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.