Cooler Master continues its foray into PC peripherals with the CK721 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard, and it might just be my favourite product from them yet.
It can be difficult to advance upon the idea of a keyboard – at the end of the day, it’s a rectangle with rectangles that make letters appear on a screen. For many of us though, these simple creations are a means for us to both work and play. I’m someone who uses a keyboard for both of these things, often for upwards of 12-hours a day. With that in mind, I think that the CK721 might be the first keyboard I’ve used that satiates both of my professions perfectly.
The first thing that you’ll notice about the Cooler Master CK721 is that it’s a lot smaller than your typical keyboard. It opts for a 65% layout, ditching the keypad and function buttons that usually adorn the top and right sides. The resulting form factor is delightfully small, almost looking drowned on any large desk mat.
Any missing function buttons are still available via a function key that replaces the right windows key. However, Cooler Master has kept a few handy keys that would otherwise be sorely missed. Notably, Delete, Page Up, Page Down, and the directional keys are all still here as physical buttons. As a writer who regularly uses all of these keys, that’s a god send. I’ve used 65% keyboard layouts in the past, and all of them have caused frustration with missing function buttons. That’s not the case with the CK721.
Additionally, the CK721 also houses a delightfully premium looking scroll knob in the top right corner of its body. Constructed from aluminium, it’s cold to the touch and feels heavy to operate. Every incremental step can be felt while scrolling, and you can click it in for an additional function – it’s thoroughly enjoyable to use. By default, this is mapped to control the volume of your computer. However, you can also configure it to skip, play, or pause tracks. I certainly enjoyed the customization as someone who already uses a custom volume mixer for my audio needs.
It’s a looker
My review unit arrived in the white variant of the product. This sees the keycaps appear in a pristine white finish and a light, sand-brushed aluminium frame around the edge. The frame gives the impression that the product is constructed entirely out of metal, but it’s actually not. The main body of this unit is made from plastic, but a fair amount of weight prevents it from feeling cheap. I’ve already had several compliments about how premium this product looks.
Around the back of the keyboard, you’ll find a single USB C connection, and a white braided cable is included in the box. This can be used to either charge the device’s internal battery, or connect to a PC directly.
Moving to the right hand side, you’ll find a switch that toggles between Bluetooth, 2.4GHz, and off. This keyboard comes with a 2.4GHz dongle that’s housed within the keyboard itself for handy transportation. Using the dongle will provide the most reliable connection and improve battery life. However, you can also just use a standard Bluetooth connection to connect to any device you like. That means you could even use this with a smartphone or tablet, should you like. The CK721 is also compatible with MacOS, and includes the correct markings on each of the keys for each operating system.
The CK721 can be adjusted between three different height levels to suit your comfort. A ridiculously chunky foam wrist rest also arrives in the box which I’ve found to be extremely comfortable. However, I’ve already noticed that the black foam is starting to discolour after only a few days, which isn’t a promising sign for how long the accessory will last.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a gaming keyboard without a healthy dose of RGB. Thankfully, this is some of the best RGB I’ve seen in a keyboard recently. Each key is lit individually and light spreads evenly throughout the entire board. It also gets extremely bright, which is certainly helped by the white colour scheme. Light bleeds and reflects across this colour combination, and truly looks stunning in a dark room.
You can customise everything on the CK721 in the Master Plus software. However, this has to be the keyboards biggest downfall by far. I’ve spoken about the slow, buggy, and awkward Master Plus software in other Cooler Master reviews. Sadly, nothing much has changed in this regard. The software still takes ages to load up on any machine I install it on, and there are bugs galore.
Thankfully, customising control schemes and RGB presets is more of a ‘set and forget’ deal, so you thankfully don’t have to spend too much time with the Master Plus suite. In addition, all of the board’s customization can be accessed on the board itself through function keys. You can cycle through each of the excellent RGB modes, as well as finetune exactly what colour you’d like to stick with. I ended up using this method to get the look I wanted, and haven’t felt the need to go back to the awful software.
Fits like a glove
Overall, I have absolutely loved using the Cooler Master CK721 for the last week – it might actually replace my previous Logitech daily driver. While the red switches are TTC switches instead of Cherry MX, they’re just as quick as ever. It makes typing and fast paced shooters a breeze – a treat, even. The small form factor meant that I rediscovered a love for playing Valorant, since my mouse hand was no longer restricted by a massive number pad.
In addition to being an excellent product for the home office, it’s also a perfect candidate for the new normal of home and office hybrid working. As someone who regularly swaps between working at home and in an office environment, the CK721 keyboard lends itself perfectly to my lifestyle. It’s small enough to fit snugly in a backpack with my laptop, and it connects quickly and easily to my work computer once I’m there. The keys might be a bit loud for my colleagues liking, but that seems like a ‘them’ problem to me.
If you’re looking for a new small form factor keyboard that doesn’t skimp out on the functionality, then the CK721 might just be the one for you.
A review unit of the CK721 was sent to FragHero for review purposes.
[Featured Image Credit: Cooler Master]