To complement the SK series of lowpro mechanical keyboards that it announced at Computex, Cooler Master outed a pair of “core” keyboards, the CK550 and CK552. A quick scan of the announcement yielded no information about the switch brand–only “red, brown, and blue switch types”–which is classic PR-speak for “we don’t want to say what the switches are.”
No Switch Love?
A quick bit of noodling led me to the Best Buy page for the CK552 (it’s a BB exclusive, which seems to be an increasingly prevalent thing), where it revealed that it has Gateron Red switches. The product pages for the CK552 and CK550 confirm that the Brown and Blue options are Gateron as well, and that they’re the RGB versions with transparent switch housings.
Poor Gateron, getting no respect. It’s funny, because just a couple of years ago, larger keyboard makers were doing the same thing with Kailh switches, and others. Only Cherry switches seemed to get any play in the PR materials. Not much has changed.
Just the Basics
The new keyboards are designed to offer just the basics, which includes a nice-looking brushed aluminum top plate with a plastic bottom chassis, per-key RGB lighting, and some lighting modes and effects. There’s a good bit of onboard lighting and macro configurating you can do with the 512KB of memory, but you’ll get additional capabilities with Cooler Master’s software.
Both are full-size keyboards with (drumroll please) standard bottom rows. Cooler Master is one of the bigger keyboard makers that has an eye towards the harder-core enthusiast community, or at least those who aren’t into building their own boards but still want to play in the marvelous world of aftermarket and artisan keycaps.
The price certainly seems right for a budget plank. The CK550 costs $90 on Amazon and Newegg. The CK552, which is identical to its sibling save for a black brushed aluminum top instead of a silver-colored one, will cost $10 less. But you can get the CK552 only at Best Buy in the U.S. and (squints) Staples (still a thing, eh?) in Canada, starting June 26.