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Cooler Master CK351 Optical Keyboard Review

Aesthetic and functionality aren't always found together, but Cooler Master's CK351 optical gaming keyboard manages both beautifully.

 

Cooler Master CK351 keyboard

 

Cooler Master CK351 gaming keyboard is a full size, optical keyboard that is extremely customisable, responsive and beautifully designed. Brushed aluminium design looks minimalist yet very slick. The RGB lighting gives it an even slicker look, though my personal affinity for the backlighting is one of the greatest aesthetic selling points.

The keyboard is not quite as heavy as some HyperX keyboards for example, which are usually well over a kilo (2.2lb) in weight, though CK351 is very close at just over 900g. It comes with a wrist rest right out of the box, making it very ‘plug and play’ friendly and it allows ‘on the go’ backlight customisation, so a lenghty set up is not necessary. The keys are extrtemely responsive and have the lifespan of over 100 million clicks, which is above the industry standard. 

The specs

 

CK351 specs

 

What's great about it

This keyboard has a lot to offer, and there are quite a few features that that would make me choose this keyboard over any other. 


Waterproof and dust proof 
We’ve all done late night gaming sessionsn where drinks and snacks tend to be abound. Spillage of any type of liquid on your keyboard is more than likely to put it out of comission, so having a keyboard that is waterproof gives some peace of mind. Nobody plans on spilling anything on their rig, but accidents do happen, so this is an excellent feature of the CK351 as it offers the internal component protection from dust and water. It is IP58 certified, which is more than sufficient in protecting the keyboard.

Over 100 million clicks lifespan
This keyboard is extremely durable, and 100 million click lifespan is impressive for this keyboard. For reference, over 100 million clicks lifespan is about the twice the leanght of the lifespan of an average mechianical keyboard on the market today.  You would likely go through two standard keyboards before you'd need to replace the CK351.

Optical switches, fully customisable and MasterPlus software supported
Cooler Master's CK351 is extremely customisable. Don’t like the switches? You can change them! Don’t like the keycaps? You can change them too. Hot swappable keys for maximum customisation are always a win. The keyboard can be customised without the need for the MasterPlus sofware, however, downloading the softrware offers even more customisation to the functionality and the aesthetic of the keyboard. If you own other Cooler Master products, you can use the software to syhcnronise all your Cooler Master products with your keyboard. 

The wrist rest 
While this might not be the selling point of for keyboard, I love the fact that it comes with the wrist rest. It means you can plug and play as well as have a long gaming sesh, straight out of the box. If you’re looking for a good wrist rest though, this isn’t the best you can find, but it is more than sufficient to start with and a nice addition to the keyboard. 

 N key rollover with 1ms response time  
The keyboard boasts almost 0 debounce time, meaning no dead space and no delay between input and action on screen  - an incredibly important feature for any gamer who uses a mouse and keyboard. The keys do actually feel extremely responsive, and every keystroke is registered instantly. The difference is extremely stark when compared with generic keyboards, and especially stark when compared with the inbuilt keyboards of any laptop. If you’re a laptop gamer, you might consider giving this keyboard a try. 

RGB on each individual key and the range of lighting and RGB effects available
Not going to lie, having keys light up individually as I type this review is very satisfying and very cool looking, though I’m not 100% sure if I’d want to have this around an office or other people. I suppose the residue light would give away my passwords to by-standers or anyone looking over, but that could just be me. For gaming, however, this looks and feels great. Getting half distracted by my keyboard isn’t something I’ve found to be a drawback to it, not yet anyway, but I love the RGB effects so for me this is important in the aesthetic sense. Effects such as the ripple are intense and work beautifully with purple, though depending on how much you’re typing it has the potential to make your keyboard flash consistently in a flury of RGB light. It is very satisfying and very pretty to look at, especially if you pair it with a different coloured backlight. Personally, some may find this annoying, but I absolutely love it. The customisation extends to being able to adjust the intensity of the light, allowing me to have very bright colours, or if I so choose bit softer ones. Effects can be paired with a backlight so several colours can come alive when you're typing or gaming. CK351 definitely tested my creative side.  

Value
The keyboard is priced really well, even at full price. Not only is this a sturdy, responsive, beautiful and fully customisable gaming keyboard, it’s also an excellent value for money. 

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What’s not so great about it

Cooler Master CK351 is a very good keyboard and there aren’t many glaring things to complain about. From the look, the feel and the value, Cooler Master has done a great job with CK351, though there are some drawbacks.

Out of the box, the key switches are very very clicky
This is all down to personal preference, but being part of the linear gang, clicky keys are very grating and very loud. This may seem like hair splitting, but my typing already sounds aggressive, so the sounds of the clicky keys further compounds this into an obnoxious noise. The good news is that the keys are hot swappable so you can make your keyboard linear, leave it clicky or even tactile. Not necessarily a drawback as this can be changed, however since this keyboard is ready to go with everything out of the box, it’s not ideal to have to start changing the keys around. Due to the keyboard being so customisable however, its 'out of the box' state is likely not to please everyone. This isn't a perminent probolem as you can fully customise this keyboard to suit your preferences. 


The cable is non-detachable
The keyboard is wired, but unfortunately the wire itself cannot be detached from the keyboard. It is also just a standard USB connection (truly plug and play), though I half expected a C-USB connections and a detachible cable at the back.

An overall great keyboard by Cooler Master, as you can make this keyboard do virutally anythying you want it to do, change all or none of the keys and switches, and choose from a variaty of different RGB effects to boot. The keyboard is durable, slick, responsive and customisable, not to mention a great value for money.

The keyboard is also currently on sale for just under £100, which for this type of keyboard is an excellent price. 

Get your Cooler Master CK351 from CCL here.