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Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL Barebone Premium Keyboard Review

Cooler Master NovaTouch TKL Barebone Premium Keyboard Review
How would you feel about getting a keyboard without a keycap in sight? That's the exact bold move Cooler Master made with its NovaTouch TKL Barebone.
By: Chad Sebring | Keyboards in Peripherals | Posted: Jan 12, 2016 3:16 pm
TweakTown Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Cooler Master

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

 

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Cooler Master sent us an email some time ago asking if we would have any desire in looking at a new keyboard they are offering, but there was one special note attached. The keyboard we were asked to look at shipped without any key caps of any form. That's right, internal components, a frame, and switches, Topre switches to be exact, but not a single key cap on the keyboard. Why would they do such a thing, you might ask? First you have to realize that there is an enormous mechanical keyboard subculture, and within this group, customizing your keyboards is the same to them as say putting lighting in a chassis or spraying some paint or cutting holes. In the end, it is just another outlet for personal expression.

 

 

We accepted the opportunity, as we have had an interest in trying this sort of thing out for ourselves. There is one issue though for us right out of the gate. Aside from the Thermaltake MetalCaps, we did not have any key caps on hand, and frankly, the Thermaltake set would not cover our needs entirely. At this point, we went to someone we had visited many times in the past for damper sets we purchased over the years and asked WASD Keyboards to help us out. They agreed to help us out without a blink of an eye, and the next thing we knew, we were pointed at a configurator tool for TKL keyboards. Then we were picking colors, fonts, placement of the font, and were even sent a few of their one-off custom key caps to use as we wished.

 

Without WASD there would be no review, so we want to send out huge thanks to them for stepping up and helping us out with this review. That said and out of the way, this is really about the NovaTouch TKL Barbone Premium keyboard from Cooler Master. Now before you start to think that the NovaTouch has been out a while, and you may even own one with key caps on it from the factory. As you will see, this CM Store exclusive product does sport a one digit difference in model number, and of course, yours was not identified as 'Barebone' either. This may be a short and sweet review, more down and dirty, but we do like that even mainstream customers can buy just what you need, not paying extra for caps you plan to replace.

 

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We are using the more conventional NovaTouch TKL chart as the store does not provide one, and we will identify any changes that this chart may show that differs from our version. We have the SGK-5000-GKCT2-US keyboard from Cooler Master, but both versions are backed with Topre hybrid capacitive switches. There is no backlighting in this design, so solid laser etched caps are a valid option. Via USB 2.0 these do offer NKRO support and functional anti-ghosting, as well as offering Windows lockout capabilities. The Barebone does still offer 1ms polling, but as we addressed, there are no ABS key caps included.

 

This simpler keyboard does not offer any onboard memory, as it does not offer Macros or Profiles. There are, however, many functions it does offer like Multimedia support, Windows lockout, and an adjustable repeat rate on-the-fly. You can reference the included guide to find where they are located. The connection, dimensions, lack of software and the two-year warranty all applies to this model, but the weight is a tad less without the weight of eighty-seven key caps in our sample. The accessories included in the Barebone version of this TKL are the steel wire key puller, the USB cable, and a spring for the space bar.

 

What seems most tragic about this entire deal is the cost. Currently, the CM is down for changes, so we had to look at the latest cached version of their listing. There we found that there was a reduction in the cost of $30 from their MSRP, but even with it included, the CM Store was last charging $149.99 for this NovaTouch TKL Barbone. Without that deal, this will set you back $179.99, and you still need to think about the cost of the key caps, which our set from WASD Keyboards retails for another $47 with customizing options included for the 87 key set. So all told, if you did not make it for the deal on the NovaTouch TKL Barebone before the holidays, you would need to be prepared to shell out almost $230 to get where we are.

 

 

Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications

 

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