impressions of a mechanical keyboard.
The CK720 comes pre-installed with Kailh Box V2 switches in red, white, or brown, all readily lubed directly from the manufacturer. They're laughably easy to remove with the included combination keycap/switch puller that resembles a miniature utensil you might find in the kitchen. Cooler Master even throws in some Cherry MX green variants to try, offering a heavier click for eight keys of your choice.
Hot-swappable switches are a huge selling point for this affordable option, especially when alternatives are thrown in just for kicks. It'll please the already-converted mechanical keyboard enthusiasts and do wonders for curious newcomers.
Picking up such a customizable keyboard might be a little intimidating for a novice in this niche scene, especially if you don't know where to look for extra parts. Cooler Master promises a roadmap of planned accessories, including a classic braided cable for a more nostalgic aesthetic, PBT keycap sets, and even colored replacements for the aluminum top plate removable via a small side panel. Offering custom parts alongside the C720 goes a long way to promote the charm of personalized peripherals.
Cooler Master provided us with a review unit of the CK720 that included the white version of Kailh Box V2 switches, with clicky tactile feedback that sounds and feels great for typing. I generally prefer a linear response for gaming, but the thock from these keys is passable for casual play. The beauty of hot-swapping switches is setting everything up exactly as you want, so you can easily switch out the W, A, S, and D keys to a linear red style or any other combination.
It's tempting to pick up a set of semi-transparent keycaps to allow more of the per-key RGB to shine through, proving Cooler Master has hooked me on the exciting prospect of mechanical keyboard customization. Its mission statement of creating an approachable product without compromising quality has been realized beautifully here. I wholeheartedly recommend the CK720 as an option for anyone looking to pick up their first mechanical model.
Cooler Master CK720: What's not so good
The CK720 might be the first enthusiast-level keyboard from Cooler Master, but it's certainly not its first attempt in this category. This makes it a little more difficult to forgive some of the strange missteps in design, as minor as they might seem to some. Standing out at the top of this list is the all-too-familiar precision dial fitted in the upper-right corner, also known as a rotary encoder to the nerdiest of us.
There's nothing wrong with the part itself; it's a high-quality dial that wouldn't feel out of place on a vintage record player, but the placement is far too close to a vertical row of keys below. Doubling as a button, this rotating wheel opens up three-way functions that can be assigned to practically anything, but I found it too inconvenient to reach blindly.
Unless you spin the dial exclusively from its right-hand side, you'll likely find yourself accidentally hitting the delete key, as I often did. It's a tricky problem to solve since the nature of downsizing keyboards comes with deciding which keys are cut, and perhaps this vertical row of three was one too many.
I'll never complain about dedicated arrow keys since I prefer them to secondary functions over others, but I could do without page up and down if it means more space around the dial. These rotary encoders keep appearing on compact mechanical keyboards, so we need better implementation if they're here to stay.
Assigning functions to the rotary dial is done via the Cooler Master companion software, aptly named MasterPlus+. That's not to say you're locked out of customization without it since almost every extra feature can be triggered on the keyboard itself, including recorded keystroke macros. There's more of an issue with the app lacking explanations in its basic UI, surrounded by empty panels.
Most experienced users can likely guess the purpose of the 'record' and 'stop' icons on its macro creation page, but a short tutorial would go a long way into demonstrating how powerful it is. Considering you can define the input delay between each recorded keystroke, it's possible to have an entire sentence immediately typed out with one keystroke.
Each of the four profiles can store individual key macros and mappings, which can be activated without running the MasterPlus+ software once saved to internal memory. It's not significant enough to mark Cooler Master down since it can be improved with future software updates, but it's one of the only disappointing features that might scare away beginners.
While exploring these features, you'll also discover how dim the RGB lighting is, even at maximum brightness. Naturally, this is mostly a downside to using opaque, dark keycaps and can be remedied with more transparent replacements. Unfortunately, to find the same PBT double-shot quality as the standard set, you'll need to put up a decent amount of cash.
Cooler Master CK720: The competition
To say a new mechanical keyboard has competition is a severe understatement; there is an unknowable number of possible combinations from thousands of component types, but not too many come factory-ready for full customization.
For example, the 60% SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini Wireless and its $180 wired variant use standard cross-shape keycaps for a simple upgrade. The Apex Pro per-key RGB lighting is also far brighter than the CK720, but the OmniPoint switches are not removable.
Coming closer to a completely customizable comparison would be the Keychron series, including the fantastic Keychron Q3 with hot-swappable switches and various configurations. The real issue is the price since a fully assembled Q3 will set you back around $174 minimum. You'll have another rotary dial further into the keyboard than the CK720, but the per-key RGB still relies on your chosen keycaps.
If RGB is your primary desire for a mechanical keyboard, Roccat blows the compact competition away with its $150 Vulcan II Mini, but it's unfortunately not a hot-swappable option. The minor downsides to the Cooler Master CK720 don't stop it from being ahead of many competitors, especially for a $100 keyboard that offers so much customization as standard.
Cooler Master CK720: Should you buy?
You should buy this if ...
- You're looking for your first mechanical keyboard
- You want a ready-made option with in-depth customization
- You prefer a compact form factor without losing arrow keys
You shouldn't buy this if ...
- You want the brightest RGB backlighting
- You never plan to experiment with hot-swappable parts
Cooler Master has knocked it out of the park with the CK720, appealing to newcomers and experienced enthusiasts in the mechanical keyboard scene. Practically everything is customizable, and the manufacturers promise to follow up with official accessories if you're unsure about compatible parts. It might not be the best keyboard in every category, but there's hardly anything wrong with this affordable option.
The rotary dial sits disappointingly close to a vertical row of keys below, making it a little too awkward to use in a hurry. Still, if you spend an evening learning how to use the somewhat obtuse MasterPlus+ software from Cooler Master, you'll likely find a reason to give it a spin. This level of versatility for a $100 keyboard is incredible, and the CK720 should be considered by anyone looking for their next mechanical model.
Offering more out-of-the-box customization at this price point than most of the competition, the 65% CK720 can be personalized exactly to your liking. Perfect for newcomers or enthusiasts looking for a new mechanical keyboard.
Ben is the channel editor for all things tech-related at Windows Central. That includes PCs, the components inside, and any accessory you can connect to a Windows desktop or Xbox console. Not restricted to one platform, he also has a keen interest in Valve's Steam Deck handheld and the Linux-based operating system inside. Fueling this career with coffee since 2021, you can usually find him behind one screen or another. Find him on Mastodon @firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions or share opinions.